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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi declares, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Crusher Of Sacred Cows."

Jesse Jackson finds, "Common Sense Is Now Perilously Absent In Our Nation."

Glen Ford tells, "A Tale Of Self-Serving Black Journalists And The Corporate Duopoly."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Is More Technology The Answer To Too Much Technology?"

David Swanson warns, "The Shutdown Government Is Busy Figuring Out New Ways To Recruit Soldiers."

John Nichols reports, "Glenn Grothman Would Rather Punish Federal Workers Than Hold Trump To Account."

James Donahue finds, "Intense Microwave Radiation Everywhere!"

William Rivers Pitt says, "Shutdown Exposes How Many Americans Live Paycheck To Paycheck."

Heather Digby Parton explores, "The Chyron Presidency."

David Suzuki warns, "Pipeline Blockade Is A Sign Of Deeper Troubles."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "The Bank of Justice Is Not Bankrupt."

Ian Millhiser reports, "Justice Alito Pens A Bizarre Love Letter To Christian Right."

Jane Stillwater remembers, "JFK, MLK, Bobby & Leonard."

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich examines, "Trump's Assault On The Rule Of Law."

Chris Hedges orates, "Confronting The Culture Of Death."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "John Bolton Insists Iran Likely Harboring Dangerous Terrorist Osama Bin Laden," but first Uncle Ernie asks, "Isn't Being Forced To Work With No Pay A Definition Of Slavery?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Benson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Mark Wilson, Andrew Harnik, David McNew, Kris Connor, 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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Isn't Being Forced To Work With No Pay A Definition Of Slavery?
At least slaves had a roof over their heads and food in their bellies
By Ernest Stewart

"Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck. To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation's history that service members in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations." ~~~ Admiral Karl L. Schultz ~ Commandant the U.S. Coast Guard

"One down day on the Dow Jones doesn't mean the economy is going to crash. One cold day doesn't suddenly mean that the general trend in global climate change is suddenly going in the opposite direction." ~~~ Jason Furtado ~ Professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.

"Roman Abramovich is among a group of Russian oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin being targeted by British intelligence, it's been reported." ~~~ Connor Boyd

"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed." ~~~ Maya Angelou

Merriam-Webster defines being a slave as "one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence" a noun and "to work like a slave" a intransitive verb. I would add being forced to work at something and not being paid for your labor. As an old union steward I'd call a strike. Ask flight controllers how that work out for them under Ray Guns!

Sure, I hear you say that no one is forcing the half million, or so, that are being forced to work without a paycheck, to work. They are free to quit their jobs and go and work for someone else. First, there are not 500,000 decent paying jobs out there and as many are one paycheck short of keeping their head, or in some cases, their nose about water there is no time for that. Also knowing tRump hates to be denide anything and if you not worshiping the Donald then you are his greatest enemy, ergo if you quit working for him don't expect a honest report and recommendation, in fact, expect just the opposite.

So we have all these folk being forced to work without pay so tRumpy can have his unneeded wall. Of course, he's not going to get it, but he will have the satisfaction of destroying all these peoples lives, and when you count the spouses and the children whose lives will be destroyed by this, it totals around five million Americans!

And on the horizon, come March there will be no food for 38.6 million Americans who rely on food stamps as the SNAP program will be out of money by then. That's when the sh*t will hit the fan. When babies start dying of hunger, the revolution will begin!

You'd think by now the FBI would have some RICO charges to lay at tRump's doorstep which even a blind man could see. However, from my experience, the FBI couldn't catch a cold so unless Muller has some charges to bring, we're stuck with tRump for the next two years. By November 2020 there won't be much of this country left.

In Other News

Today it's 15 degrees F warmer in Anchorage, Alaska than it is in Detroit. When you add wind chill to that it's 25 degrees warmer. Yes, I know, that the brain-dead climate change deniers are going to tell me there is no global warming. While it's not exactly a polar vortex overhead the same principle applies. Warm air in Alaska pushes all that cold air south.

So it wasn't long before tRump tweeted his insanity about this storm.
As Climatologist Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York puts it:
"A wildfire or massive rainfall dumped in Houston makes headlines, and if you only look at headlines, you won't know about the incremental changes or the thresholds being crossed and pursued.

"When discussions are siloed to conversations about a tragic event or to look at something someone said on Twitter, those responses aren't doing any of that justice.

"People are regularly making decisions about things to buy, to build, to fix, ways to organize. As a person, you have multiple levers you can pull. You can amplify other people's voices and persuade decision-makers. You can do a lot to push this forward.

"Global warming is not a theoretical thing anymore. They should be careful. If you try and sow the wind, you'll reap the whirlwind."
We've already began to reap the whirlwind and with every passing year it will only get worse and worse. tRump who tweets his denial of global warming built a sea wall alongside his Irish golf course so that the rising tides of global warming won't wash away his golf course. He's what Tweey Bird called a hypotwit!

And Finally

A lot of folks have been asking me about tRumpy's new design for a wall made out of slats of steel. I tell them as I'm been saying since Smirky the wonder Chimp made the scene, if you want to know why Washington does anything, just follow that old money trail! And guess where this one leads, all the way back to Putin, surprise surprise, surprise!

When Vlad says jump tRump answers how high sir! Wouldn't you like to know why tRump has taken all the notes from his visits with Vlad. Vlad's good buddy Roman Abramovich happens to own the only steel mill in America that can produce these bizarre shaped steel slots. Were you wondering why tRump put up those steel tariffs, now you know! Ergo Abremovich, Putin and tRump will make a killing on them. Did I mention Abremovich is a Russian/Israeli billionaire. Did you wonder why tRump moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, well, wonder no more.

So for tRump to make another $100,000,000, or so, 5 million American have to suffer the consequences of tRumps greed and his greed knows no boundaries. tRump has gladly made himself a Russian 5th columnist traitor. He's been Putin's lap dog long before Madison selected him to be president. And guess who will end up paying for this treason, you the American tax payer is who.

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!


08-01-1944 ~ 01-20-2019
Thanks for the film!

07-04-1941 ~ 01-20-2019
Thanks for the music!

11-20-1925 ~ 01-21-2019
Thanks for the laughs!

08-14-1925 ~ 01-21-2019
Thanks for the laughs!

02-29-1936 ~ 01-22-2019
Thanks for the film!


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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.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Dina Titus.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Crusher Of Sacred Cows
With its silly swipes at AOC, the American political establishment is once again revealing its blindness to its own unpopularity
Matt Taibbi

One of the first things you learn covering American politicians is that they're not terribly bright.

The notion that Hill denizens are brilliant 4-D chess players is pure myth, the product of too many press hagiographies of the Game Change variety and too many Hollywood fantasies like House of Cards and West Wing.

The average American politician would lose at checkers to a zoo gorilla. They're usually in office for one reason: someone with money sent them there, often to vote yes on a key appropriation bill or two. On the other 364 days of the year, their job is to shut their yaps and approximate gravitas anytime they're in range of C-SPAN cameras.

Too many hacks float to the capital on beds of national committee money and other donor largesse, but then - once they get behind that desk and sit between those big flags - start thinking they're actually beloved tribunes of the people, whose opinions on all things are eagerly desired.

So they talk. What do they talk about? To the consternation of donors, all kinds of stuff. Remember Ted Stevens explaining that the Internet "is not a big truck"? How about Hank Johnson worrying that Guam would become so overpopulated it would "tip over and capsize"? How about Oklahoma Republican Jim Bridenstine noting that just because the Supreme Court rules on something, that "doesn't necessarily mean that that's constitutional"?

There's a reason aides try to keep their bosses away from microphones, particularly when there's a potential for a question of SAT-or-higher level difficulty in the interview. But the subject elected officials have the most trouble staying away from is each other.

We've seen this a lot in recent weeks with the ongoing freakout over newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Lest anyone think any of the above applies to "AOC," who's also had a lot to say since arriving in Washington, remember: she won in spite of the party and big donors, not because of them.

That doesn't make anything she says inherently more or less correct. But it changes the dynamic a bit. All of AOC's supporters sent her to Washington precisely to make noise. There isn't a cabal of key donors standing behind her, cringing every time she talks about the Pentagon budget. She is there to be a pain in the ass, and it's working. Virtually the entire spectrum of Washington officialdom has responded to her with horror and anguish.

The mortification on the Republican side has come more from media figures than actual elected officials. Still, there are plenty of people like Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) doing things like denouncing "this girl, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whatever she is" for preaching "socialism wrapped in ignorance." A group of GOP House members booed her on the floor, to which she replied, "Don't hate me cause you ain't me, fellas."

The Beltway press mostly can't stand her. A common theme is that, as a self-proclaimed socialist, she should be roaming the halls of Rayburn and Cannon in rags or a barrel. Washington Examiner reporter Eddie Scarry tweeted a photo of her in a suit, saying she didn't look like "a girl who struggles."

High priest of conventional wisdom Chris Cillizza, with breathtaking predictability, penned a column comparing her to Donald Trump. He noted the social media profiles of both allow them to "end-run the so-called 'media filter' and deliver their preferred message... directly to supporters."

The latter issue, of course, is the real problem most of Washington has with "AOC": her self-generated popularity and large social media presence means she doesn't need to ask anyone's permission to say anything.

She doesn't have to run things by donors and she doesn't need the assent of thinkfluencers like Cillizza or Max Boot (who similarly compared her to both Trump and Sarah Palin), because she almost certainly gains popularity every time one of those nitwits takes a swipe at her.

Which brings us to elected Democrats, who if anything have been most demonstrative in their AOC freakout. We had Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) saying, "We don't need your sniping in our Democratic caucus." Recently ousted Sen. Claire McCaskill expressed alarm that she's "the thing" and a "bright shiny new object." This is in addition to the litany of anonymous complaints from fellow caucus members, some of whom felt she jumped the line in an attempt to get a Ways and Means committee assignment. There were whispers she did this through some online-pressure sorcery she alone could avail herself of thanks to her massive Twitter following (nearly every news story about Ocasio-Cortez mentions her 2.47 million Twitter followers).

"It totally pissed off everyone," one senior House Democrat said about the Ways and Means campaign. "You don't get picked for committees by who your grass-roots [supporters] are."

"She needs to decide: Does she want to be an effective legislator or just continue being a Twitter star?" said another Democrat, whom Politico described as being "in lockstep" with AOC's ideology.

All of which brings us back to the issue of Washington's would-be 4-D chess players. Time and again, they reveal how little they understand about the extent of their own influence, or anti-influence, as it were.

They all think the pronouncements of their own party leaders, and donors, and high-profile commentators at the Times and the Post or CNN, have extraordinary importance. They think this for the obvious reason that most of them owe their political careers to such people.

Ocasio-Cortez does not. In this one narrow sense, her story does indeed have something in common with the story of Trump. As did Trump, Ocasio-Cortez probably picks up a dozen future votes every time a party hack or hurrumphing pundit or ossifying ex-officeholder like McCaskill or Scott Walker or Joe Lieberman throws a tantrum over her.

Somehow, three years after the 2016 election, which was as graphic a demonstration of the public's well-documented disgust with Washington as we've ever seen, these waxen functionaries of the political class still don't understand that their disapproval more often than not counts as an endorsement to most voters.

The Lieberman example is the most amazing. Here's a person who was explicitly rejected by his own party in 2006 and had to run as an Independent against the Democratic nominee to keep his seat. Yet he somehow still has the stones to opine that if Ocasio-Cortez is the "new face" of the Democrats, the party does not have a "bright future."

How many Democrats, do you think, heard that and immediately thought the opposite -that if Joe Lieberman disapproves, Ocasio-Cortez must be on the right track? Sixty percent? Seventy?

I have no idea if Ocasio-Cortez will or will not end up being a great politician. But it's abundantly clear that her mere presence is unmasking many, if not most, of the worst and most tired Shibboleths of the capital.

Moreover, she's laying bare the long-concealed fact that many of their core policies are wildly unpopular, and would be overturned in a heartbeat if we could somehow put them all to direct national referendum.

Take the tax proposal offered by Ocasio-Cortez, which would ding the top bracket for 70 percent taxes on all income above $10 million.

The idea inspired howls of outrage, with wrongest-human-in-history Alan Greenspan peeking out of his crypt to call it a "terrible idea," Wisconsin's ex-somebody Walker saying a 5th grader would know it was "unfair," and human anti-weathervane Harry Reid saying "you have to be careful" because voters don't want "radical change quickly."

Except polls show the exact opposite. Almost everyone wants to soak the rich. A joint survey by The Hill and Harris X showed 71 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and even 45 percent of Republicans endorse the Ocasio-Cortez plan.

Is it feasible? It turns out it might very well be, as even Paul Krugman, who admits AOC's rise makes him "uneasy," said in a recent column. He noted the head of Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers estimated the top rate should be even higher, perhaps even 80 percent.

We've been living for decades in a universe where the basic tenets of supply-side economics - that there's a massive and obvious benefit for all in dumping piles of money in the hands of very rich people - have gone more or less unquestioned.

Now we see: once a popular, media-savvy politician who doesn't owe rich donors starts asking such questions, the Potemkin justifications for these policies can tumble quickly.

There is a whole range of popular policy ideas the Washington political consensus has been beating back for decades with smoke and mirrors, from universal health care to legalized weed to free tuition to expanded Social Security to those higher taxes on the rich.

As we've seen over and over with these swipes on Ocasio-Cortez, the people defending those ideas don't realize how powerful a stimulant for change is their own negative attention. If they were smart, they'd ignore her.

Then again, if politicians were smart, they'd also already be representing people, not donors. And they wouldn't have this problem.

(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.

A placard calls for an end to the partial government shutdown during the Third Annual Women's March LA in downtown Los Angeles, California on January 19

Common Sense Is Now Perilously Absent In Our Nation
We are constantly in danger of losing our bearings
By Jesse Jackson

With the government still partially shut down, partisan politics is generating more heat than light.

President Donald Trump, in his unique blustery style, believes he can slander the Democratic leaders that he must negotiate with, burlesque their position and demand capitulation in return for simply allowing the government to run. When the Democratic-led House recently passed legislation that was approved by the Republican Senate in December to fund the government, Republican senators refuse even to put it on the floor.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delights in tweaking Donald Trump, suggesting that he should postpone his State of the Union address until the government is up and running. Trump retaliates by postponing Pelosi's trip to see the troops in Afghanistan and leaking the schedule, violating basic security.

Lost in all this is common sense. And looking at where we are as a country suggests that common sense is now perilously absent.

The United States has the largest military budget by far, larger than Russia and China combined. Yet we are adding money to a Pentagon budget already bigger than it was in comparable dollars at the height of the Cold War. That doesn't make sense.

The U.S. has the most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world. We have weapons that could literally destroy the world, unleashing a deadly nuclear winter. Yet President Barack Obama and now Trump committed to spending over a trillion dollars on another generation of nuclear weapons. That doesn't make sense.

The U.S. has "locations" - bases - in over 160 countries. We are literally trying to police the world. That doesn't make sense.

The U.S. suffers obscene and debilitating inequality. The three richest billionaires have as much wealth as half of all Americans combined. Yet the Republican Congress just passed a tax bill that will end up giving more than three-quarters of its benefits to the richest 1 percent. That doesn't make sense

Virtually everyone agrees that education is essential if we are to rebuild a broad and vibrant middle class. Yet teachers are on strike across the country because cuts in education funding have left them with crowded classrooms, supply shortages and inadequate salaries. College debts that students are forced to assume now are higher than any other form of personal debt - including auto loans and credit card debt. That doesn't make sense.

We spend nearly twice per capita on health care than any other advanced industrial country and yet have worse health care results. For the first time, life expectancy is declining, something that simply does not happen to advanced countries. Despite health care reform, 20 million people still go without insurance and tens of millions more are underinsured. Taxpayers pay for a good portion of all research on prescription drugs, yet we pay the highest prices in the world for our prescription drugs. That doesn't make sense.

Trump demands $5.6 billion as a down payment for the wall he wants to build along the Mexican border, a wall that he promised Mexicans would pay for. He says it will stem the flow of drugs, but most of the drug trade comes already through legal ports of entry. He says we have a crisis on the border, but in fact undocumented immigration has been declining for years. So, even Republican legislators from the Texas border argue that Trump isn't making sense.

This list can go on. Dr. Martin Luther King said he couldn't follow the old "eye-for-an-eye philosophy" because "it ends up leaving everyone blind." He told the story of driving from Atlanta with his brother at night. For some reason the other drivers didn't dim their high beams. Exasperated, his brother said, "I'm tired of this. The next car that comes refusing to dim its lights, I'm going to refuse to dim mine."

"Don't do that," said Dr. King, "somebody has to have some sense on this highway." As a country, we are moving along a winding road toward freedom. There are curves and hills, potholes and perils. We are constantly tempted to retaliate against those who get in the way.

We get distracted by those who would divide us, those who foster fear and hate. We are constantly in danger of losing our bearings. But we've got to remember Dr. King's admonition to his supporters in Birmingham, Ala., after the 1963 Ku Klux Klan terrorist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four innocent little girls.

"Wait a minute, Birmingham," he taught. "Somebody's got to have some sense in Birmingham."

(c) 2019 Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

A Tale Of Self-Serving Black Journalists And The Corporate Duopoly
By Glen Ford

Diversity insulates the bosses from criticism by large elements of the oppressed classes, while posing little or no threat to capital and the rule of rich white men.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has joined the NAACP in criticizing CBS News' initial, 12-person lineup of digital journalists assigned to cover the 2020 elections, which includes five women, three Asian Americans, at least one Hispanic, but no Blacks. "CBS News' decision to not include Black reporters on their 2020 Election news team further proves the voting power and voices of Black America continue to be undervalued," said the NAACP. "As the voting bloc that will most certainly determine the direction of this country in the upcoming election," said the press release, "it is vital any and all media outlets have a diverse newsroom, including individuals of color in decision making positions to speak to and address the issues and concerns directly impacting the Black community. Representation matters and the media needs our coverage on the issues to drive the discussion."

Sarah Glover, president of the Black journalists group, said her organization is "very disappointed" and "disturbed" at the CBS lineup. "It is unfortunate that we are still having these discussions about diversity and inclusion," said Glover. "Ironically last year the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission Report was a major topic and now in 2019 we're still asking media organizations."

Black employment in newsrooms is a civil rights issue, like employment issues anywhere, but it has been a very long time since the presence of Black and brown reporters of any gender has made any detectable difference in the politically monochromatic corporate world view transmitted by the so-called "mainstream" electronic and print press in the United States. Since its formation in the mid-Seventies, the National Association of Black Journalists has been concerned almost solely with counting Black faces in newsroom chairs, rather than the issues of power and politics that shape the actual journalistic content churned out daily by the "news" industry. The NABJ acts as a kind of guild to safeguard Blacks with jobs in white, corporate media, but abstains from struggles over the substance of reporting -- with some rare exceptions in cases of the most blatant racial stereotyping in media. The NABJ asks only that Blacks be represented on corporate payrolls, mastheads and credits. For the NABJ, "diversity" has no political content beyond numerical representation in the workplace.

In practice, the NABJ is worse than useless to the larger Black struggle -- or to any struggle beyond tallying Black representation at media corporations. The organization's true nature was revealed in the summer of 1995, as the NABJ was preparing to hold its national convention in Philadelphia. Mumia Abu Jamal, a co-founder and recent president of the local chapter, was facing imminent execution after exhausting all appeals of his 1982 conviction in the death of the police officer. NABJ president Dorothy Butler Gilliam was unmoved by the horrific prospect that their colleague was scheduled to be put to death while the NABJ convention was in session, on August 17. Although Abu Jamal had been targeted by police, first as a teenage Black Panther and later as an award-winning journalist, and was already the nation's best known political prisoner, Gilliam and the NABJ national board maintained his situation was "criminal," not "journalism." The board abstained from taking any position. "As an organization of journalists," said Gilliam, "the board felt that the complicated issues involved are ones around which individual members in their capacities as journalists may make personal and professional judgments. The organization, however, does not see this unfortunate circumstance as an issue of journalism which it feels compelled to take a stand on at this time."

No thanks to the NABJ, Abu Jamal's execution was stayed. In 2011, his sentence was changed to life without parole, and a recent court ruling may pave the way for new appeals of his conviction. But NABJ should forever be cursed and shunned as the most narrowly self-serving and cowardly manifestation of Black collaborationist politics imaginable -- a house of shame.

In 1975, two decades before the NABJ collectively turned thumbs down on Mumia, I was a co-founder of the organization's Washington chapter. Blacks from the Washington Post and local television outlets soon gained dominance in the organization and methodically purged most freelancers and members affiliated with Black print media. It became clear that NABJ was to be a corporate "diversity" project, divorced form Black journalism's historical ties to the larger Black movement.

I resigned in disgust, having concluded that Black representation in the corporate media ranks was effectively a set-back to the struggle for social transformation. The greatest beneficiaries of the new diversity, besides the individuals involved, were the corporate media institutions, themselves, whose political positions did not change one iota with the addition of Black, brown and female faces. For example, school desegregation plans continued to be framed as "forced bussing" in the mouths of news anchors of all colors, an unchallenged element of the daily script (news anchors don't write their own copy). But Black anchors are more likely to be believed by Black audiences, than white anchors. Their Blackness legitimizes media lies in ways that white news readers cannot. Thus, they are priceless corporate assets -- and objective adversaries of the Black struggle.

Media corporations were among the first to recognize that "diversity" among high-profile personnel legitimizes corporate policies and practices, but the rest of the corporate world gradually learned the core lesson: diversity insulates the bosses from criticism by large elements of the oppressed classes, while posing little or not threat to capital and the rule of rich white men.

The Democrats think they can run a political party that way, too, by substituting "diversity" for actual programs to empower, feed, clothe, house, educate and employ people.

The Congressional Black Caucus, itself, is part of the diversity con game. It's members pose as guardians of racial justice in the halls of Congress, yet three quarters of them voted to make police a "protected class" and four out of five Black lawmakers supported continued militarization of local police through the Pentagon's 1033 program.

The Black Caucus and the National Alliance of Black Journalists inhabit the same political sphere. Their job is to legitimize the charade of corporate duopoly rule, by making the system appear racially democratic. CBS News dropped the corporate ball and forgot about the Black side of its diversity pose -- an indication that Blacks have fallen dramatically as perceived threats to corporate hegemony, when compared to other ethnicities and white women. But, it's an easily fixable problem; after all, we're not talking about real social change -- just more window dressing on the corporate set.

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

Is More Technology The Answer To Too Much Technology?
By Jim Hightower

We humans have got to get a whole lot smarter, says Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla automobiles and CEO of SpaceX rockets.

Musk is not merely reacting to humanity's recent tendency to elect lunatics to lead our countries. Rather, he's trying to warn us about the rapid rise of a radical new technology: Artificial intelligence. In common parlance, he's referring to robots, but these are not the clunky, somewhat cute machines performing rote tasks. AI essentially has evolved to become an electronic brain - a web of evermore-complex super-computers interacting as one cognitive unit that can program itself, make decisions, and act independently of the humans who're creating them. These thinking machines are rapidly increasing in number and geometrically advancing their IQ, prompting Musk and others to view AI technologies in apocalyptic terms. As algorithms and systems inevitably grow more sophisticated, he says, "digital intelligence will exceed biological intelligence by a substantial margin."

In graphic terms, Musk warns that profiteering humans are "summoning the devil" by creating a new superior species of beings that will end up dominating humanity, becoming "an immortal dictator from which we would never escape." What's weird is not his dystopian prognosis (other experts confirm that runaway bot intelligence is a real threat), but his solution. The way for us human beings to compete with AI says Musk, is to merge with it - not a corporate transaction, but a literal merger: Surgically implant AI devices in human brains with "a bunch of tiny wires" that would fuse people with super intelligence.

Uh-huh... and what could go wrong with that? It's good to have technological geniuses alert us to looming dangers, but maybe the larger community of humanists ought to lead the search for answers.

(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

The Shutdown Government Is Busy Figuring Out New Ways To Recruit Soldiers
By David Swanson

Shutdown or no shutdown, not a single war, base-construction project, or war ship has been halted in its course, and the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service released its "interim report" on Wednesday.

The report comes after a lengthy period of collecting public comments and holding public hearings. At World BEYOND War we encouraged people to submit comments on the following themes, and we know that a great many people did so:

End required selective service (draft) registration for men.
Do not begin requiring that women register.
If not ended, allow the choice of registering as a conscientious objector.
If there must be non-military service, make sure that its pay and benefits are at least equal to those of military "service."
The interim report is completely silent on points 1, 3, and 4. On point 2, it says that the commission heard from both sides, and it quotes people from both sides. By both sides, I mean those who do not want women forced against their will to kill and die for the profits of Lockheed Martin and those who believe that women should be so forced as a matter of equal rights. The former group includes those who oppose the barbarism of compulsory participation in mass murder, those who believe that women should stay in the kitchen because the Bible said so, and anyone else opposed to expanding draft registration to women. In Washington power terms, therefore, it includes basically Republicans.

On the question of non-military service, the interim report suggests that the commission is likely not going to propose making it mandatory, but has not completely abandoned that idea:

"We are also considering how service could be integrated into high school. For example, should high schools transform the final semester of senior year into a hands-on service learning experience? Should schools offer service-oriented summer projects or a year of service learning? What benefits could such programs bring to the participants, our communities, and our nation? How would such programs be structured to ensure they are inclusive and available to all?"
The report lists other ideas
"* Formally ask all young Americans to consider national service

* Create a national marketing campaign to advertise opportunities about national service

* Promote service learning to tie kindergarten through higher education curricula to community service

* Encourage or incentivize colleges and employers to recruit individuals who have completed a service year and to award college credit for national service experience

* Offer a fellowship to 18-year-olds who want to serve, covering their living stipend and post-service award for a year of national service at any approved not-for-profit organization

* Integrate a semester of service into the high school curriculum

* Fund additional national service opportunities

* Increase the living stipend for those who participate in national service programs

* Exempt the existing education award from income tax or allow it to be used for other purposes

* Explore possibilities within the Peace Corps to meet host country needs with volunteers who have not completed a college degree

* Provide an expanded educational award for each year of national service completed

* Explore models in higher education that seek to raise the profile and attractiveness of public service and prepare outstanding high school graduates for careers in public service

* Give agencies better tools to recruit and hire interns or fellows and transition them to permanent positions

* Establish a Public Service Corps program, like Reserve Officers' Training Corps, that would offer scholarships and specialized coursework to students at colleges throughout the nation in exchange for a commitment to work in civil service

* Retain programs to forgive student loans for Americans who work in public service careers for at least a decade

* Offer a new, optional federal benefits package to allow for greater flexibility in career progression

* Use modern tools, such as relevant online writing and quantitative tests, to assess candidates

* Test new approaches to hiring, classifying, and compensating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) personnel throughout the government

* Establish a civilian reserve program for former federal cybersecurity employees, who could be called up to help agencies in an urgent situation

* Establish a single, streamlined personnel system for health care professionals throughout the government"

Obvious solutions that would allow people to freely choose to do good in the world, such as making college free, making jobs pay a living wage, and requiring time off work are nowhere to be seen.

But everything being considered under the banner of "national service" is explicitly being considered for yet further increasing the already massive advertising and recruiting efforts to recruit for participation in wars:

"* Formally ask all young Americans to consider military service

* Invest in education for parents, teachers, and counselors on military service opportunities

* Increase the number of high school students who take a version of the military entrance exam that identifies strengths and career interests

* Reinforce laws that ensure recruiters receive equal access to high schools, colleges, and other postsecondary opportunities

* Create new pipelines to military service, such as offering financial support for students studying toward technical certifications in exchange for a military service commitment

* Develop new pathways in areas of critical need to access and develop those with the affinity, interest, training, education, and/or certification in exchange for a military service commitment

* Encourage more mid-career civilians to enter the military at a rank appropriate to their experience"

This, of course, depends on avoiding those obvious solutions that would allow people to freely choose to do good in the world, such as making college free, making jobs pay a living wage, and requiring time off work. It also must incline the commission toward its current attitude of treating participation in militarism as a charitable "service" rather than something that anyone with a conscience (and a reasonable alternative) might object to. So, conscientious objection is not mentioned at all.

The final recommendations of this commission will be made in March 2020, following these public hearings:

Washington, D.C. College Station, TX Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. Hyde Park, NY
Universal Service
National Service
Selective Service
Public & Military Service
Creating an expectation of service
Here are messages to be taken to those meetings:

End required selective service (draft) registration for men.
Do not begin requiring that women register.
If not ended, allow the choice of registering as a conscientious objector.
If there must be non-military service, make sure that its pay and benefits are at least equal to those of military "service."
These messages can also be tweeted to @inspire2serveUS and emailed to

Here's a tweet read to go, just click:

(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.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman made a campaign stop last November at the GOP headquarters
in Sheboygan, where he and Eric Trump rallied support for Wisconsin Republicans.

Glenn Grothman Would Rather Punish Federal Workers Than Hold Trump To Account
By John Nichols

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week for the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, a measure that was written with an eye toward ensuring that federal workers who are not getting paychecks during President Trump's government shutdown would eventually be compensated.

A total of 411 House Democrats and Republicans voted "yes," and rightly so. As House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings said, "Regardless of what members think about the causes of this shutdown, every single one of us should agree that hardworking federal employees should not be held hostage to politics as a result."

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, the town of Vermont Democrat who has compared the president's behavior during the shutdown with that of "a spoiled child," was a leading supporter of the back-pay measure. Wisconsin Democrats Gwen Moore and Ron Kind also voted "yes," as did Republicans Bryan Steil, Mike Gallagher and Sean Duffy.

But U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, joined six other right-wing House Republicans in voting "no."

Grothman's "explanation"? He doesn't want "to give back pay to all federal employees, both those who work and those who don't, during this government shutdown and all future shutdowns."

The problem with Grothman's "logic" is that the federal employees whose lives have been turned upside down by the shutdown are in different circumstances. Roughly 420,000 of them are working without pay in positions deemed "essential." Another 380,000 of them are furloughed, in some cases because entire offices, facilities or stations are not operating.

Yet they are all federal employees who are prepared to do their jobs. Their circumstances have been complicated not by their own actions but by those of President Trump - who announced last month, "If we don't get what we want ... I am proud to shut down the government."

The problem is not with the federal workers. The problem is with Donald Trump.

Yet Grothman would punish loyal federal employees who happen to have been furloughed rather than hold Trump to account for creating the shutdown mess - and perpetuating it when Democrats and Republicans in Congress have already shown that they are more than ready to settle their differences.

Glenn Grothman's loyalties are clear. He is ready to harm 380,000 loyal federal employees who are ready and willing to work rather than demand accountability from the one federal employee who refuses to do his job.

(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.

Intense Microwave Radiation Everywhere!
By James Donahue

Those popular cordless 5G devices, home entertainment systems and wireless receivers are being fed by radio frequency radiation spewing from cell towers in nearly everybody's neighborhood. To increase services the telecom companies are installing more and more of them so cell-phone services do not fade for users on the move.

The radiation everybody receives from these devices is troublesome enough. But this is nothing compared to the bombardment that looms. The Trump-run Federal Communication Commission has just approved plans by the telecom companies to launch some 20,000 satellites that will soon be sending focused beams of intense microwave radiation everywhere on Earth. These 5G systems will be about 10-times more powerful that the signals now being received from neighborhood cell towers.

According to writer John P. Thomas in a report for Waking Times, once these satellites are in service everyone on Earth will be irradiated with millimeter-size, non-ionizing radiation 24 hours a day. Nobody knows the health effects but it is already theorized that millions will suffer from radiation exposure. There may be an onset of headaches, physical weakness, an impaired ability to learn and reason, chest pain and other symptoms. Nobody will be able to escape the intense radiation unless possibly moving into caves. Everybody will be suffering from constant exposure everywhere.

The 5G system is already being promoted as the advance technology needed to create "smart cities" where people connect to everybody and everything in real time with merely voice commands. We are already getting a taste of the new system in the devices everybody now uses in pocket computer/telephone systems and those talking information devices on our desks.

But there is a severe downside to all of this. The newly developed mercury-based rocked fuel that will be used to launch those 20,000 satellites will spread deadly neurotoxins all over the world. There will be millions more pieces of space junk to contend with, including the satellites themselves, which will have a lifespan of only about five years. Not only must they be replaced, but they create space junk that will eventually fall back to Earth. Each satellite will weigh about as much as a home refrigerator, the Thomas report warns.

It seems that our lives will be radically changed even as the world battles against a polluted, overpopulated and heating planet. This new assault appears to be the result of another industrial shortfall; the greedy request for big profits.

(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.

People line up to get a free lunch at a pop-up eatery for furloughed government employees and their families, on January 16, 2019, in Washington, DC.

Shutdown Exposes How Many Americans Live Paycheck To Paycheck
By William Rivers Pitt

Today marks the two-year anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration, and we have learned some hard lessons in the interval. The ongoing, historically unprecedented shutdown of the federal government has exposed Trump as one of the worst deal-makers ever to stand up in two shoes.

It has further exposed the Republican Party's bottomless disdain for marginalized people through its craven refusal to contain the man who has unleashed all this misery. It has exposed deep fissures in Trump's once-unbreakable base as more and more of his supporters - battered by tariffs and now the shutdown - come to correctly believe they've been played for chumps.

The shutdown has exposed something else far more personal and uncomfortable, something most folks don't like to talk about because it is too frightening to contemplate, something they can't see an easy way to fix. It is this simple, terrible truth: A great many people in the US are one missed paycheck away from complete financial calamity.

This has proven true for many of the federal workers and contractors furloughed by the shutdown. The end of the month is less than two weeks away, and those furloughed workers will collectively owe more than $400 million in mortgage and rent payments, to say nothing of utility bills and child care expenses. Throw in food and gasoline, and the math becomes grim in a big hurry.

This crisis is not limited to furloughed federal workers, however. According to a report by Forbes Magazine, a full 78 percent of all US workers are living paycheck to paycheck. One quarter of workers are financially unable to set aside any money for savings after each pay cycle. Three quarters of workers are in debt, and half of those believe they always will be. Most minimum wage workers are required to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

"What do professors, real estate agents, farmers, business executives, computer programmers and store clerks have in common? They're not immune to the harsh reality of living paycheck to paycheck," reports Danielle Paquette for The Washington Post. "They're millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers. They work in big cities and rural towns. They've tried to save - but rent, child care, student loans and medical bills get in the way."

The situation becomes more concerning when considering the average worker's inability to financially cope with an injury, emergency or turn of bad luck. "Can you cover an unexpected $400 expense?" asks Anna Bahney of CNN. "Four in ten Americans can't, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Board. Those who don't have the cash on hand say they'd have to cover it by borrowing or selling something."

And it's all a great big secret, a problem most people struggle with but seldom discuss, because we have been trained to be embarrassed about such things. This is the greatest country in the world! With the greatest economy! Rugged individuals and bootstraps! If we are failing to amass a personal fortune, it's because of our own inherent laziness or lack of incentive. Shame on us, right?


This situation has been created by decades of Reagan-born trickle-down capitalism and the moral cowardice of bought politicians of every stripe. These unbalanced economic policies favor the wealthy and shun the rest with deprecating propaganda that parks the fault for financial struggle squarely on the shoulders of the very workers who have been taken advantage of for generations.

Many millions of people in the US spend their lives sprinting to stand still, financially speaking, desperate to squeeze every ounce of value from a dollar whose purchasing power seems to diminish with each passing year. It's a damned expensive country to live in, especially if you reside with most of the population on the coasts. We don't seem to get very much for the money we spend or the hard work we do, and our social safety net is weakening more each day.

It's a feeling and an experience the Donald Trumps of the world have never known. There you lay, the clock yelling 3 a.m. and you know your alarm is going off in two hours, but you haven't slept because you have $46 in the bank, no savings to speak of, a fistful of maxed-out credit cards, bills coming every day. You need to eat, need to commute, need medicine and clothes and shoes, and the rent or mortgage is due next week. After paying for all that, you'll be lucky to still have that $46 left over. Your stomach is a crater inside you, and you lie there, waiting to work another day and maybe break even so long as absolutely nothing goes wrong.

The shutdown has shoved this stark reality in our faces, and it is high time we talked about it instead of pretending it isn't there or being embarrassed by it. Those furloughed federal workers telling their stories of struggle on the nightly news are part of a huge majority in this country, the kind of super-duper majority that can bring wholesale change virtually overnight if we look each other in the eye and remember that this is not our fault. We are not the ones who have stolen the dream of upward mobility and replaced it with a treadmill, all the while preaching austerity so those who do fall behind have nowhere to turn for help.

We did not create this situation. We are the grist in someone else's mill. This is what happens when unions are broken, when "right to work" laws are allowed to stand, when the social safety net is stripped, when the minimum wage is stuck in the past and the only important people are the ones who are already flush and can afford to buy some pet politicians to lock down the status quo.

(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.

The Chyron Presidency
By Heather Digby Parton

This is what happens when you have a president who is so in over his head that the only way he can survive is by watching cable news 24/7:

For all his media bashing, President Trump sees the White House as the greatest show on Earth and obsesses over the staging - micromanaging his own lighting and constantly consuming the coverage of himself as if it were sports highlights.

Why it matters: We learn in a forthcoming book by campaign confidant Cliff Sims ("Team of Vipers," out Jan. 29) that this fixation extends to the chyrons - the all-caps text at the bottom of the screen.

Sims describes Trump as he watches TV in his private dining room off the Oval:

"He consumed TV like the late Roger Ebert must have watched movies. ... He commented on the sets, the graphics, the wardrobe choices, the lighting, and just about every other visual component of a broadcast. Sure, he liked to hear pundits saying nice things about him or White House officials defending him from attacks, but everything came back to how does it look?

With that in mind, the most Trumpian tactic the comms team employed was arguing with TV networks about the 'chyrons,' the words displayed at the bottom of the screen that act as headlines for whatever the commentators are discussing.

'People watch TV on mute,' the President told me, 'so it's those words, those sometimes beautiful, sometimes nasty little words that matter.' ...

When the President would deliver a speech somewhere outside of D.C., the research team would take screenshots of all the chyrons that aired while he was speaking. Then, adding those images to headlines and tweets from influential reporters and pundits, they would race to print out a packet before Trump made it back to the White House.

The goal was for Sarah or Hope or me - or whoever hadn't traveled with him - to meet him on the ground floor of the residence and hand him the packet to review mere moments after Marine One landed on the South Lawn."

Since Axios revealed the first excerpt from Sims' book, there has been rising curiosity and anxiety inside the White House.

"Team of Vipers" includes behind-the-scenes revelations - some comical, some troubling - about a range of Trump insiders, including some still in the West Wing.

A publishing source said Sims and others involved in the book have been peppered with incoming queries from aides who want to know how they're portrayed. "They know he has the goods," the source said.

The book is chockablock with glimpses of a world where Trump sees himself as star, writer, producer, director, audience and critic - all at once:

"'The graphics on Fox are the absolute worst - are you looking at this?' he said at one point. 'CNN and MSNBC are both so much better. I hate to say it - honestly, I really hate to say it - but MSNBC has the best graphics. Fox is the best - they have the best talent. I mean, look at the rest of these people. They can't believe what's happening right now. But Fox's graphics are terrible. They've got to do something about it.'"

Interesting that he just knows they are there to properly serve him. He's right, of course.


Oh my God. More from the book:

President Trump watched on television, increasingly angry as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan criticized his handling of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. He held the remote control "like a pistol" and yelled for an assistant to get the Republican leader on the phone.

"Paul, do you know why Democrats have been kicking your a-- for decades? Because they know a little word called ‘loyalty,' " Trump told Ryan, then a Wisconsin congressman. "Why do you think Nancy [Pelosi] has held on this long? Have you seen her? She's a disaster. Every time she opens her mouth another Republican gets elected. But they stick with her . . . Why can't you be loyal to your president, Paul?"

The tormenting continued. Trump recalled Ryan distancing himself from Trump in October 2016, in the days after the "Access Hollywood" video in which he bragged of fondling women first surfaced in The Washington Post.

"I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you," Trump told him, according to former West Wing communications aide Cliff Sims. "You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog! And what'd I do? I saved your a--."

The browbeating of the top Republican on Capitol Hill was one of the vivid snapshots of life inside the Trump White House told by one of its original inhabitants, Cliff Sims, in his 384-page tell-all, "Team of Vipers," which goes on sale next week and was obtained in advance by The Post. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Sims, who enjoyed uncommon personal access to Trump, recounts expletive-filled scenes of chaos, dysfunction and duplicity among the president, his family members and administration officials.

Unlike memoirs of other Trump officials, Sims's book is neither a sycophantic portrayal of the president nor a blistering account written to settle scores. The author presents himself as a true believer in Trump and his agenda, and even writes whimsically of the president, but still is critical of him, especially his morality. Sims also finds fault in himself, a rarity in Trump World, writing that at times he was "selfish," "nakedly ambitious" and "a coward."

The author reconstructs in comic detail the Trump team's first day at work, when the president sat in the residence raging about news coverage of the relatively small size of his inauguration crowds, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer scrambled to address it.

Spicer had worked the team "into a frenzy," and it fell to Sims to write the script for his first statement to the media. Nervously chewing gum, Spicer dictated "a torrent of expletives with a few salient points scattered in between." At one point, Sims's computer crashed and he lost the draft, so it had to be rewritten. And in their rush to satisfy the impatient president, nobody checked the facts. Spicer, he writes, was "walking into his own execution."

"It's impossible to deny how absolutely out of control the White House staff - again, myself included - was at times," Sims writes. The book's scenes are consistent with news reporting at the time from inside the White House.

Sims depicts Trump as deeply suspicious of his own staff. He recalls a private huddle in which he and Keith Schiller, the president's longtime bodyguard and confidant, helped Trump draw up an enemies list with a Sharpie on White House stationery. "We're going to get rid of all the snakes, even the bottom-feeders," Trump told them.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly told the staff that he viewed his job as serving the "country first, POTUS second," which Sims interpreted as potentially hostile to Trump's agenda.

Sims recounts that Kelly once confided to him in a moment of exasperation: "This is the worst [expletive] job I've ever had. People apparently think that I care when they write that I might be fired. If that ever happened, it would be the best day I've had since I walked into this place."

A conservative media figure in Alabama, Sims came to work on Trump's 2016 campaign and cultivated a personal relationship with the candidate-turned-president. Sims writes rich, extended dialogue from his conversations with Trump and others in the administration.

As White House director of message strategy, Sims regularly met Trump at the private elevator of the residence and accompanied him to video tapings - carrying a can of Tresemmé Tres Two hair spray, extra hold, for the boss. At one such taping, about an hour after Trump had tweeted that he saw MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski "bleeding badly from a facelift," the president sought feedback from Sims and Spicer.

"They're going to say it's not presidential," Trump said, referring to the media. "But you know what? It's modern-day presidential." The president then raged about the "Morning Joe" program on which Brzezinski appears and instructed Spicer, "Don't you dare say I watch that show."

At times, Trump evinced less rage than a lack of interest. Sims recounts one time when Ryan was in the Oval Office explaining the ins and outs of the Republican health-care bill to the president. As Ryan droned on for 15 minutes, Trump sipped on a glass of Diet Coke, peered out at the Rose Garden, stared aimlessly at the walls and, finally, walked out.

Ryan kept talking as the president wandered down the hall to his private dining room, where he flicked on his giant flat-screen TV. Apparently, he had had enough of Ryan's talk. It fell to Vice President Pence to retrieve Trump and convince him to return to the Oval Office so they could continue their strategy session.

Sims reconstructs moments of crisis for the West Wing communications team in play-by-play detail, including the domestic abuse allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter and the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director.

He paints Spicer, counselor Kellyanne Conway and communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp in an especially negative light, calling Conway "the American Sniper of West Wing marksmen" and describing her agenda as "survival over all others, including the president."

Read it all. It's just ... wow.

Paul Ryan was the Speaker of the House. I assume Trump treats them all that way. And they come back for more. Very impressive.

(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.

Expanding...pipelines keep us on a path detrimental to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and to the future of all people.

Pipeline Blockade Is A Sign Of Deeper Troubles
By David Suzuki

Recent controversy over a natural-gas pipeline blockade and the differing priorities of hereditary chiefs and elected band councillors illustrates a fundamental problem with our systems of governance and economics.

Elected councils for the Wet'suwet'en and other Indigenous bands have signed lucrative "impact benefit agreements" with TransCanada (now called TC Energy), builder of the Coastal GasLink pipeline that would bring fracked gas 670 kilometres from Dawson Creek, B.C., to an LNG Canada liquefaction plant at Kitimat. (A consortium that includes state-controlled Malaysian, Chinese, and Korean companies owns LNG Canada.) Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs oppose pipeline projects that threaten the health and well-being of people who live in the territory, which they have never ceded or surrendered.

Governments of B.C. and Canada claim agreements with elected band councils constitute consent, even though Supreme Court cases-including 1997's Delgamuukw v the Queen, which involved the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en-have recognized traditional governance forms, including the hereditary chief and clan system, on traditional territories. Elected band councils are more like municipal councils that have limited jurisdiction only over reserve lands.

The hereditary-chief system was in place long before settlers and colonizers arrived. Chiefs, clans, and house groups are responsible to the land and the people, and chiefs can be removed if they fail to fulfil their duties. The band-council system is a product of the Indian Act, which also gave us residential schools.

The councils can't be faulted for signing the agreements. Money and jobs are needed to support communities that struggle under the current economic system. But pipelines and other fossil-fuel projects provide mostly short-term jobs and economic benefits, mainly related to pipeline construction. As with many elected bodies, it's difficult for the councils to look beyond immediate priorities and election-cycle timelines.

The hereditary chiefs take a broader, longer-term view. A statement from the Unist'ot'en camp, where hereditary chiefs, land defenders, and supporters have operated a checkpoint since 2009, said: "There can be no question now that this is an issue of Wet'suwet'en Rights and Title. We have demonstrated that this fight is about more than a pipeline; it is about the right of Indigenous peoples around the world to exercise Free, Prior, and Informed Consent."

As my good friend Miles Richardson-David Suzuki Foundation board member and former head of the B.C. Treaty Commission and Haida First Nation-told the Vancouver Sun: "When you look at the political world and the relationship between First Nations and the Crown, there's a mighty struggle going on between two worldviews. There's the Indigenous worldview manifested in the nation-to-nation commitment, and the colonial view, a 200-year-old failed policy that was denounced by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and apologized for."

The hereditary chiefs and land defenders' worldview goes beyond this pipeline and even Indigenous issues in general. Neskonlith First Nation Chief Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, told the Tyee that defenders are standing up for everyone in the face of global warming and its impacts on land, air, and water. "That's what the Indigenous land defenders are talking about when they say we need to protect the land and the water," she said. "That water is sacred; water is life. It's critical and crucial to every Canadian. Not only in B.C. and Canada, but globally there has to be an awakening now."

Canada and B.C. have made important commitments to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and have agreed to the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Forcefully removing people from their own territories to give the fossil-fuel industry right of way flies in the face of those commitments.

Just as the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and land defenders are bringing much-needed awareness to the issues we all face with environmental degradation, short-term economic policies, and climate disruption, our governments must commit to protecting all peoples' interests, not just those at large fossil-fuel corporations.

Expanding oilsands production, offshore drilling, fracked natural gas, and pipelines keep us on a path detrimental to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and to the future of all people. We must stand with the chiefs and land defenders in their efforts to protect the land, water, and air that we all rely on for health, well-being, and survival.

(c) 2019 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The Bank of Justice Is Not Bankrupt
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to Washington to cash a check.
By Charles P. Pierce

My favorite place to stand in Washington is right in front of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the one with one of his most famous speeches carved into its side, a speech that was originally misquoted on the monument, which had to be some kind of historic first for monuments. What I like about standing there is that Dr. King is depicted standing sternly, arms folded. He is staring directly across the Reflecting Pond. He is staring directly at Thomas Jefferson. It is not quite a glare. It is a look of challenge and resolve at the Founder, whose image stands in a kind of temple, his brave words festooning the interior, and not one passage misquoted, either.

To stand there reminds me of my favorite passage in Dr. King's most famous speech. It's not the stirring peroration, or that line about the content of character that conservatives love to cite when clumsily trying to glom onto Dr. King's posthumous status as a toothless national icon. It came earlier in the address, in the prepared text from which Dr. King eventually took flight.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence (Yeah), they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men (My Lord), would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. (My Lord)

Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds. [enthusiastic applause] (My Lord, Lead on, Speech, speech) But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. (My Lord) [laughter] (No, no) We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. (Sure enough) And so we've come to cash this check (Yes), a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom (Yes) and the security of justice.
That is the real message of that famous speech. That is the real message of the glare that Dr. King sends across the peaceful little lagoon towards the Virginian who wrote so prettily words that nobody had dared put into words before, beautiful words that his slaves could not read. That is the real message of this holiday. Dr. King was a fearsome opponent for the whiskey hours of the poker game. The bluff was called, forever.

(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 bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face. . . . What they abominate about 'the West,' to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don't like and can't defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: it's emancipated women, it's scientific inquiry, it's separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson."
~~~ Christopher Hitchens

Justice Samuel Alito

Justice Alito Pens A Bizarre Love Letter To Christian Right
Following the law may soon be optional if you are a conservative Christian.
By Ian Millhiser

One of the Christian right's top policy priorities is to effectively create two different codes of law in the United States. The first code, which applies to people who do not hold conservative religious views, is rigid and unmoving. The second code, which would apply primarily to Christian-identified conservatives, contains broad exceptions for people who hold the right religious beliefs.

The endgame is a world where Christian conservatives can treat much of the law as optional - applicable only to people who are not like them. Think of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, where an anti-gay business owner claimed that he could refuse to follow his state's civil rights laws because his religion taught him not to serve same-sex couples at their weddings.

The four most conservative members of the Supreme Court signaled on Tuesday that they are itching to turn this agenda into law. Indeed, Justice Samuel Alito's opinion in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District suggests that the Court's right flank would give conservative Christians such broad immunity from the rules that govern all other Americans that it is unclear that the government would be allowed to manage its own workforce - at least when some members of that workforce identify with the Christian right.

Kennedy involves a former high school football coach who was fired because he would conclude football games by walking out to the 50-yard line and performatively praying in front of his players and the crowd. The school superintendent instructed him not to do so for two reasons - by walking out to the 50-year line, the coach abandoned his players at a time when he was supposed to be supervising them, and by praying "on the field, under the game lights, in BHS-logoed attire, in front of an audience of event attendees," the coach falsely gave the impression that the school district endorsed a religious viewpoint.

Despite the superintendent's instruction, Coach Joseph Kennedy continued to pray at the 50-yard line after games. The district eventually forbade Kennedy from participating in its football program. Kennedy responded by filing a lawsuit claiming that the district violated his free speech rights and his religious freedom.

As a matter of law, school districts are allowed to regulate what kind of speech their own employees engage in when those employees are on the job. A district may require teachers to teach the state curriculum, and not whatever topic the teacher feels like teaching that day. A school district may order its teachers not to belittle their students. It may order a coach not to use curse words in front of their players. If a high school math teacher decides to ignore math to teach their students about the Bible, the school may fire that teacher.

As the Supreme Court held in Garcetti v. Ceballos, "government employers, like private employers, need a significant degree of control over their employees' words and actions; without it, there would be little chance for the efficient provision of public services." Thus, while government employees do retain many First Amendment protections, "when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline."

Think of Coach Kennedy's case this way. Suppose that, instead of walking out to the middle of the field to pray, Kennedy concluded each game by walking out to the 50-yard line and announcing to the crowd that his high school's biggest rival is a better high school with a better football program. As a citizen, Kennedy is allowed to hold this view and the First Amendment protects his right to say it. But as an employee of the school district, his bosses may conclude that they do not want one of the district's most visible representatives proclaiming a message that the district does not want to associate itself with - and to do so while Coach Kennedy is acting in his official capacity as a coach.

The content of Kennedy's speech, in other words, is irrelevant. The question is whether a school district may control the messages its own spokespeople convey to the public on the school district's behalf.

Should the Supreme Court buy Kennedy's religious liberty arguments, moreover, that could have consequences that even Alito would find reprehensible. The Constitution does not permit the government to discriminate among religions. So if a Christian coach has the right to perform his religion while acting as a representative of the school district, a Devil-worshiping coach has the right to run out into the middle of the field and call out "HAIL SATAN!"

Nevertheless, Alito's opinion in Kennedy - joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh - goes out of its way to minimize the impact of a high school football coach ostentatiously associating the school district with a religious viewpoint during a highly public event. Alito compares Coach Kennedy's actions to a coach who briefly steps away from his duties to make "a reservation for dinner at a local restaurant."

Alito concludes his opinion, moreover, by suggesting that two previous Supreme Court decisions - one of which is over 40-years-old - should be overruled to make it much easier for plaintiffs who have religious objections to the law to defy those laws and get away with it. The opinion is brief - less than six pages in total - but it leaves little doubt that at least four members of the Supreme Court believe that the ordinary rules laid down in Garcetti should not apply to the Christian right and that much of the law should be optional for people like Coach Kennedy.

It's worth noting that Alito and his three colleagues ultimately conclude that the Court should not hear the Kennedy case. According to Alito, there is a factual dispute over whether Kennedy was really fired for his religious statement, or whether he was fired for leaving his players unsupervised. Alito ultimately concludes that this factual dispute muddles the case too much to warrant Supreme Court review.

Yet it is clear from Kennedy that, when a cleaner case that does not involve such a factual dispute arises, at least four members of the Court are eager to immunize Christian conservatives from much of the law. Moreover, while Chief Justice John Roberts did not join Alito's opinion in Kennedy, he joined a 2016 Alito opinion calling for a similar expansion of the rights of religious objectors to defy the law.

And just in case there is any doubt, the Court's majority has made it quite clear that their extreme solicitude for conservative Christians does not extend to other faiths. Though the Court did side with a Muslim inmate who wanted to grow a beard while he was still incarcerated, the Court more recently upheld the Trump administration's efforts to ban many Muslims from entering the country.

It is very likely, in other words, that the Supreme Court is poised to create a world with two different codes of law - one set for people like Coach Kennedy and another set for everyone else. The Court's majority is just waiting for the right opportunity to do so.

(c) 2019 Ian Millhiser is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the editor of ThinkProgress Justice.

Jane in front of the "grassy knoll."

JFK, MLK, Bobby & Leonard
Bad things happen when you color outside the lines
By Jane Stillwater

Did anyone else besides me watch that TV special on John F. Kennedy Jr the other night? Hmmm. Not sure what to think about it. Why are they showing it to us now? Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid (again) but it appeared to be the ultimate masterpiece of public-relations propaganda -- American style.

The docu-drama went out of its way to make two very urgent points. First, that JFK Jr was intelligent, energetic, good-looking, charismatic -- and could easily be elected to any office in the nation. Definitely in the White House by 2016!

The second point was that JFK Jr was a truly lousy pilot, extremely bad, reckless beyond belief. "Pilot error!" And yet at some point in the docu-drama they actually showed us a radar-generated diagram of the John-John's plane suddenly dropping almost straight out of the sky, almost as if it had been hit by a bomb. Come on, guys. JFK's piloting couldn't have been that bad.

All this docu-drama achieved was make me want to go back and read several copies of John Jr's George magazine. What the freak might he have said in there to piss somebody off? And if so, then who?

Of course our wonderful Bobby, Martin and John got assassinated. We all know that. Happy MLK's birthday everyone. Do you honestly think they would have named a holiday after MLK had he lived? Hell no.

He'd be rotting in some federal maximum-security prison like the one that Leonard Peltier has been rotting in for the last 44 years -- for a crime he clearly didn't commit.

No one in power wants Leonard Peltier out of jail. "But why not," you might ask. "Is it because he is charged with killing two FBI agents?" No. It's because, according to a friend of mine who just visited Pine Ridge, "Things are really bad up on the reservation right now. Poverty and alcoholism are rampant."

The last thing that the elite .001% want is to have a heroic icon like Leonard back on The Rez, trying to make things better. It's bad enough that they had all those water-protector demonstrations at Standing Rock, right? Why add Leonard to the mix.

And who knows for sure but.... If Bobby, Martin and John hadn't been assassinated and JFK Jr hadn't mysteriously died, there probably would never have been that horrifying "war" on Vietnam that murdered 60,000 American soldiers in defense of a lie, or that ugly "war" on Central America that is even now driving asylum-seekers to our borders by the thousands.

There might never have been any debilitating 2008 housing crash, no painful Reagan downsizing, no Trump government shutdown, no sloppy Bush "second Pearl Harbor" and "wars" on Afghanistan and Iraq, no disastrous Clinton NAFTA and no obscene Obama "wars" on Syria and Libya, all of them wreaking havoc on both America and the world and selling us all out. Plus there surely would have been a Green New Deal twenty years ago, back when we still had a chance to save the human race from extinction.

The global elite top .001% are terrified of those kinds of heroes. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, watch your back.

PS: I wanna color outside the lines too! Do you? If so, then the first small step you can take is to close your bank account with Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, CitiBank, etc. tomorrow morning -- and open up an account with your local credit union instead. The global elite hate stuff like that.

PPS: Happy Martin Luther King birthday (again). Now there was a man who knew how to weld a Crayola -- outside the lines!

(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-

Stephen gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Leitender Berater Miller

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 writing the Rethuglican proposal to end the shut down guaranteeing it would never pass the Senate, 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 Miller, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Trump's Assault On The Rule Of Law
By Robert Reich

The "rule of law" distinguishes democracies from dictatorships. It's based on three fundamental principles. Trump is violating every one of them.

The first principle is that no person is above the law, not even a president. Which means a president cannot stop an investigation into his alleged illegal acts.

Yet Trump has done everything he can to stop the Mueller investigation, even making Matthew Whitaker acting Attorney General - whose only distinction to date has been loud and public condemnation of that investigation.

The second principle is that a president cannot prosecute political opponents. Decisions about whom to prosecute for alleged criminal wrongdoing must be made by prosecutors who are independent of politics.

Yet Trump has repeatedly pushed the Justice Department to bring charges against Hillary Clinton, his 2016 rival, for using a private email server when she was Secretary of State, in alleged violation of the Presidential Records Act.

The third principle is that a president must be respectful of the independence of the judiciary. Yet Trump has openly ridiculed judges who disagree with him in order to fuel public distrust of them.

He recently referred to the judge who halted Trump's plan for refusing to consider asylum applications an "Obama judge," and railed against the entire ninth circuit in which that judge serves.

John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, condemned Trump's attack. "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges," Roberts said. An "independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."

Almost a half-century ago, I watched as another president violated these three basic principles of the rule of law, although not as blatantly as Trump. The nation rose up in outrage against Richard Nixon, who resigned before Congress impeached him.

The question is whether this generation of Americans will have the strength and wisdom to do the same.

(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

Confronting The Culture Of Death
By Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, an ordained Presbyterian minister, gave this sermon Jan. 20 at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada. The issue before us is death. Not only our individual death, which is more imminent for some of us this morning than others, but our collective death. We have begun the sixth great mass extinction, driven by our 150-year binge on fossil fuel. The litany of grim statistics is not unfamiliar to many of you. We are pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at 10 times the rate of the mass extinction known as the Great Dying, which occurred 252 million years ago. The glaciers in Alaska alone are losing an estimated 75 billion tons of ice every year. The oceans, which absorb over 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, are warming and acidifying, melting the polar ice caps and resulting in rising sea levels and oxygen-starved ocean dead zones. We await a 50-gigaton burp, or "pulse," of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost on the east Siberian arctic shelf which will release about two-thirds of the total carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Era. Some 150 to 200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal are going extinct every 24 hours, one thousand times the "natural" or "background" rate. This pace of extinction is greater than anything the world has experienced since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Ultimately, feedback mechanisms will accelerate the devastation and there will be nothing we can do to halt obliteration. Past mass extinctions on earth were characterized by abrupt warming of 6 to 7 degrees Celsius. We are barreling toward those numbers. The mathematical models for this global temperature rise predict an initial 70 percent die-off of the human species, culminating with total death.

The corporate forces that have commodified the natural world for profit have also commodified human beings. We are as expendable to global corporations as the Barrier Reef or the great sequoias. These corporations and ruling elites, which have orchestrated the largest transference of wealth upward in human history, with globe's richest 1 percent owning half the world's wealth, kneel, and force us to kneel, before the dictates of the global marketplace. They have seized control of our governments, extinguishing democracy, corrupting law and building alliances with neofascists and authoritarians as the ruling ideology of neoliberalism is exposed as a con. They have constructed pervasive and sophisticated systems of internal security, wholesale surveillance and militarized police, along with criminalizing poverty, to crush dissent.

These corporate capitalists are the modern versions of the Canaanite priests who served the biblical idol Moloch, which demanded child sacrifice. And, as in this ancient Canaanite religion it is our children who are being sacrificed to these "mute idols," as 1 Corinthians puts it. Their future is being taken from them. These corporate forces are, in biblical terms, forces of death. They will, unchecked, create more human misery and death than the evils of Nazism and Stalinism combined.

"Actually, I hardly feel constrained to try and make head or tail of this condition of the world," Walter Benjamin wrote. "On this planet a great number of civilizations have perished in blood and horror. Naturally, one must wish for the planet that one day it will experience a civilization that has abandoned blood and horror; in fact, I am ... inclined to assume that our planet is waiting for this. But it is terribly doubtful whether we can bring such a present to its hundred or four-hundred-millionth birthday party. And if we don't, the planet will finally punish us, its unthoughtful well-wishers, by presenting us with the Last Judgment."

Religious belief, to be relevant, must be grounded in this concrete and bitter human reality. It must name radical evil, not as an amorphous theological concept, but as Christ did when he named the evils of the rich, the Pharisees and the Roman Empire. It must eschew self-preservation, for only he who loses his life can save it, in the mortal struggle against the forces of death. It must speak in a negative, critical voice, like the Hebrew prophets, condemning the dominant corporate culture. The point of faith is not to give us hope. It is to name and defy the forces of death. Faith is not centered around the question "How is it with me?" This is part of the narcissism of the dominant culture. Faith does not reside in infantile fantasies about inevitable human progress or personal schemes for unachievable happiness. Faith defies magical thinking. It defies our cultural and historical amnesia. It is the counterweight to the conditioned helplessness peddled by mass culture, the flight from reality that ensures our capitulation and our immolation on the altar of Moloch. Faith, finally, is about the belief, as Daniel Berrigan once told me, that the good draws to it the good, even if all the empirical evidence around us says otherwise. We demand justice not because we will win, but because we must.

Corporate culture, like all cultures of death, makes war on love, truth, justice and beauty and numbs us to the questions about the search for meaning and the struggle to face our mortality. It spreads the dark viruses of hedonism, sexual sadism, greed, the cult of the self, the lust for power, hypermasculinity and the glorification of violence. It seeks to crush the transcendent. It lacks the capacity for empathy, awe and reverence. It is the enemy of the sacred. Nothing in life has an intrinsic value beyond a monetary value in this culture of death. All living entities are herded toward Moloch's altar. The only ethical and religious response is to smash the idols and drive the high priests from Moloch's temple.

"The nothingness into which the West is sliding is not the natural end, the dying, the sinking of a flourishing community of peoples," Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in "Ethics." "Instead, it is again a specifically Western nothingness: a nothingness that is rebellious, violent, anti-God, and antihuman. Breaking away from all that is established, it is the utmost manifestation of all the forces opposed to God. It is nothingness as God; no one knows its goal or its measure. Its rule is absolute. It is a creative nothingness that blows its anti-God breath into all that exists, creates the illusion of waking it to new life, and at the same time sucks out its true essence until it too disintegrates into an empty husk and is discarded. Life, history, family, people, language, faith-the list could go on forever because nothingness spares nothing-all fall victim to nothingness."

Religion, as H. Richard Niebuhr wrote, is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people. And religion as seen in the Christian right, which articulates and promotes white supremacy and Christian fascism, now rapidly filling Donald Trump's ideological void, is anti-religious. The idol of a personal god, one that caters to and promotes the interests of those who profess homage to it, is the idolatry of Moloch. It is self-worship. It is heretical. And one of the most egregious failures of the liberal church has been its refusal to denounce these Christian heretics. The tacit toleration of these Christian heretics gave them religious legitimacy. You do not need to, as I did, spend three years at Harvard Divinity School to understand that Jesus did not come to make us rich, did not bless the white race above other races-Jesus, after all, was a person of color; it was the Romans who were white-or sanctify the American Empire's dropping of iron fragmentation bombs for 18 years up and down the Middle East. This is the theology of the Antichrist, as we heard in the reading this morning from the Book of John. It speaks only to itself.

Those we battle as the society and the ecosystem disintegrate will increasingly appropriate the language of religion. They will seek to sanctify evil. These Christian fascists, like all idol worshippers, endow themselves with absolute power and authority. They claim to speak and act for God. They externalize evil. Evil, for them, is not the constant struggle to combat the dark forces within our own hearts but is embodied in the demonized other-Muslims, immigrants, blacks, feminists, artists, intellectuals or homosexuals-and once the other is eradicated, evil itself will somehow miraculously be eradicated; except of course it won't, and these Manicheans will, in frustration, oppress and kill new groups of demonized human beings with an even greater fury. These beliefs, common to all fundamentalists, who can come in secular form as we see with the New Atheists, are the ideological cover for an emerging dystopia.

We will endure only by inverting the world's values. To resist radical evil saves us, as Soren Kierkegaard wrote, from slipping into that "loathsome void," that "torment of despair." Hope comes by way of defeat. When we pit ourselves against the culture of death-and this means performing acts of civil disobedience and noncompliance, it means becoming an outlaw in the eyes of the corporate state-then suffering, and even death, does not have the last word.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn in "The Gulag Archipelago" describes prisoners in his camp organizing a work stoppage and hunger strike. He writes:

What the bosses would do no one could predict. We thought that perhaps they would start firing on the huts again from the towers. The last thing we expected was any concession. We had never in our lives wrested anything from them, and our strike had the bitter tang of hopelessness.

But there was a sort of satisfaction in this feeling of hopelessness. We had taken a futile, a desperate step, it could only end badly-and that was good. Our bellies were empty, our hearts were in our boots-but some higher need was being satisfied. During those long hungry days, evenings, nights, three thousand men brooded over their three thousand sentences, their families, their lack of families, all that had befallen and would yet befall them, and although the hearts in thousands of breasts could not beat together-and there were those who felt only regret, only despair-yet most of them kept time: Things are as they should be! We'll keep it up to spite you! Things are bad! So much the better!

This struggle to nurture and protect life, the sacred, has always been Pyrrhic. But it is our call, the cross we are commanded to carry. It is what makes us human. It is what sustains the dim, absurd compassion and human kindness, love itself, which evil, with its machines and bureaucratic power, its armies, its lies, its industrial violence, its wealth and its vast megaphones, has never been able to crush and never will. It may not be a battle we can win. But by fighting it we sustain our selves, we are enveloped and absolved by the sacred, by God. We make faith possible. The poet Linda Gregg writes [in "Chosen by the Lion: Poems"]:
In the museum print room today we looked
at their Blake engravings. All were
about a place that was not Paradise.
Everybody suffering. Men on their backs,
their faces upside-down and exposed,
legs raised and merging with the lines
that meant a mountain.
Women, unusually large, stood composed,
discerning, concerned over the general
condition of life. The curator said,
"He cut directly into the metal,"
"Then inked it," I said. "Yes," she said.
There was a spiral of mist
Filled with the shapes of lovers.
I looked close to see if any were happy.
At least two were. And in the sky,
A couple sitting, embracing.
(Something weeps in me all the time
All the time.) I said, at random,
"Wouldn't it be nice if one of these
prints showed an angel crossing the border
Between heaven and this other realm.
Just the border."
(Jesus, you who are above all others,
I hurt constantly inside.
Bleared with loneliness.
Exhausted by keeping what I love safe.)

(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
~~~ Steve Benson ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

John Bolton Insists Iran Likely Harboring Dangerous Terrorist Osama Bin Laden
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-In an impassioned call for preemptive action against the Middle Eastern nation, United States national security advisor John Bolton insisted Thursday that Iran was likely harboring the dangerous terrorist Osama bin Laden.

"For the good of our nation, we must act immediately," said Bolton, citing several intelligence reports providing significant evidence that Iran is currently providing sanctuary to the Al-Qaeda leader and mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We must never rest until this fugitive is brought to justice, and the only way to achieve that is through repeated and prolonged military strikes on Iran. We have reason to believe that he's living in a compound there where he's training a legion of bloodthirsty Iranian civilians to take up arms as the next generation of terrorists. It is our solemn duty as the international safeguard of freedom to prevent this at all costs."

At press time, Bolton had left the podium to follow up on an important tip that Iranian leaders had hired American nuclear physicist Otto Gunther Octavius.

(c) 2019 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 03 (c) 01/25/2019

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