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In This Edition


Dahr Jamail returns with an absolute must read, "May 2018 Broke Thousands Of Temperature Records Across The US."

Uri Avnery remembers, "The Siamese Twins."

Glen Ford reminds us, "The Democratic Party Is White Supremacist, Too."

Greg Palast returns with, "Ohio's Junk Mail Trick Led The Supreme Court To Approve Jim Crow Voter Purge."

Jim Hightower asks, "What Do Those People Who Want?"

John Nichols finds, "The Poor People's Campaign Is Changing The Moral Narrative Of Congress."

James Donahue exclaims, "Imagine: 3-D Printers That Manufacture Things!"

William Rivers Pitt with a must read, "Child Abuse at the Border: We Must Stop This Monstrosity."

Heather Digby Parton discovers, "GOPers Like Trump's New Bff Kim More Than Pelosi."

David Suzuki says, "Carbon pricing Is An Important Tool To Tackle Climate Change."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "Shocking To No One, Trump's Commerce Secretary Isn't Telling The Whole Truth."

David Swanson wonders, "Why Are the Poor Patriotic?"

Jane Stillwater attends the, "NYC Book Expo: 'Books Are My Only friends...'."

Corey Lewandowski wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich sends a letter, "To The Press, After 18 Months Of Trump."

Chris Hedges asks, "Et Tu, Bernie?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst explores, "King Donald" but first Uncle Ernie wonders, "Is There A Decline In American Morals?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Rob Rogers, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Nik Shuliahin, Jonathan Ernst, John Moore, 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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Is There A Decline In American Morals?
By Ernest Stewart

"I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart." ~~~ Laura Bush

"Climate change is analogous to Lincoln and slavery or Churchill and Nazism: it's not the kind of thing where you can compromise." ~~~ James Hansen

"You may not know who to vote for, but you always know who to vote against." ~~~ H.R. Stewart

Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don't come easy.
It Don't Come Easy ~~~ Ringo Starr



Just when you thought tRump couldn't go any lower, become any more evil that he already shown himself to be. He starts kidnapping and torturing children. Could it get worse than that? Why, yes it could. How about holding those same children for ransom! If Con-gress would only give him the money to building his wall (that he said Mexico was going to pay for) then the children would be returned to their parents, except, of course, for those that he's lost or has given to child traffickers!

Ergo, you must conclude, that he's the worst president we've ever had! However, if you reached that conclusion you would be wrong. To find the perhaps worse president all you need to do is start at the beginning. You may recall the "father" of this country, George Washington! George as you know was a slave owner, and as evil as that is it's far from the worst of his atrocities! For those of you who rush to his defence with, "He was a man of his time!" So, was Hitler, so was Caligula, and so is tRump! What's your point?

Beyond slavery George used to steal Indian lands to sell to the "pilgrims" when they got off the boat, which is how George became the richest man in America, our first one per-center! He got the Indian land by being a genocidal maniac, did they leave that fact out of your history books? What's worse is that he sent the federal troops out to masacre even the tribes that fought along side him in the Revolutionary war, tribes he promised could keep their land for joining in the fight against the British! A hypocritical liar to boot!

In fact, there are only two things he did that I approve of. The first was when he led the troops into battles, he was out in fornt of the soliders riding back and forth in front of the lines. Being 6 foot, 5 inches he made a great target for the British and had several horses shot out from under him and had his clothes full of bullet holes and yet never got a scratch! Yeah, he had a a pair, I'll give him that! The other thing was that when his time was up he left office and went home and didn't claim the presidency as a kingdom with he being "George the first" as many feared he might!

I could go on and on about his evil deeds but life is short, which brings us back to tRump who is a coward and never went to war because of his "bone spurs!" While tRump hasn't done the really awful things that George did, give him time and he certainly will. Even George wasn't a traitor and didn't try to turn this country from an empire to a third rate, third world country, which is tRumps ultimate goal. That is, of course, if he doesn't start WWIII and kill us all first!

So, in answer to the question, "Is There A Decline In American Morals?" No, as a nation we have always been evil rat-bastards!

In Other News

A way back in June of 1988, a time when most experts treated global warming as a future issue, NASA's leading climate scientist James Hansen announced on Capitol Hill that Earth's atmosphere was already warming and that it was getting worse. Hansen says that he wishes that his forecast about global warming had been wrong, but unfortunately it was right.

As we found several years ago the oil companies knew back in the 1950s that burning oil would lead to global warming but chose not to say anything as it would effect their bottom line!

Hansen's first attempt to bring Congressional attention to the issue was in the fall of 1987, but he assumes the cold weather did not help to bolster his case. Hansen then testified on a record hot day in June, a couple of months before his study was published that described just how much greenhouse gas emissions would trap heat and boost temperatures.

Thirty years later, it seems that Hansen's warning fell on deaf ears regardless of the season, even though his predictions were remarkably accurate.

For their investigation in 1988, Hansen and fellow NASA scientists used three different scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions, which they classified as being high, medium, and low. The team focused its study on the potential warming that would result from medium-level emissions.

Hansen projected that, by 2017, the globe's five-year mean temperature would be about 1.85 degrees higher than the average temperature from 1950 to 1980. NASA's five-year mean global temperature by the end of 2017 was 1.48 degrees above the 30-year average!

This discrepancy was due simply to the fact that a slight cooling of the Sun was not accounted for in the study.

Hansen also predicted extreme weather days for the current decade across four U.S. cities. Take a look around, what isn't burning down is drowning. Here in Michigan we had a week of 100 degree plus weather.

Clara Deser is the top climate analyst at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. She said that Hansen's extreme weather predictions were "astounding" in their accuracy.

Hansen is now an adjunct professor who directs the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University. He is also an environmental activist, and wants to see more action taken to save the planet for future generations, including his grandchildren.

Hansen said that what he really wants now is for "the warning be heeded and actions be taken.

"All we've done is agree there's a problem. We haven't acknowledged what is required to solve it. Promises like Paris don't mean much, it's wishful thinking. It's a hoax that governments have played on us since the 1990s!"


To the climate deniers that find fault with his anti-government job of environmental advocacy, the professor is unapologetic.

"If scientists are not allowed to talk about the policy implications of the science, who is going to do that? People with financial interests?"

I wouldn't hold my breath James, if I were you waiting for the corpo-rat goons to do the right thing! They could have done the right thing back in the 1950s and with tRump egging them on I don't see that happening!

And Finally

Over Fathers Day I got to thinking about my father who passed away ten years ago come September. Got to thinking about growing up and coming of age in Dearborn, Michigan. If you were white welcome to Nirvana if you weren't, run for you life, if you can! We were the most racist city above that old Mason/Dixon Line. Ergo dad pretend to be a little to the right of Darth Vader, in his heart he was a liberal, but if he wanted to keep his job at Ford's and the good life and for his families sake what he was on the outside wasn't what he was, on the inside. Of course, all of his kids were liberal bordering on radical (moi) and we'd call him Archie, as in Archie Bunker!

Things for black folks, Mexicans etc. you could get a job, most of the jobs were being maids and chauffeurs for the rich folks but even if you did get a job you couldn't stay over night like the white maids could, you had to be out of town by sunset, period! No ifs ands or buts! You could work longer in the summer than you could in the winter! I was so amazed when George Clinton & the Parliaments were allowed to play in a night club that I crashed as a 17 year old. To be fair, the Harlem Globetrotters played once a year at my High School. When they left in their bus it was followed out of town by a patrol car!

Sure, Henry Ford had hired a few blacks, not because he was for civil rights, but he used them to try and break strikes, which caused race riots and many deaths.

Now a-daze in Dearborn things have changed, they have a Muslim police chief and a dozen or so black policemen who live in the city, Imagine that! I'm sure dad would have approved! One of the things I remember about his wisdom on Fathers Day was about politics. Dad said "You may not know who to vote for, but you always know who to vote against." You know who to vote against, but you must vote! Make sure that you are registered and haven't been thrown off the voters list. Then get out and vote in every election, every one. More than half the population doesn't bother to vote and look where we're at, thanks to them!

Keepin' On

Another week and another brilliant edition of Issues & Alibis! How does he do it, week after week, year after year, I hear you ask? Well, folks, you know it don't come easy. You have to be centered and tenacious. All of it is out there, you just need the time and training to find it, and understand it, when you do.

Sure, a good part of it comes directly to me from the various cartoonists and authors. However, that only happens after years of proving to them that sending in their material will be handled, written up, and displayed properly, in-other-words, trust-and trust isn't something that happens overnight. There are some serious dues that have to be paid to gain their trust, on top of some serious bills that have to be paid, too!

Ergo, if this weekly work of art pleases and informs you do lend us a hand in paying these somewhat outrageous, heavenly bills. When compared to most Internet magazines, our bills are minuscule. No one is bringing in a 6 or 7 figure salary like they get at most other ezines; in fact, I'm not making a 2 figure salary; in fact, I've never made a dime out of this, nor do I want to. For example, that $50 grand that Common Dreams just raised for their quarterly expenses, I could run this magazine for eight years with that money, not three months! That's not what this is about; it's about getting the political truth out so that everyone who can get online and wants to know it can find it and use it to protect themselves and their families from the corpo_rat goons and their political puppets that do their dastardly deeds! And to do it so the poorest of the poor are included, as we charge no fees for that use and education! Help us if you can and we'll keep it up, week after week, year after year! Rock on, Ya'll!

*****


12-29-1929 ~ 06-15-2018
Thanks for the Music!



03-26-1958 ~ 06-15-2018
Thanks for the Music!



05-18-1926 ~ 06-16-2018
Thanks for the film!



03-13-1950 ~ 06-21-2018
Burn Baby Burn


*****

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So how do you like Trump so far?
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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.




Terminal Moraine of the Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus. Ice used to be roughly 250 feet thicker here,
as the exposed grey earth reveals. Note the two climbers ascending snow finger near the middle of the photograph for scale.



May 2018 Broke Thousands Of Temperature Records Across The US
By Dahr Jamail

A recent climbing trip up Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park brought the bittersweet experience I've become all too familiar with as someone who spends much of his free time on glaciers.

On the one hand, the experience of being on ice that is thousands of years old and often hundreds if not thousands of feet thick is humbling. The accompanying awe of this reality, coupled with the sheer beauty of these landscapes carved by and now covered with glaciers is not to be missed.

Returning from the summit, after descending to the lower Blue Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in Olympic National Park, my friends and I were struck by how much of this glacier had melted off. The stark grey lateral moraine (accumulations of dirt and rocks that have fallen onto the surface of a glacier or have been pushed along by the glacier as it moves) which we had descended to reach the climbing route that morning stood before us.

That morning, we had noted how much the glacier had melted from the high point of the moraine before we dropped down onto the glacier to rope up for the climb, but perhaps now because we had to ascend the moraine, its height really hit home. Witnessing these dramatic impacts from anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) first_hand always feels like a gut punch to me. My climbing partners and I shook our heads at the spectacle, then carried on to the edge of the glacier in order to unrope and ascend the moraine.

Olympic National Park alone has lost 82 glaciers since just 1984. The Olympic Mountains have four big valley glaciers with glaciers extending down into their lower slopes, but when the park first inventoried its glaciers back in 1958, there were twice as many. The winter of 2015 was the lowest snowpack on record for the Olympics. In the aftermath of that winter, Bill Baccus, an Olympic National Park field scientist and glacier expert, told Washington's National Park Fund blog, "What we saw on our glaciers in 2015 will probably reflect our future conditions."

Before and after photos of glaciers in Olympic National Park starkly illustrate how much ice the park is losing.

Once back atop the lateral moraine on our way back down to our camp, the shrinking Blue Glacier, now far below us, felt far smaller as the scope of its melting became all too clear with our new perspective.


The Blue Glacier from atop its lateral moraine. Alpine glaciers globally are in dramatic retreat as human_caused climate disruption continues apace.

And this is not only happening in the Olympics; the cryosphere is melting apace globally.

In the Arctic, the sea ice hit a record low this year for ice older than five years, and scientists say the summers will be ice_free in the Arctic Ocean in the future - the only question is when. The last four years have been the four lowest on record for the maximum winter sea ice extend and clearly, this trend will continue.

And things are not any better in the Antarctic, where new research found that parts of the Larsen C ice shelf are actually melting during the depths of winter when temperatures stay well below freezing. This is due to the fact that "Foehn winds" are bringing warmer temperatures, and between 2015 and 2017, caused around 23 percent of the annual surface melt of the ice shelf to occur during the winter months.

Another discovery from Antarctica has shown that ACD is likely happening even faster than we know.A group of scientists found that Antarctica's Southern Ocean is most likely not absorbing as much carbon dioxide as previously believed, which means more is remaining in the atmosphere, which of course, amplifies ACD.

Equally disconcerting is the fact that the "Atlantification" and "Pacification" of the Arctic has begun as warmer waters from other oceans are streaming into the increasingly ice_free Arctic Ocean, bringing new species and signaling what is likely the upending of the incredibly sensitive polar environment.

Meanwhile, extreme weather events continue apace. The island of Kauai witnessed a shocking rain event, when one storm brought over four feet of rain in just 24 hours. Scientists warned that the event was a sign of the future, although it is now something that is a matter of history.

The second 1,000_year flood in just two years struck Ellicott City, Maryland, further underscoring the aforementioned warning from scientists.

CO2 released from dying forests is equivalent to the emissions from 11 million cars. As the 2018 hurricane season is officially underway, scientists have warned of super storms, with one of them suggesting the creation of a new Category 6 designation for extremely powerful storms as storms with higher winds and more rainfall are getting so intense, the current warning categories are soon to be outdated.

Earth

Disconcertingly, a recently published study showed that CO2 released from dying forests being decimated by tree_killing pests (which are on the increase as temperatures warm) is equivalent to the emissions from 11 million cars.

Rising temperatures bring other problems as well. One study showed that as winters continue to warm, hibernating black bears in the US aren't sleeping. This means they require more food, and often end up searching for food from humans, which causes obvious problems. The study showed that for every 1 degree Celsius minimum temperature increase, bears hibernate six fewer days. According to the study, by 2050, black bears will stay awake between 15_39 days longer each year, thus requiring that much more food.

Complicating things further, a recently published study showed that ACD is on track to cause a calamitous decline of insects across the world. Climate projections show that insects will lose nearly half their habitat from that alone, not even including human encroachment and other factors. Given that insects are vital to nearly every ecosystem on Earth, their widespread collapse would assuredly cause deep disruption across the planet, including humans' ability to feed ourselves. It is worth remembering that last October, scientists warned of "ecological Armageddon" when a study found that the number of flying insects in Germany (and likely elsewhere) had plummeted by three_quarters in the last 27 years alone.

A report from last month showed that honeybees may already be dying in larger numbers due to ACD, with beekeepers citing erratic weather patterns as one of the primary reasons. Beekeepers in the US reported that 40 percent of their colonies had unexpected deaths during the year that ended March 31, according to a survey released recently. Shockingly, this is an increase by one_third from the previous year. From a human_impact perspective, this obviously ties in with the collapse of insect populations, given the critical role bees play for pollination and human food production.

Finally, warmer temperatures are expected to produce more drug_resistant infections, along with genetic mutations and increased growth of the infections, according to another recent study.

Water

A recently published study of hundreds of species of fish showed that they are all migrating northwards to cooler water as global oceanic temperatures warm. The migrations due to ACD are larger than what had been expected. One alarming example of this is how Atlantic cod in New England are expected to decline by 90 percent by 2100, which would crash that centuries_old fishery. On the other side of the US, rockfish in the Pacific Northwest are moving away from the Native American communities that rely upon them and northwards into Alaskan waters.

ACD is already threatening salmon and trout species' existence in the Pacific Northwest, as their river habitat is warming up dramatically.

On the other side of the world, a marine heat wave caused a grouper from waters off the coast of Queensland, Australia, to appear all the way in New Zealand, 1,800 miles away.

Meanwhile, ocean acidification - the process by which ocean waters become more acidic due to absorbing so much CO2 from the atmosphere - is causing neurological disruption in fish, causing them to have their senses of sight, smell and sound altered.

Back on land, increasingly intense droughts are now the norm across the US Southwest. A recent report showed that even in years with normal precipitation, temperatures are increasing so much that droughts are increasingly hot, doing exceptional damage to plants and trees; whereas in the past, droughts were normally caused primarily by lack of rainfall. According to climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck, "warm temperatures tend to make the droughts more severe because they pull the moisture out of plants, they pull the moisture out of rivers and out of soil - and that moisture ends up in the atmosphere instead of where we normally like to have it."

In fact, it's already so dry across the Southwest that forests are being closed by the US Forest Service in efforts to prevent wildfires started by errant campfires. Already this year, two_thirds of New Mexico is experiencing extreme drought due to radically low snowfall/snowpack over last winter, and this is the same story throughout much of the rest of the arid region. In Arizona it is even worse: 74 percent of that state is already under extreme drought conditions.

In Australia, sheep and cattle farmers are being forced to adapt to increasingly dry conditions as rainfall across regions of that country continues to remain far below normal, with this April having been the eighth_driest on record, at 63 percent below average.

NASA warned recently that water shortages are likely to be the largest environmental challenge of this century. Places like California, Antarctica, Greenland, China, Australia and the Caspian Sea regions are already experiencing serious declines in their freshwater supplies, and these are among numerous other places around the globe where this is happening and is expected to worsen.

On that note, a recent report from New Zealand revealed a shocking decline in glaciers in that country. According to ongoing studies there, a 30 percent loss of glacial ice has occurred in just the last 40 years.

Another recently published study showed the existence of previously unknown massive canyons hidden beneath hundreds of feet of ice in the interior of Antarctica. "[If] climate conditions change in Antarctica, we might expect the ice in these troughs to flow a lot faster towards the sea," Kate Winter, a researcher at Northumbria University in the UK and lead author on the paper, told the BBC. "That makes them really important, and we simply didn't know they existed before now."

On the rising seas front, Tangier Island, a small strip of land off the coast of Virginia, which is home to about 600 year_round residents, is expected to be swallowed up by the seas as early as 25 years from now, giving rise to more climate refugees in the US.

Fire

It has been well_known for years now that ACD is increasing the frequency, duration and intensity of wildfires, so it should come as no surprise that 2018 is again off to what could be another record_setting wildfire year across the US.

By June 8, firefighters across eight US states were already hard at work on 24 different larger wildfires. Ten of these fires were in Alaska alone. By June 8, about 1,780,633 acres had burned across the country since the beginning of 2018, which already places this year well above the annual average of burned acreage for that date frame over the previous 10 years.

In a 24_hour period, one fire north of Durango, Colorado, nearly doubled in size to almost 17,000 acres, forcing new mandatory evacuation orders affecting nearly 700 homes, as the fire is expected to continue to expand and spread across conditions that the Denver Post described as "tinderbox weather conditions."

Air

This May was the warmest May ever recorded across the US, as at least 8,600 records were tied or broken across the country. In fact, the previous warmest May occurred at the height of the Dust Bowl. For the entire country, that month's temperature was a shocking 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal.

This May was also the warmest ever recorded for Norway's Arctic islands, which saw temperatures soaring as high as 6 degrees Celsius above normal.

Germany saw its hottest April and May since 1881, which the German Weather Service said was not possible without the impacts of ACD.

In Pakistan, temperatures that used to only occur in June and July are now happening in March. The country's weather service warned that the spring heat is driving up water use and demand around the country.

Meanwhile, near_surface wind speeds over planetary landmasses have dropped by as much as 25 percent since just the 1970s, according to climate scientists. Decrease in wind speed means a decrease in evaporation, which will negatively impact irrigation and farming. It also means the dispersal of wind_blown seeds will be negatively impacted, and city_dwellers reliant upon winds to clear out pollution will also suffer the consequences.

More recent research also shows that by 2100 at the latest (it is likely already happening), ACD will cause hurricanes and typhoons to be stronger, slower and far wetter than they are today. "Hurricane Ike, for example, which devastated the US Gulf Coast in 2008, would have had 13 percent stronger winds, moved 17 percent slower, and been 34 percent wetter if it had formed later this century," reported Yale 360 on the study. "With temperatures 9 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today - the warming expected if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked."

Denial and Reality

As usual, there is too much fodder from the ACD denialists to include in one dispatch, so here are just a few high/lowlights.

In early May, the Trump White House quietly cancelled funding for a NASA research program that verifies greenhouse gas cuts (agreed to in the Paris climate accord) by stitching together satellite images used to produce high_resolution models of Earth's atmospheric carbon flows.

Then, after delaying release for months in order to delete all mentions of ACD, the Trump administration finally made public a National Park Service report - of course, with no mention of ACD.

If there were a Darwin Award for most ridiculous ACD denialist, however, it would most certainly go to Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who in May claimed that sea level rise was not due to ACD, but instead is being caused by rocks tumbling into the ocean.

Back to reality, new NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, a long_time ACD denier, recently admitted that humans are the cause of climate disruption.

Furthermore, a growing number of Republican voters are acknowledging that climate disruption is human_caused, as a recent poll showed 14 percent more of them are accepting reality.

Perhaps because more of their constituents are waking up, three House Republicans recently joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers working to address ACD threats.

Thanks to a group of high school students, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert recently signed an ACD resolution the students had championed, which acknowledges the existence of ACD and calls for emissions cuts.

These reality checks are indeed refreshing, as we must have factually accurate maps to navigate this era of runaway climate disruption in order to prioritize our life decisions wisely.

This knowledge is made more urgent by the fact that atmospheric CO2 levels recently broke yet another record, when they exceeded 411 parts per million in May, a month which also had the highest monthly average ever recorded.
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.





The Siamese Twins
By Uri Avnery

After commenting on most of the episodes on the first Israeli Prime Ministers in Raviv Drucker's TV series "The Captains," I must come back to the one whose episode I have not yet covered: Yitzhak Rabin.

Let me state right from the beginning: I liked the man.

He was a man after my own heart: honest, logical, straightforward, to the point.

No nonsense, no small talk. You entered his room, he poured you a straight whisky (seemed to me he detested water), got you seated, and asked a question that compelled you to come straight to the point.

How refreshing, compared to other politicians. But Rabin was no real politician. He was a military man through and through. He was also the man who could have changed the history of Israel.

That is why he was murdered.

The salient fact of his life was that, at the age of 70, he completely changed his basic outlook.

He was not born a man of peace. Far from it.

He was as orthodox a Zionist as they come. He fought Israel's wars, justified and unjustified, without asking questions. Some of his actions were brutal, some very brutal. During the first intifada in the Gaza Strip, he said "break their bones," and some soldiers took this literally.

So how did this man come to recognize the Palestinian people (whose very identity was denied), negotiate with the Palestinian "terrorist" leadership and sign the Oslo agreement?

I have the singular luck of being, perhaps, the only person in the world who has heard from the two main protagonists of the Oslo drama how they reached that turning point in their lives - and the lives of their two nations. They told me themselves (on different occasions, of course).

Rabin's account went more or less like this: After the 1967 war, I believed in the Jordanian Option, as did almost everybody else. Since nobody believed at the time that we would be allowed to keep the occupied territories, we wanted to return them to King Hussein, provided he let us keep East Jerusalem.

One day, the King announced that he was washing his hands of the West Bank. So the Option died. One of our experts advocated setting up "Village Leagues" in the West Bank and negotiating with them. The leagues soon collapsed.

In 1993 an Israeli_Arab peace conference was convened in Madrid. Since Israel did not recognize the Palestinians, the Palestinian representatives from the occupied territories were included in the Jordanian delegation. But when the discussion reached the Palestinian issue, the Jordanians got up and left the room, leaving the Israelis face to face with the Palestinians.

Every evening the Palestinians told the Israelis: now we must call Tunis and get instructions from Yasser Arafat. This was ridiculous. So, when I became Prime Minister again, I decided that we had better talk with Arafat himself.

(Arafat's story was similar: We started the armed struggle. It did not defeat Israel. Then we got the Arab armies to attack. At the start of the October War the Arabs indeed gained a brilliant victory, but they lost the war nevertheless. I realized that we could not defeat Israel, so I decided to make peace with Israel.)

IN HIS chapter about Rabin, Drucker paints a picture that - I believe - was not accurate.

According to him, Rabin was a weak person, who almost had to be dragged to Oslo by Shimon Peres, then the Foreign Minister. As an eyewitness, I must testify that this is quite wrong.

I met Rabin for the first time at the swimming pool. I was chatting with Ezer Weizmann, the commander of the Air Force, who had angered Ben_Gurion with his highly offensive jokes. Rabin appeared, clad like us in a bathing suit. He ignored me and turned straight to Ezer: "Don't you have enough troubles already without speaking in public with Uri Avnery?"

The next time I met him was in 1969, when he was ambassador in Washington. We had a long talk, in which I argued that the only way to safeguard the future of Israel was to make peace with the Palestinian people under the leadership of Arafat. Rabin was completely opposed to this opinion.

From then on, we met many times. A friend of mine, the sculptress Ilana Goor, was obsessed with the idea of getting us to talk with each other. So she threw frequent parties at her studio in Jaffa, the real purpose of which was to get us together. We generally met at the bar, and after everybody else had gone home we sat and talked, often with Ariel Sharon. What about? The Palestinian question, of course.

When I started my secret talks with the delegates of Arafat, first with Said Hamami and later with Issam Sartawi, I went to see Rabin in the Prime Minister's office and told him about it. Rabin's response was typical: "I don't agree with you, but I don't forbid your meetings. And if you hear something that you believe the Prime Minister of Israel should know about, my door is open."

After that I brought him several messages from Arafat, all of which he ignored. They concerned minor initiatives, but Rabin said: "If we start down this road, it will inevitably lead to a Palestinian state, which I don't want."

Arafat obviously wanted to establish contact with Rabin. I believe that this was Arafat's main purpose when he first received me in besieged West Beirut. (I was the first Israeli he ever met.)

I wish I could say that I honestly believe that it was I who convinced Rabin to change his outlook completely and make a deal with the Palestinians, but I do not believe it. Rabin was convinced by Rabin, by his own logic.

Rabin's historic mistake was that, after achieving the breakthrough in Oslo, he did not rush ahead and make peace. He was too slow and cautious. I have often compared him to a general who has broken through the enemy lines, and instead of throwing all his forces into the breach, hesitates and stops. That cost him his life.

This was a recurring fault. On the eve of the 6_day war, when he was Chief of Staff, the prolonged wait - or his compulsive smoking - caused him a breakdown. He was immobilized for 24 hours at the climax of the tension, during which time his deputy, Ezer Weizmann, took over command.

This did not prevent Rabin from achieving the historic victory in the war, under the best General Staff the Israeli army ever had. It had been put together by Rabin patiently for the time of need.

Years later, when Rabin was chosen Prime Minister, Ezer publicly warned the public that Rabin was not up to the job. In a memorable scene, Ariel Sharon shut himself in a public phone booth, with a heap of tokens in front of him, and phoned every newspaper editor in the country to assure them that Rabin was fit for the job.

I believe that in his plodding way, Rabin would eventually have made peace with the Palestinian people and helped to set up a Palestinian state. His initial dislike of Arafat gave way to mutual respect. Arafat visited him secretly at his home.

THE MAIN subject in Drucker's film was the proverbial enmity between Rabin and Peres. They hated each other's guts, but could not get rid of each other. I likened them to Siamese twins who hated each other.

It started right from the beginning. Rabin gave up his higher studies (agriculture) in order to join the Palmach, the field force of our underground army. When the '48 war broke out, he became a field commander. Peres did not join the army at all. Ben_Gurion sent him abroad to buy arms. That was surely an important task - but it could have been accomplished by a 60_year_old. Peres was 24 - two weeks older than I.

Since then, all my generation hated him. The stigma never left him. That was one reason for the fact that Peres never won an election in all his life. But he was a master of intrigue. Rabin, who had a sharp tongue, famously called him "the untiring intriguer."

At the end, the outstanding bone of contention was the Oslo breakthrough. Peres, as Foreign Minister, claimed the credit.

0 One day I had a weird experience. I received a call that Peres wanted to see me. Since we were sworn enemies, that was strange. When I arrived, Peres gave me an hour's concentrated lecture on why it was important to make peace with the Palestinians. Since this has been the central theme of my life for many decades, while he had always adamantly opposed it, this was rather surrealistic. I listened and wondered what it was all about.

Soon after, when the Oslo agreement became public, I understood the scene: it was part of Peres' effort to claim the credit.

But it was Rabin, the Prime Minister, who made the decision and took the responsibility. Because of this he was murdered.

The final scene: the assassin stood at the foot of the stairs, the pistol in his hand, waiting for Rabin to come down. But first came Peres.

The murderer let him pass unharmed - the ultimate insult.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom







The Democratic Party Is White Supremacist, Too
By Glen Ford

The Democrats suffered a serious setback at the U.S. Supreme Court, this week, as the Justices unanimously ruled that the party's plaintiffs had not proven they had been harmed by Wisconsin's Republican-crafted State Assembly district map. The high court also ruled unanimously against a Republican challenge of a Democrat-crafted Maryland congressional district, but on the more narrow ground that the GOP had waited too long to seek an injunction. As a result, there is still no U.S. Supreme Court standard for determining what constitutes "gerrymandering" -- unlawfully drawing legislative maps to the detriment of...whom?

The "whom" is most important. In the Wisconsin case, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, "This court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences. The court's constitutionally prescribed role is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it." Such a narrow interpretation is designed -- like most of the court majority's legal reasoning - to frustrate challenges based on alleged harms to groups of plaintiffs. Although protections for Black people's voting rights are well established in U.S. law, the high court appears reluctant to extend protections to "generalized" groups defined by their "partisan preferences" -- like Democrats and Republicans.

There is no question that Republicans have rigged the electoral map, wherever possible, to favor whites and rural voters -- as is enshrined in historical U.S. electoral structures, most notably, the wholly undemocratic U.S. Senate, which allocates two senators for each state, regardless of population, and the Electoral College, which gives citizens in overwhelmingly white and rural Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota three times the presidential voting power of citizens in polyglot New York, Florida, and California. Democrats rig the game, too, when they get the chance, although it's an uphill race. Both parties, however, are intent to preserve the duopoly system that splits the U.S. polity between them, for the benefit of their corporate masters. And neither party gives a damn about Black people's right to self-determination -- which includes the ability to elect representatives and executives of their choice, unless that choice is a Democrat or Republican.

On this issue, the Democrats' principled stance is worse than the Republicans. The Democrats consistently oppose Black "super-majority" voting districts that empower African Americans to elect candidates of their choice without significant non-Black support, while the GOP favors such districts. The Democratic Party abhors deep concentrations of Black voters, preferring to spread the Black vote over a number of districts to enhance Democratic legislative prospects, statewide. Republicans want as many Black votes as possible locked up in a few super-majority districts, rendering the rest of the legislative map an electoral battleground among whites, where Republicans can expect to fare well.

"Choice" vs "Influence"

The Democratic Party is determined to deny Blacks decisive electoral power. The Party fights tooth and nail to limit the number of voting districts in which Blacks have sufficient numbers to elect candidates of their "choice." Instead, the Party preaches that Blacks are better off spread out in districts where they make up 20 or 30 percent of the vote, but can "influence" more elections. The Democrats' preference is to dilute the Black electorate so that no "choice" remains but to vote for whatever

candidate is put forward by the fat cats that control the reins of the Party. Democratic districting schemes are designed to reduce Blacks to captive vote-fodder, dependable ciphers to shore up Democratic weakness among whites.

The very concept of Black self-determination is anathema to the Democratic Party -- just as it is on the Republican side of the duopoly. However, the GOP can live with -- and gain some legislative advantages from -- the creation of Black majority districts, since they are the stronger party among whites in most states. Democrats demand that Blacks surrender the power to conduct their own political battles in majority Black environments and choose officeholders that reflect Black people's evolving political will. Instead, Blacks are relegated to the status of yes-men to the Party -- a political captivity dressed up as "diversity."

And "yes-men" and women is what we've gotten from this deal with the Democrats. The Black Misleadership Class is steeped in subservience to the Democratic Party, which has been its connection to the ruling classes of U.S. society. In that sense, the Party is the root of corruption in the Black polity. The other main conduit of corruption, the GOP, is effectively off-limits, since its organizing principle is white supremacy. The duopoly system locks Blacks in the Democrats' foul and abusive embrace.

But, the Democrats don't just corrupt Black officeholders; they distort and deform the Black political conversation, through unrelenting suppression and cooptation of the Black Radical Tradition. Blacks are the most left-leaning, socialist-friendly, pro-peace ethnic constituency in the country, by far -- but that is not reflected in Black electoral politics. The Democratic Party is the duopoly system's mechanism to snuff out Black radicalism. Black Democratic officials and operatives have, for the past four decades, overseen the day-to-day maintenance of the Black Mass Incarceration State in the inner cities, on behalf of the Lords of Capital. The Democratic Party is, in truth, the long arm of the ruling class, reaching into every political nook and cranny of Black America and strangling every radical Black political tendency in its crib.

Black majorities, unrestrained, tend to hatch radical approaches to capitalist and white supremacist-inflicted problems. Is it any wonder that the self-proclaimed "most radical city on the planet" is 80 percent Black Jackson, Mississippi? Or that Amiri Baraka's son is the hugely popular mayor of Newark, New Jersey, the state's largest city, where whites make up only 13 percent of the population? Or that the Bay Area Center For Voting Research found, back in 2005, that:

"The list of America's most liberal [sic] cities reads like a who's who of prominent African American communities. Gary, Washington D.C., Newark, Flint, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Birmingham have long had prominent black populations. While most black voters have consistently supported Democrats since the 1960s, it is the white liberals that have slowly withered away over the decades, leaving African Americans as the sole standard bearers for the left...." -- (See The Black Commentator, "Where the Left Lives," by Bruce Dixon.)

It is the Democratic Party's job -- its division of labor under the duopoly electoral arrangement -- to subvert and suppress those radical tendencies, and to dilute the power of Black majorities wherever they exist. The Party has blunted the radicalism of the leftist city halls in Jackson and Newark, and seeks to bleach out "too-Black" legislative districts wherever possible.

Therefore, the American electoral duopoly is composed of twowhite supremacist parties: the Republicans, for whom white supremacy is an organizing principle, and the Democrats, the party that claims the allegiance of virtually all Black voters, but whose mission is to politically pacify and neutralize Blacks, in service of the ruling class.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com




Protesters gather during a rally held by the group Common Cause in front of the US Supreme Court, on January 10, 2018, in Washington, DC.



Ohio's Junk Mail Trick Led The Supreme Court To Approve Jim Crow Voter Purge
By Greg Palast

Monday's Supreme Court decision blessing Ohio's removal of half a million voters was ultimately decided on the issue of a postcard.

Now that little postcard threatens the voting rights of millions_but it can be reversed.

The instant_news media, working from press releases, not the Supreme Court's decision itself, said that Husted, Ohio Secretary of State v. A. Philip Randolph Institute was about whether Ohio has the right to remove voters who failed to cast ballots in two federal election cycles.

Nope.

Even the Court's right_wing majority concedes that federal law strictly forbids removing voters because they skipped some elections. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 states that a voter purge program "shall not result in the removal of the name of any person ... by reason of the person's failure to vote."

But here's the trick: In 2002, the George W. Bush administration ginned up the Help America Vote Act. When a Bush tells you he's going to "help" you vote, look out. Yet, naïve Democrats passed the act into law. The Help America Vote Act is filled with buried land mines that are still exploding.

Monday's decision is one of those land mines. The Help America Vote Act, the Court concluded, blew open a giant loophole in the National Voter Registration Act's protections. The trick is that Ohio does not remove voters simply because they missed a few elections. According to the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito:

Ohio uses a registrant's failure to vote [only] to identify that registrant as a person whose address has likely changed.

The Court takes note that Ohio claims it had evidence that, in 2012, a whopping 1.5 million voters - an astronomical 20 percent of its total voter base - had moved their residence out of Ohio or moved from their county voting area. The 1.5 million voters were sent postcards asking them to confirm their mailing address.

It was a voter's failure to return the postcard that cost them their right to vote. The Court majority said that the Help America Vote Act trumps the National Voter Registration Act, arguing that the act passed under George W. Bush "specifies that 'nothing in [the National Voter Registration Act prohibition] may be construed to prohibit a State from using the procedures' - [such as] sending a return card."

The Justices ruled that a voter's failure to return a postcard (which asks the voter to confirm their address) constitutes solid proof that the voter had left Ohio or moved to another voting district.

The plaintiffs, a coalition of voting rights groups, were gob_smacked. Plaintiffs argued that there are many reasons folks did not return the postcard, most likely that they threw it away as junk mail or never received it in the first place. But the Court majority found that, without specific evidence, the plaintiffs' claim that voters just threw away the cards was speculative and "dubious."

Jim Crow Is in the Cards

Writing for the four dissenters, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the effect of the Court's decision was to disproportionately wipe out the rights of "minority, low-income, disabled, homeless, and veteran voters." Sotomayor went on to cite an investigation revealing that Ohio's purge operation had knocked out the registrations of 10 percent of African American_majority neighborhoods in downtown Cincinnati compared to only 4 percent of voters in a nearby suburban, majority_white neighborhood.

But that's the point, Madame Justice.

But how? The Jim Crow result is in the cards.

I first discovered "purge-by-postcard" in 2014 while investigating mass attacks on voter rolls by GOP officials in a dozen states for Al Jazeera. I turned to direct mail experts, including Michael Wychocki, a Chicago_based adviser on mailing for Amazon and other companies that live or die by mail.

He directed me to the US Census Bureau's massive study of mail return rates. Dig this:

​While 90 percent of those 65 years of age and older return the Census form, only 55.4 percent of those 18 to 24 reply.

Homeowners are 32 percent more likely than renters to return forms.

Only 65 percent of Latino voters mailed back an initial Census form, as did 70 percent of Black voters_versus over 80 percent of "non-Hispanic whites."

And crucially, according to the Census study, 12 percent of mailings simply go astray_especially, says Wychocki, in poor, urban communities, where the tenants hop between apartments in the same neighborhood. And let's not even discuss students and the homeless.

Designed to Be Thrown Away?

And that's the Census Bureau, which designs mailings to get the highest response possible. Not so for the purge_by_postcard programs used by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

I showed Ohio voting rights attorney Robert Fitrakis a postcard on which one's voting rights hang, and he gave, word for word, the same response I got from another direct mail expert, Mark Swedlund (whose clientele include eBay and AT&T): "Looks like junk mail, you'd throw it in the garbage."

Indeed, Wychocki inspected the cards, which are filled with blocks of small print with no images. He explained that the design violates every cardinal rule of direct mail solicitation. While Wychocki would not speculate on the designer's motives, he said it looked as if the postcard was by someone who did not want the voter to respond.

And one such someone is Kris Kobach. According to documents obtained by the ACLU, Kobach provided Husted (and other GOP voting officials) a sample postcard to send to voters targeted for purge.

Why? There are two groups of voters in the 500,000 that Ohio purged based on "evidence" the voter has moved. Hundreds of thousands were purged who landed on the suspect list because they missed elections. Second, there were those who supposedly have registered in another state. Names of those identified as moving to another state were taken from the infamous Interstate Crosscheck list given Husted by Kobach, according to documents from Kobach's office.

For example, in 2015, leading up to the presidential election, Kobach, secretary of state in Kansas, gave Husted the Crosscheck list of 423,484 names of Ohio citizens who supposedly had registered in another state, according to Kansas records obtained by an investigative team I was working with at Rolling Stone magazine. Kobach and Husted had originally sold the Crosscheck program to the public as a method of finding criminal "double voters" - those actually voting in two states.

But Kobach himself told me in 2016_when I confronted him at a GOP fundraiser in Wichita while working for Rolling Stone_that the primary use of his Crosscheck lists is to identify voters who have moved and registered in another state. Kobach's office directs the national program to remove voters who fail to respond to a postcard, taking advantage of the nifty Help America Vote Act-shaped hole in the National Voter Registration Act.

That Kris Kobach led the way with the purge_by_postcard scheme is not surprising, given his long history of scams to disenfranchise voters of color, closely reported on by Truthout.

History of Vote Suppression

Which brings us to Sotomayor's outrage that the majority "entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the [National Voter Registration Act] was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low_income voters that Congress set out to eradicate."

We don't need to look at all of US history. Husted's own long record of purging, blocking and not counting voters of color is a history lesson in disenfranchisement all by itself.

In 2012 and 2016, I filmed the single early voting station in Dayton, Ohio, where Black voters lined up for five hours to vote. I also filmed the lines in a white Toledo suburb. Well, actually, there were no lines: white voters had a gigantic field of machines to choose from_plus cookies and coffee served.

The long lines for Black voters resulted from Husted's order closing all but one single early voting station in each county. That meant one polling station for the 13,000 residents and cows in Vinton County and one polling station for 1.3 million residents of Franklin County (Columbus).

Ohio attorney Robert Fitrakis says, bluntly, that Husted is purging voters of color to "make Ohio winnable [for Republicans] in the only way he knows how - by stealing American citizens' votes. And he's counting on bigotry to get away with it."

What Can Be Done?

The implications of the Supreme Court decision are unimaginably horrid, as states come up with spurious "evidence" that a voter has moved - "proven" by a failure to respond to a piece of junk mail.

The purge could be massive: A half_million in Ohio will undoubtedly lead to millions nationwide.

Normally, a Supreme Court verdict is the final word, the last rodeo.

But there is hope. On Wednesday, I spoke by phone with renowned class_action attorney Jeanne Mirer of New York. She explained that the civil rights groups lost on a matter of law: States may assume a voter has moved residence if they don't return a postcard.

But what if the facts say otherwise?

Just the Facts, Ma'am

It's really simple to find out if failure to return a postcard is evidence you've moved: ask the voter. Call them up, knock on their door: Mr. Webster, have you moved to Virginia?

If Mr. Webster and others say, "No, here I am, I haven't moved" ... well, then, the Court's factual assumption goes poof! Because the National Voter Registration Act says that removal methods must be "reasonable."

So, the way to challenge the Court's decision is to prove that purge_by_postcard is unreasonable and bogus.

To get to these purged voters, we need their names. But Husted has steadfastly refused to give up his list of the damned. He knows that the release of the names of those purged will blow his case to smithereens.

So, this week, this reporter is filing a demand on Husted for the list of the purged. And I thank Mirer's firm for taking on this enormous task, because in all, we are filing in 25 states where mass purges are conducted. (And her firm is working pro bono.)

Husted has so far stonewalled our polite requests for the information, but this new demand comes with a 90_day notice of a lawsuit.

And in Kansas, where these methods, postcards and Crosscheck lists are conceived, I am joined in my demand on Kris Kobach for his purge lists by the Kansas ACLU.

Strategically, we're beginning by demanding that segment of the purge list that Kobach gave to Ohio and other states.

Through investigation, we have already obtained small parts of these purge lists - including the one targeting Donald Alexander Webster Sr., a 70_year_old Black voter in Dayton, Ohio. He is listed as allegedly moving from Ohio to Virginia because there's a Virginia voter registered as Donald Eugene Webster Jr.

Webster has not moved from Ohio. I met with him in his Dayton home. And he swears he's never been a "Eugene" or a "Junior." He insists, "I vote every election and every primary, every one."

Channeling Justice Sotomayor, he told me, "I remember the Civil Rights Act, I remember all of those things. Almost all gone." He added, with a deep sadness in his voice, "Somebody dropped the ball. Maybe it was us, our age group, that we thought we didn't have to fight anymore."

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




The advent of Trump has unleashed an enormous amount of progressive activity,
but a coherent national vision for an alternative remains elusive.




What Do Those People Who Want?
It's simple: progress.
By Jim Hightower

Where is the Democratic Party? The Party of the People is stuck in the status quo-- the still reigning, old-line hierarchy of the Democratic party is unwilling to just be dedicated to well, to the democratic interests of its own political base. People know from real-life experience that the economy has been rigged against them for the benefit of the uber-rich and the political system has been totally corrupted by the bipartisan pay-to-play ethic that protects the status quo from interference by us commoners. While Republicans are a wholly-owned corporate subsidiary, unabashedly dedicated the narrow interests of the moneyed elites, the Dems' congressional elders, key party officials, entrenched consultants and corporate funders continue to push bland, business-as-usual candidates running on a pusillanimous policy agenda of vague "reforms" that don't actually change anything. Then the party establishment wonders why such people stray or stay home in November!

What do those people want?

Progress! Meaning a national commitment to advance the economic, political and social circumstances of the American majority of workday families and poor people. Yes, that requires major change, and that will definitely make powerful enemies among wealthy elites plotting to impose Koch-style plutocratic rule over our society. Nonetheless, most voters want BIG populist changes in government policy that will lift up average Americans and hold down corporate greed and abuse.

One major proposal to do just that is an 11-point Economic Agenda for America's Future, initiated by a broad coalition of some 80 progressive thinkers and doers. Coordinated by Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America's Future and Larry Cohen, a renowned labor agitator who chairs the board of Our Revolution, this document is both a to-do list for restoring economic democracy and a rallying cry to move today's burgeoning democratic movement from mere resistance to insistence on a new percolate-up alternative to Republican/Democratic trickle-down economics.

As Hickey notes, "If Trump and the GOP majority in Congress were to disappear tomorrow, our society would still face the challenge of restructuring our economy - after many decades of leaders allowing inequality to spread and letting our public infrastructure fall apart." The agenda draws from the solid analyses of America's widening inequality by such esteemed economists as Joseph Stiglitz, Thea Lee, James Galbraith, Robert Pollin and Dedrick Asante-Muhammed.

The document builds on the remarkably progressive 2016 Democratic Party Platform, which was largely hammered out between Bernie Sanders delegates and progressives in Hillary Clinton's camp. Their good work quickly got lost in the general election debate, because the Democratic establishment's campaign strategists didn't like the platform's powerful message of populist change. So, they ignored it, choosing instead the negative message that Clinton was "Not Trump."

The drafters of the economic agenda, however, saw the enormous political value of much of that discarded platform, both in its populist appeal and in the fact that it had been produced as a progressive unity document. ("We are not interested in re-fighting the 2016 election," says Hickey). So, they used it to enlist former backers of Sanders and Clinton to help resurrect, refine and expand it into a manifesto we can carry anywhere as a clean summary of our goals.

Process aside, what we have here is a worthy and timely program of economic renewal for our democratic movement. Rather than a flashy wish list of grand schemes, the agenda is a concise presentation of bread-and-butter ideas and basic rights that various progressive activists have long supported, and several of the items have even been implemented by some cities and a few states. Also, its drafters and initial co-signers do not pretend that this is the ultimate populist program, but a starting point for others to consider and improve, creating a well-marked political map that will show the larger public a way to put our nation back on the path to good middle-class jobs, economic justice and sustainable prosperity for all. You can read and sign on to this progressive "people's" agenda at CampaignForAmericasFuture.org.
(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.




Rev. William Barber (L), Rev. Jesse Jackson (R), and Rev. Liz Theoharis
(C) hold a Poor People's Campaign rally in Washington, DC, on May 21, 2018.




The Poor People's Campaign Is Changing The Moral Narrative Of Congress
Activists are getting at least some members of Congress to listen to the real stories of poverty and injustice in America.
By John Nichols

The Poor People's Campaign has come to Washington to challenge members of Congress to address systemic racism, poverty, and inequality, ecological devastation and militarism.

For this to happen, however, the economic_ and social-justice campaigners from across the country must be heard. And there are too many powerful people in Congress, in the Trump White House, and on the federal bench, who are disinclined toward listening.

When a small group of senators and members of the House did gather Tuesday to hear from religious leaders and others who have proposed to replace official injustice and inaction with "a moral agenda based on fundamental rights," the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II began by thanking those who who were prepared to listen.

Referring to the Republican leaders of the US Senate and the US House, the co_chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival movement, explained to Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Dick Durbin of Illinois, as well as House members Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Ro Khanna of California, and Barbara Lee of California, that "We sent this letter asking for this hearing to Senator McConnell and Congressman Ryan and to all others, and we didn't hear anything until we heard from you."

What the listening members of Congress heard at Tuesday's remarkable hearing was a poignant detailing of concerns from the grassroots of American struggle-concerns about economic inequality, voter suppression, assaults on labor rights and other issues that should be central to the national discourse. A mother of two from rural Lowndes County, Alabama, Pamela Sue Rush, broke down in tears as she described the overwhelming burden created for those who try to get by with low wages only to be targeted by predatory lenders.

This is the real_life experience of Americans that the Poor People's Campaign has brought to Washington-and to those members of Congress who are paying attention.

"By listening to us today you are now bearing witness to our movement and we hope you will see that poverty is not a constant, it is not a necessity. Poverty is a political creation that can be eradicated if we have the will to do so," the Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis, another co_chair of the campaign, explained to the committee, in a letter read to the members because Reverend Theoharis and several other religious leaders had been jailed for praying on the steps of the US Supreme Court on the day the justices issued a ruling that permits voter purges.

The members who showed up were moved by the call. "We're here today because there is something happening in America. The poor and the marginalized and the suffering are taking to the streets in our capitals across this country to reclaim our government and to demand a government for all the people," Senator Warren told her colleagues and the crowd that packed the hearing room. "The Poor People's Campaign is the tip of the spear in this fight. It has launched a season of direct action to unite tens of thousands of people across this country to fight for the soul of America. The campaign has called on Congress to hear directly to those people. We are here to respond to that call."

Congresswoman Lee promised to "take back to the House this agenda."

Congressman Khanna was prepared to do just that on Thursday, when he and Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington and other House members signaled that they would use their special order time on the House floor to read into the record written testimonies from Poor People's Campaign participants about their experiences with poverty, racism, and a health_care system that too frequently fails those who are most in need of care. With help from the Institute for Policy Studies and other DC allies, the Poor People's Campaign will keep working to get Congress to hear these voices and to address these issues.

It will not be easy. This Congress is controlled by partisans who are disinclined to listen to serious discussions about racism, poverty, and injustice. But the Poor People's Campaign has set out to open up those discussions in communities across the country, in the media and, yes, in the corridors of power. The point, says Reverend Barber, is "to change the nation's moral narrative" - because once the moral narrative changes, it becomes possible to move beyond mere politics and to begin the work of establishing justice for all.
(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.








Imagine: 3-D Printers That Manufacture Things!
By James Donahue

There is another revolution occurring on the job market and it has the potential of competing for industrial manufacturing jobs all over the world. They have invented inexpensive three_dimensional computer printers that can conjure any shape from spools of plastic and leather and more recently from metals and concrete.

Billed at first as costly toys for the wealthy that were capable of making solid plastic objects out of anything the artist might imagine this new wave of printers, small enough to fit in a briefcase and costing no more than $2,000, is capable of manufacturing anything from leather wallets to lamps and circuit boards. Now new monster machines are capable to building houses.

Manufactured by Glowforge, a start-up company located in Seattle, the early machines were promoted as 3-D laser cutters that come with software making it easier to operate than the experimental machines were. Dan Shapiro, co-founder and chief executive of Glowforge, noted that laser cutters used in industrial manufacturing can slice through everything from steel to plastic and wood.

Can inexpensive computer_operated machines be made that compare with the costly machines described above? Indeed they can.

The Other Machine Company of San Francisco is manufacturing a device that acts like a reverse 3-D printer. Dubbed the Othermill, the machine cuts at blocks of wood, metal or plastic and makes objects designed via computer art. To date it has been used for milling sculptures and forms for pouring chocolate candies. But its potential is limited only to the imagination of the artist.

Both Other Machine and Glowforge appear to be aiming for home hobby markets, but the very existence of such "desktop" manufacturing machines gives us a glimpse of a future manufacturing world that is unlike anything the world has ever experienced. At last count we found over 30 companies on world markets that are manufacturing and selling 3-D printers.

Dr. Hank Haeusler, senior architecture lecturer at University of New South Wales, predicts a time soon when 3D printed houses will be possible.

"I think it is defiinitely going to happen. I think in five to 10 years we will see more and more 3D printed housing construction and nodes.

Haeusler said researchers at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Victoria, have developed a 3D printed structural node that could be used to connect building parts. He noted that 3D printing is already being used in building cars and aircraft.

The day will soon come when there will be no jobs for the unskilled and low-paid worker. Workers will be required instead to have special training to operate these machines. And the market for creative artistry may be wide open for new and innovative ideas in manufacturing. Either this, or home hobbyists with their hands on such machines will be compelled to design and manufacture the things they need and use right on their home machines at merely the cost of materials.
(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.




Children and workers are seen at a tent encampment recently built near the Tornillo Port of Entry on June 19, 2018, in Tornillo, Texas.



Child Abuse at the Border: We Must Stop This Monstrosity
By William Rivers Pitt

The ongoing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding at the US-Mexico border has, at long last, motivated the staid and steady purveyors of "on-one-hand-but-on-the-other-hand" journalistic "balance" to forego their usual milquetoast approach to matters of consequence.

The corporate news media have been pulling no punches in their coverage of children being forcibly separated from their parents and caged like dogs. They have been calling the president of the United States a liar, out loud and in broad daylight, for the first time since this garbage barge of an administration put to sea. They are calling the whole thing "child abuse," and justly so.

The news broadcast on Monday night badly frightened my daughter, who saw everything unfolding on the television. Too young to understand the gulf standing between her security as a white US citizen and the shattering insecurity endured by the migrants she was seeing, she spent the remainder of the evening convinced Donald Trump was going to come and take her away from us. She slept with Mommy and Daddy that night, and was still jumpy in the morning.

Seeing these images unnerve a non-immigrant child who is 2,000 miles away from the scene of the crime gave me a new and galling perspective on the incalculable psychic trauma experienced by all the children who are closer to the vortex of our president's racist policy.

Satsuki Ina is a psychotherapist who works at detention centers like the ones currently imprisoning the children taken from their migrant parents. Ina, who is of Japanese descent, was born in the Tule Lake Segregation Center in California during World War II after her parents were arrested for being Japanese.

The camp was, in fact, a maximum-security prison with more than a thousand armed guards and eight battle tanks. When Ina's father spoke up to demand his Constitutional rights as a citizen, he was charged with sedition by the US government and taken away to a different prison camp in North Dakota. She did not see him again for years.

In an interview with Splinter News, Satsuki Ina explained, as a psychotherapist and as a survivor of government detention, the effects of the detention/separation experience on children:

One of the worst traumas for children is to be separated from their caregivers and then placed in what they're calling "temporary detention facilities." But it's indefinite detention—they have no idea how long they're going to be held. They have no idea if they'll ever see their parents again.

That level of anxiety causes tremendous emotional stress, and we know from the research in neuroscience that constant release of these stress hormones can affect a child's ability to learn, a child's ability to self-manage, to regulate themselves. This kind of treatment has consequences for a lifetime for a child. The trauma effect is pretty severe when there's been captivity trauma.

Trump and his defenders have been quick to blame immigrant parents for bringing their children north. It's a facile bit of pushback that underscores the galloping ignorance of those at the highest levels of government and highlights a generalized ignorance within the population of just exactly what is going on at the border and beyond.

People don't expose their children to the risks of a long, perilous and uncertain journey at a whim. Most of them do so because the circumstances in their home countries are intolerably dangerous; Honduras, for one example, has one of the highest murder rates in the world for a country not at war, because of unchecked gang violence and the aftermath of generations of deeply damaging US policies in South and Central America.

For these parents, the choice between staying, going north and leaving their children behind in a cauldron of peril, or going north together as a family, is no choice at all. By bringing their children to the US to seek a better life far away from the mayhem at home, they are making the most responsible choice they have available to them, one that has been made time and again throughout our history.

White people in the US, whose European ancestors brought their kids along when they risked an Atlantic Ocean crossing to escape famine and war in countries like Ireland and Germany, should be greeting these migrant families with respect born of familiarity, not with violent disdain. When officials like Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen refer to the victims of Trump's new border policy as "alien children," however, dehumanizing them becomes far easier. When the president calls them "animals" who "infest" the country, it becomes easier still. Alien, animal, different, not us: dismissed.

This is not an accident.

"When thousands of Japanese Americans were being removed from their classrooms, from their jobs, and their neighborhoods, there was no outcry," said Satsuki Ina in her Splinter News interview. "No one instituted any kind of protest. And there was no press or organized effort to stand up for the Japanese-Americans because it was war time. We are currently in a war-like situation in that immigrants are seeking safety, and they have been characterized as criminals and rapists."

Donald Trump can end this monstrosity today with a single phone call. He won't, because he fears looking weak in the eyes of the people he rode to power by stoking their nativist hatred. He won't, until he is forced to. We must be that force, today, right now.

This situation has me so furious, as a father and as a human being, that I have literally found it difficult to think straight. I know this much, however: How we choose to deal with the immigrant families at the border will define us, for good or ill, generations hence. There is no escaping this. We stand upon the fulcrum of history as the weakest among us dangle on the edge of despair.

This is what fascism looks like. We must fight it. We cannot fail these children. We cannot fail ourselves.
(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.







GOPers Like Trump's New Bff Kim More Than Pelosi
By Heather Digby Parton

Self-identified Republicans now have a marginally more favorable view of Kim Jong Un than they do for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D_CA), according to a new Ipsos poll done exclusively for The Daily Beast.

The poll of roughly 1,000 adults aged 18 and over was conducted June 14-15, shortly after President Trump's historic summit with the North Korea dictator. According to the results, 19 percent of Republicans indicated they had a favorable view of Kim with 68 percent saying they had an unfavorable view (12 percent of voters overall had a favorable view of Kim, compared to 75 percent who viewed him unfavorably). That compared slightly better than the perception of Pelosi, who had a 17 percent favorable, 72 percent unfavorable rating among self-identified Republicans.

Pelosi, nevertheless, was only the second_most disliked figure on Capitol Hill. Her overall 29 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable rating was slightly better than the numbers for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R_KY). McConnell had an overall favorability rating of 20 percent with 43 percent viewing him unfavorable.

Self-identified Democrats, for what it's worth, had a significantly more favorable opinion of McConnell than of Kim Jong Un.

I'm actually shocked that 68% of Republicans still have an unfavorable view of Kim Jong Un after Trump's paeans to his fabulousness. Maybe there's hope for us yet.
(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.




How do we ensure the price of fossil fuels includes the costs of pollution, environmental
degradation and climate disruption? The simplest way is to put a price on carbon emissions.




Carbon pricing Is An Important Tool To Tackle Climate Change
By David Suzuki

One of the world's best_known climate scientists is discouraged that almost 40 years of study and warnings haven't convinced humanity to adequately address the climate crisis. But James Hansen understands why we've stalled.

"As long as fossil fuels seem to be the cheapest energy to the public, they'll keep using them," Hansen recently told Bob McDonald of CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks. "We're up against an industry that would prefer to just continue to do things the way that they have been because they're making a lot of money." His solution: Ensure the price of fossil fuels factors in the costs to society.

Hansen is a former NASA scientist and now director of Columbia University Earth Institute's climate science, awareness and solutions program. He's been researching climate science since the early 1980s and in 1988 testified to a U.S. Senate committee that global warming was occurring because of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

How do we ensure the price of fossil fuels includes the costs of pollution, environmental degradation and climate disruption? The simplest way, as Hansen and most scientists, economists and energy experts know, is to put a price on carbon emissions. University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach says, "A carbon price leverages the power of the market to enable emissions reductions at the lowest possible cost."

Pricing carbon, through a carbon tax or cap_and_trade system, has proven to be effective. Sweden implemented a carbon tax in 1991. Even though the price has risen steadily - from about C$37 per tonne of CO2 in 1991 to $170 in 2018 - the country's carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 26 per cent, without negatively affecting the economy, even as the population grew. In other Scandinavian countries, carbon pricing is seen as a sensible solution that rarely generates debate or news coverage. It works, as at least 46 countries with carbon pricing policies are learning.

A carbon tax is the simplest method to price carbon, although some opponents cringe at the word "tax." It's a fee, often rising annually, levied on fossil fuel production, distribution and use based on the amount of carbon pollution emitted. By making fossil fuel use more expensive - reflecting more accurately its societal costs - governments can encourage conservation, efficiency and cleaner alternatives. Many jurisdictions offer rebates or reductions on other taxes so they can target carbon emissions without creating a burden for most citizens.

Under a cap-and-trade system, a government caps the amount of greenhouse gas emissions an industry can emit or that can be emitted overall in the economy. Governments auction allowances, generating revenue to invest in the clean economy. Companies that exceed their limits can buy allowances from companies that remain below the cap, or bid for them in the auction. The cap is reduced every year, and total emissions fall.

With either system, the more someone pollutes, the more they pay. Although ideas vary regarding the best way to price carbon, amounts to be charged and what to do with money collected, we can't afford to do nothing. The costs of climate change are mounting - from floods, droughts, wildfires, health_care costs and degradation of natural services, among others - and will worsen if we don't act.

Most people in Canada know climate change is an urgent, human_caused problem that must be addressed. Recent polling shows almost 80 per cent agree with the idea of carbon pricing, and more than 80 per cent already live in jurisdictions with some form of it.

Under the federal government's plan, provinces can implement their own systems, as long as they meet overall emissions_reduction goals. It will only implement carbon pricing for provinces and territories that don't develop their own systems.

There's no shortage of solutions for global warming. Carbon pricing is one of many. With carbon pricing in place, Canada can seize the opportunity to compete in the emerging clean economy, encouraging job creation, renewable energy development, conservation and efficiency while shifting away from fossil fuels.

Hansen believes a price on carbon might save civilization, giving new meaning to the expression, "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society." As more people understand the urgency of confronting climate change and the effectiveness of carbon pricing, they'll find many reasons to get behind it.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.








Shocking To No One, Trump's Commerce Secretary Isn't Telling The Whole Truth
Wilbur Ross stays grifting.
By Charles P. Pierce

With all the justifiably righteous anger aimed at this administration*'s crimes against humanity in Texas, and the newly ignited rage at the administration*'s lying and quibbling about what it's actually doing, it's possible that we might lose sight of the fact that this is still an administration* that is grifters all the way down.

Lucky for us, though, Forbes's Dan Alexander is here to remind us that, while the administration* is demolishing those things that are precious about America, its crew of bounders and fakers is also busy grabbing everything else of value while doing business with some very shady international characters. Come on down, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Set_up.

And unlike his boss, Ross promised to divest from almost all his holdings upon entering government, drawing bipartisan praise en route to an easy confirmation. "You have really made a very personal sacrifice," said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut. "Your service has resulted in your divesting yourself of literally hundreds of millions of dollars." In November 2017, Ross confirmed in writing to the federal Office of Government Ethics that he had divested everything he promised.
Punchline.
But that was not true.
No kidding.
* For most of last year, Ross served as secretary of commerce while maintaining stakes in companies co_owned by the Chinese government, a shipping firm tied to Vladimir Putin's inner circle, a Cypriot bank reportedly caught up in the Robert Mueller investigation and a huge player in an industry Ross is now investigating. It's hard to imagine a more radioactive portfolio for a cabinet member.

* To this day, Ross' family apparently continues to have an interest in these toxic holdings. Rather than dump them all, the commerce secretary sold some of his interests to Goldman Sachs - and, according to Ross himself, put others in a trust for his family members. He continued to deal with China, Russia and others while evidently knowing that his family's interests were tied to those countries.

* In addition, five days before reports surfaced last fall that Ross was connected to cronies of Vladimir Putin, through a shipping firm called Navigator Holdings, the secretary of commerce, who likely knew about the reporting, shorted stock in the Kremlin_linked company, positioning himself to make money on the investment when share prices dropped.


Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

So why might this be a problem, you ask.
Wilbur Ross is not known for telling the truth.
Whoa. On a Sunday afternoon last fall, just back from a trip to Asia, Ross called Forbes to lie about his personal fortune. Forbes had listed the commerce secretary on its billionaires rankings for years, but his financial disclosure report revealed less than $700 million in assets. When pressed about the discrepancy, Ross calmly cited more than $2 billion in undisclosed assets, saying he had shifted a chunk of his fortune to a trust for his family. Those billions apparently did not exist, but when six senators demanded an investigation, Ross insisted his statements contained a kernel of truth. "At the time of my conversation with the reporter, I was in the process of creating a trust as a mechanism to divest my assets in order to comply with my ethics agreement." But Ross' ethics agreement required him to divest, either by selling his assets or giving them away. Simply parking them in a trust was not enough. It turns out the only beneficiaries of this shadowy arrangement are members of the extended Ross family. Alexander finds this...curious.
The ethics filing does not say who its beneficiaries are, but Ross apparently let that slip in his October phone call to Forbes, the only known occasion that he has ever publicly discussed a trust that he used to comply with his ethics agreement. "I am not the beneficiary," he said when asked about the trust. "That's the point. This is set up for children and things like that."

Was anyone outside of Ross' own family a beneficiary?

"No," he said. So according to Ross, he complied with his ethics agreement in part by handing assets over to his own family members, which technically counts as a divestiture, but left the Ross family with a handful of interests alongside the same motley actors that Secretary Ross is supposed to be getting tough with.

My dear young man, you simply don't know how things are done. Nevertheless, you'd have thought that, just according to the Law of Large Numbers, at least one completely honest and competent person would have slipped through the rigorous vetting process by which this president* staffed the government. It's entirely possible that we may never clean up our politics until we clean up American business. (Read Alexander's full piece here.)
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.






The Quotable Quote...



"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."
~~~ Will Rogers









Why Are the Poor Patriotic?
By David Swanson

We should be very grateful to Francesco Duina for his new book, Broke and Patriotic: Why Poor Americans Love Their Country. He begins with the following dilemma. The poor in the United States are in many ways worse off than in other wealthy countries, but they are more patriotic than are the poor in those other countries and even more patriotic than are wealthier people in their own country. Their country is (among wealthy countries) tops in inequality, and bottoms in social support, and yet they overwhelmingly believe that the United States is "fundamentally better than other countries." Why?

Duina didn't try to puzzle this one out for himself. He went out and surveyed patriotic poor people in Alabama and Montana. He found variations between those two places, such as people loving the government for helping them a little bit and people loving the government for not helping them at all. He found variations between men and women and racial groups, but mostly he found intense patriotism built around identical myths and phrases.

I think it's worth pointing out that wealthier Americans are only slightly less patriotic than poor Americans, and that the moral question of why one should love an institution that creates great suffering for others is identical to that of why one should love an institution that creates great suffering for oneself (and that the greatest suffering the United States government creates is outside the United States). I suspect that much of what Duina found among the poor could be found in some variation among the less poor.

Duina is very respectful of everyone he spoke with, and very academic in his prose. But he quotes enough of his interviewees' statements to make it quite clear, I think, that their patriotism is largely a willfully delusional religious faith based on ignorance of and avoidance of facts. Just as the less wealthy are a bit more religious, they are also a bit more patriotic, and they draw no clear line between the two. Duina reports that many of the people he spoke with assured him that God favored the United States above all other nations. One man even explained his own and others' extreme patriotism as a religious need to believe in something when struggling, something to provide "dignity." There is, of course, a parallel to U.S. racism, as many poor white Americans for centuries have clung to the notion that at least they are better than non_whites. The belief that at least one is better than non_Americans is widespread across every demographic.

Duina notes that even for those struggling most desperately a belief that all is right and just with the system around them can be easier on the mind than recognizing injustice. If people were better off, paradoxically, their patriotism might decrease. Patriotism also declines as education increases. And it seems likely to decline as particular types of information and attitudes are conveyed. Just as people have been found to favor bombing a nation in inverse proportion to their ability to correctly locate it on a map, I suspect people would be marginally less likely to believe the United States treats them better than a Scandinavian country would if they knew facts about Scandinavian countries. They currently decidedly do not.

Duina quotes people who assured him that every Swede flees Sweden as soon as they've completed their free college education, that Canada may have healthcare but is a dictatorship, that in Germany or Russia they'll cut off your hand or your tongue, that in communist Japan they'll cut off your head for speaking against the president, etc. Can all of these beliefs, all in the same direction (that of disparaging other nations) be innocent errors? One man assures Duina that other nations are inferior because they engage in public executions, and then advocates for public executions in the United States. A number of people declare the United States superior because it has freedom of religion, and then reject the idea that any non_Christian can ever be U.S. president. Homeless people assure him that the United States is the quintessential land of opportunity.

Many speak of "freedom," and in many cases they mean the freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights, but in others they mean the freedom to walk or drive. They contrast this freedom to move about with dictatorships, despite having little or no experience with dictatorships, although it seems best contrasted with something poor Americans are likely to have a lot more familiarity with: mass incarceration.

The belief that wars on foreign nations benefit their victims and are acts of generosity seems nearly universal, and foreign nations are often disparaged for having wars present (with no apparent awareness that many of those wars involve the U.S. military which is funded with millions of times the funding that would be required to eliminate poverty in the United States). One man believes that Vietnam is still divided in half like Korea. Another believes the president of Iraq invited the United States to attack it. Another simply takes pride in the United States having "the best military." When asked about the U.S. flag, many immediately express pride in "freedom" and "wars." A few libertarians expressed support for bringing troops home, blaming other nations for their unwillingness to be civilized - including those of the Middle East, which has "never been civilized."

There is similar strong support for the incredibly destructive proliferation of guns in the United States as something that makes the United States superior.

One fault attributed to other countries is taking children away from parents, yet one assumes that at least some who condemn that practice have found a way to excuse it or not become aware of it in recent news from the United States.

One of the more common faults, though, is chopping people's heads off. This seems such a common view of what is wrong with foreign countries, that I almost wonder if U.S. support for Saudi Arabia is in part motivated by such an effective means of keeping the U.S. population sedated.

Somehow, the U.S. public has been persuaded to always compare the United States with poor countries, including countries where the U.S. government supports brutal dictators or imposes economic suffering, and never with wealthy countries. The very existence of countries that are worse off, and from which immigrants flee to the United States is generally taken as proof of Greatest Nation on Earth status, even though other wealthy nations are better off and more desired by immigrants.

The results include a passive public willing to absorb huge injustices, a public willing to follow politicians who promise to screw them but to do so patriotically, a public supportive of wars and dismissive of international law and cooperation, and a public willing to reject advances in healthcare or gun laws or climate policies or education systems if they are made in other countries.

This book tells us more about where Trump came from than the past 18 months of cable news, but Trump is the least of it.
(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.








NYC Book Expo: 'Books Are My Only friends...'
By Jane Stillwater

NYC Book Expo: 'Books Are My Only friends...' Six years ago, my three-year-old granddaughter Mena was spending the night with me. All evening long she had been wheezing, listless and pale. Finally at around 2:00 am, she practically crawled into my bedroom, coughing, choking and white as a sheet. "Gaia, I need to go to the hospital -- now!" she said. I didn't waste any time.

We were still in our nightgowns when the doctor told us, "Worst case of asthma I've ever seen. A few more minutes and she would have been dead! You saved her life." No, I didn't. Mena saved her own life. And since that day, I've always listened closely to everything she was telling me, just in case.

Later that month, Mena also told me, "Toys are my only friends." What could I say to that? I told her the truth. "Sometimes I think that books are my only friends." So when I recently went off to the Javits Center in New York City to attend the 2018 "Book Expo America" being held there -- and walked into a whole giant building all filled with nothing but books, I couldn't help but think that I had just entered a building filled with hundreds and hundreds of my very best friends.

Once the doors of the Book Expo opened, I immediately made my way down to Soho Crime's exhibit booth and scored an advance-reader copy of the hilarious new Colin Cotterill book, "Don't Eat Me" (and, yes, I did feel rather strange reading a book with a title like that on the subway -- but well worth every stare).

I also gleefully swept up five other murder-mystery books by some of my favorite Soho authors -- Martin Limon, Timothy Hallinan, Mick Herron, Gina Apostol and James R. Benn. I love murder mysteries because, unlike in real life, justice is always done by the time we reach the last page.

The next evening Bernie Sanders spoke at the Book Expo. Gotta love Bernie. Good grief, how I wish he was in the White House right now instead of having to helplessly watch Trump's yard sale of everything that is American. I voted for Bernie. The only thing that used to be wrong with Bernie was his tolerant policy toward Israeli neo-colonialist state-sponsored terrorism. But recently he has been wising up -- as have the rest of Americans who actually keep up with the horrors happily inflicted onto the rest of the Middle East by neo-con Zionists.

How does that joke go? "We should make America name Israel as its 51st state," someone recently suggested to Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Why should we do that?" answered Bibi. "Then we would only have two Senators in Washington. Right now we already have 50." And yet people talk about Russia buying our elections? Donnie the Mole and Crooked Hilary could never have been bought off by Russia -- because Israeli neo-cons already owned both of them body and soul. Humph.

While at the Book Expo, I also tried to get a few publishers interested in re-publishing my book "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East."

"But this book was written in 2007," one publisher exclaimed.

"So what," I replied. "It's still totally right up-to-date. In the Middle East? Nothing has changed at all in the last decade. Americans, Israeli neo-cons and Saudis are still brutally slaughtering anything that moves." Except that now they are getting even better at it.

And then I had lunch with my friend Dinky -- who casually mentioned that her son had just won the Pulitzer Prize. "What!" Wow! And her son, James Forman Jr, also spoke at the Book Expo. And thus I was gently reminded that books weren't my only friends. But books, however, will always remain my really really good friends.
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!





The Dead Letter Office...





Corey gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear kampagne verwalten Lewandowski,

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 mocking a 10 year old with Down Syndrome being kidnapped from her parents and put into a tRump concentration camp, 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 07_27_2018. We salute you Herr Lewandowski, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump






To The Press, After 18 Months Of Trump
By Robert Reich

1. Stop treating Trump's tweets as news.

2. Don't believe a single word that comes out of his mouth.

3. Don't fall for the reality-TV spectacles he creates. (For example, his meeting with Kim Jong-un.) They're not news, either.

4. Don't let his churlish thin-skinned vindictive narcissistic rants divert attention from what he's really doing.

5. Focus on what he's really doing, and put the day's stories into this larger context. He's (1) undermining democratic institutions, (2) using his office for personal gain, (3) sowing division and hate, (4) cozying up to dictators while antagonizing our democratic allies around the world, (5) violating the rule of law, and (6) enriching America's wealthy while harming the middle class and the poor. He may also be (7) colluding with Putin.

6. Keep track of what his Cabinet is doing - Sessions's attacks on civil rights, civil liberties, voting rights, and immigrants; DeVos's efforts to undermine public education, Pruitt's and Zinke's efforts to gut the environment; all their conflicts of interest, and the industry lobbyists they've put in high positions.

7. Don't try to "balance" your coverage of the truth with quotes and arguments from Trump's enablers and followers. This is not a contest between right and left, Republicans and Democrats. This is between democracy and demagogic authoritarianism.

8. Don't let him rattle you. Maintain your dignity, confidence, and courage.
(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.









Et Tu, Bernie?
By Chris Hedges

There are two versions of Bernie Sanders. There is the old Bernie Sanders, who mounted a quixotic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination as a democratic socialist who refused corporate cash and excoriated corporate Democrats. And there is the new Bernie Sanders, who dutifully plays by the party's rules, courts billionaires, refused to speak out in support of the lawsuit brought against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for rigging the primaries against him and endorses Democratic candidates who espouse the economic and political positions he once denounced.

Sanders' metamorphosis began in December 2015 when he saw the groundswell of support for his candidacy and thought he could win the nomination. He dropped the fiery, socialist rhetoric that first characterized his campaign_he had given whole speeches on democratic socialism shortly after he announced his candidacy in May 2015. He hired establishment Democratic Party consultants such as Ted Devine, who, ironically, played a role in the creation of the superdelegates that helped fix the nomination victory of Hillary Clinton. He would spend tens of millions of the some $230 million he raised during the campaign on professional consultants. When it was clear he would lose, Sanders and his influential campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, began coordinating closely with the Clinton campaign. By May of 2016, Sanders had muted his criticisms of Clinton and surrendered to the Democratic Party machine. He has been an obedient servant of the party establishment ever since.

Sanders was always problematic. His refusal to condemn imperialism and the war industry_a condemnation central to the message of the socialist leader Eugene V. Debs_meant his socialism was stillborn. It is impossible to be a socialist without being an anti_imperialist. But at least Sanders addressed the reality of social inequality, which the Republican and Democratic establishment pretended did not exist. He returned political discourse to reality. And he restored the good name of socialism.

Weaver and Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, built a de facto alliance in the weeks leading up to the convention. As the convention was about to begin, WikiLeaks exposed the Clinton campaign's nonaggression pact with the Sanders campaign. Many Sanders delegates, by the time they arrived in Philadelphia in July 2016 for the convention, were enraged at the theft and fraud orchestrated by the DNC. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chair and the architect of the theft, stepped down. Some DNC staff members were fired.

Sanders delegates were deluged on the eve of the convention with messages from the Sanders campaign to be respectful, not to disrupt the nominating process and to support Clinton, messages that often turned out to have been written by Clinton staffers such as Mook and then sent out under Sanders' name. Sanders was a dutiful sheepdog, herding his disgruntled supporters into the embrace of the Democratic Party machine.

The scope of fraud in the primaries was breathtaking. Donna Brazile, who took over the DNC after Wasserman Schultz was removed, later revealed the existence of a joint fund_raising agreement among the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.

"The agreement_signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias_specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Clinton would control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised," Brazile wrote. "Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings."

Sanders, although he knew by September 2016 that the process was rigged, said nothing to his supporters. He was tacitly complicit in the cover_up. It was left to one of the architects of the fraud, Brazile, to reveal the scam. But by then it was too late.

Sanders' capitulation in the face of the overwhelming evidence of the rigging of the nomination process was political and moral cowardice. He missed his historical moment, one that should have seen him denounce a corrupt, corporate_dominated party elite and walk away to build a third_party candidacy. Sanders will never recover politically. To see the future, he has only to look at the campaign events he held on behalf of Clinton after her nomination. His crowds dwindled from thousands to a few hundred after he endorsed Clinton. Data collected by Harvard Harris Poll charted the downward spiral of his favorability ratings as he became more and more obsequious to the Democratic Party establishment. His 2020 campaign for the presidency will be a pale reflection of 2016. His "political revolution" slogan has been exposed as another empty public relations gimmick.

If we are to defy corporate power, which is vicious when it feels threatened, we need leaders with the fortitude to withstand the onslaught. Debs never sold out. He was sent to prison in 1919 and ran for president in 1920 from his prison cell. If we are not willing to pay this price we better not play the game.

"There is but one thing you have to be concerned about, and that is that you keep foursquare with the principles of the international Socialist movement," Debs said in a June 16, 1918, speech in Canton, Ohio, that led to his being sentenced to 10 years in prison on a charge of violating the Espionage Act. "It is only when you begin to compromise that trouble begins. So far as I am concerned, it does not matter what others may say, or think, or do, as long as I am sure that I am right with myself and the cause. There are so many who seek refuge in the popular side of a great question. As a Socialist, I have long since learned how to stand alone."

Those who support Sanders' capitulation, including his high_priced establishment consultants, will argue that politics is about compromise and the practical. This is true. But playing politics in a system that is not democratic is about becoming part of the charade. We need to overthrow this system, not placate it. Revolution is almost always a doomed enterprise, one that succeeds only because its leaders eschew the practical and are endowed with what the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr calls "sublime madness." Sanders lacks this sublime madness. The quality defined Debs. And for this reason Sanders is morally and temperamentally unfit to lead this fight.

"I never had much faith in leaders," Debs said. "I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week. If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and misrepresentatives of the masses_you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks."

Heather Gautney, the author of "Crashing the Party: From the Bernie Sanders Campaign to a Progressive Movement" and an associate professor of sociology at Fordham University, has detailed the numerous ploys used by the Democratic Party establishment to deny Sanders the nomination. These tactics included the party elites' appointment of 718 superdelegates_Democratic senators, governors and members of Congress, party officials, dozens of registered lobbyists or "shadow lobbyists" and wealthy corporate donors. More than 400 were pledged to Clinton before Sanders announced his campaign. The party also banned those who were registered as independent voters from voting in many primaries, although the taxpayers pay for the primaries. It orchestrated the theft of the vote in caucuses such as Nevada's. And it limited the number of debates to deny exposure to Sanders. Brazile passed on the CNN debate questions in advance to the Clinton campaign.

"Over a third of under_30 voters_Sanders's core constituency_weren't registered to any political party," Gautney writes in an article in The Guardian. And when they got to the polls they were turned away. In the New York primary, she notes, "between 3 and 4 million 'unaffiliated' voters were disenfranchised due to a statute that required changing one's party affiliation 25 days prior to the previous general election."

The Democratic Party in New York in the upcoming primary requires unaffiliated voters to register as Democrats 11 months before the primary, a condition that will cripple the progressive candidacy of Cynthia Nixon for governor. Sanders, bowing to the demands of the party elite, has refused to endorse Nixon's bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gautney calls the system broken, but it works exactly as it is designed to work. The Democratic Party elites have been refining the mechanisms and exclusionary rules since the presidential election, along with purging the party of progressives, to ensure that an insurgent candidate like Sanders will never get close to the nomination. Sanders, no doubt, thinks he can overcome these obstacles by being obedient to the party hierarchy. This is a terrible miscalculation.

In state after state, as Gautney details, Sanders was systematically robbed. And he and any other insurgent can expect the same treatment in 2020. Yes, the party formed a tripartite Unity Reform Commission with representatives from the Clinton campaign and the Sanders campaign to review the rules. But the Unity Reform Commission is cosmetic. It cannot make changes to DNC rules, only recommendations, which have to be approved by the rules and bylaws committee and the DNC members. The rules and bylaws committee and the DNC are stacked with lobbyists, consultants, establishment and Clinton loyalists, and people, like Brazile, who rigged the election against Sanders. They retain control over any changes to the rules. The public has no say. There is not one Sanders supporter on the committee. The final recommendations submitted by the commission said nothing about the chief source of corruption that grips the Democratic Party_corporate and billionaire money. It didn't mention campaign finance reform. Any attempt at reform is meaningless until corporations and billionaires stop bankrolling the party.

The Democratic Party is neither democratic nor in any real sense a political party. It is a corporate mirage. The members of its base can, at best, select preapproved candidates and act as props in a choreographed party convention. Voters have zero influence on party politics.

"I'll never forget watching the primary votes being counted for Michigan, one of the key states that decided the 2016 election,"Gautney wrote in The Guardian. "Sanders' 'pledged delegate count'-which reflected the number of votes he received from rank_and_file Democrats-exceeded Clinton's by four. But after the superdelegates cast their ballots, the roll call registered 'Clinton 76, Sanders 67.'"

"In Indiana, Sanders won the vote 44 to 39, but, after the super delegates had their say, Clinton was granted 46 delegates, versus Sanders' 44," she wrote. "In New Hampshire, where Sanders won the vote by a gaping margin (60% to 38%) and set a record for the largest number of votes ever, the screen read '16 Sanders, 16 Clinton.'"

Sanders, who calls himself an independent, caucuses as a Democrat. The Democratic Party determines his assignments in the Senate. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who oversees Wall Street campaign donations to Democratic candidates, offered to make Sanders the head of the Senate Budget Committee if the Democrats won control of the Senate, in exchange for the Vermont senator's support of Clinton and the hawkish, corporate neoliberal Democratic candidates running for the House and Senate. Sanders, swallowing whatever pride he has left, is now a loyal party apparatchik, squandering his legacy and his integrity. He routinely sends out appeals to raise money for party_selected candidates, including the 2016 Democratic senatorial candidates Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, Ted Strickland in Ohio and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada. Sanders made a blanket endorsement of every Democrat running in the 2017 election, including the worst corporate Democrats.

There was about $6 million left from the Sanders campaign, and it was used to form an organization called Our Revolution in August 2016. The organization was set up ostensibly to fund and support progressive candidates. It was soon taken over by Weaver, who ensured that it was not registered as a political action committee (PAC), a group that can give money directly to campaigns. It was set up as a 501(c)(4), a group prohibited from having direct contact with candidates and giving donations directly to candidates. The 501(c)(4) status allowed it to take and mask donations from wealthy donors such as Tom Steyer. Sanders' decision to quietly solicit contributions from the billionaire oligarchs who funded the Hillary Clinton campaign and control the Democratic Party betrayed the core promise of his campaign. Yet, even as he created a mechanism to take money from wealthy donors he continued to write at the bottom of his emails "Paid for by Bernie Sanders, not the billionaires.

Eight of the 13 staffers of Our Revolution resigned in protest. The organization is now adding a PAC.

Meanwhile, the DNC rules and bylaws committee has recommended a rule that any candidate in a primary be required to demonstrate he or she is a "faithful" Democrat. This loyalty test, intentionally vague, gives the DNC, which will consider the rule change in August, the power to disqualify candidates and block them from appearing on the ballot. If the party elites feel threatened, they can nuke any candidacy, including one mounted by Sanders, before it even begins.

The Democratic Party elites in an open process and without corporate backing would not be in power. They are creations of the corporate state. They are not about to permit reforms that will see themselves toppled. Yes, this tactic of fixing elections and serving corporate power may ensure a second term for Donald Trump and election of fringe candidates who pledge their loyalty to Trump, but the Democratic elites would rather sink the ship of state than give up their first-class cabins.

The Democratic Party is as much to blame for Trump as the Republicans. It is a full partner in the perpetuation of our political system of legalized bribery, along with the deindustrialization of the country, austerity programs, social inequality, mass incarceration and the assault on basic civil liberties. It deregulates Wall Street. It prosecutes the endless and futile wars that are draining the federal budget. We must mount independent political movements and form our own parties to sweep the Democratic and Republican elites aside or be complicit in cementing into place a corporate tyranny. Sanders won't help us. He has made that clear. We must do it without him.
(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.




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To End On A Happy Note...





Have You Seen This...






Parting Shots...





King Donald
By Will Durst

The argument is that the president cannot commit obstruction of justice, because he is the justice department: King Donald.

The president's lawyers must wake up every morning wondering if they're in the throes of a mescaline fever dream. Which altered reality will they have to deal with today? The legal ground melts out from under them and scary hallucinations swirl around mutating versions of the boss: the Donald Trump who changes his story more often than his underwear and the one who tosses away members of his legal team like used Kleenex.

They recently sent a letter to the Special Counsel asserting that Donald Trump is above the law. Not to be confused with the first Steven Segal movie, "Above the Law." Although the two do have much in common: both think Vladimir Putin is a great guy and they are in similar physical condition these days.

The argument is that the president cannot commit obstruction of justice, because as chief law enforcement officer of the United States, he is the justice department. King Donald. Not only incapable of committing a crime but incapable of being held accountable. Laws are for losers. Take the knee and kiss the ring.

The President tweeted that many legal scholars say he has the absolute right to pardon himself even though he won't need to because he hasn't committed any crimes. Similar to a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card, only better. More like a "Get Your Stinking Paws Off Me, You Damn Dirty Ape" sort of thing.

The good news is he probably won't wear a crown and risk messing up his aerodynamic coif. But other royal trappings are imaginable: golden jewel- encrusted scepter, floor- dragging ermine trimmed robe and the serial discarding of wives who can't provide a decent hereditary successor. And yes, Don Jr. and Eric, we're talking about you.

King Donald claims to possess special powers that immunize him from criminal prosecution. Apparently he was bitten by a radioactive spider at Camp David. And is willing to admit that everything he ever previously said in public was a lie. Wasn't under oath, so it doesn't count. And if he does lie under oath, who cares? Who's going to arrest him, Jeff Sessions? Dream on.

His defense has shifted more than the sands of the Kalahari during one of those windstorms they call a haboob. And speaking of boobs, Rudy Giuliani says the Deep State is framing the president and he might take the 5th if questions about crimes he didn't commit get too close to disproving that.

Carl Sandburg famously said; "If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell," and Rudy is the best table pounder in the business. As anybody from New York can tell you, this guy leaves splinters.

Trump's lawyers also claim the president is too busy to answer questions, although the Supreme Court knocked down that claim when Bill Clinton invoked it, and he didn't spend one- sixth of his presidency at a golf courses. One tenth, maybe.

They're throwing up alternative defenses like hyperactive Rhesus monkeys flinging feces at a zoo. Not only can't he be constitutionally prosecuted but the prosecution is a conspiracy. The FBI is full of jack- booted thugs and his hands are too small to fit on the Bible. Can't wait for them to float the diminished capacity defense. That one might be easier to sell.
(c) 2018 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former Pizza Hut assistant manager. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, "Durst Case Scenario," please visit: willdurst.com




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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 24 (c) 06/22/2018


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