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In This Edition

Dahr Jamail finds, "2017 Was The Warmest Year On Record For Oceans."

Uri Avnery explains, "May Your Home Be Destroyed."

Glen Ford reports, "DACA Joins The Mad Rush To War."

Matt Taibbi asks, "Forget The Memo - Can We Worry About The Banks?"

Jim Hightower wants to know, "Who Really Pays For Corporate Subsidies?"

John Nichols watches as, "A Governor Renews Net Neutrality Protections With The Stroke Of A Pen."

James Donahue wonders, "Are Vampires Stealing Your Energy?"

Leonard Pitts Jr. writes a letter, "Dear Democrats, You Just Don't Have a Clue, Do You?"

Heather Digby Parton finds, "They Want Mass Deportation, That's All There Is To It."

David Swanson wants you to, "Support The New Poor People's Campaign."

Charles P. Pierce declares, "There Are Some Things You Can't Shut Down."

Elizabeth Warren concludes, "America Can Never Go Back To The Era Of Back-Alley Abortions."

William Rivers Pitt tells, "How Trump's Base Inspired An International Racist Fiasco, Again."

Steve Miller wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich considers, "The GOP A Year After Trump."

Chris Hedges examines, "Thought Police For The 21st Century."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz says, "Sarah Huckabee Sanders Offers to Lie for Free During Shutdown" but first Uncle Ernie sings Tach It Up, Tach It Up...

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Nate Beeler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Kevin Dietsch, Chip Somadevilla, Zach Gibson, Thom Bridge, Manuel Breva Colmeiro, Manuel Balce Ceneta, Evening Standard, AFP, 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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Tach It Up, Tach It Up...
Donnie gonna shut you down.
By Ernest Stewart

Tach it up, tach it up
Buddy gonna shut you down
Shut Down ~~~ The Beachboys

"The atmosphere is warming, by almost 1 degree C globally to date, and we are getting ever closer to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degree C which we are so desperately trying to avoid." ~~~ Dan Mitchell, University of Bristol, UK

"President Trump is the most gifted politician of our time. He's the best orator to hold that office in generations. Trump is the leader of this nationwide and worldwide populist movement, and it's about uplifting working class people. Black, Hispanic, white, all backgrounds." ~~~ Steve Miller

"He who allows his day to pass by without practicing generosity & enjoying life's pleasures...breathes, but does not live." ~~~ Sanskrit Proverb

Old "Art-of-the deal" Trump can't seem to make a deal while controlling both houses of the Con-gress! In fact Con-gress shut him down, then Trump shut the country down. All on the one year anniversary of his ascendancy to the Iron Throne! Not a good sign, methinks!

After Chuck Schumer and his cronies folded without getting a pass for the Dreamers. Democratic congressman Luis Gutierrez speaking of the Democratic leadership summed it up, "They caved. They blinked. That's what they do."

Stephanie Taylor, of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said: "Today's cave by Senate Democrats - led by weak-kneed, right-of-centre Democrats - is why people don't believe the Democratic Party stands for anything." Indeed Stephanie, that's why I left the party back in 2000 when President Al Gore caved in to the Crime Family Bush even though he had won the election, and as it turned out, the Electoral College as well.

This stopgap spending measure keeps the government open until February 8. If Turtle Boy goes back on his promise to come up with a bill on the Dreamers before the February date, then we can expect another government shut down. As Will Rogers once said, "There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on Senators." Ya think, Will?

Or as Mark Twain put it: "Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself."

In Other News

Have you heard that global warming took ocean surface temperatures in 2017 to near-record levels, while the upper oceans reached their hottest known level.

I'm going to repat that again, for those of you on drugs!

The Ocean Are Heating Up Too!!!

Folks whether you want to believe it or not, global warming is real, and it's happening now! Not tomorrow not next week or next year but NOW!!! Within hours of the announcement by scientists in the US that 2017 was at least the third warmest year recorded, if not the second, over the Earth's land and oceans, there comes a further revelation: 2017 was also the warmest year on record for the global oceans! Both disclosures are consistent with what scientists had expected from climate change, driven by global warming as a consequence of the constant combustion of fossil fuels that dump ever greater levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, day-after-day-after-day! But they add to the scientists' sense of urgency at the need for rapid and radical action to cut greenhouse emissions. Of the US announcement, Dr Dan Mitchell, of the University of Bristol, UK, said:

"The most recent global temperature observations are in line with what we expected, both from our underlying theory, but also our model projections and understanding of the climate system.

"The atmosphere is warming, by almost 1 degree C globally to date, and we are getting ever closer to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degree C which we are so desperately trying to avoid."

The news that the oceans are continuing to warm to hitherto unknown levels comes in an updated ocean analysis from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics/Chinese Academy of Science (IAP/CAS). Its study was published as an early online release in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. The authors say that "in 2017 the oceans in the upper 2000-metre layer of water were warmer than the second warmest year, 2015, and above the 1981-2010 climatological reference period.

"Thanks to their large heat capacity, the oceans absorb warming caused by human activities, and more than 90 per cent of the Earth's extra heat from global warming is absorbed by them."

The study says "the global ocean heat content record robustly represents the signature of global warming, and is affected less by weather-related 'noise' and climate variability such as El Nino and La Nina events."

The IAP says: "the last five years have been the five warmest years in the oceans, as the long-term warming trend driven by human activities continued unabated.

The rise in ocean heat in 2017 occurred in most regions of the world. Increases in ocean temperature cause the volume of seawater to expand, contributing to the global average sea level rise, which in 2017 amounted to 1.7 mm. Other consequences include a decline in ocean oxygen, the bleaching of coral reefs, and the melting of sea ice and ice shelves."

So, I'll ask you once again, America, "How long can you tread water?"

And Finally

Steve Miller wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award! No, not the rock god and legend, but the little weasel/devil who perchs on Trumps shoulder every day and whispers, racism, hatred, bigotry and treason into his ear, that Steve Miller.

If you thought Steve Bannon was a monster, and he was, this other Steve makes Bannon look like a choir boy by comparison! He feeds Trump a constant stream of fascism and his favorite target seems to be the dreamers as they are mostly Mexicans, and they're Obamas mostly Mexicans at that! You do recall that practically every good thing that Barry did has been cancelled by imperial fiat by Trump.

As Trump's senior advisor for policy, and being a little to the right of Darth Vader, Miller's hatred is the perfect match for Trumps hatred and the dreamers will feel their rage. Ergo, Steve wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award!

Keepin' On

As far as fundraising goes, this year is turning out to be a disaster! Fundraising in the first quarter has always been slow going at best; but even more so this year. In a "normal" year we would have raised about 17% to 18% of our yearly operating costs, this year, it's barely 1%. Needless to say, if this trend continues we'll be gone come June's first group of bills, not to mention July's group and November's bills.

Thanks to our sponsorships I'll be able to continue by writing weekly essays instead of editorials; but most of the rest of the magazine will be gone; and if my sponsors want more than just me, then I'll be gone too, except in various other magazines scattered through out the blogosphere.

Ergo, if you enjoy your weekly Issues & Alibis and would hate to see it disappear as so many other liberal sites have done, then please send us whatever you can, as often as you can, and we'll continue to fight the forces of darkness for you!


01-30-1925 ~ 01-19-2018
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Thanks for the music!

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


2017 Was The Warmest Year On Record For Oceans
By Dahr Jamail

It is well known now that 2017 was the second-warmest year ever recorded, after 2016. In fact, the five hottest years ever recorded have occurred since just 2010, according to NASA. What hasn't received as much attention is the fact that 2017 was the warmest year ever recorded for the planet's oceans. The previous warmest year for the oceans was 2015.

In fact, when it comes to the overall impacts of human-caused global warming, the oceans have taken most of the hit: They have absorbed 93 percent of the warmth humans have generated since the 1970s.

Oceanic Warming Intensifying

If you took all of the heat humans generated between the years 1955 and 2010 and placed it in the atmosphere instead of the oceans, global temperatures would have risen by a staggering 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

The study that found 2017 to be a record year of oceanic warming was conducted by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and published online by Advances in Atmospheric Sciences on January 18.

The study found that the top 2,000-meter layer of Earth's ocean waters was at its warmest levels ever, and that this warming, according to the study, "represents the signature of global warming." This is due to the fact that, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 5th Assessment Report, oceans absorb the vast majority of human-generated heat primarily because water has a high heat capacity, given that it takes much more heat to warm water than it does air.

Oceanic warming is clearly dramatically escalating. The study found that the last five years have been the five warmest years for the oceans, and added, "Therefore, the long-term warming trend driven by human activities continued unabated."

Warm water expands in volume. Thus, the warming is causing increases in sea level rise, in addition to causing more coral bleaching events, declines in oceanic oxygen levels, and increasing melting of sea ice and ice shelves. Studies show that warming ocean waters are causing major species relocations, along with extinctions of some species of fish and marine life.

"The impacts of anthropogenic climate change so far include decreased ocean productivity, altered food web dynamics, reduced abundance of habitat-forming species, shifting species distributions, and a greater incidence of disease," reads the summary of a study published in the journal Science. "Although there is considerable uncertainty about the spatial and temporal details, climate change is clearly and fundamentally altering ocean ecosystems."

Sans El Nino

The fact that 2017 was the second-warmest year on record for the atmosphere, and the warmest on record for the oceans, is particularly troublesome given that 2017 was a non-El Nino year.

El Nino is a shift in Pacific Ocean weather patterns in the tropics that is generally linked to record-setting heat in the atmosphere and oceans alike. Last year was predicted to be a cooler year since it was not an El Niño year. The fact that it was as warm as it was underscores how rapidly the planet is continuing to heat up.

According to both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 17 of the 18 warmest years on record for the planet have occurred since 2001.

"This is the new normal," NASA's Gavin Schmidt who directs that agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the New York Times. But, he said, "It's also changing. It's not that we've gotten to a new plateau -- this isn't where we'll stay. In ten years we're going to say 'oh look, another record decade of warming temperatures.'"
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards. His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon.

May Your Home Be Destroyed
By Uri Avnery

WHEN I first met Yasser Arafat in besieged Beirut, in the summer of 1982, Abu Mazen was not present. But when I met him again in Tunis, a few months later, he asked me to meet Abu Mazen, too.

Abu Mazen, it transpired, was the Fatah leader in charge of Israeli matters.

MY FIRST impression of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) was that he was the exact opposite of Arafat. He looked like a schoolmaster.

Arafat was an outgoing type, who liked to embrace and kiss people and to establish close relations from the outset. Abu Mazen was much more reserved and withdrawn. Yet I liked his personality.

Even then, more than 35 years ago, he belonged to the first rank of the Fatah and PLO leadership, side by side with people like Abu Jihad (who was killed by Israel), Abu Iyad (who was killed by Palestinian extremists), Farouk Kaddoumi (who objected to Oslo and was excluded).

I met with Abu Mazen every time I visited Arafat in Tunis. When I heard that he was originally from Safed, the mixed Arab-Jewish town in northern Palestine, this was an additional bond. Safed was the second home of my wife, Rachel, who, as a child, went there every summer. Her father, a children's physician, practiced there in the summers, too. Abu Mazen could not remember whether he was ever treated by him as a child, before his family had to flee in 1948.

After the assassination of Arafat (as I believe, without proof), Abu Mazen assumed the leadership of both Fatah (the party) and the PLO (the semi-government). He is no second Arafat - he has neither the heroic stature nor the international status of the Founder. But he was accepted by all.

As the leader of a small and weak people, faced with a much stronger adversary, Arafat believed that the Palestinians must use all the few instruments at their disposal: organization, diplomacy, violence, whatever. But after the Yom Kippur war, he started on the path to Oslo. As he explained to me: "I saw that after an initial huge victory of surprise, the Arabs lost the war. I realized then that there was no way to recover our country by war."

I think that Abu Mazen did not believe in violence to start with. It is not in his nature. He believes in the great Arab weapon: patience.

Arabs have a very different concept of time from Jewish Israelis - we are impatient, we need instant gratification. Our political history is short, our state came into being just 70 years ago, we have no patience whatsoever.

Arabs have a long, unbroken history, with many ups and downs. They are used to waiting. Patience is a mighty instrument.

I believe that faced with the might of Israel, that is the real doctrine of Abu Mazen - wait patiently until conditions change, let Israel exhaust itself. In the meantime, hold on, cling to the soil, don't give up an inch, what the Arabs call "Sumud". It may take one, two, three generations, but in the end we shall win.

This may not be a popular strategy, not a glorious one, but it may prove effective over time.

This, at least, is my conjecture. Nobody told me so.

BUT EVEN a person like Abu Mazen may lose patience from time to time.

His by now famous Yekhreb Beitak speech was such a moment.

Yekhreb Beitak means, literally, "may your house be destroyed". In the vast arsenal of Arab curses, it is one of the mildest. It could be rendered as "Goddamn". (In modern Hebrew, we woefully lack curses, so Hebrew-speaking Israelis have to borrow their curses from Arabic and Russian.)

By all standards, Donald Trump can drive anybody mad. But for Palestinians, he deserves far more extreme curses.

For many decades now, the United States has posed as the impartial arbiter between Zionist Israelis and Arabs. President after president has presented Peace Plans and organized Peace Initiatives, but nothing ever came of them. (Both the Egyptian-Israeli peace initiative and the Oslo agreement were hatched behind the back of the Americans.)

The reason is quite simple: the US has millions of Jewish voters, nearly all of whom are ardent Zionists. After doing nothing at all to save the European Jews during the Holocaust, they are torn by remorse. Arab voters are indifferent.

Therefore, all American presidents, except Dwight Eisenhower (who was so popular that he didn't need the Jewish vote), have been strong supporters of Israel. Since all Israeli governments have rejected the return of the occupied territories, and especially East Jerusalem, American impartiality was a sham.

But Trump is something special. He has appointed an ardent Jewish right-wing Zionist as ambassador to Israel. He has appointed his Jewish son-in-law and some other Zionists as mediators between Israel and the Palestinians. And in the end he has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced that he is going to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv there.

If he had been speaking about "West Jerusalem", the storm would have been mild. In practice, everybody agrees with West Jerusalem being the capital of Israel. But Trump spoke about Greater Jerusalem, only hinting that in some indefinite future, final borders may be drawn.

It is East Jerusalem, of course, which is the real battlefield. The Israeli government claims it as the birthplace of the Jewish religion, the location of the First and Second Jewish Temples and of the Western Wall (which was a part of the Temple's supporting wall, but not of the temple itself).

Speaking of recognizing "Jerusalem" as part of the Jewish State was a heavy blow at the most profound Arab religious and national beliefs.

When the United Nations drew up the partition plan of 1947, it provided for a Jewish state and an Arab state, but conferred on Jerusalem the status of a separate unit. That was unacceptable to both sides.

Immediately after the 1948 war, when my friends (both Jews and Arabs) and I drew up the first peace plan based on the principle of "Two States for Two peoples", we called for a "United Jerusalem, Capital of the Two States". This is still the only viable solution.

The late Faisal Husseini, the unchallenged leader of the population of East Jerusalem, accepted this principle. There are many photos of us two standing together at demonstrations under this slogan. Abu Mazen accepts it, too.

SO WHAT did Abu Mazen say in his long speech at the Palestinian parliament, apart from the half-joking curse that made the headlines?

Actually, there was nothing new. He confirmed the terms of the "Arab peace plan", to which I, too, agree wholeheartedly.

He completely rejected the so-called "one-state solution", to which some extreme left-wingers subscribe now out of sheer despair. This would mean in practice a Jewish-dominated apartheid state.

He put an end to all the sham slogans whirling around: the notion that the US could be a mediator, the fiction that there is a "peace process" going on, the idea that the Oslo agreement is still alive and kicking.

The resolutions of the meeting - the PLO Central Council, which is the Palestinian parliament - finally reject the notion that the US could possibly act as an impartial mediator.

The Council decided to "suspend recognition of Israel," which is a rather empty gesture. But it also issued a call "to stop security coordination (with Israel) in all its forms," which is a much more serious matter. I doubt whether Abu Mazen can do this.

It specifically mentions the girl Ahed Tamimi, who had slapped an Israeli army officer on camera, and whom I have called the Palestinian Jean d'Arc.

It called for a boycott of the products of the settlements - a boycott which Gush Shalom, the peace movement to which I belong, initiated in 1998. But it also called for support of the BDS movement, which advocates a boycott of everything Israeli.

For lack of anything better, it calls for more diplomatic action in the UN, the International Criminal Court and other international institutions.

Nothing really very new, but a determination to resist.

ABU MAZEN has no deputy. Like many political leaders everywhere, he detests the idea of an heir.

He is now 82 years old, but still younger than I. It seems that - like me - he has decided to live forever.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

DACA Joins The Mad Rush To War
By Glen Ford

The top Democrats in Congress have transformed DACA, the effort to protect 800,000 childhood immigrants from deportation, into a gargantuan funding measure for the Pentagon. This past weekend, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer offered to fully fund Donald Trump's border wall and boost defense spending "far above" what the White House requested, in a deal to end the government shutdown. The military budget signed into law in December was already $30 billion higher than the White House asked for, and $80 billion bigger than the previous year's war spending -- an increase as large as Russia's entire defense budget.

It is Democratic congressional leadership -- not Donald Trump and his mad generals -- that has been the driving force in this year's military spending insanity. Back in July, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi pressured her party to back a defense authorization $57.4 billion bigger than the Pentagon requested. Only a minority of Democratic House members supported the measure, but a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) followed Pelosi's lead -- including all five of the newest members of the Black Caucus, elected in 2016. By inflating the war budget even beyond the Pentagon's demands, these Pelosi-Schumer-CBC Democrats ensured that what remains of the social safety net will be slashed into oblivion by bipartisan forces of austerity in future Congresses.

The Bernie Sanders faction of the Party is just as guilty, through its shameful silence on war. This group includes Our Revolution, whose purportedly "progressive" agenda suggests only that they would "take a hard look at the Pentagon's budget and the priorities it has established."

The imperial fist is inexorably crushing the domestic welfare agencies of government. The Democrats' task in this infernal process is to coax their constituents to swallow the "Satan's Sandwiches" that emerge from Congress -- as suggested by Black Kansas City Rep. Emanuel Cleaver back in 2011, when Barack Obama was presenting his "Grand Bargain" to the Republicans. Having put "all entitlements" on the table for cutting at the start of his presidency, Obama proceeded to wage expensive wars against seven countries. His Grand Bargain offered even larger social cuts than the Republicans demanded, before finally unraveling in the morass of Capitol Hill. Democratic leadership is still seeking that "bargain" with the GOP, knowing full well that it will be paid for by more austerity for people's programs.

The result is both predictable and intended: the military budget expands to consume ever greater proportions of federal "discretionary" spending -- that is, moneys not locked into mandated programs like Social Security. Finally, the public is told there is "no choice" but to tap into Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare -- as Obama signaled at very the beginning of his presidency, and attempted to pull off in his first term in office.

Schumer and Pelosi have been throwing money at the Pentagon with abandon this year because both wings of the War Party (Democrat and Republican) are anxious to maintain the momentum of Obama's global military offensive, after the unexpected defeat of the reliable warmonger, Hillary Clinton. That's why, measured in military dollars, the Democratic leadership is more warlike than the Trump administration. Not trusting Trump to keep the pressure on Moscow, Beijing and any other "threat" to U.S. hegemony, the bipartisan political servants of empire flood the Pentagon with money and poison the political discourse with Russiagate. Although there are clear conflicts within the U.S. ruling class, in general the Lords of Capital appear at this juncture to be more concerned with terrorizing the world than maintaining domestic peace. Schumer and Pelosi were instructed, accordingly.

The Democrats' cynicism is boundless. DACA, which has great political value to a key constituency but no monetary price tag, becomes the excuse to funnel additional tens of billions to the Pentagon -- on top of previous increases -- while enhancing Democratic election prospects in 2018 and 2020.

The Democrats can be expected to repeat the formula. If not DACA, any symbolic program will suffice as a political battle flag to rally the various Party constituencies while simultaneously boosting the flow of cash to the war machine.

And they'll call it "resistance." But it's the kind of resistance that is useless when, as Dr. Martin Luther King observed, the "demonic destructive suction tube" of war spending comes to claim its ever-larger share of the budget.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Trump signed a resolution stripping Dodd-Frank restrictions on oil and gas companies last February.

Forget The Memo - Can We Worry About The Banks?
A classic circular kerfuffle in congress this week shifted eyes away from rare bipartisan cooperation on spying powers and bank reform
By Matt Taibbi

The Internet is exploding today with cries of #ReleaseTheMemo, with the GOP throwing a big fat j'accuse at the Democrats. Republicans are pounding the table over what by now is about the millionth news story to be called "worse than Watergate" since the Russia scandal first broke. "People will go to jail!" chirped Florida Republican Matt Gaetz. The GOP claims congressional committees have been shown a memo detailing shocking Obama-era surveillance abuses involving the Russia case. Dithering town-crier types like Iowa's Steve King have spent the last day or so insisting to reporters that if only they could see the explosive material, they'd be lighting torches and marching in search of Obama administration security officials to burn as witches.

"The sickening reality has set in," King yelped.

This trick - i.e. "If only you could see the amazing secret stuff I can't tell you about, although actually I can" - has been employed with increasing regularity by both sides in the past few years, particularly with regard to #Russiagate.

By all means, if the memo is important (although I doubt it) let's let the public see it. But followers of this story should also remember that if this or any classified document somehow exculpates Donald Trump on any front, he's had the power all along to declassify such information.

Why Trump hasn't done so on a number of these occasions has been one of the enduring mysteries of this affair. It's given pause to even the most hardened Russiagate skeptics.

This includes people like former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy of the National Review. McCarthy has been highly critical of the Robert Mueller investigation, but has also repeatedly wondered why Trump is not lifting the veil on some of these documents.

One of the few figures in the media to explore holes in Russiagate theories propagated by both sides, McCarthy had this to say in August:

"I can't get past a nagging question: Why must we speculate about whether the Obama administration abusively exploited its foreign-intelligence-collection powers in order to spy on Donald Trump's political campaign? After all, Trump is president now. If he was victimized, he's in a position to tell us all about it."
So #ReleaseTheMemo seems curious and disingenuous at best. But the Republicans don't have a monopoly on such behavior, either.

Recently, there's been an effort in Democrat-friendly media to walk back one of the major assumptions of #Russiagate, i.e. that the FBI's Russia investigation was spurred by either the Steele report, the case involving Carter Page, or both.

Stories have come out in both the Washington Post and the New York Times in recent weeks that appear to contradict their own earlier reports on the matter, pointing now at Mueller-target George Papadopoulos as the ostensible root of the Russia probe.

There's no conclusion to be drawn from any of this, other than that the genesis of the Russiagate investigation remains mysterious and neither party seems particularly motivated to clarify the matter for the public.

The Republicans seem anxious to keep hinting that the privately-generated Steele report was used improperly as part of a FISA warrant application, while the Trump administration keeps passing up opportunities to release what it knows about the matter. It's a bizarre stalemate that will eat up a lot of airtime, without really moving this interminable affair forward in any significant way.

Predictably, there have been more concerning stories in recent weeks having to do with Republicans and Democrats agreeing, rather than trading dumb accusations.

Last week, for instance, numerous congressional Democrats - including Nancy Pelosi and chief Russia hawk Adam Schiff - voted to reauthorize the virtually limitless surveillance powers of this president. This is despite the fact that those same congressional Democrats spent much of the last year claiming Trump is an agent of a foreign power.

This is a classic example of something that's been axiomatic in Washington for ages: that both parties tend always to be interested in expanding executive power, no matter who's in office or what the political situation. In this case, the principle of expanding presidential authority outweighed even concerns of abuses by the likes of Donald Trump.

In another bizarre episode, at least ten Senate Democrats recently crossed the aisle to support a rollback of key provisions of the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill, the killing of which of course has long been a major policy goal of Trump's.

The Dodd-Frank bill story is particularly disturbing, because it signals a rare potential area of consensus amid the otherwise reassuringly dysfunctional three-headed monster that is the lunatic Trump, establishment Republicans, and Democrats.

The bill has been pitched as aid and regulatory relief to small banks and credit unions. Such groups are the widows and orphans of financial reform: nobody's ever against helping them, which is why even giveaways to Wall Street behemoths are often dressed up as aid to regional bankers.

The Dems who crossed the aisle to support the Dodd-Frank rollback bought into the lobbyist-flogged idea that Too-Big-To-Fail banks have too many punitive regulatory requirements, and moreover that "smaller" companies (i.e. firms with less than $10 billion in assets) should be exempt from the already watered-down Volcker rule, which prevents depository banks from gambling for their own accounts.

One of the main ideas behind the proposed bill, which passed the banking committee 16 to 7, is changing the definition of a "Too Big to Fail" institution from having $50 billion in assets to having $250 billion in assets. This quintupling of the size limit would mean a number of huge companies would now enjoy relaxed capital requirements and other benefits. Only about 10 companies would be left to face the more stringent rules.

This moves us in the opposite direction of the most urgently needed kind of Wall Street reform. De-concentrating financial power (and the systemic risk associated with such concentration) would be the best guarantee that we never have a repeat of 2008, in which all the biggest depository banks put the entire financial system at danger by acting like giant hedge funds.

Reform advocates have long sought to make banks smaller, and also to make sure financial companies keep depository banking and gambling activities separate. The bill proposed would represent a step back on both fronts.

Although the bill is opposed by powerful Senators like Elizabeth Warren, other influential Democrats co-sponsored it, including Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

"This bill increases the risk of another taxpayer bailout, and I will continue to challenge supporters of this bill - from both parties - to explain why they stand on the side of big banks instead of working families," said Warren.

All in all, this whole period has been a classic example of how congress operates. The parties fight publicly about something that's either irrelevant, inaccurate, or far from a resolution.

Meanwhile, a quiet consensus pushes forward a handful of unsexy but important bills and amendments, usually economic or deregulatory in nature. Those issues tend to be the ones that demand, but rarely get, the most attention.
(c) 2018 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.

CEO and founder of, Jeff Bezos

Who Really Pays For Corporate Subsidies?
By Jim Hightower

The hustlers claim that job incentives are a sound investment of our tax dollars, because those new jobs create new taxpayers, meaning investments soon pay for themselves. Hmmm ... not quite. In fact, not even close.

Last year, Good Jobs First tracked the 386 incentive deals since 1976 that gave at least $50 million to a corporation, and then it tallied the number of jobs created. The average cost per job was $658,427. Each! That's likely far more than cities and states can recover through sales, property, income and all other taxes those jobholders would pay in their lifetimes. Worse, the rise of megadeals in the past 10 years has made the job-incentive argument mega-ridiculous: -- New York gave a $258-million subsidy to Yahoo and got 125 jobs -- costing taxpayers $2 million per job.

-- Oregon awarded $2 billion to Nike and got 500 jobs -- $4 million per job.

-- North Carolina shelled out $321 million to Apple and got 50 jobs -- $6.4 million per job.

-- Louisiana handed $234 million to Valero Energy and got 15 jobs -- $15.6 million per job.

The rosy jobs-creation claims by incentive boosters also tend to be bogus, for they don't subtract the number of jobs lost as a result of these deals. Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO, for example, has leaned on officials in every major metro area to subsidize its creation of a nationwide network of warehouses, data centers, and other facilities. This web forms Amazon's all-encompassing business structure, giving it the reach to achieve near monopoly power in industry after industry. In its 2016 report Amazon's Stranglehold, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that more than half of Amazon's facilities had been built with government subsidies. The "Amazon Tracker," a continuously updated web page produced by Good Jobs First, reports that since 2005, the retailer has been showered with $1.1 billion in local and state subsidies to build their private business.

Each of those taxpayer handouts (given to the world's third-largest retailer) was made in the name of local workers. And, yes, the Amazon warehouses do employ thousands, but their subsidized network enables the giant to undercut local competitors, causing devastating job losses that greatly outnumber jobs gained. The ILSR report notes that at the end of 2015 Bezos did indeed employ 146,000 people in his US operations, but -- ooops -- they calculated that his taxpayer-supported behemoth had meanwhile eliminated some 295,000 US retail jobs.

Plus, there's an ugly blotch on Amazon's ballyhooed job-creation numbers: Working conditions in those sprawling, windowless warehouses are grim, and 40 percent of the employees are low-wage, temporary hires with no benefits and no job security. While warehouse wages everywhere are low, an ILSR survey documented that Amazon's average 15 percent lower than what other corporations pay.

Almost every city/state giveaway program ignores smaller and locally owned businesses (which really do create jobs), and instead tries to land brand name corporations with blockbuster deals. This emphasis -- subsidizing big outfits to come from afar to compete unfairly against local, unsubsidized firms -- is spreading an epidemic of vacant storefronts across America. It's also altering the very essence of our communities. Rather than each having its own diverse, unique commercial character, our towns are being transformed into corporatized, homogenized versions of Everywhere, USA.

Beyond local business, our larger society also pays a substantial cost for these subsidies. Most of the deals woo the giants by granting 10-year, 20-year, or even longer exemptions from paying property taxes -- the chief source of funding for local schools, roads, fire departments, water systems, parks and other essential public services. To cover the loss of revenue, school districts, cities and counties respond both by cutting services and by hiking the property taxes of homeowners, renters, and hometown businesses. As a result, the community gets more inequality, gentrification, homelessness, and divisiveness. The corporate favor-seekers, however, fail to see (or care about) the connection between this result and their grab for the public's money.

Institute for Local Self Reliance is an excellent resource on how to support all things local.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock talks with reporters on July 18, 2017.

A Governor Renews Net Neutrality Protections With The Stroke Of A Pen
Montana's Steve Bullock comes up with simple step states can take to preserve Internet freedoms.
By John Nichols

When President Trump's Federal Communications Commission eliminated net neutrality protections in December, members of Congress took up the arduous task of building bipartisan coalitions to support restoration of what is understood as "The First Amendment of the Internet." Legal teams scrambled to file challenges in the courts. Activists began organizing nationwide to insure that the struggle for a free and open Internet would be a 2018 election issue.

And, in Montana, Governor Steve Bullock picked up a pen. On January 22, the Democratic governor signed an executive order requiring Internet service providers that operate in the state to embrace net neutrality principles in order to obtain lucrative state government contracts. "This is a simple step states can take to preserve and protect net neutrality," says the Montanan, who is the first governor to employ an executive order as a tool to renew net neutrality standards."We can't wait for folks in Washington, DC, to come to their senses and reinstate these rules."

Bullock, a former state attorney general who knows the law and who well understands the threat that scrapping net neutrality poses for rural regions, small towns and small cities across America, borrowed language from the FCC commissioners to make a case for his action. "When the FCC repealed its net neutrality rules, it said consumers should choose," he explained. "The state of Montana is one of the biggest consumers of internet services in our state. Today we're making our choice clear: we want net neutrality. It's good government, and our citizens who use online services rely on it."

Bullock's move represents a tech-savvy response to the challenge that was created when the FCC rejected appeals from consumer groups, civil rights organizations and democracy advocates who campaigned to "Save the Internet" by preserving net neutrality. As the governor's office explains: "The order directs that to receive a contract from the State of Montana for providing telecommunications services, the service provider must not block lawful content, throttle, impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, engage in paid prioritization, or unreasonably interfere or disadvantage the users' ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service."

Bullock, whose order goes into effect July 1, is urging other governors to join him in pushing back against the FCC. "To every governor and every legislator in every statehouse across the country, and to every small business and every Fortune 500 company that wants a free and open internet when they buy services," he announced after signing the Montana order. "I will personally email this to you." That's a serious offer. Bullock even tweeted a link to a model order, announcing that:

The governor will find plenty of takers. Since the FCC's 3-2 vote in December, legislators across the country have proposed bills, state attorneys general have stepped up and governors (and gubernatorial candidates) have been discussing interventions at the state level to restore net neutrality. Local officials have also expressed an interest in using their own tools, including municipal broadband systems, to maintain a free and open Internet.

That's got the telecommunications giants and their lobbyists grumbling about the challenge of dealing with different rules in different states. But they already have to navigate national, state and local rules and regulations regarding cable and phone service, so the argument is a weak one. Besides, if a lack of uniformity is such a problem, the telecoms could do what the people want: guarantee net neutrality nationwide. That popular move might even prove to be good for business.

Unfortunately, the telecoms are notoriously shortsighted-and litigious. As such, it's likely that there will be legal wrangling over the Montana order. Bullock and his team think they have gotten around FCC attempts to prevent state action by creating a requirement for companies that seek to contract with the state - rather than simply ordering restoration of net neutrality.

Montana's governor thinks he is on the right side of the law, and on the right side of the future. He signed his order surrounded by computer science students at his old high school in Helena. "The loss of internet neutrality principles threatens the future of the students standing in this very room," Bullock told the students.

The governor's right about that, just as he is right to act boldly on behalf of the free and open Internet that Montanans and people across the country are demanding.
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Are Vampires Stealing Your Energy?
By James Donahue

We all live among the energy vampires but few of us know it, unless we happen to be living among a nest of them. My wife and I found ourselves getting drained of energy when we lived for a time in one specific community. That was when we learned not only that such people exist, but we found a way to shield ourselves against their daily assaults.

Let me explain.

People who drain your energy are not evil. They don't look like the Hollywood stereotype vampire, they don't drain our blood and they don't prowl at night. They could be a friendly neighbor or president of the local school board. What they do . . . and sometimes they may not even realize they are doing it . . . is that they have a strange way of sucking away our energy when we get too close. I believe some of them do it on purpose.

We all know that strange feeling of returning home from a large gathering of people and feeling so tired that we just want to collapse for a while and take a nap. Or we might come home with a severe headache. During my years working as a news reporter I found that after working among large crowds I often returned home with these symptoms.

It was not until the problem hit us hard, while living with a community of vampires, that my wife and I recognized what was happening and found a way to deal with it. It all involves mental warfare. The vampires are mentally attacking us and we just need to know how to recognize what they are doing and put up our guard.

The best defense is to simply ground ourselves daily before leaving the home. Continue to do it throughout the day before coming in contact with others.

Grounding is also a mental exercise. To do this you imagine yourself mentally traveling from the head and dropping down through the body, through your feet and into the Earth below, then continuing on to the very core of the planet. It only takes a few moments to do this mental exercise, but it seems to work. At least it did for us.

Dr. Olaf Kruse

You might think this is all hokey-pokey and that James Donahue has lost his marbles to be writing such a strange article. But believe it or not, our findings have recently been backed up by real science. Dr. Olaf Kruse, a biologist at Bielefeld University in Germany, has just published research showing that plants draw energy from each other to survive. He believes people do this too.

The findings of the Kruse study appeared in Nature Communications Journal online. He and his team found that a green alga within the plants not only engages in photosynthesis, but draws a form of energy from neighboring plants to help acquire calories from food, minerals from water, and carbon dioxide to survive and grow.

In his report, Kruse suggests strongly that because plants do this, there is strong evidence that humans also absorb energy from one another in a similar way.

"This is the first time that such a behavior has been confirmed in a vegetable organism," Kruse stated. "That algae can digest cellulose contradicts every previous textbook. To a certain extent, what we are seeing is plants eating plants."

He then compared the behavior to human beings. "This is exactly why there are certain people who feel uncomfortable in specific group settings where there is a mix of energy and emotions. When energy studies become more advanced in the coming years, we will eventually see this translated to human beings as well. The human organism is very much like a plant, it draws needed energy to feed emotional states and this can essentially energize cells or cause increases in cortisol and catabolize cells depending on the emotional trigger.

"Human can absorb and heal through other humans, animals, and any part of nature. That's why being around nature is often uplifting and energizing for so many people," he concluded.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Frankly, you could stand to be more petrified of your own base - especially since the
political left is having itself a moment unlike anything we've seen in almost 50 years.

Dear Democrats, You Just Don't Have a Clue, Do You?
You often seem terrified of alienating voters who do not embrace you, while discounting those - such as immigrants, African Americans, LGBTQ and, yes, progressive whites - who do.
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Dear Democrats:

That was no government shutdown. It was a long weekend. It was a snow day.

Don't get me wrong. I am no fan of shuttering the federal government as a tactic of political negotiation. In the first place, it inflicts hardship on the people you're sworn to serve. In the second place, it confirms the U.S. Capitol building as the world's most majestic day care center.

Shutting down the government is almost always the wrong thing to do. But as my pastor likes to say, if you're going to do wrong, at least do wrong right.

You, on the other hand, did wrong wrong, making yourselves look feckless, spineless and brainless in the process. You'd said you would not vote to fund the government until the GOP acted to save young immigrants brought illegally to this country as children - DREAMers - from deportation. Three days later, you folded like a baby stroller, accepting a deal in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed only his "intention" to take up the legislation you want.

Repeating for emphasis: his "intention."

So suddenly, we're supposed to buy that McConnell - the same McConnell who brazenly stole a Supreme Court seat from you - is a stand-up guy? Meantime, you're out there trying to pass off this lump of congealed chicken fat as the Hope Diamond.

As in Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz insisting that because of the shutdown, you won "the potential for momentum." CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin nearly sprained her jaw keeping a straight face.

Who can blame her? After all, the truth is closer to what GOP Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina told Politico: "We gave them nothing." For that matter, it's even closer to what Denzel Washington said in "Malcolm X:" "You been had! You been took! You been hoodwinked!"

Say what you will about them, but if you woke the average GOP lawmaker up at 2 a.m. and asked what he believes, he would spout, as if on a recorded loop, the anti-tax, anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, anti-black, anti-abortion creed so attractive to the mostly white, predominantly older and disproportionately male slice of the electorate that votes for them.

Could you do that? I think not.

Someone said on Twitter the other day that the Republicans are petrified of their base - and you are, too. There's painful truth in that. Indeed, the Washington Post reported that you folded because you feared alienating voters in "conservative, largely white battleground states." You often seem terrified of alienating voters who do not embrace you, while discounting those - such as immigrants, African Americans, LGBTQ and, yes, progressive whites - who do.

Got to dance with the one who brung ya, the saying goes. Yet you often seem intent on dancing with anyone but.

Frankly, you could stand to be more petrified of your own base - especially since the political left is having itself a moment unlike anything we've seen in almost 50 years. People are marching and raising money. Upstarts are running for office. The left is galvanized by a fierce new energy.

A few years ago, the far right rode a wave just like this - i.e., the tea party - into power. The GOP establishment never saw it coming. Will you?

I'm no political strategist, so I will not offer strategic advice. But I will note that strategy becomes easier once you settle in your own mind who you are, what you believe and what, exactly, you will fight for. Millions of us wonder.

Get back to us when you know.
(c) 2018 Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of the novel, Before I Forget. His column runs every Sunday and Wednesday in the Miami Herald. Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns, was published in 2009.

They Want Mass Deportation, That's All There Is To It
By Heather Digby Parton

In May of last year, President Donald Trump said "our country needs a shutdown." Over the weekend he got his wish. After a tumultuous couple of weeks in which the president said he would agree to a clean DACA bill "of love" and then ranted about not wanting any more immigration from "shithole" countries, the Republican House majority voted for a stopgap spending measure to keep the government funded. But the Republican Senate couldn't muster more than 51 votes and it needed 60.

As I write this, all non-essential government services are closed and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising a vote on DACA if Democrats agree to a stopgap measure lasting until Feb. 8. He has scheduled a vote for noon on Monday. Of course they've been kicking this can down the road for months. McConnell promised the same thing in December and never delivered the DACA vote, but maybe he really means it this time.

The sticking points are a fix for DACA recipients, enhanced border security including the Trumpian border wall, newly introduced draconian restrictions on legal immigration and funding for the Childrens' Health Insurance Program. The DACA issue and the CHIP program basically involve young people and sick children being held as hostages by Republicans to get their extreme immigration policies enacted.

The best description of what the negotiations have been like over the past three days came from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a speech on Saturday when he said working with Trump was "like negotiating with Jell-O." He said Democrats had capitulated on the wall and in return Trump told him he would push for a measure to keep the government open for four or five days so they could hammer out the details. Then:

"Several hours later he called back. He said, 'So, I hear we have a three-week deal.' I said, 'No, Mr. President, no one is even talking about a three-week deal,'" Schumer recounted.

"Then a few hours later they called back again, 'Well we're going to need this, this, this in addition,'" Schumer said. "Things they knew were far, far right and off the table."

Basically, every time the parties reach an actual agreement, the right-wingers demand more.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who foolishly believed he had seduced the president into adopting a moderate stance on the issue, was more or less with Schumer on the character of the negotiations. Graham said on Sunday, "As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we're going nowhere. He's been an outlier for years."

The malevolent Miller, a White House policy adviser, may be an outlier but he's been a pretty successful one. He and his former boss Jeff Sessions (then in the Senate), along with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were responsible for the failure of the last big push for comprehensive immigration reform back in 2013. Miller seems to be good at currying favor with his xenophobic bosses.

Sessions himself worked tirelessly to ensure the DREAM Act was never passed, which was why DACA was required in the first place. Back in 2010 Sessions made the case that young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents and were in all respects but paperwork American citizens should be sent back to countries many could not remember. He called the DREAM Act "amnesty" for uneducated, unproductive criminal welfare recipients and said it would cost "hard-working Americans" vast sums of money. That was, of course, a lie, but Sessions managed to get the votes to scuttle the bill.

Trump made that man his attorney general. Immigration is the issue most closely associated with Trump's campaign. His closest advisers on the issue, from Steve Bannon to Miller to chief of staff John Kelly, are hardcore anti-immigration zealots. The president himself blew up the negotiations over the notion that people from "shithole" countries were coming into the United States legally. Why, if we didn't know better you'd think they don't really want a deal at all.

The GOP revealed its true strategy over the weekend with this repugnant message:

The White House tried to distance the president from the ad but the fact that it concludes with the words "I'm Donald Trump and I approve this message," disproves that claim. Trump also tweeted several times that the Democrats have shut down the government because they care more about "illegal immigrants" more than they care about the American people. His secretary of homeland security backed him up:

Benefits for millions of illegal immigrants instead of paying Americans who put their lives at risk daily to protect ours? I don't think so. Most Americans don't either. Fund the government and then negotiate. #endtheshutdown - Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) January 21, 2018
Characterizing this issue as one of conferring "benefits" on "illegal immigrants" is code for the dreaded "amnesty," which leads directly to the racist trope that they are all on welfare. The administration is now consciously demagoguing against DACA recipients by conflating them with criminals.

Yes, the polls all say that there is a bipartisan majority in favor of helping the Dreamers. Even many Republican voters aren't so heartless that they think it makes sense to deport 800,000 young people simply because their parents broke the immigration laws when they were small children. Everyone knows that it's the Democrats who are trying to help them. That would explain why party officials and the White House are purposefully conflating Dreamers with criminal gang members in that ad. They have to keep their voters confused and angry.

It's obvious from the Keystone Kops nature of the so-called negotiations that Trump isn't strategizing. His racist id and his desire to get a "win" are being pulled in opposite directions, depending on whom he listens to at any given time. His lack of understanding of the issue or how laws are actually made makes him a hindrance to deal making. But we know what Trump wants. He's said it many times during debates and on the stump during the campaign:

We either have a country, or we don't have a country. We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out. Some will come back, the best, through a process. They have to come back legally. They have to come back through a process, and it may not be a very quick process, but I think that's very fair, and very fine.
Yes, he's hedged on the Dreamers from time to time. But seriously, all you have to do is look at his rhetoric from the moment he announced his candidacy to understand what he really, deep down, wants to do. It was the central promise of his presidential campaign from day one.

So yes, I think it's probably true that as president he's being manipulated in the negotiations by the odious Stephen Miller and probably by Kelly and Sessions too. They know what buttons he really likes pushed. And some ambitious Republican hardliners like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and members of the ever-cunning House Freedom Caucus are riding the Trump zeitgeist as well.

But let's not pretend it's all Trump and his courtiers. The Republican majority in Congress has been playing Russian roulette with the Dreamers for years now. They have blocked every single solution to the problem, and it's irrational at this point to believe they are acting in good faith.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Support The New Poor People's Campaign
By David Swanson

The new poor people's campaign should get every ounce of support we can find and generate. I say that without the qualifications and caveats I would usually include, because the Poor People's Campaign is doing something that may not be strictly unprecedented in U.S. history but is certainly extremely rare in recent decades. It's pursuing a worthy noble goal, that of ending poverty, while making ending war a central part of its vision, and doing so voluntarily.

Of course this makes sense given the heritage of Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for the world.

Of course it makes sense given the major economic drain that military spending is, the preying of recruiters on the poor, the environmental injustice of military base pollution in poor neighborhoods, the militarization of police by the military in poor neighborhoods, the culture of violence that the military promotes, the culture of racism that war propaganda fuels and feeds off, and the incredible wonders that could be done if military money was diverted toward good ends.

Yet, typically, when there's a multi-issue or other-issue coalition or mass effort put together in the United States, it takes a full-court-press of private and public lobbying, badgering, and shaming to get the organizers to slip the word peace in somewhere on page 38, or to allow a peace contingent to march at the back of the parade. It's easy to miss, but I think we ought to recognize, the significance of the Poor People's Campaign taking on war front-and-center and unasked. I might overlook it more than others because of the religious focus of this campaign. I'm not religious and am convinced we'd be better off without religion. But we're very obviously better off with these religious activists.

These are the new poor people's campaign's principles:

We are rooted in a moral analysis based on our deepest religious and constitutional values that demand justice for all. Moral revival is necessary to save the heart and soul of our democracy.

We are committed to lifting up and deepening the leadership of those most affected by systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation and to building unity across lines of division.

We believe in the dismantling of unjust criminalization systems that exploit poor communities and communities of color and the transformation of the "War Economy" into a "Peace Economy" that values all humanity.

We believe that equal protection under the law is non-negotiable.

We believe that people should not live in or die from poverty in the richest nation ever to exist. Blaming the poor and claiming that the United States does not have an abundance of resources to overcome poverty are false narratives used to perpetuate economic exploitation, exclusion, and deep inequality.

We recognize the centrality of systemic racism in maintaining economic oppression must be named, detailed and exposed empirically, morally and spiritually. Poverty and economic equality cannot be understood apart from a society built on white supremacy.

We aim to shift the distorted moral narrative often promoted by religious extremists in the nation from personal issues like prayer in school, abortion, sexuality, gun rights, property rights to systemic injustices like how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations.

We will build up the power of people and state-based movements to serve as a vehicle for a powerful moral movement in the country and to transform the political, economic and moral structures of our society.

We recognize the need to organize at the state and local level-many of the most regressive policies are being passed at the state level, and these policies will have long and lasting effect, past even executive orders. The movement is not from above but below.

We will do our work in a non-partisan way-no elected officials or candidates get the stage or serve on the State Organizing Committee of the Campaign. This is not about left and right, Democrat or Republican but about right and wrong.

We uphold the need to do a season of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to break through the tweets and shift the moral narrative. We are demonstrating the power of people coming together across issues and geography and putting our bodies on the line to the issues that are affecting us all.

The Campaign and all its Participants and Endorsers embrace nonviolence. Violent tactics or actions will not be tolerated.

I've bolded that last sentence because of its importance and rarity, even if it seems separable from the agenda of ending war. I think it's intimately connected.

This excellent set of principles debunks the notion that the poor are too busy struggling for food and shelter to care about something as abstract as foreign policy. These principles recognize that the war economy requires those impacted by it to care. Yet, it's not just selfish caring. What is to be valued, it says above, is all humanity. Peace activists sometimes ask to "bring our war dollars home." Not only is that a selfish idea. It's also an idea that depends on one's not really grasping how much money war dollars is. Over $1 trillion in the U.S. alone every year for militarism is enough to transform this country AND all the other countries. We do not have to choose.

At World Beyond War we maintain that one of the key reasons to end war is that war impoverishes us:

Direct Expenses:

War has a huge direct financial cost, the vast majority of which is in funds spent on the preparation for war - or what's thought of as ordinary, non-war military spending. Very roughly, the world spends $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. This U.S. spending also accounts for roughly half of the U.S. government's discretionary budget each year and is distributed through several departments and agencies. Much of the rest of world spending is by members of NATO and other allies of the United States, although China ranks second in the world.

Not every well-known measure of military spending accurately conveys the reality. For example, the Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks the United States near the peaceful end of the scale on the factor of military spending. It accomplishes this feat through two tricks. First, the GPI lumps the majority of the world's nations all the way at the extreme peaceful end of the spectrum rather than distributing them evenly.

Second, the GPI treats military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) or the size of an economy. This suggests that a rich country with a huge military can be more peaceful than a poor country with a small military. This is not just an academic question, as think tanks in Washington urge spending a higher percentage of GDP on the military, exactly as if one should invest more in warfare whenever possible, without waiting for a supposed defensive need.

In contrast to the GPI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) lists the United States as the top military spender in the world, measured in dollars spent. In fact, according to SIPRI, the United States spends as much on war and war preparation as most of the rest of the world combined. The truth may be more dramatic still. SIPRI says U.S. military spending in 2011 was $711 billion. Chris Hellman of the National Priorities Project says it was $1,200 billion, or $1.2 trillion. The difference comes from including military spending found in every department of the government, not just "Defense," but also Homeland Security, State, Energy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Veterans Administration, interest on war debts, etc. There's no way to do an apples-to-apples comparison to other nations without accurate credible information on each nation's total military spending, but it is extremely safe to assume that no other nation on earth is spending $500 billion more than is listed for it in the SIPRI rankings.

While North Korea almost certainly spends a much higher percentage of its gross domestic product on war preparations than the United States does, it almost certainly spends less than 1 percent what the United States spends.

Indirect Expenses:

Wars can cost even an aggressor nation that fights wars far from its shores twice as much in indirect expenses as in direct expenditures. Economists calculate the U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan have cost, not the $2 trillion spent by the U.S. government, but a total of $6 trillion when indirect expenses are considered, including future care of veterans, interest on debt, impact on fuel costs, lost opportunities, etc. This doesn't include the much greater cost of the increased base military spending that accompanied those wars, or the indirect costs of that spending, or the environmental damage.

The costs to the aggressor, enormous as they are, can be small in comparison to those of the nation attacked. For example, Iraq's society and infrastructure have been destroyed. There is extensive environmental damage, a refugee crisis, and violence lasting well beyond the war. The financial costs of all the buildings and institutions and homes and schools and hospitals and energy systems destroyed is almost immeasurable.

War Spending Drains an Economy:

It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs - with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.

Recent cuts in certain areas to the U.S. military have not produced the economic damage forecast by the weapons companies.

So, in the short term, military spending is worse than nothing economically. In the long term it may be even worse. Military spending does not produce anything of use to people but depletes people's supply of useful goods.

War Spending Increases Inequality:

Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved. As a result, war spending works to concentrate wealth in a small number of hands, from which a portion of it can be used to corrupt government and further increase or maintain military spending.

War Spending Is Unsustainable, As Is Exploitation it Facilitates:

While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? Not in a manner that can be sustained. The leading war-making nation in the world, the United States, has 5% of the world's population but consumes a quarter to a third of various natural resources. That exploitation would be unfair and undesirable even if sustainable. The fact is that this consumption of resources cannot be sustained. The resources are nonrenewable, and their consumption will ruin the earth's climate and ecosystems before supplies are exhausted. Fortunately, greater consumption and destruction does not always equal a superior standard of living. The benefits of peace and international cooperation would be felt even by those learning to consume less. The benefits of local production and sustainable living are immeasurable. And one of the largest ways in which wealthy nations consume the most destructive resources, such as oil, is through the very waging of the wars, not just through a lifestyle supposedly permitted by the wars. What's needed is greater ability to imagine a shift in spending priorities. Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates' wildest fantasies if the funds now invested in war were transferred there. World Beyond War also argues that humanity and the world need $2 trillion a year for better things than war:

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. That sounds like a lot of money to you or me. But if we had $2 trillion it wouldn't. And we do.

It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. Again, that sounds like a lot. Let's round up to $50 billion per year to provide the world with both food and water. Who has that kind of money? We do.

Of course, we in the wealthier parts of the world don't share the money, even among ourselves. Those in need of aid are right here as well as far away.

But imagine if one of the wealthy nations, the United States for example, were to put $500 billion into its own education (meaning "college debt" can begin the process of coming to sound as backward as "human sacrifice"), housing (meaning no more people without homes), infrastructure, and sustainable green energy and agricultural practices. What if, instead of leading the destruction of the natural environment, this country were catching up and helping to lead in the other direction?

(Note that education, like healthcare, is an area where the U.S. government already spends more than enough to make it free but spends it corruptly.)

The potential of green energy would suddenly skyrocket with that sort of unimaginable investment, and the same investment again, year after year. But where would the money come from? $500 billion? Well, if $1 trillion fell from the sky on an annual basis, half of it would still be left. After $50 billion to provide the world with food and water, what if another $450 billion went into providing the world with green energy and infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, programs of cultural exchange, and the study of peace and of nonviolent action?

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion - never mind $523 billion! - would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, but only if one other factor were added - only if the $1 trillion came from where it really ought to come from.

Ceasing to fund militarism would save a great many lives and halt the counterproductive work of antagonizing the world and generating enemies. But moving even a fraction of that money into useful places would save many times that number of lives and begin generating friendship instead of animosity.

Now, most people in the United States, and many people in a lot of wealthy nations find themselves to be struggling. How can they think about a massive rescue plan for the rest of the world? They shouldn't. They should think about a massive rescue plan for the entire world, including their own corner of it. The United States could end poverty at home and transition to sustainable practices while going great distances toward helping the world do the same, and have money left over. The climate doesn't belong to one part of the earth. We're all in this leaky little boat together. But $1 trillion a year is a truly mammoth amount of money. It's $10 billion 100 times. Very few things are funded with $10 billion, almost nothing with $100 billion. A whole new world opens up if military funding stops. Options include tax cuts for working people and a shift in power to state and local levels. Regardless of the approach, the economy benefits from the removal of military spending. The same spending in other areas, even in tax cuts for working people, creates more jobs and better paying jobs. And there's enough savings to make sure that every worker who needs it is retrained and assisted in making a transition. And then the $1 trillion doubles to $2 trillion if the rest of the world demilitarizes as well.

It sounds like a dream, and surely it must be a dream. Don't we need military spending to protect ourselves and police the planet? We do not. We have other means of protection. The militarism is making us less safe. And the rest of the planet is screaming at the top of its lungs that it would like to cease being policed by a self-appointed and not truly international police force that does more damage than it claims to prevent and leaves ruined nations in its wake after each effort of supposed nation building.

Why do other wealthy nations not find it necessary to spend even 10% of what the United States spends on so-called defense? Well, most of their military spending, like most U.S. military spending serves no defensive purpose. Even if one still believed in military defense, defense means a coast guard and border patrol, anti-aircraft weapons, tools for fighting off a feared invasion, the fear of which would diminish rapidly if nations moved toward departments of actual defense. Weapons in the seas and skies of the world and outerspace are not defensive. Troops permanently stationed in the majority of the world's nations, as U.S. troops are, is not defensive. It's preemptive. It's part of the same logic that leads to aggressive wars aimed at removing possible future threats, real or imaginary.

One need not believe even in the necessity of a scaled back, truly defensive military. Studies of the past century have found that nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression. If one nation were to attack another in a demilitarized world, these things should happen: the people of the attacking nation should refuse to take part, the people of the attacked nation should refuse to recognize an invader's authority, people of the world should go to the attacked nation as peace workers and human shields, images and facts of the attack should be made visible everywhere, governments of the world should sanction the government responsible but not its people, those responsible should be tried in international court, and disputes should be brought to international arbitration.

Because war and war preparation is not needed to protect us and is widely acknowledged to generate hostility, thus making us less safe, we can list all of its consequences on the same side of a cost-benefit analysis. There are no benefits that could not be better created without war. The costs are extensive: the killing of large numbers of men, women, and children in what have become very one-sided slaughters, the remaining violence that lasts for years to come, the destruction of the natural environment that can last for millennia, the erosion of civil liberties, the corruption of government, the example of violence taken up by others, the concentration of wealth, the wasting each and every year of $2 trillion.

Here's a dirty little secret: war can be abolished. When dueling was abolished, people didn't keep defensive dueling. Ending war entirely means ending defensive war. But nothing is lost in that bargain, as stronger tools than war have been developed for defensive needs during the 70 years since the last war that many like to claim proves war's capacity for goodness and justness. Isn't it odd that people have to skip back over so many dozens of wars to a radically different epoch to find what they think of as a legitimate example of what has been our top public investment ever since? But this is a different world from the world of World War II. No matter what you make of the decades of decisions that created that crisis, we face very different crises today, we're not likely to face that same type of crisis - especially if we invest in preventing it - and we do we have different tools with which to handle it.

War is not needed in order to maintain our lifestyle, as the saying goes. And wouldn't that be reprehensible if it were true? We imagine that for 5 percent of humanity to go on using 30 percent of the world's resources we need war or the threat of war. But the earth has no shortage of sunlight or wind. Our lifestyles can be improved with less destruction and less consumption. Our energy needs must be met in sustainable ways, or we will destroy ourselves, with or without war. That's what's meant by unsustainable. So, why continue an institution of mass killing in order to prolong the use of exploitative behaviors that will ruin the earth if war doesn't do it first? Why risk the proliferation of nuclear and other catastrophic weapons in order to continue catastrophic impacts on the earth's climate and ecosystems? The fact is that if we are going to adequately address climate change and environmental collapse, we are going to need that $2 trillion that the world invests in war.

War is not a tool for bettering the world. War costs the aggressor nation severely, but those costs are as nothing compared to the damage inflicted on the attacked. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia have suffered, and will go on suffering severely from recent U.S. wars. These wars take large numbers of lives, almost all of them on one side, almost all of them the lives of people who did nothing to the nations attacking them. But, while war costs a great many lives, many times that number of lives could be saved by redirecting a fraction of the enormous pile of money spent on war. For far less than war and war preparation cost us, we could transform our lives at home, and make our country the most beloved on earth by providing aid to others. For what it has cost to wage the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, we could have provided the world with clean water, ended starvation, built countless schools, and created green energy sources and sustainable agriculture practices in much of the globe, including our own homes. What protection would the United States need from a world to which it had given schools and solar energy? And what would the United States choose to do with all of the money left over? Isn't THAT an exciting problem to be faced with?

Do we need war to prevent something worse? There isn't something worse. Wars are not effective tools for preventing larger wars. Wars are not effective at preventing genocides. Rwanda needed a history with less war, and it needed police, it did not need bombs. Nor are those killed by a foreign government any less tragically killed than those killed by their own government. War is the worst thing we've invented. We don't speak of good slavery or just rape or humanitarian child abuse. War is in that category of things that are always evil.

Aren't we stuck with war because we're humans? There are few things we say that about. Not slavery, not blood feuds, not dueling, not waterboarding, not sweatshops, not the death penalty, not nuclear weapons, not child abuse, not cancer, not hunger, not the filibuster or the senate or the electoral college or fundraising phone calls at dinner time. Almost nothing that we dislike do we claim to be permanently stuck with against our will. How many major institutions requiring great funding and the coordinated efforts of huge numbers of people can you think of that we claim to be stuck with forever against our will? Why war?

If we were to create a new institution that required a global investment of some $2 trillion a year, about $1 trillion of that from the United States alone, and if this institution hurt us economically, if it damaged our natural environment severely, if it stripped us of our civil liberties, if it funneled our hard-earned wealth into the hands of a small-number of corrupt profiteers, if it could only function through the participation of large numbers of young people the majority of whom would suffer physically or mentally and who would be made significantly more likely to commit suicide, if merely recruiting these young people and persuading them to take part in our new institution cost us more than it would to provide them with college educations, if this new institution made self-government more difficult, if it made our nation feared and hated abroad, and if its primary function was to kill large numbers of innocent children and grandparents and people of all ages, I can think of a lot of comments we might hear in response to our creation of this marvelous new institution. One of them is not "Gee it's too bad we're stuck with this monstrosity forever." Why in the world would we be stuck with it? We made it. We could unmake it.

Ah, someone might say, but a new creation is different from an institution that has always been with us and always will be. No doubt that's true, but war is actually a new creation. Our species goes back 100,000 to 200,000 years. War goes back only 12,000. And during these 12,000 years, war has been sporadic. Most societies at most times have done without it. "There's always been a war somewhere," people say. Well, there's always not been a war many somewheres. Cultures that have used war have later abandoned it. Others have picked it up. It has not followed resource shortages or population density or capitalism or communism. It has followed cultural acceptance of war. And people who have done without war have not suffered for its absence. There is not a single recorded case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder created by war deprivation. On the contrary, most people suffer severely from participation in war and must be carefully conditioned prior to taking part. Since war ceased to involve hand-to-hand combat, it has been as open to women as to men, and women have begun to take part; it would be just as possible for men to cease taking part.

At this moment the vast majority of people on earth are represented by governments that invest less in war and war preparation than the United States does - significantly less, measured absolutely or as a percentage of nations' economies. And some people are represented by governments that have not waged war in decades or centuries, some by governments that have literally put their military in a museum.

Of course, one might argue that the influence of the military industrial complex and its lobbyists and propagandists is invincible. But few would believe that. Why would something as new as the military industrial complex be permanent? Certainly ending war will require more than telling pollsters we want it ended. Certainly our governments are less than ideally responsive to public opinion. Certainly we are up against skilled people who will struggle to keep the cushy deal they've got. But popular activism has stood up to the war machine many times, including in rejecting proposed U.S. missile strikes on Syria in the summer of 2013. What can be stopped once can be stopped again and again and again and again forever, until the idea of it ceases to be thinkable. Watch:
(c) 2018 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.

There Are Some Things You Can't Shut Down
Inside the confines of the Capitol, our country is broken. Out on the National Mall, there's hope.
By Charles P. Pierce

WASHINGTON-One of the most remarkable-and, certainly one of the most benign-phenomena of this doomstruck political weekend here is the fact that, while the united states of stasis existed within the Capitol, there was a lot of activity out around the building and all the way down the National Mall, and it was bipartisan, and it was multi-ideological. There was an ad hoc rally on the Capitol lawn to support the DREAMers that drew a fairly impressive cast of political characters. There was the annual massive March For Life that clogged the wide boulevards with fresh-faced high-school kids in letter jackets, and an appearance via video from the president* of the United States. (How many of the assembled knew who Stormy Daniels was is best left to unfounded speculation.) And, on Saturday, in the eleventh hour of the government shutdown, the women's march took over on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, while various senators scurried around pretending that any solution is likely before next week.

(One of more underrated elements of why things aren't getting done is the fact that it's a weekend. Nothing will really begin to bite until Monday or Tuesday, when the furloughs of government workers really begin, and when the polling on the shutdown starts to spread the miseries generally

"One of the worst things," Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi told the crowd on Saturday, "is that they're hiding behind children." She was referring to the CHIP program, which was thrown into the House continuing resolution pretty much as a talking point against the possibility of the Democrats in the Senate doing what they did, which was to kill the CR by defeating a cloture motion on Friday night. Lost in all the parliamentary sturm und drang was how completely shabby that CR really is. For example, it funds the CHIP program, but it doesn't extend the federal benefits to community health centers, which means the poor kids will have insurance and no place to use it. (This, by the way, is probably why Jon Tester of Montana didn't join people like Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp in breaking party ranks. Those centers are vital to health-care in rural areas.)

The CR's other flaws were ably addressed by Robert Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, on the floor of the Senate, when he pointed out that there are a large number of issues pending before the Senate that would not be solved even if the CR passed. For example, there is the Butch Lewis Act, which has nothing at all to do with boxing but, rather, is a bill to protect private pensions from being looted by corporate sharpers. These include pensions earned over a lifetime of back-breaking work by...wait for it...coal miners.

"I heard from the Majority Leader that somehow these kinds of issues that are part of the larger debate are not urgent," Casey told the Senate. "He said the only urgent matter is the government-funding bill. I would agree that is urgent but I would also agree that if you are a retired coal miner or the family of a retired coal miner or a retired truck driver or if you are owed a pension of any kind for all the work you did in your life, your situation is urgent. It is not something we can put off and say, 'Well, why don't you wait for another six months? Wait for a couple more CR's and we will get to you later. The pension issue is as urgent as any other."

Going into the chamber on Saturday, Casey got off a Parthian shot at the president* who has been so absent throughout these proceedings. "He should get to work and take care of his coal miners," Casey said. "I'm going in there to take care of mine."

This basic gulf between the parties also accounts for why the Democrats have been so insistent on including a fix to the DACA problem despite the fact that it's fairly easy for the Republicans to sell that issue shallowly as irrelevant to the funding of the government. First of all, they don't trust this president* on immigration issues at all. Nor have they any good reason to do so. And they therefore look askance at any appeal to get to the DACA issue later. They see a very real possibility that, even if the White House doesn't renege altogether, the issue will get tangled up in a fight over the debt ceiling or god alone knows what else.

That's not even to mention that an estimated 122 DACA beneficiaries per week are losing their protected status right now. If you're one of those people, and you see the shadows that once enshrouded your entire life beginning to gather around it again, this is as urgent an issue as any other. It's a harder sell, but the people most directly involved in it are more than willing to try, and they've been haunting congressional offices for months to do so.

"Undocumented youth have said, 'Enough, we will not be put in the shadows, we will share our stories, we will come together, and we will win,'" said Garisa Martinez, a carpenter's daughter from Dallas who was brought here by her parents when she was an infant. She baby-sat to raise $100 for her application fee to college. "We don't do that by ourselves. We're going to need buddies and people who have our backs."

"They've gone so long without a secure foundation of where they belong," said Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon. "That stress is enormous. They've been growing up in our grade schools and our high schools, and contributing to our communities. For years, they've been coming to my town halls. They've been working to get this resolved for so long. It's time to do it and the only way to do it is to attach it to a bill that gets to the Oval Office. And the Department of Homeland Security has said they need a lot of time to set up rules and so forth, so if you want this resolved in March, you have to get it lined up now."

All day Saturday, they speechified in the Capitol, and they filtered through the hallways, talking about optimism they didn't share and deals on issues that the president* doesn't understand any better than he understands salads. Outside, and all over the country, people marched. That was the state of play with the government closed...perhaps for repairs, perhaps not.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"A free man is he who does not fear to go to the end of his thought."
~~~ Leon Blum ~ (1872-1950)

Women campaigning for their rights to legal abortions on March 19, 1980.

America Can Never Go Back To The Era Of Back-Alley Abortions
I lived in a world of back alley butchers and wrecked lives. We're not going back - not now, not ever.
By Elizabeth Warren

When I was a girl growing up in Oklahoma, women got abortions. But because those procedures were illegal, many of them ended up with back alley butchers. And we all heard the stories: women who bled to death or died from an infection.

One of my older brothers and I can argue left-right politics all day and all night, but when it comes to reproductive rights, we see it the same way: A woman should make this very personal decision - and the government should stay out of it.

We're in step with most of America. Nearly 70% of all Americans agree that a woman's reproductive decisions should stay between her and her doctor.

On the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I think about what has changed since abortions became legal. Our health care system has pretty much dealt with the safety issue: thanks to Roe v. Wade, abortion is now safer than getting your tonsils out. A lot of women are alive today because of Roe.

But Roe has had another enormous impact. Access to safe abortion services has changed the economic futures of millions of women.

As any parent knows, starting a family is a big commitment - in part because the decision to have children carries massive economic consequences. The totals are striking: middle-income parents with two kids will spend roughly $13,000 a year to raise a child from birth through age 17. But the cost of car seats and baby strollers is only the tip of the iceberg. Immediately after having children, women experience a measurable decline in take-home pay - a decline that continues throughout their lives and on into retirement.

For a young couple with modest wages and piles of student loan debt, the decision to start or expand a family is a powerful economic issue. For a woman working two jobs with two kids in day care, an unplanned birth can put her entire family at risk. For a student still in high school or working toward her college degree, an unexpected pregnancy can derail her most careful plans for financial independence.

This reality is not limited to American women. A recent analysis conducted across 14 countries found that "socioeconomic concerns" was one of the most commonly-cited reasons for terminating a pregnancy. From Ghana to Turkey, Belgium to Nepal, women reported getting abortions because of "financial problems," a "lack of money," or because they "can't afford a baby" or "leave [their job]" to take care of one. In the United States alone, 40% of women report seeking abortions because they aren't "financially prepared" to have a child.

That's why access to affordable reproductive health services is so important. Today, women pay an average of $480 to have an abortion during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and pay even more in the second trimester. As states erect more barriers to abortion, women are forced to travel farther, take more time off work and pay higher fees to terminate pregnancies. These financial barriers fall hardest on the three-fourths of abortion patients who are young and have little income.

Abortion rights are under threat across the country, as anti-choice politicians push for policies that restrict women's access to abortion services. And they have an ally in President Trump, who spent his first year in office relentlessly attacking women's reproductive rights. And it's not just abortion rights. Services that would help women prevent unplanned pregnancies, or care for children after having them, are at risk. Affordable health care, accessible contraceptives and other programs that support working women and families are on the line, too.

When making policy about women's bodies, government officials should trust the women whose lives and futures are on the line. Safety and economic security - that's what Roe v. Wade is still all about.

I lived in a world of back alley butchers and wrecked lives. We're not going back - not now, not ever.
(c) 2017 Elizabeth Warren is an US Senator representing Massachusetts.

Stephen Miller, Trump's adviser for policy, attends a meeting with Donald Trump and
congressional leadership in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on November 28,
2017, where Trump spoke on the intercontinental ballistic missile launch by North Korea.

How Trump's Base Inspired An International Racist Fiasco, Again
By William Rivers Pitt

"You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on." ~~~ George W. Bush ~ 25 March, 2001.

Stephen Miller, the administration's latest iteration of Official Screaming Person, flexed his White House muscles last week and made history in all the wrong ways. Everything that has gone down since "Shithole Thursday" -- the collapse of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) negotiations, the real threat of a government shutdown and an eruption of unvarnished racist invective from the president of the United States -- came about because Miller picked up the phone with one priority in mind: Play to the Trump base.

Unspooling this pluperfect fiasco takes some doing. A week ago Tuesday, Donald Trump staged a bit of theater by not being demonstrably incapacitated by incompetence for 90 whole minutes during a meeting with members of Congress on immigration. The White House felt such a performance was necessary after Trump went on Twitter and accused the leader of a volatile nuclear adversary of having a small penis. Editorial pages from sea to shining sea were dusting off the text of the 25th Amendment again, so a good showing with the Congress members was pretty much required.

During the entire Tuesday meeting, Trump was smiling, friendly and coherent. He was open to several legislative proposals offered by Democrats, including one for a clean DACA bill, to which he reacted enthusiastically -- said enthusiasm being later erased "accidentally" from the transcript of the event. The press loved it. That night, most news stations led their evening broadcasts with some permutation of, "Wow, the president didn't humiliate us all today!" It was strange because it wasn't a hot mess... and Stephen Miller hated it, for reasons beyond his own gaudy racism. A deal on the status of the Dreamers would be a quantum-level betrayal of Trump's still-hardcore base of political support. His current 33 percent approval is comparable to George W. Bush's 25 percent approval level near the end of his second godawful term. Those voters are The Last Patrol, the true bitter-enders, and if Trump loses them, well... it's the old joke. What do you call a leader with no followers? Just a guy taking a walk.

In order to save Trump from alienating his base by doing the right thing, Miller called in congressional reinforcements before a Thursday meeting Trump had planned with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and other members of Congress. Miller's back-up crew -- Freedom Caucusers like Representatives Bob Goodlatte and David Purdue along with hard-line Republican senators like Tom Cotton -- beat feet to the White House and swarmed Trump like maddened wasps before the Durbin meeting began. When they were finished, Tuesday's jovial huckster statesman was gone. The growling muddy-eyed dog was back, baring its yellowed teeth again.

Talk about a turnstile presidency. It has been widely whispered for a while now that Donald Trump often repeats the last thing he heard as if it were his own wisdom. This mess pretty much proves that out. "I'm all for a clean DACA bill." ("No you're not.") "NO I'M NOT."

My wife can verify that as I watched Calm Don at the Tuesday meeting. I pointed at the TV and said, "There's no way he's going to hold it together." He did... for about 48 hours.

The rest is shithole history, drafted by a shithole president who bragged afterward to his shithole friends that calling Haiti and all of Africa "shitholes" would play really well with his base. Shithole shithole shithole! This is journalism now; thanks again, Don. Watching the news anchors try to slither past the word last Thursday night was better than Cats. It's a good thing TV comes without spam filters, or we'd all be watching the test signal.

Negotiations over DACA and the Dreamers collapsed immediately after the Durbin meeting debacle, and now the threat of a federal government shutdown looms at close of business tomorrow. Congressional Democrats are under heavy pressure to staple DACA to any government spending bill, but are hesitant to deploy this oft-attempted Republican "hostage-taking" tactic themselves.

They just might do it, and God I hope they do, because the alternative is a shattering disaster. With families included, DACA covers more than a million people now caught in the middle of yet another xenophobic nationalist uprising, one more true American tradition. If the Dreamers are turned out, anyone who calls this a moral, Christian nation should be summarily ejected into space.

The rampant racist aspect, right there in the umbra of the MLK holiday (which Mike Pence celebrated by turning Roll-Tide crimson in his church pew on Sunday when the pastor denounced his boss), was further exacerbated when reports surfaced about Trump's backhanded reaction to legislative input from the Congressional Black Caucus. "You've got to be joking," he reportedly said. CNN's Jim Acosta opened his evening report that night by calling the president of the United States of America a racist while standing in front of the White House.

Then came the spin. The press office obviously couldn't deny Trump said it -- there were multiple witnesses, and the man bragged to his friends about it afterward -- so of course they tried to deny he said it. When that failed, they backpedaled to, "He didn't call Haiti a shithole country, only all of Africa," before trying out the "He-said-shithouse-not-shithole-so-ha!" defense. It didn't fly, so they were left with, "Well, those countries really are shitholes. The president was just telling the truth. He talks like 'regular people' think!" They went with that, because of course they did, because they thought it would play well with the base, again.

For the record: Haiti bears the burden of having shared the hemisphere with the United States during the Cold War. Every president from Eisenhower to Reagan lent US support to the murderous regimes of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, who used their Tonton Macoute militia to butcher and disappear tens of thousands of people while looting the country. Everything since -- the invasion, the coups -- has been political aftermath from the US's Cold War game of thrones with the USSR.

Also, Tropical Storm Jeanne killed 3,000 people in 2004. In 2008, Tropical Storm Fay along with Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike left 800,000 Haitians in need of humanitarian aid. In 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, killing an estimated 300,000 people and leaving another 1.6 million people homeless. Another 10,000 died after the quake in a massive cholera outbreak caused when a UN peacekeeping base accidentally poisoned Haiti's main river with cholera-infected wastewater. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew tore apart most of Haiti's remaining infrastructure and killed another 3,000 people. The storms of this last hurricane season only exacerbated the crisis further. Nearly a dozen major storms, one massive earthquake and a cholera epidemic in 14 years would undo any nation of similar size -- especially given the lack of sufficient support from its hemispheric neighbors, most emphatically the United States.

Haiti is a victim of bad luck, but mostly, it's a victim of deliberate policy. So was Ireland, once upon a time, when those who fled British oppression and the Potato Blight were the new scourge of these shores. Most of the immigrants who have come here over the generations were running for their lives from dire circumstances beyond their control. Such is the case today. With a rank racist in the White House, however, all bets are off. This regime tailors public policy and comment to please a dwindling cadre of white voters who still enthusiastically support Trump's pan-directional hate.

This, right here, is what happens when Trump's base is put in the driver's seat. Thanks to Stephen Miller's base-saving phone calls last week, a million innocent people may well have their lives brutally upended with no DACA deal in sight, the despised (by the base) federal government is again on the brink of shutting down and one-sixth of the planet stands racially insulted by a president who works so few hours a day that some think he could qualify for unemployment benefits.

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

The Dead Letter Office...

Steve gives the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear leitender berater fur politische 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 leading our war against the Dreamers, 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 03-17-2018. We salute you Herr Miller, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The GOP A Year After Trump
By Robert Reich

Shrink the deficit, defend states' rights, and be tough on Russia: These three principles once gave the GOP its identity and mission.

But after a year with the raving man-child who now occupies the White House, the GOP has taken a giant U-turn. Now, budget deficits are dandy, state's rights are obsolete, and Russian aggression is no big deal.

By embracing a man whose only principles are winning and getting even, the Republican Party has lost its soul.

Start with fiscal responsibility.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, the Congressional Budget Office projected a $5.6 trillion budget surplus over 10 years. Yet even this propitious outlook didn't stop several Republicans from arguing against the Bush tax cut out of concern it would increase the nation's debt.

A few years later, congressional Republicans were apoplectic about Obama's spending plan, necessitated by the 2008 financial crisis. Almost every Republican in Congress opposed it. They argued it would dangerously increase in the federal debt.

"Yesterday the Senate cast one of the most expensive votes in history," intoned Senator Mitch McConnell. "Americans are wondering how we're going to pay for all this." Paul Ryan warned the nation was "heading for a debt crisis."

Now, with America's debt at the highest level since shortly after World War II - 77 percent of GDP - Trump and the GOP have enacted a tax law that by their own estimates will increase the debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the decade.

What happened to fiscal responsibility? McConnell, Ryan, and the rest of the GOP have gone mum about it. Politics came first: They and Trump had to enact the big tax cut in order to reward their wealthy patrons.

States' rights used to be the second pillar of Republican thought.

For decades, Republicans argued that the Constitution's Tenth Amendment protected the states from federal intermeddling.

They used states' rights to resist desegregation; to oppose federal legislation protecting workers, consumers, and the environment; and to battle federal attempts to guarantee marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

When, in 2013, the Supreme Court relied on states' rights to strike down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, then-Senator Jeff Sessions broke out the champagne. "good news!" said the GOP's leading advocate of states' rights.

But after a year of Trump, Republicans have come around to thinking states have few if any rights.

As Attorney General, Sessions has green-lighted a federal crackdown on marijuana in states that have legalized it.

He and Trump are also blocking sanctuary cities from receiving federal grants. (A federal judge recently stayed Trump's executive order on grounds that it violates the Tenth Amendment, but Trump and Sessions are appealing the decision.)

Trump is also seeking to gut California's tough environmental rules. His Interior Department is opening more of California's federal land and coastline to oil and gas drilling, and Trump's EPA is moving to repeal new restrictions on a type of heavily-polluting truck California was relying on to meet its climate and air quality goals.

Meanwhile, the Republican House has approved the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would prevent states from enforcing their own laws barring concealed handguns against visitors from other states that permitted them.

For the new GOP, states' rights be damned. Now it's all about consolidating power in Washington, under Trump.

The third former pillar of Republicanism was a hard line on Russian aggression.

When Obama forged the New Start treaty with Moscow in 2010, Republicans in Congress charged that Vladimir Putin couldn't be trusted to carry out any arms control agreement.

And they complained that Obama wasn't doing enough to deter Putin in Eastern Ukraine. "Every time [Obama] goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody's eyes roll, including mine," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. "We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression."

That was then. Now, despite explicit findings by American intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election - the most direct attack on American democracy ever attempted by a foreign power - Republicans in Congress want to give Russia a pass.

They don't even want to take steps to prevent further Russian meddling. They've played down a January report by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warning that the Kremlin will likely move to influence upcoming U.S. elections, including those this year and in 2020.

The reason, of course, is the GOP doesn't want to do anything that might hurt Trump or rile his followers.

The GOP under Trump isn't the first political party to bend its principles to suit political expediency. But it may be the first to jettison its principles entirely, and over so short a time.

If Republicans no longer care about the federal debt, or state's rights, or Russian aggression - what exactly do they care about? What are the core principles of today's Republican Party?

Winning and getting even.

But as a year with Trump as president has shown, this is no formula for governing.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

Thought Police For The 21st Century
By Chris Hedges

DETROIT-The abolition of net neutrality and the use of algorithms by Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to divert readers and viewers from progressive, left-wing and anti-war sites, along with demonizing as foreign agents the journalists who expose the crimes of corporate capitalism and imperialism, have given the corporate state the power to destroy freedom of speech. Any state that accrues this kind of power will use it. And for that reason I traveled last week to Detroit to join David North, the chairperson of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site, in a live-stream event calling for the formation of a broad front to block an escalating censorship while we still have a voice.

"The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans," Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said in a statement issued in support of the event. "Between the democratization of communication and usurpation of communication by artificial intelligence. While the Internet has brought about a revolution in people's ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. While still in its infancy, the trends are clear and of a geometric nature. The phenomena differs in traditional attempts to shape cultural and political phenomena by operating at scale, speed and increasingly at a subtlety that eclipses human capacities."

In late April and early May the World Socialist Web Site, which identifies itself as a Trotskyite group that focuses on the crimes of capitalism, the plight of the working class and imperialism, began to see a steep decline in readership. The decline persisted into June. Search traffic to the World Socialist Web Site has been reduced by 75 percent overall. And the site is not alone. AlterNet's search traffic is down 71 percent, Consortium News' traffic is down 72 percent. And the situation appears to be growing worse.

The reductions coincided with the introduction of algorithms imposed by Google to fight "fake news." Google said the algorithms are designed to elevate "more authoritative content" and marginalize "blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information." It soon became apparent, however, that in the name of combating "fake news," Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are censoring left-wing, progressive and anti-war sites. The 150 most popular search terms that brought readers to the World Socialist Web Site, including "socialism," "Russian Revolution" and "inequality," today elicit little or no traffic.

Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in a hearing Wednesday that Facebook employs a security team of 10,000-7,500 of whom "assess potentially violating content"-and that "by the end of 2018 we will more than double" it to over 20,000. Social media companies are intertwined with and often work for U.S. intelligence agencies. This army of censors is our Thought Police.

The group, Bickert said, includes "a dedicated counterterrorism team" of "former intelligence and law-enforcement officials and prosecutors who worked in the area of counterterrorism." She testified that artificial intelligence automatically flags questionable content. Facebook, she said, does not "wait for these ... bad actors to upload content to Facebook before placing it into our detection systems." The "propaganda" that Facebook blocks, she said, "is content that we identify ourselves before anybody" else can see it. Facebook, she said, along with over a dozen other social media companies has created a blacklist of 50,000 "unique digital fingerprints" that can prevent content from being posted.

"We believe that a key part of combating extremism is preventing recruitment by disrupting the underlying ideologies that drive people to commit acts of violence," she told the committee. "That's why we support a variety of counterspeech efforts."

"Counterspeech" is a word that could have been lifted from the pages of George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984."

Eric Schmidt, who is stepping down this month as the executive chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet, has acknowledged that Google is creating algorithms to "de-rank" Russian-based news websites RT and Sputnik from its Google News services, effectively blocking them. The U.S. Department of Justice forced RT America, on which I host a show, "On Contact," that gives a voice to anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist voices, to register as a "foreign agent." Google removed RT from its "preferred" channels on YouTube. Twitter has blocked the Russian news service agencies RT and Sputnik from advertising.

This censorship is global. The German government's Network Enforcement Act fines social media companies for allegedly objectionable content. French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to remove "fake news" from the internet. Facebook and Instagram erased the accounts of Ramzan Kadyrov, the dictator of the Chechen Republic, because he is on a U.S. sanctions list. Kadyrov is certainly repugnant, but this ban, as the American Civil Liberties Union points out, empowers the U.S. government to effectively censor content. Facebook, working with the Israeli government, has removed over 100 accounts of Palestinian activists. This is an ominous march to an Orwellian world of Thought Police, "Newspeak" and "thought-crime" or, as Facebook likes to call it, "de-ranking" and "counterspeech."

The censorship, justified in the name of combating terrorism by blocking the content of extremist groups, is also designed to prevent a distressed public from accessing the language and ideas needed to understand corporate oppression, imperialism and socialism.

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?" Orwell wrote in "1984." "In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. ... Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. ..."

Corporate capitalism, and the ideology that justifies it-neoliberalism, the free market, globalization-no longer has any credibility. All of the utopian promises of globalization have been exposed as lies. Allowing banks and corporations to determine how we should order human society and govern ourselves did not spread global wealth, raise the living standards of workers or implant democracy across the globe. The ideology, preached in business schools and by pliant politicians, was a thin cover for the rapacious greed of the elites, elites who now control most of the world's wealth.

The ruling elites know they are in trouble. The Republican and Democratic parties' abject subservience to corporate power is transparent. The insurgencies in the two parties that saw Bernie Sanders nearly defeat the seemingly preordained Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and the election of Donald Trump terrify the elites. The elites, by attacking critics and dissidents as foreign agents for Russia, are seeking to deflect attention from the cause of these insurgencies-massive social inequality. Critics of the corporate state and imperialism, already pushed to the margins, are now dangerous because the elites no longer have a viable counterargument. And so these dissidents must be silenced.

"What's so specifically important about this is that in a period of growing political radicalization among young people, among workers, they start to look for oppositional information, they become interested in socialism, revolution, terms like 'equality,' those terms which previously would bring thousands of readers to the World Socialist Web Site, now were bringing no readers to the World Socialist Web Site," North said. "In other words, they were setting up a quarantine between those who may be interested in our site and the WSWS. From being a bridge, Google was becoming a barrier, a guard preventing access to our site."

The internet, with its ability to reach across international boundaries, is a potent tool for connecting workers across the earth who are fighting the same enemy-corporate capitalism. And control of the internet, the elites know, is vital to suppress information and consciousness.

"There is no national solution to the problems of American capitalism," North said. "The effort of the United States is to overcome this through a policy of war. Because what, ultimately, is imperialism? The inability to solve the problems of the nation-state within national borders drives the policy of war and conquest. That is what is emerging. Under conditions of war, the threat of war, conditions of growing and immeasurable inequality, democracy cannot survive. The tendency now is the suppression of democracy. And just as there is no national solution for capitalism, there is no national solution for the working class."

"War is not an expression of the strength of the system," North said. "It is an expression of profound and deep crisis. Trotsky said in the Transitional Program: 'The ruling elites toboggan with eyes closed toward catastrophe.' In 1939, they went to war, as in 1914, aware of the potentially disastrous consequences. Certainly, in 1939, they knew what the consequences of war were: War brings revolution. But they could not see a way out. The global problems which exist can only be solved in one of two ways: the capitalist, imperialist solution is war and [...] fascism. The working-class solution is socialist revolution. This is, I think, the alternative we're confronted with. So, the question that has come up, in the broadest sense, [is] what is the answer to the problems we face? Building a revolutionary party."

"There is going to be, and there is already unfolding, massive social struggles," North said. "The question of social revolution is not utopian. It is a process that emerges objectively out of the contradictions of capitalism. I think the argument can be made-and I think we made this argument-that really, since 2008, we have been witnessing an acceleration of crisis. It has never been solved, and, indeed, the massive levels of social inequality are themselves not the expression of a healthy but [instead] a deeply diseased socioeconomic order. It is fueling, at every level, social opposition. Of course, the great problem, then, is overcoming the legacy of political confusion, produced, as a matter of fact, by the defeats and the betrayals of the 20th century: the betrayal of the Russian Revolution by Stalinism; the betrayals of the working class by social democracy; the subordination of the working class in the United States to the Democratic Party. These are the critical issues and lessons that have to be learned. The education of the working class in these issues, and the development of perspective, is the most critical point ... the basic problem is not an absence of courage. It is not an absence of the desire to fight. It is an absence of understanding."

"Socialist consciousness must be brought into the working class," North said. "There is a working class. That working class is open now and receptive to revolutionary ideas. Our challenge is to create the conditions. The workers will not learn this in the universities. The Marxist movement, the Trotskyist movement, must provide the working class with the intellectual, cultural tools that it requires, so that it understands what must be done. It will provide the force, it will provide the determination, the emotional and passionate fuel of every revolutionary movement is present. But what it requires is understanding. And we will, and we are seeking to defend internet freedom because we want to make use of this medium, along with others, to create the conditions for this education and revival of revolutionary consciousness to take place."
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

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To End On A Happy Note...

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Parting Shots...

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Offers to Lie for Free During Shutdown
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Calling it "the least I can do for my country," the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Saturday morning that she would lie for free during the government shutdown.

"Now more than ever it's important that the stream of falsehoods and distortions from this White House continues to flow in a steady and uninterrupted fashion," Sanders said. "To achieve that, for the duration of the government shutdown I will be lying on a pro-bono basis."

Sanders said that Donald Trump had asked that she keep a full accounting of the lies she told during the shutdown so that she could be reimbursed for them later, but she turned down that offer. "I've often said that I like to lie so much I would do it for free," she said. "This is a chance to put my money where my mouth is."

The press secretary said that her offer had already inspired other top Administration figures to lie for free during the shutdown, including Vice-President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and White House doctor Ronny Jackson.

After making her announcement, Sanders moved on to a broad range of other topics, including her assertion that the government had not shut down.
(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

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