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In This Edition


Ralph Nader concludes, "Trump: Making America Dread Again."

Uri Avnery sees, "The Day Of Shame."

Glen Ford reports, "Black Caucus Sells Out It's Constituents Again - to the Cops."

Michael Winship returns with, "Point The Trigger Finger At Everyone Else."

Jim Hightower chronicles, "Koch Industries Doesn't Just Lobby Government, It's Becoming The Government."

John Nichols reports, "Socialism Is On A Winning Streak."

James Donahue declares, "The Greatest Rebellion: Thinking For Ourselves."

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "Donald Trump Really Shouldn't Have Run For President."

Heather Digby Parton wonders, "Is This Big Summit Actually Going To Happen?"

David Suzuki finds, "Degree Sparks Necessary Debate."

Charles P. Pierce says, "For Now, We'll Trust That Rod Rosenstein Is Playing the President* Like a Five-Cent Violin."

Jane Stillwater is, "Mapping The Return": My report on the 2018 al Awda conference."

David Swanson repeats, "War Is Love."

Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich examines, "Trump's Curious Coalition."

Chris Hedges warns of, "The Coming Collapse."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump Orders Replica Nobel Peace Prize To Display On His Desk" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "1948, 1969, 1984, and 2018. What do they all have in common? Fascism!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Taylor Jones, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Astrid Riecken, Bill Burris, Alex Wong, T.J. Kirkpatrick, Truth-Out.Org, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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













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1948, 1969, 1984, and 2018 What do they all Have in Common? Fascism!
In other words Trump Speak!
By Ernest Stewart

"Who controls the past controls the future." ~~~ George Orwell

"Nice rejoinder to yesterday's silliness about rocks (and not melting ice) raising sea-level. You need an 8 mile diameter, 6 quadrillion pound rock (every year) to reproduce the observed sea-level rise. That's a really big rock!" ~~~ David Titley

"But when you apply 3.3 millimeters of rise to the entire ocean? We're talking about a lot of water that's displaced - 3.3 millimeters across about 362 million square kilometers of surface area. The total volume displaced, then, would be 1.19 trillion cubic meters of water." ~~~ Philip Bump

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." ~~~ Lao Tzu



A way back yonder in 1948 author Eric Arthur Blair wrote his second masterpiece which was published in 1949. You may remember Eric by his pen name George Orwell and the book was 1984. Eric wasn't writing about some dystopian future but about how things were in 1948. Having just survived the Nazi's and wrote 1984 about what the Nazi's did to Germany and most all of Europe.

1984 came 4 years after his other brilliant book "Animal Farm" a book about the dangers of Communism under Russia. Believe me, you really don't want to be the horse! Both books show the horrors of living under both systems with a little side about Britain and the United Snakes, thrown in for good measure! A warning that made it obvious to us when "The Trick" took power in 1969. Because of 1984 we instantly recognized Richard Milhouse Nixon for what he was, and what was about to happen to us.

Orwell gave us terminology discribing what the Nazi's had done such as Newspeak, Doublethink, Memory Hole, Thought crimes, Joy Camp, and Ministry of Love.

Newspeak ~ was a language favored by the minions of Big Brother and, in Orwell's words, "designed to diminish the range of thought."

Doublethink ~ the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct.

Memory Hole ~ is any mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts, or other records.

Thought Crimes ~ the criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question Ingsoc.

Ingsoc ~ political party of the totalitarian government of Oceania.

Joy Camp ~ forced labor or concentration camp.

Ministry of Love ~ secret police, interrogation and torture.

Any of those ring any bells?

Compare and Contrast those words with Trump Speak:

Alternative facts, Fake News, Gaslighting, Stable Genius, Witch Hunt, and Covfefe.

Did you catch my drift, America?

In Other News

I see where it was a way back yonder in December 1984, when President Ray-Guns had just been elected to his second term, Dynasty was the top show on TV and Madonna's "Like a Virgin" topped the musical charts.

It was also the last time the Earth had a cooler-than-average month, imagine that if you can!

Federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that last month marked the planet's "400th consecutive month" with above-average temperatures.

The cause for the streak is unquestionably, global warming, caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels.

NOAA climate scientist Deke Arndt says, "We live in and share a world that is unequivocally, appreciably and consequentially warmer than just a few decades ago, and our world continues to warm. Speeding by a '400' sign only underscores that, but it does not prove anything new."

Climate scientists use the 20th-century average as a benchmark for global temperature measurements, because it's fixed in time. It's also a sufficiently long period to include several cycles of climate variability. Arndt says:
"The thing that really matters is that, by whatever metric, we've spent every month for several decades on the warm side of any reasonable baseline."
As we've already reported NOAA's analysis found last month was the 3rd-warmest April on record globally. The unusual heat was most noteworthy in Europe, which had its warmest April on record, and Australia, which had its second-warmest.

According to Meteo France. "In southern Pakistan, the town of Nawabshah soared to a scalding 122.4 degrees on April 30, which may have been the warmest April temperature on record for the world."

This week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) claimed that sea level rise is due to the White Cliffs of Dover tumbling into the ocean and not melting ice and glaciers. Mo sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Oh my! We are sooooooo screwed, America!

And Finally

This week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner is Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL). Mo wins this award because Mo, when ask about global warming causing rising sea levels, explained that those rising water has nothing to do with the Chinese global warming scam but is simply caused by rocks falling into the water displacing water and causing the oceans to rise in responce.

Here's Mo's explanation:
"What about erosion!" Brooks exclaimed. "Every single year that we're on Earth, you have huge tons of silt deposited by the Mississippi River, by the Amazon River, by the Nile, by every major river system - and for that matter, creek, all the way down to the smallest systems. And every time you have that soil or rock whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise. Because now you've got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up."
Not since Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) disproved climate change. While "eggheads" at "science laboratories" were busy worrying about how the increase in heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere was leading to a long-term upward shift in temperatures and increased atmospheric moisture, Inhofe happened to notice that it was cold outside. Weirdly cold outside. So cold, in fact, that water falling from the sky had frozen solid. He showed a snowball to the Senate to prove global warming was a hoax and then lobbed it at the Senate president.

The Rethuglicans explanation for global warming would be funny except they control all three branches of government with their practiced lies and the end result is while they take their bribes from the pollutors the world keeps warming up, the oceans keep rising and we keep getting closer and closer to our extinction.

Keepin' On

As that great, wise, American philosopher, Yogi Berra once said, "The future ain't what it used to be" and I'm beginning to understand what Yogi meant! While we fought the Crime Family Bush tooth-and-nail, our support was never in doubt. Just one look at the Trumpster and you can see what perilous ground that we stand on. America in 2018 is beginning to look like Germany in 1933.

I know a lot of people have given up the political fight to concentrate on the fight to keep a roof over their family's head, and food on the table; believe me, I know how that works! Trouble is, with Trump it's about to get a lot worse!

I'm not doing this for myself; I know what's happening -- having studied Political Science since 1960; we do it to hip others to our political plight! Not one of our writers, artists, or staff have ever made a dime out of this; we have one of the lowest cost business plans around. Half of our bills are paid for by advertisers; and if I could pick up a few more, they'd pay the total cost; but you'd be surprised by how many companies don't want to be associated with a magazine that dares to tell the truth! Which is where you come in. If you think it is a good idea to know whats happening, then please won't you support our efforts to keep you informed so that you can deal with it? If so, then please send us whatever you can, as often as you can -- and we'll keep fighting the good fight for you!

*****


03-19-1915 ~ 05-20-2018
Thanks for the films!



05-30-1927 ~ 05-21-2018
Thanks for the films!



03-19-1933 ~ 05-22-2018
Thanks for the read!


*****

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

*****

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

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




Mulvaney, who recently bragged before 1500 bankers that, as a Congressman from
South Carolina, he wouldn't talk to lobbyists unless they had given him campaign money.



Trump: Making America Dread Again
Let the buyer beware.
By Ralph Nader

Donald Trump is a well-known, self-described germaphobe. Unfortunately, he is not concerned about other Americans' exposure to germs and disease. With leading infectious disease scientists from the Centers for Disease Control to the University of Minnesota warning about a global influenza pandemic ("not if, when"), Trump's warmongering madman, John Bolton, has closed down a seasoned two-man global health security team.

The Washington Post reported last week about "the abrupt departure of Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, a respected scientist from the National Security Council," who was "the top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic."

At the time of Admiral Ziemer's expulsion, a new Ebola outbreak in the Congo had just been reported.

Trump's flagrant disregard for the safety of the American people has been punctuated by the proposed elimination of the budget reserved for containing an Ebola epidemic. Earlier this year, Trump pushed through Congress an additional $84 billion for the bloated, unauditable military budget-more than the Pentagon had requested.

Callous Donald is determined to enable and even abet companies that are spewing dangerous toxics into our air, water, and food-growing areas. Many of these companies have contributed to his campaign. This serial failed gambling czar's coldblooded personality is anti-law. President Trump and his agency chiefs are violating federal statutory mandates to protect the health and safety of Americans.

Trump's drive to take the federal cops off the corporate crime beats started early and recklessly. On the day he took office, Trump ordered an "immediate regulatory freeze" on the entire federal government. This stopped federal lifesavers in their rescues of endangered American workers, patients, travelers, vulnerable children, and frail, impoverished elderly.

He went from recklessness to ignorant idiocy by ordering all regulatory agencies to repeal two regulations for every one they were going to issue in the future. Business lobbyists were so delighted that they rushed to celebrate at Trump's hotel just a few blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, spending money to make Trump richer-sometimes huddling with Trump's regulators.

Wholesale shutting down of law enforcement, putting corporate operatives from the companies being investigated or overseen in charge of closing overdue government safety initiatives, and demanding huge budget cuts in agencies such as the EPA and FAA exceeds the broad "prosecutorial discretion" allowed by the federal courts.

Trump's marauders are raging through one agency after another, revoking, freezing, or suspending lifesaving health/safety protections. Weaker job safety, auto safety, air and water pollution standards, and pesticide protections spell death, sickness, and illnesses with their attendant family anguish and costs, including to taxpayers.

The Trumpsters are destroying federal protections from the corporate fraudsters who have been caught cheating, lying, and stealing from savers, investors, patients, student loan borrowers, travelers, and insurance policy-holders. Renegade public criminals such as EPA boss, Scott Pruitt, and head of both the Office of Management and Budget and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Mick Mulvaney, are openly brazen and contemptuous of the agencies they run, despite their oath of office to uphold the law.

Pruitt, the subject of 12 ongoing federal investigations for spending tax money on himself, is probably on his way out. But Mulvaney, who recently bragged before 1500 bankers that, as a Congressman from South Carolina, he wouldn't talk to lobbyists unless they had given him campaign money. He is one massive wrecking Goliath driven to leave consumers defenseless.

Mulvaney is bullying civil and criminal investigators fighting the corporate crime wave, from culpable Wall Streeters to payday loan sharks, and literally shutting down one enforcement action after another. Mulvaney even grotesquely restated the CFPB's mission to include "the protection of Wall Street."

You may remember news reports in early 2017 about Mulvaney wanting to save tax dollars by cutting the Meals on Wheels program, The Children's Health Insurance Program, and by slashing the small law enforcement budgets of the health and safety agencies. What you may not know is that Mulvaney is a coward, running away from going after the vastly larger documented waste, fraud, and abuse in military contracting, and corporate welfare giveaways. He has not said a word about the $60 billion yearly fraud on Medicare committed by commercial crooks. He is a corporate crime aider and abettor.

Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is pushing the same dissolution of law enforcement actions against the crimes and frauds of for-profit universities against unaware students, especially veterans. She too is placing people associated with these scams in charge of these despicable companies.

Trump wants to take America back to the days of "caveat emptor," "let the buyer beware," to the days of horrifying influenza epidemics, to the days of giving corporate crooks- that liberals and conservative Americans want prosecuted and jailed - a "get-out-of-jail-free" card.

Public interest lawyers alert! In the Supreme Court opinion of Heckler v. Chaney, shielding the agency's enforcement policies from court challenge, it added a warning where the agency has "consciously and expressly adopted a general policy that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities."

Are Senators or Representatives, who surely should have standing, ready to take the rampaging Pruitt, Mulvaney, or DeVos to federal court?
(c) 2018 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is Unstoppable, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).





The Day Of Shame
By Uri Avnery

ON BLOODY MONDAY this week, when the number of Palestinian killed and wounded was rising by the hour, I asked myself: what would I have done if I had been a youngster of 15 in the Gaza Strip?

My answer was, without hesitation: I would have stood near the border fence and demonstrated, risking my life and limbs every minute.

How am I so sure?

Simple: I did the same when I was 15.

I was a member of the National Military Organization (the "Irgun"), an armed underground group labeled "terrorist".

Palestine was at the time under British occupation (called "mandate"). In May 1939, the British enacted a law limiting the right of Jews to acquire land. I received an order to be at a certain time at a certain spot near the sea shore of Tel Aviv in order to take part in a demonstration. I was to wait for a trumpet signal.

The trumpet sounded and we started the march down Allenby Road, then the city's main street. Near the main synagogue, somebody climbed the stairs and delivered an inflammatory speech. Then we marched on, to the end of the street, where the offices of the British administration were located. There we sang the national anthem, "Hatikvah", while some adult members set fire to the offices.

Suddenly several lorries carrying British soldiers screeched to a halt, and a salvo of shots rang out. The British fired over our heads, and we ran away.

Remembering this event 79 years later, it crossed my mind that the boys of Gaza are greater heroes then we were then. They did not run away. They stood their ground for hours, while the death toll rose to 61 and the number of those wounded by live ammunition to some 1500, in addition to 1000 affected by gas.

ON THAT day, most TV stations in Israel and abroad split their screen. On the right, the events in Gaza. On the left, the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

In the 136th year of the Zionist-Palestinian war, that split screen is the picture of reality: the celebration in Jerusalem and the bloodbath in Gaza. Not on two different planets, not in two different continents, but hardly an hour's drive apart.

The celebration in Jerusalem started as a silly event. A bunch of suited males, inflated with self-importance, celebrating - what, exactly? The symbolic movement of an office from one town to another.

Jerusalem is a major bone of contention. Everybody knows that there will be no peace, not now, not ever, without a compromise there. For every Palestinian, every Arab, every Muslim throughout the world, it is unthinkable to give up Jerusalem. It is from there, according to Muslim tradition, that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, after tying his horse to the rock that is now the center of the holy places. After Mecca and Medina, Jerusalem is the third holiest place of Islam.

For the Jews, of course, Jerusalem means the place where, some 2000 years ago, there stood the temple built by King Herod, a cruel half-Jew. A remnant of an outer wall still stands there and is revered as the "Western Wall". It used to be called the "Wailing Wall", and is the holiest place of the Jews.

Statesmen have tried to square the circle and find a solution. The 1947 United Nations committee that decreed the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state - a solution enthusiastically endorsed by the Jewish leadership - suggested separating Jerusalem from both states and constituting it as a separate unit within what was supposed to be in fact a kind of confederation.

The war of 1948 resulted in a divided city, the Eastern part was occupied by the Arab side (the Kingdom of Jordan) and the Western part became the capital of Israel. (My modest part was to fight in the battle for the road.)

No one liked the division of the city. So my friends and I devised a third solution, which by now has become a world consensus: keep the city united on the municipal level and divide it politically: the West as capital of the State of Israel, the East as capital of the State of Palestine. The leader of the local Palestinians, Faisal al-Husseini, the scion of a most distinguished local Palestinian family and the son of a national hero who was killed not far from my position in the same battle, endorsed this formula publicly. Yasser Arafat gave me his tacit consent.

If President Donald Trump had declared West Jerusalem the capital of Israel and moved his embassy there, almost nobody would have got excited. By omitting the word "West", Trump ignited a fire. Perhaps without realizing what he was doing, and probably not giving a damn.

For me, the moving of the US embassy means nothing. It is a symbolic act that does not change reality. If and when peace does come, no one will care about some stupid act of a half-forgotten US president. Inshallah.

SO THERE they were, this bunch of self-important nobodies, Israelis, Americans and those in-between, having their little festival, while rivers of blood were flowing in Gaza. Human beings were killed by the dozen and wounded by the thousand. The ceremony started as a cynical meeting, which quickly became grotesque, and ended in being sinister. Nero fiddling while Rome was burning.

When the last hug was exchanged and the last compliment paid (especially to the graceful Ivanka), Gaza remained what it was - a huge concentration camp with severely overcrowded hospitals, lacking medicines and food, drinkable water and electricity.

A ridiculous world-wide propaganda campaign was let loose to counter the world-wide condemnation. For example: the story that the terrorist Hamas had compelled the Gazans to go and demonstrate - as if anyone could be compelled to risk their life in a demonstration.

Or: the story that Hamas paid every demonstrator 50 dollars. Would you risk your life for 50 dollars? Would anybody?

Or: The soldiers had no choice but to kill them, because they were storming the border fence. Actually, no one did so - the huge concentration of Israeli army brigades would have easily prevented it without shooting.

Almost forgotten was a small news item from the days before: Hamas had discreetly offered a Hudna for ten years. A Hudna is a sacred armistice, never to be broken. The Crusaders, our remote predecessors, had many Hudnas with their Arab enemies during their 200-year stay here.

Israeli leaders immediately rejected the offer.

SO WHY were the soldiers ordered to kill? It is the same logic that has animated countless occupation regimes throughout history: make the "natives" so afraid that they will give up. Alas, the results have almost always been the very opposite: the oppressed have become more hardened, more resolute. This is happening now.

Bloody Monday may well be seen in future as the day when the Palestinians regained their national pride, their will to stand up and fight for their independence.

Strangely, the next day - the main day of the planned protest, Naqba Day - only two demonstrators were killed. Israeli diplomats abroad, facing world-wide indignation, had probably sent home SOS messages. Clearly the Israeli army had changed its orders. Non-lethal means were used and sufficed.

MY CONSCIENCE does not allow me to conclude this without some self-criticism.

I would have expected that all of Israel's renowned writers would publish a thundering joint condemnation while the shooting was still going on. It did not happen.

The political "opposition" was contemptible. No word from the Labor party. No word from Ya'ir Lapid. The new leader of the Meretz party, Esther Sandberg, did at least boycott the Jerusalem celebration. Labor and Lapid did not even do that.

I would have expected that the dozens of our brave peace organizations would unite in a dramatic act of condemnation, an act that would arouse the world. It did not happen. Perhaps they were in a state of shock.

The next day, the excellent boys and girls of the peace groups demonstrated opposite the Likud office in Tel Aviv. Some 500 took part. Far, far from the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated some years ago against the price of cottage cheese.

In short: we did not do our duty. I accuse myself as much as I accuse everybody else.

We must prepare at once for the next atrocity. We must organize for mass action now!

BUT WHAT topped everything was the huge machine of brain-washing that was set in motion. For many years I have not experienced anything like it.

Almost all the so-called "military correspondents" acted like army propaganda agents. Day by day they helped the army to spread lies and falsifications. The public had no alternative but to believe every word. Nobody told them otherwise.

The same is true for almost all other means of communication, program presenters, announcers and correspondents. They willingly became government liars. Probably many of them were ordered to do so by their bosses. Not a glorious chapter.

After the day of blood, when the army was faced with world condemnation and had to stop shooting ("only" killing two unarmed demonstrators) all Israeli media were united in declaring this a great Israeli victory.

Israel had to open the crossings and send food and medicines to Gaza. Egypt had to open its Gaza crossing and accept many hundreds of wounded for operations and other treatment.

The Day of Shame has passed. Until the next time.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom







Black Caucus Sells Out It's Constituents Again - to the Cops
By Glen Ford

The bigger the Congressional Black Caucus gets, the more it betrays its constituents. Last Wednesday, three out of every four members of the Black Caucus in the U.S. House voted to make assaults on police officers a federal hate crime. The Protect and Serve Act of 2018 is totally superfluous, since cops are already the most protected "class" in the nation. Nearly a million sworn officers inhabit a legal dominion of their own, where immunity from prosecution for even the most heinous crimes is the norm. As People for the American Way point out: "All fifty states have laws that enhance penalties for people who commit offenses against law enforcement officers, including for homicide and assault," and federal laws already "impose a life sentence or death penalty on persons convicted of first-degree murder of federal employees or officers, killing state and local law enforcement officers or other employees assisting with federal investigations, and killing officers of the U.S. courts." However, like the Israel lobby, the cop lobby demands abject, groveling obeisance from the people's representatives -- lest there be any doubt as to who rules in either of the world's white settler states.

The Protect and Serve Act, which sailed through the U.S. House on a vote of 382 to 35, is a "Blue Lives Matter" bill that serves no other purpose than to give a giant middle finger to the Black Lives Matter movement. When the cops demanded to know, Which side are you on? three-quarters of the Congressional Black Caucus kissed the feet of the Blue Beast: "Your side, Boss!"

The Ugly

Twenty-nine CBC members paid homage to the world's largest police state.

Alma Adams (NC); Joyce Beatty (OH); Sanford Bishop (GA); Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE); G.K. Butterfield (NC); Andre Carson (IN); Emanuel Cleaver (MO); James Clyburn (SC); Elijah Cummings (MD); Danny Davis (IL); Val Butler Demings (FL); Keith Ellison (MN); Dwight Evans (PA); Marcia Fudge (OH); Al Green (TX); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); Hank Johnson (GA); Robin Kelly (IL); Brenda Lawrence (FL); Al Lawson (FL); John Lewis (GA); Donald McEachin (VA); Gregory Meeks (NY); Bobby Rush (IL); David Scott (GA); Terri Sewell (AL); Bennie Thompson (MS); Marc Veasey (TX)

The Worthless

Three Black Caucus members did not bother to vote, which was the same as casting a "Yea" for the Act.

Anthony Brown (MD); Cedric Richmond (LA); Frederica Wilson (FL)

The Few That Did Not "Comply"

Below are the 11 members that stood up the police lobby, voting "Nay."

Karen Bass (CA); Yvette Clarke (NY); Wm. Lacy Clay (MO); Alcee Hastings (FL); Johnson, E. B.(TX); Barbara Lee (CA); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ)

A Slap in the Face

Donald Trump and three-quarters* of the Black Caucus are on the same side, despite all the Democratic rhetoric seeking to distinguish between the two parties. When it comes to the Mass Black Incarceration State, Black Democrats are First Responders, ever ready to buttress the power, prestige and immunities of the cops and jailers.

As People for the American Way, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights put it: "Rather than focusing on policies that address issues of police excessive force, biased policing, and other police practices that have failed these communities, the Protect and Serve Act's aim is to further criminalize. This bill will be received as yet another attack on these communities and threatens to exacerbate what is already a discriminatory system of mass incarceration in this country."

Worse than Misleaders, the CBC is the Enemy

The advent of the Black Lives Matter movement has wrought virtually no change at all in the political behavior of the Congressional Black Caucus; collectively, they are just as treacherous as in the pre-Ferguson days. Back in June of 2014, two months before Mike Brown's murder sparked a national movement, four-fifths of the Black Caucus voted down an amendment to halt the Pentagon's infamous 1033 program that has funneled billions of dollars in military weapons and gear to local police departments. Twenty-seven members voted to continue the militarization of local police forces, five abstained from voting, which amounted to an endorsement of the status quo, and only eight members - one out of five -- supported the Grayson Amendment. We at BAR called the Black Caucus super-majority "The Treasonous 32." Below is the breakdown of the vote from that day of shame:

The Ugly

Karen Bass (CA); Joyce Beatty (OH); Sanford Bishop (GA); Corrine Brown (FL); G.K. Butterfield (NC); Andre Carson (IN); Yvette Clarke (NY); Wm Lacy Clay (MO); Emanuel Cleaver (MO); James Clyburn (SC); Elijah Cummings (MD); Danny Davis (IL); Chaka Fattah (PA); Al Green (TX); Alcee Hastings (FL); Steven Horsford (NV); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); E. B. Johnson (TX); Robin Kelly (IL); Gregory Meeks (NY); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); David Scott (GA); Terri Sewell (AL); Marc Veasey (TX); Frederica Wilson (FL)

The Worthless

The abstainers of 2014, as four years later, effectively endorsed the status quo: militarization of the police.

Marcia Fudge (OH); Charles Rangel (NY); Cedric Richmond (LA); Bobby Rush (IL); Bennie Thompson (MS)

The Few for Demilitarization

John Conyers (MI); Donna Edwards (MD); Keith Ellison (MN); Hank Johnson (GA); Barbara Lee (CA); John Lewis (GA); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA)

Are Black People Represented in the Congress?

When 80 percent of Black Democrats in the U.S. House vote for continued militarization of local police forces, and then four years later 75 percent of these same Black Democrats give "protected class" status to cops, then we must conclude that the intervening period of "Black Lives Matter" agitation had no effect on Black Democratic Party politics -- and further, that the Caucus is wholly and brazenly unaccountable to its constituents.

As Malcolm X said: "You've been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok."
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com




Donald Trump and his administration are the Wal-Mart of corruption.



Point The Trigger Finger At Everyone Else
No matter what the gun rights advocates say, all these deaths are about a country with far too many guns, plain and simple, full stop.
By Michael Winship

Friday afternoon, I was walking across my West Village neighborhood running some errands. Here and there my path crossed with college students in graduation gowns from NYU, Columbia and The New School.

It's that time of year, and as I watched the graduates and their proud, happy friends and families, I thought of the eight young men and women and two teachers at Santa Fe High School in Texas who just hours before had lost their lives to a 17-year-old armed with a shotgun and a .38 caliber handgun. Those kids would never see a college commencement or even their own high school graduation, which was scheduled for June 1. What a despicable tragedy.

No matter what the gun rights advocates say, all these deaths are about a country with far too many guns, plain and simple, full stop. Las Vegas, Parkland, Newtown, Orlando, Aurora, Santa Fe and Sutherland Springs, Texas and so many more: It's not about guns for duck hunting or target practice or protecting the home or shooting varmints in the cornfield. It's not about the Second Amendment giving us the right to bear arms when the British are coming.

Nor is it, as incoming NRA president Oliver North would tell you, about young boys "on Ritalin," who are "steeped in a culture of violence." Or, as Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick claimed, first, that Texas schools have "too many entrances and too many exits" and then, to George Stephanopoulos at ABC on Sunday that the Santa Fe deaths weren't because of guns but because, "We have devalued life, whether it's through abortion, whether it's the breakup of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games, which now outsell movies and music."

To which Fred Guttenberg, who lost a daughter in Parkland, Florida, three months ago, had the most appropriate response: "I think those are the most idiotic comments I've ever heard regarding gun safety," he said. "Let me be clear. He should be removed from office for his failure to want to protect the citizens of Texas."

Dan Patrick said, "It's not about the guns; it's about us." We can talk about that, Dan, but it is about guns - 88 of them for every hundred Americans, more than 300 million guns, with a mass-shooting rate eleven times higher than any other developed country.

No contortion of argument - twisting and turning to make the problem about anything other than guns - is going to change that. You sound like that clown Mo Brooks, Republican congressman from Alabama, who said last week that rising oceans aren't about climate change. No, he suggested, "Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up."

You can't make this stuff up. Stop throwing rocks in the ocean, people; you're drowning our coastal cities.

Seriously, it's about keeping guns out of the hands of those who are dangerous when they have weapons in their possession. It's about banning assault rifles and other instruments of destruction that should never be allowed off a military base or a battlefield or placed anywhere near where civilians can get their hot little hands on them. (Philip Bump in Friday's Washington Postnoted "a stunning statistic: More people have been killed at schools this year than have been killed while [deployed] in the military."

Yet Dan Patrick, Ollie North - an arms dealer of long experience- and all the other extreme gun advocates insist that the proliferation of weapons in this country isn't the problem. And here's where I can agree that it's not just about guns - it's also about our current political climate. From the top down in this administration and among too many of its supporters, it's always about pointing the finger at someone or something else other than the real problem, whether guns or graft or collusion. As said here before, it's the world according to Bart Simpson: Whatever it is, I didn't do it, unless it's something good, in which case I did do it, even if I didn't.

Except that Bart has some semblance of a moral compass. And he's a cartoon character. Whatever happened to responsibility, that basic premise of legitimate conservative thought? Whatever happened to accountability? Instead, the president and his cronies blame everyone but themselves for their problems and wrongdoings.

Donald Trump and his administration are the Wal-Mart of corruption - one-stop shopping for graft and influence peddling (and while we're at it, fiercely anti-union). When it comes to fessing up, forget about it. They shout and obfuscate and lie.

Barack Obama's a perpetual target of the pointed finger going all the way back to Trump's birtherism. High crime, not enough jobs - blame undocumented immigrants. And as the scheduled summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un seems to be crumbling, count on Trump to accuse everyone and everything but his own thoughtless impetuosity, prematurely polishing the Nobel Prize for peace while ignoring any semblance of knowledgeable diplomacy.

Many of the leaks that characterize this administration are nothing more than attempts at the finger point, aides working mightily to shift blame, to single out a fall guy. And of course, witness the current fiasco as Republicans and the White House work like thieves to wreck the legitimacy of Robert Mueller's investigation.

When Trump doesn't get the result he wants, when the truth comes out, he will, as ever, yell foul and WITCH HUNT! and cover-up and fake news and deep state and cast aspersions on everyone but the truly guilty party - himself.

As a result, democracy may be mortally wounded, as lifeless and deprived of its promise as those kids gunned down in their schools. What a despicable - and reckless - tragedy.
(c) 2018 Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship







Koch Industries Doesn't Just Lobby Government, It's Becoming The Government
By Jim Hightower

The Koch brothers extremist political agenda of empowering multinational corporation's to reign as sovereigns over the majority will of the people has always been inextricably entwined with the profiteering agenda of their wholly-owned, $100-billion-a-year, industrial conglomerate.

The brothers' plutocratic view of business-as-government even has a name: Pompeo. As in Mike Pompeo, the Trump regime's latest secretary of state.

Years ago, while living in the billionaire brothers' hometown of Wichita, Kansas, Mike got lucky when they pumped a load of Koch capital into a business he'd started, turning him into a millionaire. Then, they partnered with him in another business that essentially made him a Koch Industries subsidiary. In 2010, they turned this business asset they'd created into a political asset, providing the money from KOCHPAC and the backing of their right-wing front group to elect Pompeo to serve as "The Congressman from Koch." The brothers even installed a Koch Industries lobbyist to run his congressional office.

So, Mike's been a loyal Koch-head, conferring with them and backing bills to advance their corporate and political fortunes. Their investment in Mike became a bonanza last year when he became Trump's yes-man as the head of the CIA. And now, they've hit the political jackpot, with Pompeo becoming head of the State Department. On everything from international oil deals that profit multinational giants like Koch Industries to supporting the brothers' relentless opposition to all global efforts that would restrict fossil fuel profiteers from causing more climate change. The Koch's personal political insider is now their global corporate asset.

This is Jim Hightower saying... To keep up with how Mike converts Koch-headed corporatism into US foreign policy, go to https://www.prwatch.org/topics/koch-exposed.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.








Socialism Is On A Winning Streak
Four candidates backed by Democratic Socialists of America won Pennsylvania primaries Tuesday, and come November they could all be legislators.
By John Nichols

The long history of American socialism has been built in left-wing strongholds. A century ago, Oklahoma and Wisconsin were Socialist Party bastions, while North Dakota and Montana were hotbeds of radical politics. And there was always Pennsylvania. From the 1910s through the 1940s, Socialist Party members served as state legislators, mayors, city councilors and school board members. The Pennsylvania party, with its deep roots in Reading, produced national Socialist leaders, including candidates for president and vice president. And, after the party's fortunes faded following World War II, a former Socialist from Reading, George Milton Rhodes, was elected to Congress as a Democrat and went on to serve for two decades as one of the U.S. House's steadiest supporters of organized labor and civil rights.

Rhodes finished his last term fifty years ago. So it has been a good long while since even the memory of socialism has been a factor in Pennsylvania politics.

But the dry spell is over. Socialists have been on an electoral winning streak in some parts of the country for a number of years-Socialist Alternative's Kshama Sawant made her electoral breakthrough in 2013, winning a major race for the Seattle City Council-but the results from western Pennsylvania in the past two years have been particularly striking. And, now, national observers are starting to take note. "Democratic Socialists scores big wins in Pennsylvania," declared CNN this week, while The New Yorker announced: "A Democratic-Socialist Landslide in Pennsylvania."

Tuesday's primary election in Pennsylvania saw young progressive women who were backed by Democratic Socialists of America winning Democratic primaries all over the place-in cities and suburbs, to the west and to the east. "We're turning the state the right shade of red tonight," declared Arielle Cohen, the co-chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of DSA

A pair of DSA-endorsed candidates for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives seats in the Pittsburgh area, Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato defeated veteran legislators in Democratic primaries. In the Philadelphia area, Philly DSA-backed candidates Elizabeth Fiedler and Kristin Seale also won hard-fought primaries for state House seats.

The wins by Lee and Innamorato were especially sweet, as the DSA-backed candidates upset members of a Pittsburgh-area political dynasty, cousins Paul and Dom Costa, whose stances on social and economic issues had frustrated progressives. "Last night's victories were a monumental shift in the political landscape of Pennsylvania," explained Cohen. "Our candidates won on popular demands that were deemed impossible. We won on health care for all, we won on free education." WESA, the local NPR affiliate, reported that this spring's southwestern Pennsylvania primaries saw "a wave of progressive Democrats challenging what they call the moderate establishment this election season. It echoes those throughout the country that have seen left-of-center political newcomers secure seats in state and federal government."

Both Lee and Innamorato are expected to win easily in November, as no Republicans ran for the heavily-Democratic seats.

The likelihood that they are headed for the legislature had Daniel Moraff, a Pittsburgh DSA member who was a campaign organizer for Lee suggesting that the campaign had provided "a blueprint for how you can run a campaign on a radical platform and reach the demographics it needs to reach."

"This is about lighting a fire and keeping that fire burning," said Moraff.

In fact, Pittsburgh DSA began lighting fires last year in the region, when a pair of contenders who were backed by the group - district judge candidate Mik Pappas and county council candidate Anita Prizio - beat incumbents to secure victories that The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described as "the first notched by a local chapter of a fast-growing political national movement."

Those victories came as DSA-backed candidates (some members of the group, some progressives who sought its endorsement) won 21 of 32 races they contested in 2017 -electing state and local officials from Moorhead, Minnesota, to Knoxville, Tennessee, to Billings, Montana. In the highest-profile 2017 victory, 30-year-old Lee Carter defeated the Republican majority whip of the Virginia House of Delegates to win a state legislative seat. But few states have seen so many wins by DSA-backed candidates as Pennsylvania, and few regions have seen so many breakthroughs as the Pittsburgh area.

DSA was not the only group backing Lee and Innamorato, both of whom were endorsed by Our Revolution, the national group formed by backers of Senator Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign for president as a democratic socialist, the proudly-militant United Electrical Workers union, and groups such as Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club.

But the support they received from the energetic young members of DSA was a major factor in both races. When she was asked about being backed by socialists, Lee answered with a question.

"I would ask, 'How did capitalism work for you?'" Lee explained to CNN. "Because I can tell you in my community it's not working. Capitalism works on the back of my community and communities of color and poor communities across this country. It was built that way and it is working exactly the way it is supposed to."

The "s" word could come up this fall in the Philadelphia suburbs. Seale, a member of the Rose Tree Media School Board who was a Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, is taking on Republican state Rep. Chris Quinn in a competitive suburban district.

Elizabeth Fiedler, who won a hard-fought primary in an overwhelmingly Democratic south Philadelphia district, is likely to prevail in the fall. Indeed, her website announces: "Our movement is victorious. This is a movement with a groundswell of support from working people -this is what democracy should look like."

That's howDSA sees it. "A political revolution is coming," says Tascha Van Auken, a co-chair of the group's national election committee, "and establishment politicians can get on board or be swept away."
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.








The Greatest Rebellion: Thinking For Ourselves
By James Donahue

"Children must be taught how to think, not what to think." ~~~ Margaret Mead, the late American cultural anthropologist.

It has been said that television has become the greatest tool for the enslavement of the people ever devised. Most American families have become so dependent on their television screens that they devote nearly every minute of their spare time staring at it and allowing the programming pouring out of it fill their brains with minutia.

People have experimented with trying to go for periods of time . . . perhaps a week or even a day . . . without turning on their televisions and something strange has happened. They feel a sense of withdrawal. That's right -withdrawal. Our televisions are so addictive that it is very hard to live without them.

Some homes have big-screen televisions, complete with wrap-around sound systems installed in their "family rooms," plus smaller television sets operating in their bedrooms and sometimes even in the kitchen.

This is why television programmers are busy filling our minds with the things certain power figures want us to hear. Our "news" outlets feed us controlled, often biased reports of stories designed to titillate our minds, but not necessarily keep us properly informed. The talking heads are everywhere; spewing out ridiculous opinions about world political events. We are being told who to distrust and who we should believe. The constant advertising blitz goads us into buying new cars, investing money in accounts controlled by the big money manipulators, buying pills that we don't need and perfumes that we are told will make us more appealing. On our weekends the men gather before the big screen to drink beer and watch football, baseball, basketball or whatever sports event that happens to be highlighted that day.

Since the invention of television, and the addition of cable/satellite services that give us a wide variety of programming including a long lineup of movies, concerts and documentaries, a large number of Americans have literally stopped thinking for themselves. Their opinions and knowledge about world affairs are based upon what they have been fed from the television screens. This is why the Citizens United decision by the U. S. Supreme Court has been such a threat to the nation. It has opened the door for big corporations to pour secret volumes of money into the television advertising behind specific political candidates. These ads flood our homes. The information, whether true or not, gets implanted in the minds of voters. The garbage going in is very likely to influence how Americans vote in the national and even local elections.

Our public schools and universities no longer teach our children to appreciate the great works of the writers, thinkers, philosophers, composers and artists of the past. Students today are being groomed to be slaves to corporations. They are taught specific skills in preparation for competition on a dwindling job market so they can only hope for some kind of employment and financial security. The concept of education as perceived by Margaret Mead and great educators of the past has been lost in the new stampede for mere survival in a mixed up, capitalistic and materialistic society.

We are happy to report that not all Americans are caught up in this trap. There is a growing rebellion going on not only in the United States, but in Canada, Mexico, the Latin American countries of South America, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Far East and Africa. Many of these people are not watching television because they don't have access. They are lucky to just have roofs over their heads. They are protesting in the streets. And many have in their hands the new portable electronic communication devices that allow them to quietly "tweet" messages to friends around the world. They want change and they are engaged in open acts of protest to get it.

The revolutionaries are meeting armed resistance. In places like Syria and Libya they have been forced to resort to bloody conflict. In the United States protest groups like the Me-Too, Black and Occupy Movement people are facing rows of trained armored riot police, arrest, jail and the humiliation of facing charges of "civil disobedience" in a court of law. New laws are being passed making it illegal for the protesters to gather on public streets or camp out in public parks. Even though thousands of protesters gather and march, they are being all but ignored by the media. The power figures are doing all that they can to suppress the movement seeking change and a repair of a collapsing political system that once had so much promise.

The last thing the shadow government that really controls the affairs of this planet wants us to do is turn off our television sets, our radios and spend our time reading books, having open conversations with the people in our neighborhoods, attend school board and city council meetings, and start thinking for ourselves. But when you think about it, what better way is there for us all to join in the revolution?

Older citizens locked in nursing facilities and their homes can still find good informative television on Public Broadcasting, the History Channel, and on some of the good documentaries offered on the movie networks. We advise staying away from the network news, CNN and Fox. While there is information about world events found there, if you must go for a while to hear it, turn away from the talking heads that bombard you with worthless opinion. Listen to the facts and then decide for yourself.

Good films and documentaries streamed via the Internet to our televisions are another great option. Be leery of all else. As the X-Files character Fox Mulder always said: "The truth is out there." You just have to work to find it.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.




U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the East Room of the White House May 18, 2018 in Washington, DC.



Donald Trump Really Shouldn't Have Run For President
Mueller and Trump Prepare for Battle
By William Rivers Pitt

After such a wild and wooly week in Washington, it behooves me to ask an all-important yet oft-ignored question: Why would a man run for president when the skeletons in his closet are so numerous they have their own union? It is hardly a secret that Donald J. Trump is the premier grifter of the late 20th and early 21st century, the moral inheritor of Charles Ponzi, Marc Drier and Bernie Madoff. In the words of columnist Paul Madoff:

He may well be the single most corrupt major business figure in the United States of America. He ran scams like Trump University to con struggling people out of their money. He lent his name to pyramid schemes. He bankrupted casinos and still somehow made millions while others were left holding the bag. He refused to pay vendors. He exploited foreign workers. He used illegal labor. He discriminated against African-American renters. He violated antitrust laws. He did business with the mob and with Eastern European kleptocrats. His properties became the go-to vehicle for Russian oligarchs and mobsters to launder their money.
Add to all that the fact that almost none of this is a secret if you ask the right people in Manhattan, Moscow or Atlantic City, and what you wind up with is a guy who really should have stayed out of politics.

Not just for his own good, but for the good of all the people who want no part of the bright light being shined on all things Trump. I find it amazing that some guys with broken noses and Brooklyn accents didn't sit him down two years ago to have a come-to-Jesus chat about subpoenas, shady real estate transactions and the wonders of the RICO Act.

Maybe something just like that did happen, but it was too late. Barack Obama, whose citizenship Trump had questioned, utterly humiliated him at the 2011 Correspondent's Dinner in front of a media/power crowd whose affections he had been feverishly craving since the Reagan era. These were the same kind of people who shunned Trump at parties back in New York, and they laughed at him that night, right in his face.

After that, Trump's grifter friends helped him rub his narcissistic woes to a fine sheen and jumped on for the ride to the White House, seeking plunder the way pirates have since ships first sailed the high seas. The ultimate flaw of grifters is baked into their most essential nature: To do what they do, they must be able to pretend the heat isn't right around the corner, especially when it is.

Good grifters require a level of self-confidence that staggers belief. Raise, and then raise again. Push the chips to the center of the table and smile over the aces you're not holding. It's an old story, and it's amazing how often it still works. Not in the White House, though, right? Not under all that light, not even with a bought Congress, could anyone realistically believe so many open secrets could be kept under wraps by a walking thumb like Michael Cohen.

Trump believed it, and here we are. Money laundering, Russian election tampering, gleeful Trump campaign cooperation, the serial ham-fisted efforts by the Trump Syndicate to disrupt and distract Robert Mueller's investigation, 19 people and 3 companies charged with various crimes so far, with 5 guilty pleas and agreements to cooperate already in hand, and it's only been a year. Ken Starr took more than twice that long chasing not nearly as much.

This thing, on the other hand, is getting almost too big to see. It has so many moving parts, a whole slew of which decided to move at the same time this past week. "Days like Wednesday," wrote Heather Digby Parton, "are filled with various emerging details of different aspects of the Trump scandals that are potentially important -- and in any other administration would cause bipartisan garment rending and calls for commissions, committee investigations and special counsels -- but come out of left field and don't really clarify anything."

Emerging from the mayhem was a report that could precipitate all-out war between the White House and the Department of Justice along with the intelligence agencies. Michael Cohen's secret bank records were allegedly leaked by a government employee. With House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes serving as wingman, Trump is agitating for the release of a DoJ strategy memo regarding the Mueller investigation, along with the name of the alleged leaker. They believe there is enough dynamite contained therein to end the special counsel's investigation altogether.

Trump, as is his way, approached the situation with his usual measured grace. "Wow," he tweeted, "word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI 'SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.' If so, this is bigger than Watergate!" Trump attorney and human banana-peel gag Rudy Giuliani took to the airwaves to press Trump's case that the FBI is riddled with Obama/Clinton traitors out to get the White House at all costs.

Meanwhile, Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee cut Trump and Nunes down with a single bi-partisan joint statement: "Our staff concluded that the (intelligence community's) conclusions were accurate and on point. The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton."

At about the same time, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released thousands of documents related to their own Russia investigation, including transcripts of testimony by Donald Trump Jr. regarding the infamous "Trump Tower Meeting" with Kremlin-linked Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and others. Junior's testimony included more than 50 "I don't know" answers, putting him in the same league as Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra memory loss before Congress.

The worst part for Trump and his friends? All this, all the vastness of this is still only the tip of Mueller's iceberg. He and his staff know far more than they're telling and far, far more than they're leaking, and I would be shocked if that fact alone isn't keeping Donald Trump up nights. I'd love to see his 3:00am phone logs: "Hannity, am I awesome? Thanks!" Click, beeps. "Rudy, Sean says I'm awesome. Is he right? Thanks!" Lather, rinse, repeat.

The White House is frightened, with cause. This unprecedented menacing of the Justice Department, the demeaning of the FBI, is all they have left to them: Attack the institutions that have the power to investigate and charge administration officials, throw enough logs in the road to disrupt the process, make the populace so sick of hearing about it that they'll welcome an abrupt end to the whole thing.

That's their bet, their very last one. If these slash-and-burn tactics work, the country will fall ass-backwards into outright fascism not because Trump is actually a fascist in his heart, but because he doesn't want to get caught. Authoritarian regimes don't answer subpoenas.

I just have to believe a moment has come somewhere in all this, somewhere deep down in the dark teatime of Trump's shriveled faux-Machiavellian soul, when he has asked himself, in all honesty for once, what the Hell he was thinking when he decided to run for president. No one cared about his tax returns before the campaign, his lawyers weren't coughing up file cabinets filled with all the dirty deeds done dirt cheap over the years, and it didn't cost people 500 grand in legal fees to be his friend.

There's an answer for that, too. A one-sentence letter and a quick helicopter ride, and Trump is back on the golf course … or maybe not. The crypt doors have been cracked, and the bodies will not lie still. Even if he resigned tomorrow, the law is going to have its way with him, unless he destroys the rule of law to save himself. However it all shakes out, Donald Trump should have stayed home. I'm guessing no one knows that better than him.


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







Is This Big Summit Actually Going To Happen?
By Heather Digby Parton

Donald Trump is meeting with South Korean president Moon Jae-in in Washington today, in anticipation of the big summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un next month in Singapore. That summit looks more and more precarious, however, since it turns out that dealing with North Korea is more complicated than doing a licensing deal with a Chinese factory for Trump's cheap, ugly ties.

Last week, Time reported that Trump wasn't doing much preparation for the summit anyway because, according to a senior administration official,"he doesn't think he needs to." Apparently, "aides plan to squeeze in time for Trump to learn more about Kim's psychology and strategize on ways to respond to offers Kim may make in person," but no plans had been set as of last Thursday.

National Security Adviser John Bolton appeared on ABC's "This Week" a week ago and seemed unconcerned about the fact that the president was going into the negotiations completely clueless:

I think one advantage of having this meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un so soon, in effect, without months and months and months of preparation, is that President Trump will be able to size Kim Jong Un up and see whether the commitment [to denuclearization] is real.
Let's just say that Bolton seemed frighteningly smug as he said it, suggesting that he knew very well that his statement was vacuous and he would be perfectly happy to have Trump come away disappointed and embarrassed. That would certainly make it easier to get Trump to embark on a serious regime-change strategy such as Bolton has been pushing for years. An angry Trump is what he needs to make his dream come true.

Trump wants the "win," of course. But according to this New York Times report by David Sanger, the president has awakened to the fact that it might not go his way.

Mr. Trump was both surprised and angered by a statement issued on Wednesday by the North's chief nuclear negotiator, who declared that the country would never trade away its nuclear weapons capability in exchange for economic aid, administration officials said. The statement, while a highly familiar tactic by the North, represented a jarring shift in tone after weeks of conciliatory gestures.

Had Trump torn himself away from "Fox & Friends" long enough to listen to some actual briefings, he might have known that. Now he's starting to get the feeling this whole thing might not be the slam dunk he's been counting on.

Bolton is part of the problem. North Korea specifically lashed out at the administration over the national security adviser's insistence that the U.S. wanted to use the "Libya model," in which that country was persuaded to turn over its nuclear equipment in return for economic aid which wasn't forthcoming. In 2011 its leader, Moammar Gadhafi, was overthrown and killed. You can see why the North Koreans wouldn't be too enthusiastic about repeating that.

But then, as The New York Times points out, Trump made it even more confusing because he's too busy tweeting to read a briefing paper:

When reporters asked Mr. Trump about Libya, he managed, in one stroke, to contradict Mr. Bolton and misconstrue the importance of the trade of the nuclear program for economic rewards.

"The Libyan model isn't a model that we have at all, when we're thinking of North Korea," Mr. Trump said. "If you look at that model with Qaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him." That referred to Western military intervention in 2011, not to the nuclear disarmament that came eight years before. Trump then said that if the parties don't make a satisfactory deal, "that model would take place." That clearly suggests a military intervention, which is exactly what the North Koreans had warned would blow up the talks.

According to Robert E. Kelly, a political analyst and professor at Pusan National University in South Korea, it appears that Moon, eager to keep Trump talking instead of tweeting and threatening, may have oversold the North's new willingness to make a deal. Since Trump only listens to Fox News flatterers, he believed this was all due to his magnificent leadership and convinced himself he had the Nobel Peace Prize all locked up.

Kelly pointed out on Twitter that the smart thing now would be to postpone the summit until the three parties can do some real preparation and find some basis for consensus. He believes that Moon, not Kim, is the one who has been frightened by Trump's bellicose tweets and that the South Korean president is afraid to let Bolton have any space to push Trump further and so will argue forcefully for the summit. According to CNN, Trump's aides are now increasingly skeptical that it will happen at all.

Vice President Mike Pence tried out the rationale for abandoning the meeting Monday night on Fox News, saying that "it would be a great mistake for Kim Jong-un to think he could play Donald Trump" and stating unequivocally that the U.S. is willing to walk if the North Koreans refuse to give in to Trump's demands. He'd have to forego the Nobel for the time being, but there's always Jared Kushner's Middle East peace plan.

In any case, Trump doesn't have the time or the inclination to deal with possible nuclear war right now. He's busy fighting an epic battle with his own FBI and the Justice Department over the investigation into his campaign's possible collusion with Russian agents back in 2016. He is, by all accounts, obsessed with it. Unlike previous presidents Clinton and Reagan, both of whom faced serious investigations during their presidency, he is unable to "compartmentalize" and do the job of president at the same time. Grace under pressure is not his strong suit.

Trump probably would not be capable of handling a major summit of such monumental importance under any circumstances, since he won't do the homework required of a president. That's because he believes, as he told The Washington Post, that he reaches decisions "with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I already had, plus the words 'common sense.'" Judging by his administration so far, he has very little of either.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.




Nature is reflected in the windows of the University of Alberta's Earth and Atmospheric Sciences building.




Degree Sparks Necessary Debate
By David Suzuki

Shortly after completing my PhD in the U.S., I taught in the University of Alberta's genetics department. It's also where I started my broadcasting career. I'm honoured that the university is giving me an honorary degree for being "the face of environmental consciousness to generations of Canadians as well as viewers in more than 40 countries worldwide."

Although I'm just one of 13 people receiving honorary degrees in June, my award has stirred up controversy. As flattering as it is to be made the fulcrum of debate surrounding fossil fuels, climate change and humanity's future, this isn't about me. After all, what I say about economics, planetary boundaries and the need to shift priorities is no different than what economists, scientists, philosophers and numerous other experts around the world have been saying for years.

If nothing else, it's good that a healthy debate about corporate influence over academic institutions and issues around climate-disrupting energy sources has emerged from it.

Too often, though, the discussion has strayed from topics that need attention into personal attacks. If a university, especially one in the heart of oil country, isn't the place to air a range of ideas about the geophysical, social and economic consequences of profligate fossil fuel use, we should be worried about the future of academic inquiry.

During the brouhaha, people have taken issue with my characterization of conventional economic thinking (although they often leave out the "conventional" part). I'm not an economist, but my ideas are informed by economists, and they're not novel. Oxford economist Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics, recently told me John Maynard Keynes would be rolling in his grave if he knew we were applying his early 20th century ideas to 21st century realities.

Keynes wrote, "Economics is a science of thinking in terms of models joined to the art of choosing models which are relevant to the contemporary world." When he wrote that in 1938, the human population was one-third of what it is today, natural resources seemed inexhaustible, and climate change was a vague set of theories of interest mainly to scientists studying ice ages.

I can't even take credit for calling conventional economics a "form of brain damage." I was quoting what economist-futurist Hazel Henderson told me. She meant it literally, in that the types of marketing that drive consumerism and economic growth exploit human emotional susceptibility, in part through messaging that affects brain chemistry. This, she argues, can make us act in ways that are not rational or in our long-term self-interest.

Those who retrofit contemporary problems into conventional but outdated economic theories are capable of all sorts of contradictory positions, from arguing that infinite growth is possible in a finite system to supporting oilsands and fossil fuel infrastructure expansion while claiming a commitment to addressing climate change.

Nothing grows forever. Why do we think human populations, resource extraction, economies, industrial activity and cities can keep growing? Where does it end? Like cancer, is it when growth destroys the host?

I respect the differences of opinion about how we should conduct ourselves in a time of staggering population growth, climate change, biodiversity decline and numerous other problems of our own making. But surely we can agree on basics. We need clean air, potable water and food from healthy soils to stay alive and healthy. We can't keep rapidly burning fossil fuels and destroying carbon sinks like forests and wetlands without destabilizing Earth's carbon cycle and climatic systems. We can't keep dumping plastic and other waste into the oceans.

As Raworth argues, our challenge in the 21st century is to meet everyone's needs "while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth's life-supporting systems, on which we fundamentally depend - such as a stable climate, fertile soils, and a protective ozone layer."

This is not about attacking a particular industry or way of life. It's about recognizing the reality of global warming and our role in it. It's about finding solutions that provide economic opportunities for everyone, not just owners and shareholders of large corporations. It's about ensuring that our economic models are "relevant to the contemporary world." It's about measuring progress in ways that account for sustainability, human happiness and well-being rather than economic growth.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.








For Now, We'll Trust That Rod Rosenstein Is Playing the President* Like a Five-Cent Violin
The indications are the Deputy AG is a crafty bureaucrat.
By Charles P. Pierce

Every day that Robert Mueller and his tunnel rats continue to labor under the foul mire that is this administration* is a day when the White House loses. Every day in which Mueller goes home at night still in the same job is a day when the president* is one day closer to possibly losing his.

So it's easy to read too much into the meeting late Monday afternoon when deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Chris Wray dropped by the White House to talk to the president* in response to the latest administration* fever dream about how the previous administration had gone all Gordon Liddy on the Trump campaign—and just because that campaign was lousy with crooks, mountebanks, and influence-pedding in a dozen different languages.

THAT CAMPAIGN WAS LOUSY WITH CROOKS, MOUNTEBANKS, AND INFLUENCE-PEDDING IN A DOZEN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES.

So, Rosenstein and Wray dropped by and, when the meeting was over, the three principals issued a very curious statement. It stated that the DOJ's inspector-general will expand his ongoing investigation to include "tactics" employed by the FBI in its investigation of the Trump campaign. Further:

"It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with congressional leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested."
Nobody seems to know what that second part means. The intelligence community would be out of its mind to hand over material vitally important to its investigation to the leakiest White House since before they put the roof on the joint. At the same time, it seems that Rosenstein et.al. have agreed to give to the administration* material that the FBI has fought tooth-and-claw to keep from the congressional Republicans.

For the moment, I'm going to give Rosenstein credit for being a gifted bureaucratic infighter and survivor who has played the president* like a five-cent violin. (There are precedents supporting this view to be found just this morning.) There are a dozen ways for Rosenstein to slow-play the review of any classified documents. I think the president* got played on behalf of all of us.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.







The Quotable Quote...



"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
~~~ Mark Twain









"Mapping The Return": My report on the 2018 al Awda conference
By Jane Stllwater

The conference was held in Long Beach, CA recently. It was an emotional and informative experience. I have written down some of my notes here, of course. But the title of the conference itself was the most important aspect. "Mapping Our Return".

How can one possibly map a return to a country that has been brutally seized via murderous force coldly administered by heartless invaders, ones who now have the full military and financial support of American Zionists -- as well as the possession of approximately 200 nuclear bombs? How indeed.

I would suggest that one road we could outline on this map of return is to hold the next al Awda conference in Jerusalem -- entitled "The Year of Our Actual Return." And Palestinian-Americans with dual citizenship could all attend this conference too. Just an idea.

The conference itself opened with a moment of silence for the thousands of victims of Zionist apartheid in Gaza. I still cannot believe, in a modern world such as ours where our children watch all that caring and sharing on Sesame Street for crying out loud, people and governments and especially the UN still allow such injustice and brutality to exist.

"Al Awda (the Return) binds Palestinians legally, culturally and morally together -- even despite 70 years of being constantly attacked by well-funded detractors," said the first speaker. "And we Palestinians, like all other human beings, have the right to leave our homes in the morning and to know that our homes will still be there when we return."

Even though Zionist thieves stole everything Palestinians have, the victims are just supposed to forget this? No, no and no.

"Who owns Jewishness?" the next speaker asked. "Zionists claim to own it but they do not." And Palestine is not a "revolution industry" either. Palestinians just want to go home.

Oslo was a disaster. Among other things, it sold Palestinians out to the NGOs, like in Haiti. "There are 10,000 NGOs in Haiti -- where the money goes to the NGOs instead of the people. The same thing happened in Palestine after Oslo -- deliberate structural violence. Oslo is an unbelievable colonialistic document. You should read it some time."

Then we watched a film entitled "1948: Creation & Catastrophe," showing the horrors of the Nakba itself. Old footage of sad Palestinian refugees and dead Palestinian bodies. Not a dry eye in the house.

The next speaker was a professional comedian. "You get a lot more people to listen to you if you use humor to get your point across," he said. But if you dare to get too political, forget about ever going mainstream. You gotta sell your soul to the Zionists in order to do that.

A fashion designer spoke next. "I could not get a visa to show my designs at New York Fashion Week. But when I showed them in Milan, Israelis claimed credit for my designs!" But Israelis still won't let Palestinians in the West Bank work for her to produce garments. No surprise there.

Two more ideas were presented regarding how to support al Awda: Money and Truth. Money will help support the creativity of Palestinian artists -- and money will also help get out the truth. "Elevate and make visible the political reality" of the Nakba, of the West Bank, of Gaza, of Shatila and Yarmouk.

Next a cartoonist from Brazil spoke and he said all the right stuff about Palestine -- but then started riffing off on happenings in Syria and Russia, something he obviously hadn't researched very well. Several of us audience members descended on him afterwards and tried to set him straight. "No, Assad is not an evil dictator. No, Russia is not the imperialist here." But did he listen to us? Who knows.

Other speakers talked about taxation without representation, ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and the brutal attacks on Gaza. "Israel fears all Palestinian resistance -- but especially nonviolent resistance. The Great March of Return terrified Israelis."

Next speaker. "What we have done for the last 70 years hasn't been working because we are here and not in charge of Palestine. We must attack -- attack every lie. Every time. All the disinformation. It's not the Zionists' promised land, Zionists are not the only descendants of Abraham. Israel is not a democracy. It is not even Jewish. And it is definitely not a friend of the United States."

Then there was a Gala dinner and a fashion show. Time well spent. Time to take the #61 bus back to my hotel.
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!








War Is Love
By David Swanson

On Monday I was arrested along with many other people in the street in front of the U.S. Capitol, participating in the new Poor People's Campaign, the first multi-issue coalition we've seen in years that properly takes on militarism rather than indulging the fantasy of a $1 trillion a year military coexisting with decent humanitarian and environmental policies.

Yet it was hard at this peaceful gathering and in the "training" before it not to notice people's habitual shouts of "fight back!" and "go to war!" and "we must be warriors!" - not to mention the handing out of U.S. flags.

What bothers me far more than peace activists talking war talk, however, is war activists talking peace talk. I recently debated a "military ethicist" who literally claimed to support wars out of love. The Pentagon, of course, has a peace pole in it. While no peace activists ever claim that peace will help bring the world to a state of war, war activists are constantly claiming that war will produce peace - in fact they've been doing so for 100 years now in the face of ever growing evidence to the contrary.

On Thursday, the department formerly known as the U.S. War Department posted this headline: "Army Leader Focuses on Empathy, Compassion." The article made no mention whatsoever of "humanitarian" propaganda, of how to pretend that massive violence and slaughter can be used to prevent greater suffering. It included no comment on winning the "hearts and minds" of the people you are killing and occupying. It suggested no techniques for properly empathizing with those you kill or injure or torture or render homeless or force to obey foreign or domestic tyrants.

The War Department article focused entirely on how a U.S. military commander can empathetically and compassionately command subordinates to engage in the mass killing of which war consists. There's no mention of the fact that U.S. veterans are much more likely to commit suicide, or the fact that they are much more likely to go on committing murder beyond the permitted times and places.

In fact, there's actually no mention at all of any ways in which to be empathetic or compassionate even to subordinate soldiers. The obvious first steps of allowing "volunteers" to stop volunteering, of providing non-evil career options, of investing a few percent of the military budget in making college free, of firing John Bolton before he blows up Korea and the rest of us with it, etc., would clearly not be acceptable. But nothing else is offered instead.

So, what's in the article? Virtually nothing. We're told to use something called "hard leadership," but not what it is or why it's called that, or why it has to be called something that makes it sound cartoonishly and barbarically stupid. The article fully exhausts its vocabulary in avoiding saying anything, to the point where it is reduced to telling us that there are "many lessons on the hard things of leadership," but neither what those lessons are, nor what those hard things are.

"I've never had a retention problem in any of my organizations, and I'd like to think I can attribute it to the command climate that we provided," says an Army maestro. Call me an ignorant civilian, but I'd attribute it to the contracts members of the military have signed that can result in their being sent to prison if they "desert."

Nonviolent activists filling the streets for peace and justice are doing so at the risk of going to jail. Violent soldiers bombing and shooting up distant streets are doing so lest they be sent to jail for refusing. One of these movements is a place for great leaders. The other is a place where leadership is more than "hard," it's impossible.
(c) 2018 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 Dead Letter Office...





Mo giving the corporate salute.

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer Brooks,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your explanation of rising oceans being caused by falling rocks, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 06-02-2018. We salute you Herr Brooks, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump






Trump's Curious Coalition
By Robert Reich

Trump's strategy for keeping power is to build up his coalition of America's white working class and the nation's ownership class.

It's a curious coalition, to say the least. But if Democrats don't respond to it, it could protect Trump from impeachment and even re-elect him. It just might create a permanent Republican majority around an axis of white resentment and great wealth.

Two decades ago, Democrats and Republicans competed over the middle class. They battled over soccer moms and suburban "swing" voters.

Since then the middle class has shrunk while the working class has grown, and vast wealth has been accumulated by a comparative few who now own a large portion of America. Some of their wealth has taken over American politics.

Enter Trump.

Counties whose voters shifted from Obama to Trump in 2016 had lost economic ground to the rest of America, even more than did solidly-Republican counties. Trump is counting on the unwavering support of these mostly white working class voters.

Meanwhile, much of the ownership class has come over to Trump. He's counting on it to bankroll Republican politicians who are loyal to him.

Since becoming president, Trump has sought to reward both sides of this coalition - tossing boatloads of money to the ownership class, and red meat to the white working class.

: One boatload is the corporate and individual tax cut, of which America's richest 1 percent will take home an estimated 82 percent by 2027, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Another boatload is coming from government itself, which Trump has filled with lobbyists who are letting large corporations do whatever they want - using public lands, polluting, defrauding consumers and investors, even employing children - in order to push profits even higher.

Trump's red meat for the white working class is initiatives and tirades against unauthorized immigrants and foreign traders - as if they're responsible for the working class's lost ground - and other symbolic gestures of economic populism, along with episodic racist outbursts, and support for guns and evangelicals.

Every time Trump sends more money to the wealthy he sends more red meat to his base.

Weeks ago, after announcing he'd seek another big tax cut before the midterm elections - "phase two," as he termed it - he threatened China with a trade war; arranged another crackdown on unauthorized immigrants, including a carefully-choreographed plan to break up families at the border and attack sanctuary cities; and vowed to go after pharmaceutical companies.

Yet red meat goes only so far. At some point, you'd think, the white working class would realize that the only real beneficiaries of the Trump coalition are the super-rich.

Trump's clampdown on foreign imports and immigrants won't raise working-class wages. It's more likely to erode their paychecks because it will cause consumer prices to rise. Yet it leaves American multinational corporations unscathed. They don't make their money off trade and don't rely on immigrants; they fabricate and sell from all over the world. If a trade war with China breaks out, they'll merely shift their sourcing to other nations.

His tax cut put a few dollars in working-class pockets but is already requiring cuts in services they rely on, and will demand more.

His plan to bring down drug prices won't make drugs any cheaper. Instead, it's a big win for drug companies whose prices won't be controlled and won't have to negotiate with Medicare and Medicaid.

Trump doesn't want his base to know that the only way they can permanently become better off is by reining in the ownership class.

He doesn't want them to recall that the ownership class is largely responsible for hollowing out the middle class. For decades the captains of American industry, backed by the nation's biggest investors, have squeezed payrolls by outsourcing abroad, cutting or eliminating job benefits, busting unions, and shifting to part-time and contract work.

He'd rather they didn't see that corporate profits - flowing into higher executive pay and higher share prices - have constituted a steadily larger portion of economy, while wages have been a steadily lower portion. Most economic gains have gone to the top. We have had socialism for the rich and harsher capitalism for everyone else.

If Democrats were smart they would expose all this - and commit themselves to reversing these trends by creating a multi-racial coalition of the poor, working class, and what's left of the middle.

Trump's curious coalition endures only because he's a clever salesman and conman. The only way it can possibly succeed at entrenching Trump is if Democrats say and do little or nothing.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is www.robertreich.org.









The Coming Collapse
By Chris Hedges

The Trump administration did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don't count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that demonstrated by teachers around the country this year. If we do not stand up we will enter a new dark age.

The Democratic Party, which helped build our system of inverted totalitarianism, is once again held up by many on the left as the savior. Yet the party steadfastly refuses to address the social inequality that led to the election of Trump and the insurgency by Bernie Sanders. It is deaf, dumb and blind to the very real economic suffering that plagues over half the country. It will not fight to pay workers a living wage. It will not defy the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to provide Medicare for all. It will not curb the voracious appetite of the military that is disemboweling the country and promoting the prosecution of futile and costly foreign wars. It will not restore our lost civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from government surveillance, and due process. It will not get corporate and dark money out of politics. It will not demilitarize our police and reform a prison system that has 25 percent of the world's prisoners although the United States has only 5 percent of the world's population. It plays to the margins, especially in election seasons, refusing to address substantive political and social problems and instead focusing on narrow cultural issues like gay rights, abortion and gun control in our peculiar species of anti-politics.

This is a doomed tactic, but one that is understandable. The leadership of the party, the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tom Perez, are creations of corporate America. In an open and democratic political process, one not dominated by party elites and corporate money, these people would not hold political power. They know this. They would rather implode the entire system than give up their positions of privilege. And that, I fear, is what will happen. The idea that the Democratic Party is in any way a bulwark against despotism defies the last three decades of its political activity. It is the guarantor of despotism.

Trump has tapped into the hatred that huge segments of the American public have for a political and economic system that has betrayed them. He may be inept, degenerate, dishonest and a narcissist, but he adeptly ridicules the system they despise. His cruel and demeaning taunts directed at government agencies, laws and the established elites resonate with people for whom these agencies, laws and elites have become hostile forces. And for many who see no shift in the political landscape to alleviate their suffering, Trump's cruelty and invective are at least cathartic.

Trump, like all despots, has no ethical core. He chooses his allies and appointees based on their personal loyalty and fawning obsequiousness to him. He will sell anyone out. He is corrupt, amassing money for himself-he made $40 million from his Washington, D.C., hotel alone last year-and his corporate allies. He is dismantling government institutions that once provided some regulation and oversight. He is an enemy of the open society. This makes him dangerous. His turbocharged assault on the last vestiges of democratic institutions and norms means there will soon be nothing, even in name, to protect us from corporate totalitarianism.

But the warnings from the architects of our failed democracy against creeping fascism, Madeleine Albright among them, are risible. They show how disconnected the elites have become from the zeitgeist. None of these elites have credibility. They built the edifice of lies, deceit and corporate pillage that made Trump possible. And the more Trump demeans these elites, and the more they cry out like Cassandras, the more he salvages his disastrous presidency and enables the kleptocrats pillaging the country as it swiftly disintegrates.

The press is one of the principal pillars of Trump's despotism. It chatters endlessly like 17th-century courtiers at the court of Versailles about the foibles of the monarch while the peasants lack bread. It drones on and on and on about empty topics such as Russian meddling and a payoff to a porn actress that have nothing to do with the daily hell that, for many, defines life in America. It refuses to critique or investigate the abuses by corporate power, which has destroyed our democracy and economy and orchestrated the largest transfer of wealth upward in American history. The corporate press is a decayed relic that, in exchange for money and access, committed cultural suicide. And when Trump attacks it over "fake news," he expresses, once again, the deep hatred of all those the press ignores. The press worships the idol of Mammon as slavishly as Trump does. It loves the reality-show presidency. The press, especially the cable news shows, keeps the lights on and the cameras rolling so viewers will be glued to a 21st-century version of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." It is good for ratings. It is good for profits. But it accelerates the decline.

All this will soon be compounded by financial collapse. Wall Street banks have been handed $16 trillion in bailouts and other subsidies by the Federal Reserve and Congress at nearly zero percent interest since the 2008 financial collapse. They have used this money, as well as the money saved through the huge tax cuts imposed last year, to buy back their own stock, raising the compensation and bonuses of their managers and thrusting the society deeper into untenable debt peonage. Sheldon Adelson's casino operations alone got a $670 million tax break under the 2017 legislation. The ratio of CEO to worker pay now averages 339 to 1, with the highest gap approaching 5,000 to 1. This circular use of money to make and hoard money is what Karl Marx called "fictitious capital." The steady increase in public debt, corporate debt, credit card debt and student loan debt will ultimately lead, as Nomi Prins writes, to "a tipping point-when money coming in to furnish that debt, or available to borrow, simply won't cover the interest payments. Then debt bubbles will pop, beginning with higher yielding bonds."

An economy reliant on debt for its growth causes our interest rate to jump to 28 percent when we are late on a credit card payment. It is why our wages are stagnant or have declined in real terms-if we earned a sustainable income we would not have to borrow money to survive. It is why a university education, houses, medical bills and utilities cost so much. The system is designed so we can never free ourselves from debt.

However, the next financial crash, as Prins points out in her book "Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World," won't be like the last one. This is because, as she says, "there is no Plan B." Interest rates can't go any lower. There has been no growth in the real economy. The next time, there will be no way out. Once the economy crashes and the rage across the country explodes into a firestorm, the political freaks will appear, ones that will make Trump look sagacious and benign.

And so, to quote Vladimir Lenin, what must be done?

We must invest our energy in building parallel, popular institutions to protect ourselves and to pit power against power. These parallel institutions, including unions, community development organizations, local currencies, alternative political parties and food cooperatives, will have to be constructed town by town. The elites in a time of distress will retreat to their gated compounds and leave us to fend for ourselves. Basic services, from garbage collection to public transportation, food distribution and health care, will collapse. Massive unemployment and underemployment, triggering social unrest, will be dealt with not through government job creation but the brutality of militarized police and a complete suspension of civil liberties. Critics of the system, already pushed to the margins, will be silenced and attacked as enemies of the state. The last vestiges of labor unions will be targeted for abolition, a process that will soon be accelerated given the expected ruling in a case before the Supreme Court that will cripple the ability of public-sector unions to represent workers. The dollar will stop being the world's reserve currency, causing a steep devaluation. Banks will close. Global warming will extract heavier and heavier costs, especially on the coastal populations, farming and the infrastructure, costs that the depleted state will be unable to address. The corporate press, like the ruling elites, will go from burlesque to absurdism, its rhetoric so patently fictitious it will, as in all totalitarian states, be unmoored from reality. The media outlets will all sound as fatuous as Trump. And, to quote W.H. Auden, "the little children will die in the streets."

As a foreign correspondent I covered collapsed societies, including the former Yugoslavia. It is impossible for any doomed population to grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is on the eve of implosion. All the harbingers of collapse are visible: crumbling infrastructure; chronic underemployment and unemployment; the indiscriminate use of lethal force by police; political paralysis and stagnation; an economy built on the scaffolding of debt; nihilistic mass shootings in schools, universities, workplaces, malls, concert venues and movie theaters; opioid overdoses that kill some 64,000 people a year; an epidemic of suicides; unsustainable military expansion; gambling as a desperate tool of economic development and government revenue; the capture of power by a tiny, corrupt clique; censorship; the physical diminishing of public institutions ranging from schools and libraries to courts and medical facilities; the incessant bombardment by electronic hallucinations to divert us from the depressing sight that has become America and keep us trapped in illusions. We suffer the usual pathologies of impending death. I would be happy to be wrong. But I have seen this before. I know the warning signs. All I can say is get ready.
(c) 2018
Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/chris-hedges.




The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Taylor Jones ~~~








To End On A Happy Note...





Have You Seen This...






Parting Shots...





Trump Orders Replica Nobel Peace Prize To Display On His Desk
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Donald J. Trump has ordered a replica of the Nobel Peace Prize and is displaying it prominently on his desk in the Oval Office, the White House confirmed on Wednesday.

The replica of the Nobel medallion is mounted on what the White House described as a "tasteful black-velvet background" with an engraved plaque reading, "Donald J. Trump, 2018 Winner."

At the daily White House briefing, the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said that Trump "took the initiative" to award himself the Peace Prize rather than "waiting around" for the Nobel committee, in Oslo, to bestow it on him.

"What with his successes in Syria, Iran, North Korea, and whatnot, the President already knows he's a lock for the Nobel,"" she said. "It's just a formality at this point."

The fake Nobel was first spotted by Henry Klugian, a student who was on a White House tour with his seventh-grade class from Bethesda, Maryland.

"I thought it was kind of weird that he'd have something like that made up for himself, but whatever," he said.
(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz




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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 20 (c) 05/25/2018


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