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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi returns with, "In 2019, Let's Finally Retire 'Electability'."

Norman Solomon reports, "Democrats Are Afraid Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Too. And That's A Good Thing."

Glen Ford explores, "Ocasio-Cortez, Socialism, War And Austerity."

Jim Hightower asks, "How Far-Out Is Trump's War Policy?"

David Swanson finds, "Trump Declares Himself A National Emergency."

John Nichols remembers when, "Bill Kraus Beat Back Extremism."

James Donahue wonders, "Do We Reincarnate From Past Lives?"

William Rivers Pitt says, "Trump Is Building A Great Case For His Own Impeachment."

Heather Digby Parton says, "Poor Mick. So Soon???"

Juan Cole finds, "Pompeo's US Jingoism And Anti-Iran Warmongering Rejected By Mideast."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "There Is A Bombshell Of A Word In The New York Times Report On The Trump FBI Investigation."

James Risen asks, "Why Doesn't Donald Trump's Cozy Relationship With Vladimir Putin Worry His Supporters?"

Jane Stillwater once again, "Madam Jane Predicts."

Congressman Steve King R/Iowa, wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explores, "The Trump Dictatorship."

Chris Hedges examines, "The 'Private Governments' That Subjugate U.S. Workers."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Kavanaugh Offers To Pay For Wall By Recycling His Empties" but first Uncle Ernie warns, "Trump Rules By Imperial Fiat."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Nate Beeler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Michael Dwyer, Andrew Harrer, Andrea Morales, Jabin Botsford, Roots Action, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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Trump Rules By Imperial Fiat
By Ernest Stewart

"Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man. If mountain ranges and oceans can be overcome, anything made by man can be overcome." ~~~ General George S. Patton

"Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought." ~~~ Zeke Hausfather

"As AG under Bush, Barr was one of the 'architects' of federal policies that supported the war on drugs and mass incarceration, Vox reports. He worked to enact a 1990 crime law that worsened the war on drugs, and also wrote a letter of support in 1992 for the Department of Justice report 'The Case for More Incarceration' (during which he stated 'there is no better way to reduce crime than to identify, target, and incapacitate those hardened criminals who commit staggering numbers of violent crimes whenever they are on the streets'). He's also praised former attorney general Jeff Sessions as 'outstanding' and voiced support for his criminal justice policies." ~~~ Lisa Ryan

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Gonna try with a little help from my friends
I get high with a little help from my friends
With A Little Help From My Friends ~~~ The Beatles

Donnie has tried holding his breath and going berserk to get his "tRump's Folly" border wall and now he's threatening to declare a "National Emergency" if Con-gress won't give him the dough to build his wall.

He's currently holding 800,000 federal employees and their families hostage until he gets his way, that's about 5 million people in total. 5 million innocent Americans needlessly suffering for Donnie's ego. Donnie should have done it the way he always has done it in the past. Hire some people to build the wall and then not pay them. No, only a National Emergency will do, and if he does it will be just another, in a long list of "High Crimes" that Donnie has committed. And like the US protecting Israel's ass, at the United Nations, for all it's mass-murdering of innocents, and crimes against humanity, the Sin-ate will cover tRumps gigantic ass too!

Some of you may remember the "Appropriations Clause," it is the cornerstone of Congress's "power of the purse." It assigns to Congress the role of final arbiter of the use of public funds. The source of Congress's power to spend derives from Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the US Constitution. Congress has specifically considered and refused to appropriate the $5.7 billion tRump is demanding for his folly.

Congress will not appropriate money for the wall, so Trump would be circumventing the will of Congress were he to declare a national emergency to fund it. Which, you know, is against federal law. Trump is trying to invoke a crisis of his own making to justify the declaration of an emergency. Under US law, Trump cannot successfully declare a national emergency to evade the Constitution's separation of powers mandate. The founders put three separate co-equal branches of government into the Constitution to check and balance each other. Of course, the question arises, will tRump's lickspittle Sin-ate call him on it? With Turtle Boy in charge, I rather doubt it!

If tRump gets away with this "Imperial Fiat" we are all truly doomed, America!

In Other News

I see where sea level rise puts coastal areas at the forefront of the impacts of climate change, but new research shows they face other climate-related threats as well. In a study published January 14 in Nature Communications, researchers report that the energy of ocean waves has been growing globally, and they found a direct association between ocean warming and the increase in wave energy.

A wide range of long-term trends and projections carry the fingerprint of global warming, including rising sea levels, increasing global temperatures, and declining sea ice. Analyses of the global marine climate thus far have identified increases in wind speeds and wave heights in localized areas of the ocean in the high latitudes of both hemispheres. These increases have been larger for the most extreme values (e.g., winter waves) than for the mean conditions. However, a global signal of change and a correlation between the localized increases in wave heights and global warming had remained undetected.

The new study focused on the energy contained in ocean waves, which is transmitted from the wind and transformed into wave motion. This metric, called wave power, has been increasing in direct association with historical warming of the ocean surface. The upper ocean warming, measured as a rising trend in sea-surface temperatures, has influenced wind patterns globally, and this, in turn, is making ocean waves stronger.

"For the first time, we have identified a global signal of the effect of global warming in wave climate. In fact, wave power has increased globally by 0.4 percent per year since 1948, and this increase is correlated with the increasing sea-surface temperatures, both globally and by ocean regions," said lead author Borja G. Reguero, a researcher in the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Global warming is modifying the oceans in different ways, including changes in ocean-atmosphere circulation and water warming, according to coauthor Inigo J. Losada, director of research at the Environmental Hydraulics Institute at the University of Cantabria (IHCantabria), where the study was developed.

"This study shows that the global wave power can be a potentially valuable indicator of global warming, similarly to carbon dioxide concentration, the global sea level rise, or the global surface atmospheric temperature," Losada said.

The effects of climate change will be particularly noticeable at the coast, where humans and oceans meet, according to coauthor Fernando J. Méndez, associate professor at Universidad de Cantabria. "Our results indicate that risk analysis neglecting the changes in wave power and having sea level rise as the only driver may underestimate the consequences of climate change and result in insufficient or maladaptation," he said.

So, for you folks that live along the sea side, you must ask yourself this question, "How long can I tread water?" Well, how long can you tread water, America?

And Finally

As I watched Senator Corey Booker cross-examine tRumps nominee for Attorney General William P. Barr over states rights, something that the Rethuglicans have fought for since the civil war, as a way of holding black people down, I was surprise by his answers. He thinks states rights should be "tRumped" by federal law, oh, and did I mention it was about the states legalising Cannabis not states rights to make some Americans second class citizens. I see, said the blind man!

The NAACP was quick to point this out as former Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was an avowed racist, and Barr seems to be following in Sessions footsteps, und is only following ze orders from Herr tRump. Jawohl?

Trouble is no one could tie him down to a simple yes or no. Instead, we went around and around in circles, again and again and again he went! Would he protect Muller, he would, except that he might not, depending upon certain circumstances, so you can see he certainly qualifies to be a politician! He can lie and mislead all the live long day with out so much as a stutter, so you can see why tRump nominated him. He was after all Papa Smirks Attorney General and if he was good enough for the "Crime Family Bush," he is good enough to ride tRump's coat tails too.

Of course, Turtle Boy and his lackeys in the Sin-ate will elect him to the office of Attorney General and we'll all get screwed, but you knew that already, didn't you, America?

Keepin' On

Nothing's changed folks, the time has come and gone, and so some of our arthors and artists won't be available to us. We turned up $1160 short of paying our bills for this year. That's the first time in the magazines history since our beginning in 2000 that we failed to raise the "rent."

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

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


01-31-1921 ~ 01-15-2019
Thanks for the stage!

10-11-1925 ~ 01-15-2019
Thanks for the film!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
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So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2019 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.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren gives her victory speech at a Democratic election watch party in Boston.

In 2019, Let's Finally Retire 'Electability'
A favored totem of the campaign press has long been useless, and now is actively misleading
Matt Taibbi

Bad news for anyone who had hopes of enjoying a few rancor-free months of 2019 before the presidential-election insanity begins. Not only is the race fully on, we're already in our third or fourth toxic electoral narrative - the most recent involving that most infamous campaign cliché, "electability." The target was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) this week, but it'll be a half-dozen other candidates by June, when (insanely) the Democrats will reportedly hold their first way-too-early primary debates.

The 2020 race unofficially began on December 12th, when former HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced the creation of an electoral exploratory committee (he supposedly is announcing formally this weekend). On Wednesday, the Atlantic ran a story suggesting Washington governor Jay Inslee was planning to add his name to what is expected to be a very long list of Democratic candidates.

In between came a New Year's Eve announcement of the same by Warren. Her entrance was described in the press as code for "the first real candidate to run," i.e. "the first Democrat with a national profile."

A series of think-pieces came out within hours of Warren's announcement. "Elizabeth Warren and the Democrats' Electability Dilemma," was New York's response. CNN's Harry Enten noted Warren's midterm re-election performance showed she is a "below-par candidate." Enten, formerly of FiveThirtyEight, is now a senior writer for CNN and one of its lead data journalists. Accompanying his on-air comments came a poll-based article entitled, "Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown Score High on Electability; Elizabeth Warren, Not So Much."

Chris Cillizza chimed in with, "Did Elizabeth Warren miss her chance?"

His offering included the following passage [emphasis mine]:

A few years ago... Warren was courted by liberals unsatisfied with Hillary Clinton's 2016 candidacy to make a late entrance... Had she done so, she could well have offered a more electable alternative to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders...

Politico added to the noise with "Warren Battles the Ghosts of Hillary," a piece that argues the Massachusetts Senator has an issue with the cousin of "electability," the equally vacuous "likeability" rap. The piece was a signal that any woman with "electability" issues is probably going to get a Hillary comp going forward (the same way campaign reporters for years compared any short male candidate to Mike Dukakis).

This was all in the first 48 hours after Warren's announcement. We can expect to hear a lot more about "electability" in the next two years. Voters should understand: It's alchemy and a crock.

In our current era, it should be buried permanently, as the 2016 victory of Donald Trump - the most "unelectable" politician to ever run for president after David Duke (I'm including "free ponies for all" candidate Vermin Supreme) - exploded what Bloomberg View called "everything we know" about who is and is not electable.

The role of "electability" has always been to convince voters to pick someone other than the candidate they prefer. The idea is to tell audiences which candidate has the broad appeal to win.

The metric pundits usually employ is, "Which Democrat could most easily pass for a Republican?" and vice-versa.

"Electability" tends to come up most in election seasons when the incumbent president is violently unpopular with minority-party voters. This is why people should be cautious now. With Democratic voters so anguished by Trump's presidency they'll pick anyone they think is the best bet to win, be on the lookout for experts pretending to know the unknowable - how the broad mean of voters will behave nearly two years from now.

"Electability" is how Democratic voters were convinced to pick John Kerry in 2004. Media outlets reminded us over and over that an anti-war candidate like Howard Dean could never win, and that a tall, "nuanced," fiscally conservative veteran like Kerry "better fit the cold calculus of electability."

Kerry was the living embodiment of "electability." His position on the Iraq War was ambiguous and he spent much of the campaign pushing a "tough" image. Upon securing the nomination, the Kerry campaign released a video showing him with an arm around John McCain, and touting his defiance of the Democratic Party to vote for a balanced budget.

The 2004 race, we later learned in The New York Times, was about "electability itself," with voters acting like players in a futures market, guessing how other market actors would behave down the line.

The result was a campaign in which Kerry didn't win a single Southern or Southwestern state.

The same thing happened to Republican voters in 2012, when a near-consensus of pundits told red-staters Mitt Romney was the most "electable" choice in the field to take on the hated Barack Obama. We know how that turned out.

Then came 2016. Here is a sample of what some pundits said about the electability of Donald Trump:

* "Trump has a better chance of cameoing in another 'Home Alone' movie with Macaulay Culkin - or playing in the NBA Finals - than winning the Republican nomination." This is from the above-mentioned Harry Enten, who also noted in FiveThirtyEight that Trump wasn't a "real candidate."
* "Cannot see what he is doing that might conceivably to anyone have political appeal." Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
*"Television, which has made Trump, will unmake him, turning his shtick into a transcontinental bore." George Will, Washington Post
*"I don't think he's going to be on the ballot by Feb. 1." Stuart Stevens, former top Romney strategist, on CNN
*"I don't think that Donald Trump is very likely to win the nomination in part because he's not really a Republican," Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight, said. "He wants to tax the rich, right? There's an alternate reality in which he decided to run as a Democrat instead - he wouldn't have to change his policy positions all that much."

What the campaign press hasn't yet grasped, despite overwhelming evidence, is that things like endorsements, the support of key donors and media approval have become negatives for significant portions of voters in both parties.

Richard Minter at Forbes, as far back as 2012, was one of the first writers smart enough to recognize that traditional ideas of electability were probably upside down. Writing about the Republican field that year, he noted the embrace of Romney by pundits, and particularly by the Republican Party establishment, would actually work against him.

"[Voters] don't like and don't trust the establishment," is how he put it.

He was right, other pundits were wrong, and Romney - despite what you might have read at the time - was never a serious threat to beat Obama in 2012. Pundits' conception of where the "middle" is, and where crossover votes might be seized, has been way off for some time now. As Trump proved, the only thing we reporters know for sure about the future behavior of voters is, we know squat.

This is not to say Elizabeth Warren would be a good candidate against Trump, or Sherrod Brown would be a bad one. But after 2016, when cliche notions like "electability" led to catastrophic conceptual mistakes by Democrats - not the least of which being the Clinton campaign's instinct to want to "elevate" the unelectable "pied piper candidates">like Trump - we should start digging a mass grave for such ideas.

Eric Levitz in New York last summer argued the smartest thing to do is just ignore the noise and vote for the best candidate:

Barring a sharp change in the political winds (or Trump's removal from office), Democratic voters should ignore such punditry, and simply vote for whichever candidate they would most like to be president.

Sounds radical, of course. But why not try it?

(c) 2019 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is alarming some Democrats by pushing the party to the left.

Democrats Are Afraid Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Too. And That's A Good Thing.
The corporate Democrats who dominate the party's power structure in Congress should fear losing their seats because they're out of step with constituents
By Norman Solomon

In the last few days, both Politico and the New York Times have reported that freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has ruffled the feathers of fellow congressional Democrats. Chief among the reasons for the tension? Ocasio-Cortez's apparent support for progressive primary challenges against centrist Democrats.

It's one of the most significant ideas the young New York congresswoman has brought with her to Washington.

That's because turning the Democratic Party into a truly progressive force will require turning "primary" into a verb. The corporate Democrats who dominate the party's power structure in Congress should fear losing their seats because they're out of step with constituents. And Democratic voters should understand that if they want to change the party, the only path to do so is to change the people who represent them. Otherwise, the leverage of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex will continue to hold sway.

These days, with fingers to the wind, incumbents often give lip service to proposals that have wide public support nationwide, such as Medicare for All (70 percent) and higher taxes on the wealthy (76 percent). But big gaps remain between what most congressional Democrats are willing to fight for and what their constituents actually want.

Credible primary challenges - or even just the threat of them - can work wonders. Instead of merely asking a member of Congress to do the right thing, activists can convey a much more persuasive message: Do the right thing or we'll replace you with someone who will.

Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats (a group that played a major role in Ocasio-Cortez's election victory), emphasizes that "safe" Democratic districts shouldn't stay safe for just any Democrat. The goal is to "hold representatives who throw diverse working-class voters under the bus accountable."

Justice Democrats communications director Waleed Shahid wrote in a Jan. 6 mass email that "real on-the-ground organizing work" can bring "a new generation of progressive leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into the Democratic Party." He added: "We believe there are leaders just like Alexandria in every district - who just need a little bit of encouragement and support."

While largely ideological, the battle lines are also attitudinal and behavioral. Democrats need to replace passive liberals with real progressive boat-rockers. That's how Northern California Rep. Ro Khanna has distinguished himself from the longtime incumbent he defeated in 2016, Mike Honda. And attitude was a big reason why, in Boston last year, Ayanna Pressley was able to win a primary victory over senior Rep. Mike Capuano.

Both Honda and Capuano hardly legislated as centrists - both leaned left and earned antiwar credentials - but they lost to challengers who insisted that just checking progressive boxes wasn't enough. There's a crying need for highly assertive leaders who think and act outside the box. During his first two years in office, Khanna has repeatedly put forward wise alternatives to Democratic leadership on domestic issues as well as foreign-policy matters ranging from Syria, Yemen and Korea to U.S. relations with Russia.

Yet Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley were the only two candidates to oust Democrats from Congress in primaries last year, a fact that underscores how difficult it is to win a primary against an entrenched incumbent. It also reflects the routinely unmet need to devote sufficient advance planning, time and resources to the mission.

What's needed is rigorous long-term organizing to make "primarying" an effective weapon - identifying which incumbent Democrats to confront and then implementing visionary yet realistic campaigns to beat them. That's what Ocasio-Cortez did to defeat the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, Joe Crowley, last summer.

There are numerous other signs that traction awaits such efforts. Earlier this month, for instance, HuffPost reported that - despite the popularity of third-term House Democrat Kathleen Rice among her constituents - "new polling suggests white, suburban women in Rice's own southwestern Long Island district could turn on the Democrat if she refuses to back a Green New Deal, the umbrella term for the sweeping policy to combat climate change and overhaul the economy."

In December, Politico reported that Ocasio-Cortez was assisting plans for a progressive to run against Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, an African American who just ascended to the fifth-highest leadership post among House Democrats. Jeffries has been more attentive to serving corporate power than the interests of voters in his Brooklyn district.

Even more important than the fractures in the mutual-protection racket among congressional Dems is the momentum toward wider challenges among grassroots progressive activists. Their willingness to challenge incumbents in the 2020 primaries will likely extend to new arrivals on Capitol Hill, especially Democratic "Blue Dogs" such as Harley Rouda in California and Abigail Spanberger in Virginia.

Meanwhile, some Democrats who've been in office for a long time are now conspicuously vulnerable to primary challenges from the left. Soon after the midterm election, the Washington Post's David Weigel flagged several incumbents in Democratic districts whose centrism and insulation make them prime targets in 2020: Jim Cooper from Nashville, Stephen Lynch from Boston, and Illinois Reps. Dan Lipinski and Danny Davis. He also mentioned south Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, who actually supported Republican Rep. John Carter against progressive challenger MJ Hegar in 2018. Last week, Hegar came out in support of the Justice Democrats' efforts to primary Cuellar.

In every region of the nation, progressive activists are aiming to normalize what was once a rarity - credible primary campaigns by genuine progressives against corporate Democrats in Congress. There are certainly plenty to choose from.

On the primary-as-a-verb wish list of many activists is the hawkish new chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, Eliot Engel, whose New York district includes portions of the Bronx and Westchester County. After 30 years in Congress, he might seem nearly impossible to defeat.

Conventional wisdom assumed the same about Joe Crowley

(c) 2019 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Ocasio-Cortez, Socialism, War And Austerity
By Glen Ford

It's good that there are now plenty of young people that like the idea of socialism. But if they don't really know what socialism is, they also don't know what capitalists will do to resist it.

President Trump continues to toy with the idea of declaring a "national emergency" to push through his border wall and end the federal government shutdown. There does, indeed, exist a national -- and global -- emergency of the highest order: the crisis of late stage capitalism that has concentrated wealth and power in the hands of an ever-shrinking oligarchy of rich white men who are determined to render the public sector useless for any purpose other than the further enrichment of their class.

Even in the absence of contrived "emergencies" like the periodic, mostly Republican-triggered federal shutdowns (21 since October, 1976 ), those sectors of government that serve human needs have been systematically starved of funds and otherwise programmed to fail in their missions in order to discredit the very idea of public intervention in the capitalist order. From their penthouse lairs and private island redoubts the Lords of Capital manufacture crises to force wounded publics to choose privatized elixirs for collective pain. The end result is gentrified cities, ethnically cleansed of the Black and brown poor, and a citizenry hopelessly mired in debt and employment insecurity, sicker and shorter-lived than their counterparts in the rest of the developed world, yet footing the yearly trillion-dollar bill to keep the U.S. military bombing and occupying much of the planet under the fatal umbrella of a doomsday nuclear terror machine.

But, there are limits to such monstrous, criminal diversions. When the problem is capitalism, itself, the system provides no solutions, but only deeper contradictions and a profound crisis of legitimacy, in which the rulers themselves proclaim a state of general failure. Donald Trump's "Make American Great Again" slogan, although crafted to channel white rage and fear into GOP votes at the ballot box, is a shrieking admission of national decline. Trump arose as the ultimate logic of almost a generation of endless, bipartisan austerity and war that has drained the populace of any prospect of a general improvement in their condition. Corrosive despair pervades the nation, and even white supremacists (a majority of whites in the U.S.) know that the rich have rigged the game.

Having won the class war, there is no countervailing force to stop the hegemonic rich from indulging their worst instincts and excesses, which leads them to blunder after arrogant blunder. Through their control of both electoral parties and the media, the Lords of Capital decree a downward-looking future of ever-tightening belts for the masses, while at the same time wildly celebrating stratospheric corporate stock values and concentrations of individual wealth unheard of in human history. The people see that the very earth moves for Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, who demands billions in tribute from local tax revenues for the privilege of hosting his corporate headquarters -- but austerity is the order of the day for the rest of us.

The corporate media did not inform the American people that they no longer have any claim to living in the "greatest country on earth," but the Internet taught them the truth of their poverty relative to western Europe and, by some measures, even some Asian countries. Americans now know that state-provided health care is the norm in the developed world; consequently, they feel deprived and underdeveloped, cheated. They begin to grasp that austerity is not just about gutting welfare for the "undeserving" classes, but is the policy that compels both Democratic and Republican leadership to say "No" to Medicare for All, an idea supported by 85 percent of Democrats, most independents and over half of Republicans.

Young people of all races understand that they are poorer than their parents, and that the rulers have no vision of a way out for their generation. If this is what capitalism is about, they want no part of it. A Gallup poll shows 51 percent of 18 to 29 year olds have positive views of "socialism," while only 45 percent prefer "capitalism." Blacks of all ages have long been even more amenable to socialism.

The truth is, what passes for socialism, thanks to Bernie Sanders and others, is actually New Deal liberalism, programs designed to save capitalism from itself by distributing some benefits and services to the masses. But the Lords of Capital decades ago threw down the gauntlet and swept the crumbs for the masses off the table, decreeing austerity forever and allocating ever-higher proportions of the federal budget to the military. Capitalism divested itself of as much of its working class as possible in the developed countries, and exported jobs and whole industries to the Global South, expecting to somehow hold onto world power on the strength of finance capital and the U.S. military, and to further enrich themselves domestically by privatization of public services and imposition of all manner of corporate fees and rents on every aspect of life. Austerity is organized thievery, unbound-- to which the young say, give us "socialism," whatever that is.

Socialism has become the catch-all for anti-capitalism. Maybe it always was, in the minds of most people.

There is anti-capitalism in great abundance, and although there is not nearly enough anti-war fervor in the capitalist heartland, there is not much pro-war sentiment, either. The military-industrial-national security complex found that out, to their horror, when presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed an end to wars of regime-change and better relations with Russia -- and his racist white base didn't blink an eye! If Trump's crowd isn't the natural base for the War Party, then who is? The Russiagate scam is, to a large degree, a desperate bid to rekindle militarism in America. Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is dancing to "War, What Is It Good For (Absolutely Nothing)," and musing about raising corporate taxes to 70 percent.

That ain't socialism, either, but it's a harbinger of growing space on the Left. The AOC "socialists" have no idea what kind of capitalist enemy they are up against, but if they keep pricking it, they will soon find out. The Lords of Capital are in their end-game. The next moves are for keeps.

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

How Far-Out Is Trump's War Policy?
By Jim Hightower

If you think our government's war policy has become out-of-this world cuckoo - consider the spaciness being proposed by the cosmonauts on Spaceship Trump.

Spending nearly $700 billion a year on maintaining the five branches of the US war machine (not counting the costs of actually fighting all the wars they get into) is not enough they now tell us. So prepare to soar - militarily and budgetarily - into a boundless war theater where none have gone before: Yes, outer space!

It seems that Captain Trump himself woke up one morning in June and abruptly announced that he was bored with the fusty old Army, Air Force, etc., so he wanted a shiny new sixth military branch to play with [space music sound effects] - a "Space Force" to carry America's war-making power to a cosmic level. His loyal lieutenant, Mike "Yes-Man" Pence promptly saluted, calling Trump's whim "an idea whose time has come." America's military leaders rolled their eyes at this folly, but they've since snapped to attention and are preparing to launch Cap'n Trump's grandiose space dreams.

In a melodramatic speech, Pence declared that the new Space Command will "seek peace, in space as on Earth." Hmmm... that's not very comforting. However, he says he's thrilled that Trump's Space Force will be led by a four-star general, have its own bureaucracy with a multibillion-dollar budget, have a separate division to funnel money to corporate war contractors, and have its own snappy uniforms. Won't all that look great if Trump ever gets that big showy military parade he's been demanding as a tribute to his leadership as a cocktail-room warrior.

The Trumpeteers gush that this extraplanetary extravagance will attract "America's best and bravest" to serve as "warfighters." Of course, their privileged families won't have to fight in any of the space wars they're dreaming up for other families to fight.

(c) 2019 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

Trump Declares Himself A National Emergency
By David Swanson

War is the most underrated danger, crisis, and moral outrage to be dealt with.

Trump is the most antiwar president the United States has seen in decades.

As a dedicated peace activist, I believe Trump needs to be removed from office immediately.

How can this be so?

First, becoming a relatively antiwar U.S. president is an extremely low bar to clear. Trump has increased weapons sales, demanded that NATO members increase weapons spending, increased U.S. military spending, increased base construction, increased drone murders, increased nuclear weapons construction, threatened nuclear weapons use, fueled hostility with Iran and China and (with a big push from Democrats) with Russia, armed Ukraine, sabotaged longstanding disarmament treaties, exacerbated the worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen, surrounded himself with hardcore warmongers, celebrated warrior culture, built up the racism and xenophobia and blind subservience that can make wars easier to start, bombed nine nations, not actually ended any wars anywhere, and scared the living hell out of half the globe with his unpredictability.

But, but, but, then how can he be the most antiwar president of the United States in decades? Well, most previous presidents did most of those things too, most of what Trump has done has been to simply continue what was in the works, and for whatever combination of corrupt, incoherent, bigoted, or sensible reasons, he's actually proposed to end and taken steps toward ending U.S. wars in Syria and Afghanistan. He's not yet started any major new wars (that alone makes him unique, until it changes). He's taken steps part-way in the direction of peace in Korea, despite the clamoring of the U.S. media. He's partially resisted an all-out media and Democratic campaign to demonize Russia. The ridiculous lies about Cuban microwave-sound-weapon-brain attacks have come from some of the same sources as Russiagate, not from Trump, and he hasn't attacked Cuba even to the extent that Kennedy did.

Wait, wait, if that's enough for him to hold the title (until he loses it) of most antiwar president in decades, shouldn't some of his predecessors have been impeached, too? Of course, every damn one of them, as you can read about at ridiculous length from the time of their presidencies on my website. Do try to keep up.

OK, whatever, but if you were to get rid of the most antiwar president you'd have more wars, and the nuclear doomsday clock is almost at midnight, and we could all die, and there goes that $1 trillion per year and here comes all the environmental destruction and political corruption and cultural corrosion and all the effects of war that you're going on and on about every damn day with nobody listening except me, a fictional devil's-advocate interlocutor.

Most antiwar is not good enough. We're all going to die from nuclear or climate disaster if Trump remains. We're all going to die from climate disaster whether or not he remains. The problem is not that lesser-evil arguments don't maintain a certain internal logic. The problem is that something non-evil is required and possible. "Don't change Trump, change the system" is a fun strawman chant, but in the absence of anyone who actually thinks the system is working it's not particularly helpful. We need to change the system by, among other things, compelling Congress to end the war on Yemen and then another and then another. Without a Congress, we'll never end all the wars that need to be ended through presidents, no matter what party or group or gender a president may symbolize. We need to change the system by, among other things, creating the real credible threat of impeachment and removal from office, for legitimate popular reasons - a threat that will not be believed until it is acted upon, at least once, possibly more than once. That change over the presidency will matter far more than what individual occupies that office.

We need not only a Congress but also a public, a public that does not cheer for or oppose wars based on the perceived positions of a politician or party, but based on an actual - I know this is insane - an actual preference for peace.

Trump wants to declare a national emergency, to unconstitutionally spend money contrary to the will of Congress, to unconstitutionally use military force domestically, to once and for all abandon the pretense that there is anything left of Congress beyond a gaggle of court jesters - and all to build an actual monument to absurd and hateful campaign propaganda. That, and not anything south of Texas, is a national, and global, emergency. Once Trump has seized that power, it will belong to him and be cheered by his devotees, and to the next president if we make it that far, at which point it will be cheered by that person's devotees.

When Bush was president I said we needed to impeach him or the abuses of power would grow.

When Obama was president I said we needed to impeach him or the abuses of power would grow.

When Trump was president I said we needed to impeach him or the abuses of power would grow.

And pundits say predicting the future is difficult!

(c) 2019 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Bill Kraus Beat Back Extremism
By John Nichols

More than 50 years ago, at a point when the Republican Party of Wisconsin had taken a turn toward extremism that threatened to divide the state along the ugliest and most destructive lines, Bill Kraus and a brave band of political visionaries saved their party and their state.

The political history of Wisconsin is poorly recalled by those who fail to recognize the great ideological battles that have played out in both major parties. But Bill remembered. And that is one of the many reasons why his death last month at the age of 92 was such a loss for a state that can ill afford to be without his strategic good sense and humane vision for what is possible in politics.

Kraus, whose legacy will be honored today at the University of Wisconsin Memorial Union, is well recalled as the Common Cause board member who refused to surrender the old-school Wisconsin faith that politics should be about ideas rather than money.

Yet the image of Kraus as a genteel commentator on electoral misdeeds and possibilities fails to capture the whole of the man. He understood politics as "the only game for adults," and he practiced it with a rare combination of strategic savvy and common decency - a fact confirmed by the essential role he played in securing the enactment of the first-in-the-nation gay rights legislation that his boss, Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus, signed in 1982. But Kraus was also a scrappy ideological battler who, for many years, was in the forefront of the fight to prevent the Republican Party from going to extremes.

That was no small battle in the early 1960s, when Kraus helped organize the historic 1964 gubernatorial campaign of Warren Knowles. A moderate former state legislator and lieutenant governor, Knowles had been thwarted in his efforts to win higher office by a far-right party machine made up of Joe McCarthy dead-enders and wink-and-nod fellow travelers with the Appleton-based John Birch Society. In 1960 and 1962, the party's losing gubernatorial nominee was Milwaukee businessman Philip Kuehn, who campaigned as "Barry Goldwater Jr." and said it would be "un-American" for him to renounce the support he got from the Birchers.

Moderate Republican leader Wilbur Renk warned that "right-wing extremism" was coming to dominate the GOP and Wisconsin, while Democratic Gov. John Reynolds dismissed his Republican opposition as "the most reactionary state political organization in the nation... a group of fanatical right wingers."

Even as Goldwater's "extremism in the defense of liberty" campaign was taking over the national party and setting it on course for disastrous defeat in 1964, Knowles, Ody Fish and Kraus grabbed the Wisconsin GOP back from the right and waged a campaign that drew national notice as it first secured the gubernatorial nod for Knowles and then - against all odds - secured a Republican governorship in one of the party's few wins in a year of Democratic landslides.

It frustrated Kraus in later years as the state GOP veered back toward the right because he knew, from experience, the power of a moderate Republican appeal to the state where the party of Lincoln was founded.

(c) 2019 John Nichols John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Do We Reincarnate From Past Lives?
By James Donahue

Over the years I have entertained strange dreams that were so vivid that I had the distinct impression that I was living in two different planes of existence. I don't smoke, but I had a series of dreams in which I was trying to break a smoking habit, but secretly carrying a pack of cigarettes in my pocket.

In yet another vivid dream I boarded a vintage single-engine bi-plane. Once someone turned the propeller to get the motor running, I flew the plane, surprised that I knew what I was doing. I have never flown an aircraft and never had a flying lesson.

Where did these memories come from?

I have always loved the water and in my youth gave careful consideration to spending a life as a ship's master. I even went so far as to join the Merchant Marine and try to get a job on a Great Lakes freighter. There was a recession that year and after spending a few weeks sitting among veteran sailors in a Detroit union hall, I gave up, took a land job and went back to college in the fall. I never lost my interest in ships, I have written extensively about them, and was always the reporter that was an invited guest aboard the Coast Guard vessels operating on the Great Lakes. I have always felt at home when at sea. It struck me that I might have been a sailor in a past life.

A nephew on my wife's side sat down at a piano as a young lad and began playing as if he were an accomplished musician. Yet he never had a music lesson. Where did he acquire this skill. He has been playing music by ear in his home ever since.

There is a well-documented story about a Louisiana boy, James Leininger, who has had dreams and vivid memories of dying in a burning Corsair fighter after being shot down by a Japanese zero during World War II. He even remembered his name, James Houston and the name of his carrier, the Natoma. A pilot by that name was killed when his Corsair was shot down in 1945. He flew from a carrier named the Natoma Bay.

These are but a few of the things we have noticed over the years that seem to support the belief by some in the reincarnation of souls from lifetime to lifetime. There appears to be some fragment of memory of former lives that attaches itself to newborn babies, giving them memory of lives lived in the past.

Now new research with mice at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta has shown that information appears to be inherited biologically in the DNA passed from the mother to the newborn. For instance, the mice pass on learned information about fearful and stressful situations that were endured by the parent.

If the same memories are linked to human DNA, it might explain why some children grow up with a fear of heights, of flying, water or being in confined rooms. In most cases this is not behavior learned by personal experiences confronting the child.

Researchers have recently been studying a strange memory-type of phenomenon that occurs among people who have received heart, liver, kidney or other type of organ transplant. Recipients of transplanted organs sometimes report personality changes, changes in musical preference, and even changes in the foods they like. The DNA of the new body part appears to sometimes introduce these changes.

In my own case, the vivid dreams of flying and failing to give up a smoking habit came upon me shortly after I received several pints of blood when suffering a bleeding ulcer.

The question then: are these strange memories being brought to us from someone else's DNA after it joins with our own, or is It proof of reincarnation from a previous life?

What frightens me now is that our overpopulated and polluted planet is heating up and researchers believe it is only a matter of time, if we don't take drastic steps to make changes, all life on Earth will go extinct. If reincarnation is real . . . what will be our future in the next life?

(c) 2019 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.

President Trump participates in a signing ceremony for anti-human trafficking legislation in the Oval Office
on the 19th day of the partial government shutdown at the White House on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, in Washington, DC.

Trump Is Building A Great Case For His Own Impeachment
By William Rivers Pitt

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are approximately 228,000 words in the English language. After Donald Trump's nonsense visit to the US-Mexico border, pretty much all of them are failing me.

It began before he even got on the plane. "When during the campaign I would say, 'Mexico is going to pay for it,' obviously, I never said this," he told a gaggle of reporters, "and I never meant they are going to write out a check." In a December 13 tweet, and about 11 billion times before that, he said, "I often stated, 'One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.'"

So, yeah, that set the tone. During the same confrontation with the press, Trump also said: "The wall that we're doing is very, very hard to penetrate."

And: "If we don't make a deal, I mean, I would say 100% but I don't want to say 100%. ... It would be very surprising to me that I would not declare a national emergency."

Followed by: "I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. I haven't done it yet. I may do it. If this doesn't work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely."

As Trump winged his way to the Rio Grande, the one question on everyone's mind was whether or not he intended to follow through on his threat. "Trump would be on shaky ground if he were to declare a national emergency and divert funds to build his wall," wrote Marjorie Cohn for Truthout as the president was still in transit. "Any attempt by Trump to declare an emergency in order to justify diverting funds for his wall to help the military enforce immigration law would violate the Posse Comitatus Act."

As if to underscore his threat, Trump initially planned to bring top White House lawyer Pat Cipollone with him to Texas, ostensibly to help him explain how declaring an emergency over an unnecessary wall is at all legal. Amusingly enough, Cipollone is among the many who have spent this week trying to talk Trump out of it. In the end, Cipollone wound up not making the trip, a strong indication that despite all Trump's bluster, no emergency declaration would be in the offing.

That, in the end, was precisely the case: Trump did not declare a national emergency, again. Instead, he lumbered from photo-op to photo-op, beginning with a roundtable discussion at a Border Patrol station with a variety of local and federal officials. The room was piled high with cash, weapons and what Splinter News reporter Rafi Schwartz described as an "Iggy Pop-level of drugs," all confiscated by border agents... but confiscated at lawful ports of entry, where most of this kind of stuff comes through, and not out in the williwags where the wall would be.

One woman present recounted losing her son, a border control agent, to a "criminal alien" while Trump sat with his white MAGA hat pulled low, looking for all the world like he had just wandered in from one of his golf courses. John Cornyn, the other gruesome Republican senator from Texas, graced the proceedings with a proclamation about "people who don't come here to achieve the American Dream, but people who come here to cause death and destruction and human misery."

This, sad to say, was the high point of the afternoon. By the time the roundtable was concluded, the national media had returned its collective gaze to the District, where Michael Cohen had agreed to testify publicly on February 7 before Democratic Chairman Elijah Cumming's House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform. I'm sure the news was well-received on Air Force One.

It is difficult to imagine how this shutdown mess could be going any worse for Trump. His GOP allies in Congress have become increasingly restive over what will soon be the longest shutdown in US history. (He does like to do things bigly.) After Trump's prime-time Oval Office farce, eight Republican House members joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in a successful vote to reopen the Treasury Department and guarantee that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would be able to process the millions of refund checks that would otherwise go unsent during the shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of course, shot the Pelosi bill down on Thursday morning, putting the GOP in the uneasy position of having voted in broad daylight against getting people the refunds they depend on. Let there be no mistake: Pelosi is playing with live ammunition. McConnell and Trump can expect to see more bills like this coming out of the House basically every day until the government is opened again.

Indeed, the headwinds blowing against Trump's shutdown are reaching gale force. Furloughed employees marched outside the White House to demand the government be reopened and their jobs restored. Polls taken in Texas show a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the proposed border wall, and those numbers grow even more bleak when the entire nation is asked. No lesser light than Jim Darling, the mayor of McAllen, Texas, where Trump visited on Thursday, believes the border wall and the shutdown are equally preposterous. The only people who really seem to want this thing are Trump, his congressional Republican hostages and the ever-shrinking number of voters who believe all of Trump's spoken words are immediately carved onto stone tablets.

Do not get your hopes up that Trump is going to walk away from his threats to declare a national emergency, despite the swelling social and political calamity he has unleashed with all this. According to a Thursday afternoon Washington Post report, Trump and his cohorts are still trying to square this particular legal circle, and are even now "laying the groundwork for a declaration of national emergency to build President Trump's border wall, including searching for unused money in the Army Corps of Engineers budget."

For the record, "unused money in the Army Corps of Engineers budget" means plundering disaster relief funds meant for Puerto Rico and California to pay for the border wall. And here I thought only vampires drank the blood of the innocent.

The trip to Texas was, as Trump himself groused before departing, nothing but a waste of time. The same can be said for every meeting he has had with congressional Democrats, his prime-time address on Tuesday and indeed the shutdown itself. Everything Trump says and everything he does will continue to be a blatantly harmful waste of time until he finally admits defeat, takes his beating from his base and signs legislation to reopen the federal government.

If he doesn't, and this thing drags on, the shutdown itself will become an absolute justification for impeachment. Hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers are struggling to make rent and mortgage payments without their paychecks coming in. Our national parks are slowly transforming into Superfund sites due to untended trash and human waste. Food inspections are grinding to a halt, putting the population at large at risk. The national economy will be staggered if the shutdown prevents the IRS from sending people their needed tax refunds. Before much longer, vital services like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will no longer be able to provide food to families in need. Domestic violence shelters will be shuttered and services on Native reservations will cease in abrogation of multiple treaties. This is an abbreviated list.

We are witnessing presidential malpractice on a towering scale. The first death by food poisoning due to uninspected meat, the first person murdered because she could not access a domestic violence shelter, the first reservation resident to die from lack of available medical care, will be the sole responsibility of master dealmaker Trump. Risking the lives of ordinary citizens in pursuit of a narrow political strategy to satisfy the nationalist desires of a sliver of the population is the legal definition of "reckless endangerment." It is time for this to end before someone really gets hurt.

(c) 2019 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.

Poor Mick. So Soon???
By Heather Digby Parton

President Trump chastised his new chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, over his handling of shutdown talks, creating an awkward scene in front of congressional leaders of both parties, according to two sources who were present.

Behind the scenes: The encounter came near the end of a meeting in the White House Situation Room on Jan. 4, these sources said. Trump had spent the meeting restating his demand for $5.7 billion for his wall. (Vice President Pence, at Trump's behest, had previously asked the Democrats for just $2.5 billion.)

Mulvaney inserted himself into the conversation and tried to negotiate a compromise sum of money, according to the sources in the room. Mulvaney said "that if Dems weren't OK with $5.7 [billion] and the president wasn't OK with $1.3 [the Democratic offer] ... he was trying to say we should find a middle ground," one of the sources said, paraphrasing Mulvaney's remarks.

"Trump cut him off ... 'You just fucked it all up, Mick,'" the source recalled Trump saying. "It was kind of weird."

Another source who was in the room confirmed the account. That source said their impression was that Trump was irritated at Mulvaney's negotiating style. "As a negotiator, Trump was resetting," the source said. "Mick was not reading the room or the president."

Why it matters: Trump's willingness to humiliate his top staffer in front of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi is another reminder - beyond Democratic unwillingness to fund a barrier - of why shutdown talks have made zero progress: Trump exhibits little regard for the credibility of his own deputies.

And they seem to love it. I've never seen any group of men so eager to demean themselves for another. But then Tump is absolutely terrified of Ann Coulter so I guess it's just something all the macho right wingers are comfortable with.

The irony is that Trump actually believes he's a good negotiator.

(c) 2019 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.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mrs. Susan Pompeo speak to staff and family members of U.S. Embassy Cairo in Egypt, on Jan. 10, 2019

Pompeo's US Jingoism And Anti-Iran Warmongering Rejected By Mideast Public
In both Egypt, where Pompeo spoke, and in Iraq, which he had just visited, over 90 percent of the population has an unfavorable view of the United States
By Juan Cole

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a major and extremely embarrassing foreign policy speech in Cairo on Thursday, which is probably inconsequential since his major talking points departed from the positions of his president, Trump. Also, aside from some generals and kings and princes, nobody in the region agrees with anything he said.

Pompeo's message to Egypt is that the U.S. plays a positive role in the Middle East and that Obama was wrong to attempt to get out of the region and re-balance toward the Pacific Rim. The U.S., Pompeo implied, should have taken a stronger hand during the Arab Spring to keep the Muslim religious Right from coming to power, and should have forestalled the rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria by staying in Iraq. The U.S., he said, does not want to occupy any country against its will, in contrast to Iran. (Fact-check on Pompeo: Iran is not occupying any countries in the Middle East but has given some military assistance to Syria at the request of Damascus. The U.S. aggressively invaded Iraq without a casus belli and occupied it for nearly a decade against its will.) Pompeo attempted to whip up anti-Iran sentiments as part of his vision of a grand alliance of the U.S. and the Arab world (and, shhh, Israel) against Iran and Hizbullah.

Pompeo's is the Christian Zionist strain of American foreign policy. It is not shared by his boss, Donald J. Trump, and it in important respects departs from the dovish position of Pompeo's main financial backers, the Koch Brothers (big oil billionaires), whose Cato Institute probably would advise against deepening U.S. military involvement in the Middle East in order to push back Iran.

We don't have flash polls in the Middle East so as to be able to tell how Pompeo's speech was received. But we do have some good recent polling by Zogby in 8 countries of the Middle East, and it doesn't suggest that the Egyptian public agrees with some of Pompeo's assertions.

People in the region for the most part (outside of Saudi Arabia and the UAE) really dislike U.S. policy. Zogby notes, "It is important to note that the United States only receives single digit favorable ratings in Iraq and Egypt." That is, in both Egypt, where Pompeo spoke, and in Iraq, which he had just visited, over 90 percent of the population has an unfavorable view of the United States.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq, which Pompeo appears to have denied ever happened, is one reason for that unfavorable view of the U.S. among the Middle Eastern publics. Another is the Palestine issue.

Zoghby says, "ending the occupation of Palestinian lands is rated the number one issue in most countries."

Pompeo wanted to rank Iran as the number one challenge and neglects to mention anything about Israel dominating, punishing, and stealing from 5 million occupied and stateless Palestinians. In the region, Iran comes third, with the most pressing concern being the liberation of the Palestinians from Israeli occupation. Second most places comes a resolution of the Syrian civil war. Iran comes a distant third, which isn't promising for the agenda of Pompeo of Arabia.

Pompeo presents in public as jolly and gung ho, but of the 100 million Egyptians, some 92 million were glaring at him in anger and disgust. That's right, America's favorability in Egypt under Trump has fallen 30 points to only 8 percent. If only 8 percent of the people in a country like you, giving a speech there about how you should have interfered more vigorously in their affairs may not be a very good idea.

Throughout the 8 countries of the Middle East polled by Zoghby last fall, people view the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq extremely negatively:

With few exceptions, respondents say that most countries have played a negative role in Iraq, with the lion's share of fault going to the United States and Iran. Iraqis, who in last year's poll were evenly divided on the U.S. role in their country, now overwhelmingly express the view that the U.S. involvement has been negative.

That is, outside of Iraq in the Arab world and Iran, this negative view of U.S. domination of that country was shared by the vast majority both last year and this. Inside Iraq in 2017, 50 percent of Iraqis were grateful for U.S. help in destroying ISIL. But Iraqis are very unhappy about the corruption, lack of services, bad water, and gridlock bequeathed them by the Bush administration's installation of cronies, and those discontents now outweigh any earlier gratitude for helping take back Mosul from the phony caliphate.

The Middle Eastern public also thinks that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq was self-interested, classic imperialism:

When asked who has benefited the most from the war in Iraq, overall the top choice is the United States, with respondents in Tunisia (87 percent), Egypt (87 percent), Palestine (53 percent), Saudi Arabia (50 percent), and Iran (44 percent) identifying the United States most frequently as a beneficiary of the war.

Most people in the Arab world outside the Gulf see the US involvement in Syria as negative. Zogby reports that "the United States is overwhelmingly seen as the most negative player in Syria:

More than eight in 10 respondents in Egypt (93 percent), Iraq itself (86 percent), Turkey (84 percent), and Iran (83 percent), as well as majorities in Saudi Arabia (67 percent), Lebanon (63 percent), Palestine (62 percent), and Tunisia (59 percent) view the U.S. role as negative.

93 percent of the hundred million Egyptians don't like the U.S. involvement in Syria, which would be a pretty steep hill for Pompeo's sunny neo-imperialism to climb. I have to say that this almost universal negativity is a little puzzling. Is it because the U.S. in Syria is mainly allied with non-Arab, leftist Kurds? Is it just a residual set of attitudes stemming from the disgust in the region at the 2003 U.S. invasion and then 8.5 year occupation of Iraq? People in the Arab world are afraid of ISIL-style extremism, so you'd think they appreciate more the U.S. role in rolling up that terrorist organization. Anyway, the evidence is that they don't accept Pompeo's assertion that American intervention in the region is positive.

As for the project of a grand alliance against Iran, support for it in the general public strikes me as surprisingly weak. Zogby asked respondents 4 questions about what should be done now that the U.S. has withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Two of those questions asked about dovish responses. Zogby wanted to know if people thought these courses of action best:

1. Continue to enforce the Iran deal agreement to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions.

3. Press Iran to participate in a regional security framework to help bring peace to the region.

Fully 61 percent of Egyptian respondents favored one or the other of these two dovish options. In contrast, only 39 percent wanted either harsher sanctions on Iran or more support to the Arab bloc from the U.S. to confront Iran.

Majorities also favored the two dovish positions in Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey. Predictably, the hawks are the publics in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, though a surprise is that Tunisians are more hawkish toward Iran than not.

The U.S. wants to deploy the dogs of war against Iran to unite the Arabs and Turkey and Israel in a Concert of the Middle East (just as Britain and Austria led a Concert of Europe against Napoleon). The problem is that the U.S. is perhaps more unpopular than Iran in most of the Middle East, its Likud Party pet in Israel is despised, the US is seen as an imperial, self-interested, grasping power that destroyed Iraq and should never have been in Syria. Majorities in the more populous countries polled-Egypt, Turkey and Iraq-want either to see the Iran nuclear deal kept in force or want to see Iran brought into a larger diplomatic settlement.

Pompeo was the skunk at the party and doesn't seem to have the self-awareness to notice.

(c) 2019 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

There Is A Bombshell Of A Word In The New York Times Report On The Trump FBI Investigation
This is the most astounding evidence of Oval Office criminality since the release of the "smoking gun" tape in 1974.
By Charles P. Pierce

Deep in The New York Times's latest bombshell is one singularly deadly word, a lethal bit of shrapnel aimed directly at the vitals of a criminal-and possibly treasonous-presidency. The word is tucked into a sentence that, at first glance, seems to be a perfectly anodyne statement of the current facts. Indeed, it's tucked into a sentence that would be an unremarkable bit of knee-jerk newspaper balance if this explosive charge of a word weren't placed right the in the middle of it. That word is "publicly," as in: No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials. Notice where that sentence, which functions as the casing for the bomb, is placed in the story. It is placed after the following paragraphs:

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president's own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence.

The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.

Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump's ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president's activities before and after Mr. Comey's firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.

Each of those paragraphs, taken by itself, would be a gobsmacker. Taken together, they are the most astounding evidence of Oval Office criminality since the release of the "smoking gun" tape in 1974. The counterintelligence apparatus of the FBI looked at the conduct of the president* of the United States and determined it appropriate to look into the possibility that he was being run by a foreign power. They thought there was enough there to wonder if the president* was a threat to the security of the nation.

And then, there's that word, "publicly."

This is not a word chosen idly, not in a piece as judiciously written as this one. Clearly, the Times printed pretty much all it was given by its sources, but the implication of that "publicly" is that investigators likely know far more than what appeared in the newspaper.

Otherwise, "publicly" is empty verbiage. To have written simply that, "No evidence has emerged that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government official," would have sufficed for the purposes of journalistic balance. But by dropping that fatal "publicly" in there, the Times and its sources likely are giving us a preview of coming attractions. (Judging by his manic episode on the electric Twitter machine on Saturday morning, the president* knows this, too.) And the one thing about which we can all be sure is that is whole megillah is nowhere near as weird as it's going to get.

(c) 2019 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."
~~~ Daniel Patrick Moynihan

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on March 15, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn.

Why Doesn't Donald Trump's Cozy Relationship With Vladimir Putin Worry His Supporters?
Jefferson Davis's Treason Case Holds a Clue.
By James Risen

QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER Donald Trump is an agent of a foreign power have intensified since the Washington Post reported that the president of the United States has refused to share with even his most senior aides the details of his personal meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Trump's supporters don't seem to care. The president's approval rating has hardly budged over the past year despite a seemingly endless series of disclosures about the Russia investigation. The website 538, which publishes a daily approval rating for Trump based on its formula for weighting and adjusting public polls, calculates that Trump's approval rating on January 15, 2019 was 40.8 percent, compared with 39.3 percent exactly a year ago. Trump's base dismisses each new revelation about Trump and Russia in the same way. They see the investigation as a McCarthyite witch hunt, a conspiracy by the so-called deep state.

There is a precedent in American history for this weird situation, in which there is evidence that a leader has acted against the interests of the United States, yet a large percentage of the American public doesn't believe it or simply isn't interested. Many of the same political dynamics that shaped the treason prosecution of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America, seem to be at work today.

On April 9, 1865, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House effectively ended the Civil War. But there were still plenty of loose ends, and one of them was Davis, who fled Richmond, the Confederate capital, just before it was occupied by Union troops. The Confederate president was finally captured in Georgia in May 1865 and imprisoned in Virginia's Fort Monroe.

Initially, Davis had little support. He was captured in the wake of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, and many in the North were eager for vengeance. His backing had also waned in the broken South, where his abrasive personality, his wretched mismanagement of military operations and the economy, and his unrealistic, dead-ender attitude had diminished his popularity by the close of the war.

But Davis quickly regained sympathy thanks to the bungled handling of his case by President Andrew Johnson's administration. He was imprisoned for two years, and during that time, Southerners who had scorned him in his last days as Confederate president began to rally to him, and he eventually came to be seen as a martyr to their lost cause. Before long, as Ron Chernow wrote in his 2017 biography of Grant, there were reports that "white militias, with telltale names such as the Jeff Davis Guards, were springing up across Mississippi." Many northern whites, who increasingly wanted reconciliation with the South, also came to believe that the government's handling of Davis was too punitive. This changing political climate provided the backdrop for Davis's treason case.

There was no doubt that Davis had broken with the United States. He had been the leader of a government of 13 states that had seceded from the Union. He had fought a bloody war against the United States.

But was that treason? Southern whites had supported the Confederacy and wanted Davis to be its president. Those Americans wanted slavery to continue, and they wanted white power to be undiminished. Davis gave them what they wanted. In fact, one of the concerns looming in the minds of some in the government in Washington at the time was whether Davis's prosecution might have the unintended effect of leading the Supreme Court to rule that secession was legal.

With political support for the prosecution waning, Davis's case came to an anti-climactic conclusion. He was freed from prison after his bail was paid by a wealthy group that included Horace Greeley and Cornelius Vanderbilt. On Christmas Day in 1868, Johnson issued a pardon for treason for Confederates, and the case against Davis was dismissed in February 1869.

Trump came to power thanks to some of the same factors that fueled the rise of Jefferson Davis. Millions of Americans voted for Trump because they believed that he would protect white power and fight against the rising tide of diversity in America. (Iowa Rep. Steve King's recent comments about white supremacy were an odd place for Republican congressional leaders to draw a line in the sand on racism, given that they continue to embrace and enable Trump's presidency.

Many right-wing Trump supporters also have no problem with his alliance with Putin because they see both men as conservative guardians of white power. As I've noted before, Russia, too, is increasingly popular among Republican voters, who seem to approve of Putin's authoritarianism. As a result, many Trump supporters may not mind his eagerness to shield his conversations with the Russian leader from scrutiny.

That leads to a provocative question: Do a significant number of Americans today want a president who defies the nation's ideals in the name of white power, just as they wanted Jefferson Davis so many decades ago?

(c) 2019 James Risen is an American journalist for The Intercept. He previously worked for The New York Times and before that for Los Angeles Times.

Madam Jane Predicts
The government shutdown will be an economic 9-11
By Jane Stillwater

Poor Madam Jane -- always wearing black, moping around and looking sorrowful. "You are not your brain," I keep telling her, me being currently in the process of reading a book by that name. "You should always be on the look-out for deceptive brain messages," I say.

But Madam Jane just turns her sorrowful eyes on me and says, "Beware." Beware of what?

"Beware of the government shutdown, the hate mongers, the mess down on our southern border. Brother against brother. An economic 9-11 is coming. Worse than a stock-market crash. Instead of invading Afghanistan and Iraq as a result of the Twin Towers 9-11, the Deep State global elite will be invading American pocketbooks. I will say no more."
Oh boy. Looks like Madam Jane has been reading too much Naomi Klein, wherein today's global neo-conservatives thrive on chaos? I would say yes.

"The government shuts down," M.J. continues. "Chaos slowly but surely results. It will be almost like that infamous stock market crash of 1929 -- only worse. Much worse. And democracy never thrives when there is chaos. The next thing you know there will be armored tanks driving up and down every street and road in America. The Patriot Act will start looking positively democratic compared to what will be coming next. Beware."

Got it. When there is chaos, the top 001% have a fabulous excuse to spend (more) money on guns. Madam Jane might actually be on to something here.

"But Madam Jane," I finally ask her, "How come you never predict anything good?" Perhaps she will -- when Americans start demanding their democracy back? Nah. Never happen.

PS: Most federal offices are supposed to be shut down on January 21 in honor of Martin Luther King's birthday. Oops, too late! They already are.

(c) 2019 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-

Steve gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer King

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your statement, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization,?" 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 02-16-2019. We salute you herr King, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Trump Dictatorship
By Robert Reich

The only redeeming aspect to Trump's presidency is he brings us back to basics. And what could be more basic than the difference between democracy and dictatorship?

Democracy is about means, not ends. If we all agreed on the ends (such as whether to build a wall along the Mexican border) there'd be no need for democracy.

But of course we don't agree, which is why the means by which we resolve our differences are so important. Those means include a Constitution, a system of government based on the rule of law, and an independent judiciary.

A dictatorship, by contrast, is only about ends. Those ends are the goals of the dictator - preserving and accumulating personal power. To achieve those ends, a dictator will use any means necessary.

Which brings us back to Trump.

The conventional criticism of Trump is that he's unfit to be president because he continuously breaks the norms of how a president should behave.

Trump's norm-breaking is unsettling, to be sure, but Trump's more fundamental offense is he continuously sacrifices means in order to preserve and accumulate personal power.

He thereby violates a president's core responsibility to protect American democracy.

A president who shuts down government in order to get his way on a controversial issue, such as building a wall along the border with Mexico, and offering to reopen it as a concession when his opponents give in, is not protecting democracy.

He is treating the government of the United States as a bargaining chip. He is asserting power by any means possible. This is the method of a dictator.

A president who claims he has an absolute right to declare a national emergency and spend government funds that Congress has explicitly refused to appropriate for the ends he seeks, is also assuming the role of a dictator.

A president who spouts lies during a prime-time national television address over what he terms an "undeniable crisis" at the southern U.S. border, which is in fact no crisis at all, is using whatever means available to him to preserve and build his base of power.

The real international threat to America is not coming from Latin America. It is coming from a foreign government intent on undermining our democracy by propagating lies, turning Americans against each other, and electing a puppet president.

We do not know yet whether Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin to win the 2016 election. What we do know so far is that Trump's aides and campaign manager worked with Putin's emissaries during the 2016 election, and that Putin sought to swing the election in favor of Trump.

We also know that since he was elected, Trump has done little or nothing to stop Putin from continuing to try to undermine our democracy. To the contrary, Trump has obstructed inquiries into Russian meddling, and gone out of his way to keep his communications with Putin secret, even from his own White House.

The overall pattern is clear to anyone who cares to see it. Trump's entire presidency to date has sacrificed the means of democracy to the end of his personal power.

He has lied about the results of votes, and established a commission to investigate bogus claims of fraudulent voting. He has attacked judges who have ruled against him, with the goal of stirring up the public against them.

He has encouraged followers to believe that his opponent in the 2016 election should be imprisoned; and condemned as "enemies of the people" journalists who report unfavorably about him, in an effort to fuel public resentment - perhaps even violence - against them.

To argue, as some Trump apologists do, that whatever Trump does is justified because voters put Trump in power, is to claim that voters can decide to elect a dictator.

They cannot. Even if a majority of Americans were to attempt such thing (and, remember, Trump received three million fewer votes than his opponent in 2016), the Constitution prohibits it.

The choice could not be clearer. Democracy is about means, while dictatorship is about ends. Trump uses any means available to achieve his own ends.

We can preserve our democracy and force Trump out of office. Or we can continue to struggle against someone who strives to thwart democracy for his own benefit.

In the months ahead, that choice will be made, one way or the other.

(c) 2019 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

The 'Private Governments' That Subjugate U.S. Workers
By Chris Hedges

Corporate dictatorships-which strip employees of fundamental constitutional rights, including free speech, and which increasingly rely on temp or contract employees who receive no benefits and have no job security-rule the lives of perhaps 80 percent of working Americans. These corporations, with little or no oversight, surveil and monitor their workforces. They conduct random drug testing, impose punishing quotas and targets, routinely engage in wage theft, injure workers and then refuse to make compensation, and ignore reports of sexual harassment, assault and rape. They use managerial harassment, psychological manipulation-including the pseudo-science of positive psychology-and intimidation to ensure obedience. They fire workers for expressing leftist political opinions on social media or at public events during their off-hours. They terminate those who file complaints or publicly voice criticism about working conditions. They thwart attempts to organize unions, callously dismiss older workers and impose "non-compete" contract clauses, meaning that if workers leave they are unable to use their skills and human capital to work for other employers in the same industry. Nearly half of all technical professions now require workers to sign non-compete clauses, and this practice has spread to low-wage jobs including those in hair salons and restaurants.

The lower the wages the more abusive the conditions. Workers in the food and hotel industries, agriculture, construction, domestic service, call centers, the garment industry, warehouses, retail sales, lawn service, prisons, and health and elder care suffer the most. Walmart, for example, which employs nearly 1 percent of the U.S. labor force (1.4 million workers), prohibits casual conversation, which it describes as "time theft." The food industry giant Tyson prevents its workers from taking toilet breaks, causing many to urinate on themselves; as a result, some workers must wear diapers. The older, itinerant workers that Amazon often employs are subjected to grueling 12-hour shifts in which the company electronically monitors every action to make sure hourly quotas are met. Some Amazon workers walk for miles on concrete floors each shift and repeatedly get down on their hands and knees to perform their jobs. They frequently suffer crippling injuries. The company makes injured employees, whom it fires, sign releases saying the injuries are not work-related. Two-thirds of workers in low-wage industries are victims of wage theft, losing an amount estimated to be as high as $50 billion a year. From 4 million to 14 million American workers, under threat of wage cuts, plant shutdowns or dismissal, have been pressured by their employers to support pro-corporate political candidates and causes.

The corporations that in effect rule the lives of American workers constitute what University of Michigan philosophy professor Elizabeth Anderson refers to as "private governments." These "workplace governments," she writes, are "dictatorships, in which bosses govern in ways that are largely unaccountable to those who are governed. They don't merely govern workers: they dominate them." These corporations have the legal authority, she writes, "to regulate workers' off-hour lives as well-their political activities, speech, choice of sexual partner, use of recreational drugs, alcohol, smoking, and exercise. Because most employers exercise this off-hours authority irregularly, and without warning, most workers are unaware of how sweeping it is."

"If the U.S. government imposed such regulations on us, we would rightly protest that our constitutional rights were being violated," Anderson writes in her book "Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk About It)." "But American workers have no such rights against their bosses. Even speaking out against such constraints can get them fired. So most keep silent."

Once workers sign contracts they essentially cede their rights as citizens to the corporations, except the few rights guaranteed by law, for the duration of the contracts. "Employers' authority over workers," Anderson writes, "outside of collective bargaining and a few other contexts, such as university professors' tenure, is sweeping, arbitrary, and unaccountable-not subject to notice, process, or appeal. The state has established the constitution of the government of the workplace; it is a form of private government." These corporations, by law, can "impose a far more minute, exacting, and sweeping regulation of employees than democratic states do in any domain outside of prisons and the military."

These myriad corporate dictatorships, or private governments, ensure American workers are docile and compliant as the superstructure of the corporate state cements into place a species of corporate totalitarianism. The ruling ideology of neoliberalism and libertarianism, used to justify the corporate domination and social inequality that afflict us, sells itself as the protector of freedom and liberty. It does this by subterfuge. It claims workers have the freedom to enter into employment contracts and terminate them, while ignoring the near-total suspension of rights during the period of employment. It pretends that workers and corporations function as independent and autonomous sellers and buyers, with workers selling their labor freely and corporate owners buying this labor.

This neoliberal economic model, however, is defective. The relationship between the corporation and the worker is not the same as the relationship between a self-employed baker, for example, and his customers. The self-employed baker and those who buy the bread appeal to mutual self-interest in the exchange. "The buyer is not an inferior, begging for a favor," Anderson writes. "Equally importantly, the buyer is not a superior who is entitled to order the butcher, the brewer, or the baker to hand over the fruits of his labor. Buyers must address themselves to the other's interests. The parties each undertake the exchange with their dignity, their standing, and their personal independence affirmed by the other. This is a model of social relations between free and equal persons." (Emphasis by the author.)

Once a worker is bonded to a corporation, however, he or she instantly loses this dignity, standing and personal independence, especially if the job is temporary, entry-level or menial. Relations are no longer free and equal.

"When workers sell their labor to an employer, they have to hand themselves over to their boss, who then gets to order them around," Anderson writes. "The labor contract, instead of leaving the seller free as before, puts the seller under the authority of their boss." The worker either fulfills the demands of management, which he or she has little ability to question or formulate, or is reprimanded, demoted, sanctioned or fired. The corporate manager wields total authority over the worker. "The performance of the contract embodies a profound asymmetry in whose interests count," Anderson writes, "henceforth, the worker will be required to toil under conditions that pay no regard to his interests, and every regard for the capitalist's profits."

Neoliberalism posits that the choice is between a free market and state control, whereas, as Anderson writes, "most adults live their working lives under a third thing entirely: private government." Neoliberalism argues that the essence of freedom is free enterprise, while never addressing workers' surrender of basic freedoms. Neoliberalism holds out the promise, which has not been true since before the Industrial Revolution, that workers can become self-employed if they are hardworking and innovative. We all have the ability to achieve economic independence or become industry leaders if we draw on our inner resources, according to the neoliberal mantra, one popularized by mass culture. The neoliberal ideologues' solution to the cannibalization of the economy is to call for fostering a nation of entrepreneurs. This is a con. Corporations and their lobbyists write the laws and the legislation, creating a two-tiered legal system in which poverty is criminalized and we are controlled, taxed and punished. The corporate oligarchs, however, live in a world where monopoly, fraud and other financial wrongdoing are legal or rarely punished and taxes are minimal or nonexistent. Among the population, only a tiny percentage-most of whom come from inherited wealth and have been groomed in elitist, plutocratic universities and institutions-dominate the corporate hierarchy. Public discourse, controlled by corporate power, ignores this one-sided power arrangement. It cannot address a problem it refuses to acknowledge. Subjugation is freedom.

Anderson calls this corporate economic system communist-that's communist with a small "c"-because these private governments "own all the nonlabor means of production in the society it governs. It organizes production by means of central planning. The form of the government is a dictatorship. In some cases, the dictator is appointed by an oligarchy. In other cases, the dictator is self-appointed." Private governments, their sanctioning powers lacking the state's ability to imprison or execute (although they often have internal security forces with the power to arrest), ensure compliance by using wholesale surveillance and the threats of demotion and exile, plus the potential rewards of salary raises and promotions. Also, there usually is a steady barrage of company propaganda.

"We have the language of fairness and distributive justice to talk about low wages and inadequate benefits, we know how to talk about the Fight for $15, whatever side of this issue you are on," Anderson writes. "But we don't have good ways to talk about the way bosses rule workers' lives."

American workers have never achieved the array of rights won by workers in other industrialized countries. At the height of union representation in 1954, only 28.3 percent of American workers were union members. This number has fallen to 11.1 percent, with only 6.6 percent of private-sector workers belonging to unions. Wages have for decades declined or been stagnant. Half of all U.S. workers make less than $29,000 a year, effectively putting their families in poverty.

Workers, lacking unions and the ability to pressure management through collective bargaining, have no say in their working conditions. If they choose to leave abusive employment, where do they go? The inequalities and the workers' loss of liberty and agency are embedded within the corporate structure. It is impossible, as Anderson warns, to build a free, democratic society dominated by private governments. As these private governments merge into the superstructure of the corporate state we are cementing into place an unassailable corporate tyranny. It is a race against time. Our remaining freedoms are being rapidly extinguished. These omnipotent dictatorships must be destroyed, and they will only be destroyed by sustained popular protest such as we see in the streets of Paris. Otherwise, we will be shackled in 21st-century chains.

(c) 2019 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Nate Beeler ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Kavanaugh Offers To Pay For Wall By Recycling His Empties
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-In a bid to end the government shutdown, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh said on Thursday that he would recycle his empties to pay for a wall with Mexico.

Speaking to reporters from his office at the Court, Kavanaugh said that the inspiration came to him while he was building a beer-can pyramid in his basement rec room on Wednesday night.

"I was in my man cave, building this rad beer pyramid, and I was, like, I bet if I recycled all the beer cans down here plus the ones out in the garage, I'd have enough to pay for that freaking wall," the Supreme Court Justice said.

He added that he started calling a number of his friends from Georgetown Prep to see if they would contribute their empties to the effort, and found that they were "totally stoked" about the idea.

(c) 2019 Andy Borowitz

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