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In This Edition

Dahr Jamail returns with, "We Are Destroying Our Life Support System."

Norman Solomon finds, "Bernie's Likely 2020 Bid Could Transform The Political Landscape."

Glen Ford foresees, "Bernie Sanders Vs Kamala The Jailer And Her Corporate Backers."

Jim Hightower asks, "Where Is AI Driving Us?"

David Swanson says, "Newsweek Has Completely Flipped Its Impeachment Reporting."

John Nichols concludes, "Vos Needs A History Lesson."

James Donahue explores, "The Human Perception Of Reality."

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "'Dealmaker' Shutdown Committee Is Probably Doomed."

Heather Digby Parton considers, "Bill Barr's Catch-22."

David Suzuki warns, "Canadian Pipeline Push Promotes False And Misleading Claims."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "White House Tours Sure Ain't What They Used To Be."

Ralph Nader remembers, "John C. Bogle."

Jane Stillwater got those, "ER Blues."

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich predicts "The Fall Of Davos Man."

Chris Hedges warns of, "The World To Come."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump Comes Out Strongly Against Intelligence" but first Uncle Ernie sings, "And Another One Gone, And Another One Gone...."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Chip Bok, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Steve Apps, Sean Rayford, Monika Skolimowska, Salex Edelman, Alex Wong, Jennifer K. Law, Jabin Botsford, Premier of Alberta, Washinton Post, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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And Another One Gone, And Another One Gone...
By Ernest Stewart

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Another One Bites The Dust ~~~ Queen

"A" combination of media (Al Gore's climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth and the climate change disaster film The Day After Tomorrow) and politics (John McCain was vocal about the threats of global warming) drove increased levels of awareness and concern about the problem at that time. Their research shows the subsequent rise of the conservative tea party - which sidelined concerns about climate change - erased those gains." ~~~ Anthony Leiserowitz

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be, will be,
The future's not ours, to see, yeah
Que Sera, Que Sera, Que Sera

Que Sera, Sera ~~~ Doris Day

"Of all public figures and benefactors of mankind, no one is loved by history more than the literary patron. Napoleon was just a general of forgotten battles compared with the queen who paid for Shakespeare's meals and beer in the tavern. The statesman who in his time freed the slaves, even he has a few enemies in posterity, whereas the literary patron has none. We thank Gaius Maecenas for the nobility of soul we attribute to Virgil; but he isn't blamed for the selfishness and egocentricity that the poet possessed. The patron creates 'literature through altruism,' something not even the greatest genius can do with a pen." ~~~ Roman Payne

Political trickster Roger Stone said Tuesday, the day that he pleaded not guilty to seven charges laid by special counsel Robert Mueller, that Trump's presidency is in mortal peril because the Russia investigation amounts to a "speeding bullet heading for his head." We can but hope.

Stone you may recall was accused of lying to lawmakers, engaging in witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation. The seven count indictment does not accuse Stone of coordinating with Russia or with WikiLeaks on the release of hacked Democratic emails. But it does allege that he misled lawmakers about his pursuit of those communications and interest in them. As Roger says, "Unless you can fake sincerity, you'll get nowhere in this business."

And it raised the question of whether Trump's repeated claim of "no collusion" fired off in scores of tweets and comments to the press, is a sufficiently broad defense to the existential threat that Stone perceives from Mueller's work.

The indictment of Stone, Trump's longest serving political adviser, refocused attention on whether Trump and his team crossed legal and ethical lines during an effort to defeat Hillary Clinton in an election that featured a simultaneous Russian meddling operation.

Yes, the noose around the Donald is beginning to tighten, Mueller gets closer and closer to the crime boss and Mueller is nothing if not thorough. Step by step the rats are squealing to save their own worthless necks and step by step the case is getting closer and closer to the big cheese himself.

As it stands now, David Swanson has at least 17 acts by tRump that call for his impeachment and from New York to Washington prosecutors are totalling up charges to lay at tRumps feet that should send him up the river for life, can charges of treason be far behind? I hope not as this old republic can't take much more of the destruction the tRump has wrought, it may take decades to repair the damage as is, another two years may destroy it, and us, for good!

In Other News

I see where according to new polls that "the proportion of Americans who said global warming is 'personally important' to them jumped from 63 percent to 72 percent from March to December of last year."

There has also been "an 8-percent rise in the number of Americans who are 'very worried' about global warming - 29 percent said they feel that way, while 40 percent said they are 'somewhat worried' while 56 percent of Americans said their family will be harmed by global warming."

In 2018, more people surveyed said they felt the issues of global warming was personally important to them than at any time in the survey's 11 year history.

"Americans have, unfortunately, had far more experience with what climate change looks like," researcher Anthony Leiserowitz said. He led the team behind the survey, "Climate Change in the American Mind," which was a collaboration between Yale and George Mason Universities.

Leiserowitz says, "It really does indicate that Americans are increasingly seeing this not as a distant problem, but as something that's here and now."

The survey, released last Tuesday, also took stock of how Americans see the role of humans in global climate change. Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said global warming is mostly caused by humans - which is what science has shown. Twenty-three percent of Americans said it is "mostly caused by natural changes in the environment," the lowest number of people to say so since the survey began in 2008.

"The only way most Americans even know about these issues is because of coverage," Leiserowitz explained. "So when the media does not report this, it is literally out of sight, out of mind. But when the media does report it, it becomes salient."

Which is why I've been raising the alarm about it for the last 20 years or so. It is much more dangerous than Putin or tRump combined as if we don't stop it we're all going bye-bye and not in the nice way either!

And Finally

Yippie tie one on! How time flies when you're having fun! With this edition we start our 19th year of publication. Yes on the day the Extreme Court ruled that even though Al Gore won the election and the electoral college, with the help of brother Jeb who committed treason, W our west Taxus prairie monkey was our next pResident, like it or not. That day was December 12, 2000 and Issues and Alibis was born. It took a while to get it together and we first publish February 1st 2001.

Even with almost 6 weeks to get it together; as you can see it wasn't much of an edition. With permission to publish by a couple of cartoonist and a handful of authors we bagan. it took a while before we could publish every week but in a couple of months we switched from bi-monthly to weekly.

Fortunately I had some news paper training working for a couple of different weekly newspaper chains where I worked in all the departments from selling ads to collecting debts to creating displays to running a line-o-type machine to reporting and helping assemble the main papers and all the other local weekly papers. So I knew what had to be done but I didn't have the contacts I needed to be successful. In time I got it together.

So here we are over 18 years downstream and if we fail to raise some money this will be our last year. I would hate to have to quit before the Crime Family tRump is in jail but c'est la guerre. What will be, will be!

Keepin' On

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

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

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


10-01-1928 ~ 01-27-2019
Thanks for the film!

12-25-1928 ~ 01-30-2019
Thanks for the film!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can-?

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2019 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Water vapor and smoke rise from the chimneys and cooling towers of the Laziska coal-fired power station,
as a snowman melts on a hill in the foreground in Laziska Gorne near Katowice, Poland, on December 12, 2018.

We Are Destroying Our Life Support System
By Dahr Jamail

The warming of planet Earth continues apace, and the ramifications become ever more stunning with each passing month. While no single meteorological event or phenomenon can be attributed solely to human-caused climate disruption, this is now nearly always the leading cause of the event, or at the very least a major contributing factor.

Recent data from the World Meteorological office showed that 2018 was the fourth warmest on record, making the last four years the hottest four years in Earth's recorded history.

On that note, it is worth remembering that the single worst mass extinction event in Earth's history, the "Great Dying" that happened 252 million years ago and took out as much as 96 percent of all marine species and two-thirds of terrestrial life, occurred due to rapid planetary warming.

Another feedback loop has been discovered in the Arctic, this time in Greenland, where it was recently reported that melting glaciers are yet another source of methane.

It was also recently revealed that Greenland saw an "unprecedented" loss of ice over the last two decades. Another study by a US research team had shown that the decade of 2004-13 experienced more sustained and intense melting there than during any other 10-year period in the 350-year record. This means that Greenland is contributing more to sea level rise than previously understood, adding more than at any other time that record keeping has existed. Melt water runoff there has increased 50 percent since the industrial revolution began.

Also recently, and even more shocking, ice loss from the Antarctic has sextupled since just the 1970's, according to another study. This means ice loss has accelerated 480 percent in the last four decades. The study underscored how the gigantic East Antarctic ice sheet is already a giant contributor to sea level rise. This is alarming, given that this region was previously expected to be the last area that would succumb to melting. Eric Rignot from the University of California, Irvine, the lead author of the study, told CNN, "Antarctica is melting away." Dear readers, take a deep breath, and keep reading. We must be aware of the reality of this crisis, if we are to behave accordingly.


A scientist returning to the Puerto Rican rainforest recently found that 98 percent of all the ground insects had disappeared since he was there 35 years ago. The scientist, Brad Lister, told The Guardian: "We are essentially destroying the very life support systems that allow us to sustain our existence on the planet, along with all the other life on the planet. It is just horrifying to watch us decimate the natural world like this."

His findings come on the heels of other disturbing studies that have revealed crashing insect populations in other places around the world. Lister has warned of an "ecological Armageddon" from these crashes.

Meanwhile, increasing temperatures alone are already threatening to decimate US crop yields. Farmer's livelihoods are at risk as warmer temperatures, drought and floods combine to disrupt agricultural productivity. In addition to farmers struggling to make a living, food prices will, of course, escalate.

Another climate change impact with obvious consequences for humans is increasing heat waves. A study published late last year showed that more people globally are vulnerable to heat exposure, which means they will be at greater risk of heat stress, heart and kidney disease, and other heat-related issues that can kill. The study estimated that between 2030-50, climate change could also kill an additional quarter million people each year "due to malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria and heat stress."

Another study showed that almost one-third of all of the bird species in Wales are now "declining significantly," with some already having disappeared entirely.

A recent report about the state of the Arctic showed that the number of Arctic reindeer has crashed by 58 percent in the last two decades alone, largely due to climate change.

Two scientists warned recently that the planet's extinction toll may be far worse than previously understood. Climate change, overpopulation of humans, exploitation of resources and habitat destruction are combining to cause cascades of extinctions. The scientists warned that today's rates, which are already 1,000 times the normal background extinction rate, could be a staggering 10 times worse.

In the US, another wave of US citizens have become climate change refugees. In the wake of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina last fall, many people of the New Bern community in the eastern part of the state have had their homes and lives destroyed. Already a largely old, poor and disabled community, these people cannot afford to stay where they are, and those who try to stay are beset with the psychological tolls and environmental toxins that are ravaging the area.

Even the corporate media are now reporting on "climate grief" - what happens to us when the experiences of extreme weather events and dire climate reports, such as this one, continue to intensify. Alongside them, the mental health impacts of depression and resignation about a grim future on the planet are striking more people than ever before. Even just last year, the American Psychological Association published a report on this subject, openly discussing trauma from living through extreme weather events, but also noting how "gradual, long-term changes in climate can also surface a number of different emotions, including fear, anger, feelings of powerlessness, or exhaustion."


In addition to the aforementioned dramatic news of the melting ice sheets and glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica, another study has revealed that glaciers in the Arctic are melting so dramatically they are pouring 14,000 tons of water every second into the ocean.

This means they are contributing more to sea level rise than even current melting in Antarctica, and that the Arctic region has thus contributed nearly one full inch to sea levels since just 1971.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2018 Arctic Report Card survey showed that sea ice had reached its second-lowest extent ever recorded as the Arctic experienced its second-warmest year on record. The report warns that this leaves the wildlife and communities across that region under great pressure as climate and ecosystems are undergoing dramatic changes.

Meanwhile, the melting of ice around the world continues apace.

In the Himalayas, a photo essay by the Nepali Times shows and describes the dramatic changes there, where the world's highest glaciers are melting and receding at a shocking pace.

In Canada, a recent report warned that a stunning 80 percent of mountain glaciers in Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon will disappear within just 50 years from now.

Meanwhile, in the realm of the privileged, Miami's affluent, many of whom are referring to themselves as "climate refugees," are also abandoning their high-dollar oceanfront residences and moving to higher ground because of impending sea level rise. This is causing gentrification and suffering of the less privileged who happen to already be living in the areas where the rich are moving and driving up the costs of living for everyone.

Last November, the extremely well researched and comprehensive National Climate Assessment warned that, among many other things, increasingly warmer temperatures across the US threaten national water security. The report warned of physical alterations in the nation's water supplies, including rising seas driving saltwater further inland underground, which threatens major water sources for cities such as Miami. Mountainous regions are seeing more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, endangering water supplies that rely heavily on snowpack. Meanwhile, in lakes, rivers and estuaries, warmer temperatures mean an increase in algal blooms like those which occurred in Florida last summer and fall, causing massive fish kills and disruption to life and tourism.

Before the heat wave that is now scorching Australia, flash flooding in Sydney caused chaos and two deaths when the heaviest November rainfall in decades struck the city.

Also on the sea level rise front, Venice made the news again recently with a tax on day tourists in hopes of raising money to address the crisis, while local residents and businesses deal with the chaos of a city struggling to survive against sea rise and constant flooding.

On the other end of the water spectrum, a recent study showed that "anthropogenic climate forcing has doubled the joint probability of years that are both warm and dry in the same location" since 1931, posing a very serious threat to agriculture on a planetary scale. The study also found that the frequency of simultaneous hot/dry conditions will keep increasing, and will reach about 20 percent over the next 30 years without dramatic reductions of fossil fuel emissions.

Farmers in the US Midwest are already sounding the alarm about the "radical" changes they describe as far as the dramatic impacts of drought and higher temperatures on their farms. They are already spending more money and time than ever in trying to figure out how to grow crops amidst ever-changing harsher conditions.

Worryingly, several studies already exist that show the dramatic decline in nutrients of food due primarily to increasingly warm temperatures, some by as much as up to 30 percent.

Meanwhile, the oceans continue to warm apace.

Off the coast of Northwestern Alaska, the cod population is now at the lowest level it has ever been, and state officials have declared disasters after multiple salmon fisheries have failed. Meanwhile, further to the north, salmon runs are dramatically increasing due to warmer temperatures, reflecting the disruptive, chaotic and unpredictable nature of our warming planet.

On that note, oceans are continuing to heat far faster than previously expected, and 2018 set yet another heat record for the warming oceans, a trend which further threatens marine life.


The Guardian recently reported how several studies have shown how the US is woefully prepared for extreme weather events to come, including the dramatic increase of wildfires that have been predicted as climate disruption continues to advance. Last year, the wildfires in California alone destroyed thousands of structures and left 85 people dead.

Meanwhile, in January, wildfires scorched many parts of Australia, as large swaths of that country continued to bake under record-breaking high temperatures.


Temperature records around the world continue to soar, as do projections. In the UK, a recent report by the Met Office warned that summers there could be more than 5 degrees Celsius (5°C) warmer by 2070.

Very disturbing news came from a Japanese satellite that has spotted signs of methane gas bubbling up from beneath lakes that are forming in the tundra as Arctic permafrost continues to thaw. It is important to remember that methane is a far, far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

Another troubling bit of news on this topic came in the form of a study indicating that the upper reaches of the Himalayas, the highest mountain range on Earth, are already likely to be warmer than previously understood.

Denial and Reality

The Trump administration's climate change denialism has, as usual, been off the charts since the last dispatch.

Their response to the National Climate Assessment, an intensely comprehensive study detailing the impacts of climate change across the US, including impacts that will cost the US hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars of damage in the coming decades, was to dismiss the findings of the federal report.

Then, in the wake of that move and unable to bury its own National Climate Assessment, since it was a government generated report, the Trump administration and its denialist colleagues launched a full-scale assault against the science in the report.

After releasing the report on Black Friday afternoon in an attempt to bury it, Trump simply said of the catastrophic findings, "I don't believe it." Following that, EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and then-head of the Department of Interior Ryan Zinke, carried forward the assault on the report, along with other climate change denialists, calling the report "alarmist" and extreme.

Furthermore, Wheeler went on to say that the Trump administration may even intervene in the next climate study.

Meanwhile, back in reality, a poll released in late November showed that nearly two-thirds of Republicans and the majority of all Americans acknowledge that climate change is real. I understand that reporting this is akin to congratulating people for acknowledging the reality of gravity, but it has, indeed, come to this in the United States.

Another poll also showed that seven in 10 Americans believe climate change is happening, a 10-point increase over four years ago.

This is good, as the impacts of climate change are only going to intensify, and then some, given the International Energy Agency's recent announcement that carbon dioxide emissions from the world's richer countries were set to increase through the end of 2018, a trend that broke a five-year decline.

More bad news came from another report in early December 2018 which showed that global carbon emissions, not just in richer countries, were on track to jump to an all-time high through 2018, increasing by 2.7 percent.

Meanwhile, at the time of this writing, atmospheric CO2 had already set three daily records for January, with an all-time high of 413.86 parts per million (ppm) on January 22.

The year 2018 saw three daily records set for the entire year, 2017 and 2016 saw two daily records each, and 2015 saw one.

Writing these climate dispatches has become increasingly difficult over the last five years. Each new report of the melting of glaciers and ice fields that is accelerating yet again, each new source of methane that is now speeding the warming of the already overburdened atmosphere, each new bird species listed as "declining significantly," each new atmospheric CO2 level reached, and every round of temperature records across the planet leads to yet more grief, anguish, rage, anxiety, sadness - and finally, acceptance.

Yet, doing this research and collating it into this report each month is akin to watching, very closely, the slow-motion death of someone I love dearly.

At the same time, this work has brought some of the most magnificent people I've ever known into my life. Hence, the tragic drama of this Great New Era of Loss we have entered with Earth would not be complete without, of course, love.

One of these people in my life is author, teacher, healer and elder of Cherokee descent, Stan Rushworth. His writing and wisdom touched me so deeply at the exact moment in my life when I needed it more than I even knew. His presence in my life enabled me to conclude my recently published book properly.

Stan and I talk pretty regularly. He wrote me shortly after finishing my book, before it was published, as I had asked for his feedback.

Like me, Stan is burdened by the gravity of loss upon us now, and by us, I mean the big Us … all life on Earth. But here is what he wrote me, in part, as a response to this seemingly bottomless and unfathomable loss (Stan doesn't use capital letters):

i read the other day that elephants are now being born without developing tusks, in areas where poachers have been killing them for the ivory. years ago in northern california, i heard a story about a place where lots of rattlesnakes lived, and the people there went on a series of extermination hunts, killing all they could find. the next generation of rattlers there carried no rattles, a quick adaptation to madness made by nature, by snake. it makes me wonder if earth has something in mind for her survival, or if human aberration has the power to change even nature's mind. so many creatures and beings are now dying needlessly, that i wonder what's going through her. i looked at big seas rolling in today, a storm coming, and though the surface was smooth and glassy, the waves huge, the roar was strong and carried far inland. i can open the door and listen from here.

why so many people have chosen to forget so much is completely beyond me.

with love and thanks,


Stan reminds me to see the beauty and the mystery, even in the loss. And in so doing, to also remember to go touch the Earth, in homage and respect, while so much continues to live today.

It is clear that runaway climate disruption is upon us, and I wonder if humans' ability to adapt to this increasingly harsh new world will be as dramatic as that of the elephants and the rattlesnakes when faced with their annihilation.

(c) 2019 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.

Bernie's Likely 2020 Bid Could Transform The Political Landscape

Bernie's Likely 2020 Bid Could Transform The Political Landscape
By Norman Solomon

The likely Bernie Sanders campaign for president offers a boost and a challenge to progressives. From the outset, the campaign's strength would largely depend on how much synergy develops with social movements on the ground. Much more than the presidency is at stake. A powerful mix of grassroots activism and electoral work could transform the country's political landscape.

A 2020 Sanders campaign would mostly pick up where it left off in 2016. Contrary to widespread media spin, the fact that Bernie would be facing dozens of contenders for the Democratic nomination this time doesn't change the reality of his unique approach to economic power relations. Whether it's called democratic socialism, progressive populism or something else, that approach sets him apart from the other candidates, even including Elizabeth Warren.

Sanders has been willing and able to use a national stage for public education and agitation about inherently anti-democratic and destructive aspects of corporate capitalism. That explains why, in political and media realms, so many knives are again being sharpened against him.

Attacks on Sanders have come from many directions, but they largely spring from his detractors' zeal to defend corporate power as a driving force that propels and steers the US government as well as the Democratic Party. Efforts to undermine the Sanders 2020 primary campaign would span from mainstream media to liberal and centrist forces aligned with competitors for the Democratic nomination.

More than any other presidential candidate, Sanders has ready access to extensive networks of authentic grassroots support. Unlike many, his campaign budget won't need a line item for Astroturf.

But relations between electoral campaigns and social movements are frequently difficult, and tensions are bound to develop. "Bringing the vibrancy and democracy of activist movement culture to a political campaign is necessary but complicated," Tori Osborn, a longtime progressive organizer who eventually ran for political office, told me. "Activist protest culture is spontaneous, often angry and wildly uncontrollable. Campaigns have to be rigorously disciplined and controllable."

While conflicts between election-focused campaigns and issue-focused activism may be inevitable, there's great potential to make such tensions creative rather than destructive. During this decade, the trajectories of progressive election campaigns and progressive organizing have become more intertwined.

The Occupy movement that began in autumn 2011 put income inequality - and class analysis of "the 1 percent" vs. "the 99 percent" - in the national spotlight. The movement notably altered public discourse and helped clear a runway for the launch of the Sanders presidential campaign in 2015.

Since then, activism has propelled an array of movements that have compelled more and more Democratic politicians to respond seriously - on such issues as mass incarceration, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, enhanced Medicare for All and free college tuition.

On the subject of institutional racism, Sanders had sometimes fallen short. However, some activists have been encouraged by his ability to listen, learn and change after he was confronted by Black Lives Matter activists in 2015. More slowly, he has begun to address US militarism and Pentagon spending after critiques of his positions began in summer 2015 and continued through late 2018.

Far more than any of his prospective opponents for the 2020 nomination, Sanders has always viewed himself as part of progressive movements. As much as anything else, that's what separates him from the competition.

Yet conflicts are sure to arise as some activists find fault with Sanders on various issues. When he makes missteps, he should be criticized. That's how he and his campaign can learn to rectify shortcomings and build better relations with progressive groups that are apt to support his presidential race.

Along the way, the potential effects of a Bernie 2020 campaign go way beyond the prospect of electing a democratic socialist as president. They extend to nonpartisan races in cities and counties across the country. Starting nearly four years ago, the Sanders campaign encouraged and uplifted progressive candidates for offices ranging from school boards and state legislatures to federal office. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is only the most famous of many hundreds of examples. For 2020, a Sanders campaign holds enormous promise to do more of the same - on a much larger scale.

Routine media coverage about "a blue wave" has obscured the deeper opportunities for "a progressive wave" that could drastically extend the boundaries of public discussion and political power. The default position for mass media is to define electoral conflicts in partisan Democrat-vs.-Republican terms, but a key task for grassroots progressive leadership in election battles is to develop community-based power to replace corporate power.

Overall, a Sanders 2020 campaign could be a powerful catalyst for creating a new political culture that nurtures activism as a year-long, every-year way of life for millions of people across boundaries of race, class and region. For a future of democracy instead of oligarchy, that political culture has got to include and transcend electoral work.

We are now at a decisive fork in the road that Justice Louis Brandeis identified long ago: "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

The two hands with the most wealth concentrated in them now belong to Amazon owner Jeff Bezos. Not coincidentally, his newspaper, The Washington Post, has been among the influential media outlets most antagonistic toward Sanders. In early March 2016, at a pivotal moment during the primary campaign, FAIR analyst Adam Johnson pointed out that The Post "ran 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 hours … a window that includes the crucial Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, and the next morning's spin." The day after that onslaught ended, Sanders stunned the elite media by winning the Michigan primary.

As progressives weigh involvement in the Sanders campaign and many other 2020 races, the Democratic Party should be approached much like we approach the government itself - an entity capable of inflicting great harm on a systemic basis, while also capable of mitigating systemic harm and doing profound good in response to social movements.

Meanwhile, we should expect an escalating corporate media assault - in tandem with methodical attacks from establishment Democrats - against Sanders. While on the surface aimed at one individual, such an assault is actually an ideological war against the vision of government aligned with social justice. Not only Bernie Sanders but, in effect, all genuine progressives will be in the crosshairs.

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

Bernie Sanders Vs Kamala The Jailer And Her Corporate Backers
By Glen Ford

The best thing that can happen in 2020 is for Bernie Sanders to do fantastically in the primaries and be cheated out of the nomination, once again, thus giving millions of leftish Democrats a chance to do something useful with their lives: leave the party.

Early this century, the oligarchy of filthy-rich white men that rule the United States reached a consensus among themselves on the necessity of maintaining a regime of endless war and austerity. In truth, there was no other policy choice available to the Lords of Capital. The financial oligarchy's success in consolidating virtually all political and economic power in an ever-shrinking cabal of the super-wealthy has all but eliminated the last refuges and hideaways of democracy in the U.S., while condemning most of the population to eternal insecurity amidst falling living standards. Late stage western capitalism has nothing to offer its own citizens but austerity, and no way to compete with the dynamic societies of Asia except through war. Yet, the rulers must maintain the charade of domestic social progress and mass upward mobility, although no such possibilities exist under this system.

It is a ruling class political dilemma made far more complex by the disruption wreaked on the two-capitalist party system by Donald Trump, the orange-tinted huckster and mega-opportunist. Trump captured the Republican Party apparatus by throwing red racist meat to the hordes of white supremacists that are still the most decisive force in the U.S. electorate. The polite White Man's Party of Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes was suddenly stripped to the waist and showing its Aryan tattoos. The provocateur in the White House shattered the facade of racial harmony that had been carefully cultivated over decades by corporate media, while at the same time calling into question the corporate consensus on so-called "free trade," "humanitarian" military intervention (regime change) and increasing hostility to capitalist Russia.

The bulk of the ruling class and their operatives in the national security services and media sprang into (often hysterical) action to neutralize and expunge Trump, the disruptive element. In the mad process, however, they have done incalculable damage to the very national institutions that give legitimacy to the bourgeois political order -- that is, the institutions that justify the rule of the rich in a supposedly democratic state. When the CIA, the FBI, the corporate media and most of the Democratic Party are howling that the occupant of the White House is illegitimate, they strip the office, itself, and the electoral process for achieving that office, of its legitimacy. And when they claim that a few Russians with a hundred thousand dollars were able to set Americans at each others' throats and decisively swing a national election, they paint a picture of extreme instability and political fragility -- not a superpower, but a weak society on the brink of disaster and dissolution.

The legitimacy of the corporate regime was simultaneously challenged from leftish quarters, by Bernie Sanders, whose 2016 primary campaign failed to stop the warmongering corporatist Hillary Clinton, but succeeded in proving that super-majorities of Americans (including Republicans) want Medicare for All. Sanders' proposals on health care, livable wages and free college education awakened expectations and thirst for a better life among masses of Americans. Sanders' proposals are not transformative, revolutionary or "socialist." However, the mere raising of expectations among the masses of people is dangerously destabilizing in a society where the corporate rulers have decreed endless austerity and war. The oligarchy cannot tolerate or accommodate a New Deal, Green or otherwise. Their model of development is embodied in Jeff Bezos' demand that New York City fork over billions for the pleasure of his corporate presence. Austerity is not really a policy at all, but a recognition that late stage capitalism is incapable of investing in productive enterprises that create good jobs for masses of people, or to provide security and adequate social services for the rearing of healthy, happy families. Instead, capital exports jobs to the Global South, where workers can be super-exploited; feasts on the bones of the public sector in the home country, privatizing every public good that holds the prospect of private profit; gorges on war production and diverts trillions to the virtual casinos of the derivatives markets.

Similarly, endless war is less a policy than an acknowledgement that the U.S. cannot compete with China in fostering infrastructure development in Africa, Latin America and Asia -- for the same reason that the U.S. cannot connect its own cities with high-speed rail: the system is moribund and cannibalistic, and has already stripped the home country of productive capacity. War is the only game the oligarchy thinks it can win.

In the years following 9/11, both corporate parties began to speak of the "War on Terror" as a "twilight" struggle that would last "generations." The message to U.S. society was: this is wartime forever; lower your expectations; don't demand upward mobility under these perpetual martial circumstances -- it's unpatriotic.

Trump's racialist coup in the Republican Party and Bernie Sanders' breakout among the Democrats threatened to disrupt the "twilight" predations of the Lords of Capital. Trump told white workers the lie, that he would claw back the jobs that were exported to China and elsewhere, while Bernie evoked a revived New Deal. The ruling class blitzkrieg against Trump is now entering its third year, and has spawned a New Cold War that is methodically targeting dissent on the internet. The Democratic half of the rich man's duopoly has moved frantically to pre-empt a second Sanders bid for the party's presidential nomination, deploying reliable corporate chameleons like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris to nail down the all-important Black vote and subvert "New Deal" sentiment from the inside by pretending to be Medicare for All supporters.

The corporate media -- the same folks that buttressed Trump's campaign with billions in free air time, in expectation that Hillary would knock him flat like a straw man on Election Day - are busy constructing a whole roster of corporate alternatives to Sanders, hoping to head off the kind of popular movement-style politics that Bernie thrived on in 2016. Kamala Harris is by far the most dangerous corporate threat to a revival of the Sandernistas, for obvious reasons of race and gender. However, as a career prosecutor, Harris is a lifelong operative in the mass incarceration machine. She is so wedded to the beast, she opposed compliance with a court order to dramatically reduce California prison overcrowding, because it would shrink the number of inmates available for work in the prison system. Harris can be effectively neutralized from the Left, as being even more pro-mass Black incarceration than Hillary Clinton, who never personally put anyone in prison.

It is critical that mass incarceration loom large in the unfolding campaign season. Austerity means freezing unequal and oppressive social relationships in place, and policing the resultant misery, anger and frustration. Therefore, an austerity regime requires the revving up of the state coercive and carceral machinery. In the Age of Austerity, the Lords of Capital need a Jailer in the White House. A Black female jailer like Harris is ideal for the ruling class.

Most importantly, the rulers need to give people something to feel good about -- the illusion that progress is being made, despite their own frozen or worsening economic realities. The trick is to promote racial and gender "firsts" and market them as socially transformative, in the midst of actual social and economic decay. Kamala Harris fits the bill, perfectly - which is why she is the most dangerous to a Sanders project, and why Sanders should jump into the race right away, before the corporate media declare a "front-runner" and otherwise make him appear irrelevant.

You don't have to be a Democrat to root for Sanders in the primaries. What there is of a mass Left - and virtually all Black political activity -- is locked up in the Democratic half of the corporate duopoly. The tens of millions of social democrats that are effectively neutered within the Democratic Party must leave, if there is to be a mass resistance to late capitalist austerity, war and mass incarceration. Although Bernie Sanders is probably the most popular politician in the nation, with the most favored political program, the billionaires that control the Democratic Party will move heaven and earth to prevent him from getting the nomination -- as was done in 2016. The best scenario for the Left is for Sanders to do so well in the primaries that corporate party leadership is forced to resort to dirty tricks and transparently undemocratic means to steal the nomination from him in the clear light of day. At that point, progressives would have yet another chance to escape their subordination, humiliation and ultimate irrelevance in a corporate-owned party, and to create or join a social democratic formation.

People of the Left like me, who are not social democrats, would cheer an exodus from the Democratic Party as a huge historical development in itself, freeing millions from the corporate political machine -- a kind of emancipation.

So, start running again, Bernie -- and force the Party's corporate operatives to rig the game, like last time. In righteous defeat, you could change the course of history.

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

Where Is AI Driving Us?
By Jim Hightower

With chaos in the White House, worsening climate disasters, more wars than we can count, and a wobbling economy here at home, the last thing we need is another big challenge. But - look out! - here comes a doozy!

It's AI - artificial intelligence - the fast-evolving science of autonomous machines that can think, learn, and even reproduce themselves.

Consider self-driving vehicles. Once the stuff of science fiction, the future is suddenly upon us, with Google, Daimler, and GM rolling out driverless taxis, commercial trucks, and even cars with no steering wheel or gas and brake pedals. An army of corporate lobbyists is rushing to legislative halls, literally changing the rules of the road to allow full deployment of these vehicles.

What about the hundreds of thousands of professional drivers who'll lose their jobs? Not our problem, say the financiers and AI barons who'll profit from a mass bot-mobile conversion. Besides, as one AI champion coldly asserts, those drivers get sick, take vacations, etc. "People are messy," he notes; "machines are straightforward."

Indeed, so straightforward that these 2-ton, non-sentient "drivers" will be driving straight at a world of defenseless pedestrians - already, one of Uber's experimental cars killed an Arizona pedestrian last year.

We can fix that, says Andrew Ng, a prominent AI investor: They just have to be reprogrammed. By "they," Ng doesn't mean the self-driving machines - he means we pedestrians must be reprogramed! "Please be lawful," he scolds, "And please be considerate" of the computer-driven vehicles. No jaywalking, obey pedestrian signs, give right-of-way to the new technology.

So, don't just prepare yourself for A Brave New World of automation - prepare to be re-educated so you interact properly with machines and don't get in their way.

(c) 2019 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Newsweek Has Completely Flipped Its Impeachment Reporting
By David Swanson

Read how Newsweek reported that a majority of Americans favored impeaching Bush in 2006:

"Other parts of a potential Democratic agenda receive less support, especially calls to impeach Bush: 47 percent of Democrats say that should be a 'top priority,' but only 28 percent of all Americans say it should be, 23 percent say it should be a lower priority and nearly half, 44 percent, say it should not be done. (Five percent of Republicans say it should be a top priority and 15 percent of Republicans say it should be a lower priority; 78 percent oppose impeachment.)"

You could read that three times before noticing that the key fact is this: 28 plus 23 equals 51. That is to say: a majority of the United States wanted Bush impeached, and more than half of that majority wanted it to be a top priority.

. . . and the years go by.

Now look at how Newsweek just reported that a smaller percentage of the public wants Trump impeached:

Support for Donald Trump's Impeachment is Higher Than His Approval Rating, New Poll Shows

By Tim Marcin On 1/22/19 at 1:49 PM

President Donald Trump isn't exactly popular right now. In fact, a new poll shows that more people seem to support impeaching him than approve of the job he's doing.

The survey from Public Policy Polling-a Democratic polling company that also does public polls-pegged Trump's approval rating at just 40 percent, while 57 percent disapproved. Forty-six percent of voters, meanwhile, supported impeaching Trump, while just 44 percent are opposed, according to the poll.


Now, I don't want Newsweek to return to its bad old ways for consistency. I don't think it has yet changed far enough. When a plurality wants impeachment prior to any impeachment hearings, and when the impeachable offenses have piled up, there ought to be major coverage of the failure of Congress to act.

What's interesting here is just that I once believed that if the media would be like it is now we would have had impeachment happen. I still think that might have been so. But the media is too late. Now the media treats impeachment more honestly, and Congress is sooooooooooooooooooo far gone that it doesn't matter.

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

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, during Gov. Evers' State of the State address Jan. 22, 2019 at the Capitol in Madison.

Vos Needs A History Lesson
By John Nichols

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has positioned himself as the leader of the opposition to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. And Vos certainly embraced the role with his response last week to the governor's first State of the State address.

Evers went out of his way to strike bipartisan themes in his speech, promising that "we will engage civilly. We will have discourse and dialogue, but it will not devolve into disrespect. And we will govern with a humble appreciation that the will of the people - our people - is the law of the land."

Vos set a very different tone, portraying the newly elected Democratic governor as a threat to all the "accomplishments" of Scott Walker's tenure.

Seemingly oblivious to the fact that the voters had just rejected Walker and every Republican candidate for statewide office, Vos announced: "Wisconsin is on a roll and Republicans will not allow it to slip backwards."

Vos did his best to make Evers sound ominous. But he knew he didn't have the facts on his side, so he turned to a Republican icon for help.

"As President Ronald Reagan once said, 'As government expands, liberty contracts.' He also said, 'Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.' Republicans in the Legislature won't forget Ronald Reagan's sentiments," promised the speaker. "We won't let government grow out of control and we won't let socialism take root in our state."

Whoa! Hold it! Socialism?

Evers isn't a socialist. So where was Vos headed with that last line? Well, of course, he was just repeating the talking points that conservative consultants claim will scare unsuspecting voters.

The only problem with the talking points is that they don't really apply to Wisconsin.

Socialism has already taken root in our state.

A century ago, Wisconsinites elected members of the Socialist Party as their representatives to the U.S. Congress and to the state Assembly and the state Senate. So many Socialists won so many elections that the Socialist Party displaced the Democrats as the main opposition party in the Legislature for much of the 1910s and 1920s. Progressive Republicans in the Assembly chamber that Vos now leads worked with Socialists to enact groundbreaking legislation that earned Wisconsin recognition as the nation's "laboratory of democracy." In Milwaukee and other cities and counties, voters elected Socialist mayors, city council members, school board members, judges and sheriffs.

From 1910 to 1960, Socialists Emil Seidel, Dan Hoan and Frank Zeidler ran the state's largest city for 38 of 50 years. Socialism took root in Milwaukee because Socialist mayors developed reputations as honest and efficient managers - so much so that Hoan was featured on the cover of Time magazine, which declared that, under the Socialist's leadership, "Milwaukee became one of the best-run cities in the U.S."

If Robin Vos takes a look around the next time he visits Milwaukee, he'll get a sense of just how deeply socialism has taken root in Wisconsin. That lakefront span that extends the city's downtown skyline is the Dan Hoan Memorial Bridge.

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

The Human Perception Of Reality
By James Donahue

In the third book of his Cosmic Trigger trilogy, author Robert Anton Wilson took a unique look at the concept of human conditioned 'tunnel reality" by bringing his readers into a dark room filled with people looking at a television screen.

It is such a brilliant way of explaining the way we are brainwashed by society to view our world, I am going to take the liberty this week of passing it on to you. Begging Mr. Wilson's indulgence, I am adding a bit of paraphrasing and personal commentary.

In Wilson's story, the people in the dark room regard what they view on their television screen as the real universe. The characters watch a daily kaleidoscope of images, ideas and impressions. They see and hear political campaigns, news presentations, evangelistic preaching, situation comedies, soap operas, dramas and even go on educational tours of the planet. As they grow older, the people in this room find themselves joining various groups that agree with certain belief systems, political parties, and minority groups. They even go so far as to argue among themselves as to whether the electric cord that supplies life to the television set might be a direct link with God.

The plot thickens when one member of the group named Anna happens, by chance, to look into the darkness on the other side of the room and notice a door. Out of curiosity, Anna walks to the door, and opens it for a brief moment. On the other side is a lighted room filled with larger-than-life people. Because the light in the second room is so bright, she is almost blinded by the vision.

Anna is shocked by what has just happened. She has had an out-of-television (OOT) experience. She is fascinated by it, but at the same time, afraid to mention it to her friends because she is sure they will think she either made up the story, or has lost her mind. So she remains quiet. Curiosity eventually draws her back to the door, however. This time, rather than take a peek, she walks through it, and joins the people on the other side. She finds herself in a production studio, among the very people she has been watching all of her life on the small television screen. She watches as the people act their parts and then take breaks between scenes to enjoy a cup of coffee or have a cigarette. She is surprised when someone appears to be killed in a gunfight but then gets up and walks away. Anna is very confused by this experience.

The following day, back in the dark room with her friends, Anna watches a television presentation of the same play she watched being created on the lighted side of the door. It is as if she has had a premonition of events to come. This time, however, Anna notices that there are no breaks between lines. Nobody takes time out for coffee or a cigarette between events. When the actor is shot and killed, he appears to remain dead. She recognizes that something is wrong with the so-called reality she thought she knew, but Anna still is afraid to talk to anybody else about it. Yet she continues to be drawn through the door for more and more OOTs.

One day, Anna notices that someone else in the group also is slipping through the door and getting a glimpse of the world on the other side. When this person returns, Anna speaks quietly about her experience. The two members of the group now share an opinion, that there is an expanded part of their universe and they are just beginning to discover it. Within a short time, others join them. And now there is a group within the group that secretly believes in a parallel universe. They seek various ways of achieving out-of-television experiences. To achieve it, they experiment with meditation, mind-altering drugs, and yoga. Each time they enter the lighted room more and more information is acquired. The group is keenly aware that there is something more to the universe they are in, but they find they are banned from speaking of it. Society in the dark room prefers to remain locked within the social dogmas they grew up with. Anyone who challenges the established belief system is considered an outcast.

Wilson draws a parallel with the vision Anna and her friends are having. He notes that they go no farther than the television camera studio just outside their television room. They recognize an expanded universe, but never discover the world that exists beyond the fabricated confines of either the television studio, or the false drama presented on the screen in the dark room.

He compares this experience with that of an ant, climbing out of its hole in the ground, and getting a sudden and unexpected concept of the back yard. Although what it envisions is massive and all encompassing, the creature fails to grasp the concept of the house that requires the back yard, or the entire city around the yard, also filled with houses, and all of them having back yards with more ant hills in them.

Thus it is with us. Our carefully prescribed concept of the universe is so limited in its scope, we lack the mental capability of understanding the reality that lies beyond the back yard. Some of us, with the help of psychic or right brain functioning, or possibly a psychedelic drug (now declared illegal), snatch brief glimpses of something more, but we lack the ability to perceive much beyond our own dark three dimensional world. That fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and perhaps even more dimensions exist in the cosmos is beyond our ability to grasp. What is worse, most people are unwilling to even try.

(c) 2019 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

President Trump speaks during a meeting with Latino pastors at the Roosevelt Room of the White House, January 25, 2019, in Washington, DC.

"Dealmaker" Shutdown Committee Is Probably Doomed
By William Rivers Pitt

The dust has finally begun to settle after Donald Trump's Fail Wall was broken over the knee of Speaker Nancy Pelosi like so much soggy fiberboard, with spectacular assistance from furloughed workers across the spectrum. It's time to take stock of what the next three weeks may bring. Dancing around the bonfire of Trump's vanity made for some wonderful weekend exercise, but it's over now, and there is no guarantee that what happens next will be anywhere near as pleasant.

The legislation signed by Trump on Friday after his ignominious Rose Garden capitulation kicked the shutdown can down the road to February 15, exactly 16 days from now. In an effort to cobble together some kind of palatable deal, congressional leadership has assembled an ad hoc committee of 17 Republicans and Democrats who will begin meeting today.

This committee includes Democrats like Senators John Tester, Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, along with Republican Senators Richard Shelby, Roy Blount and Shelley Moore Capito. House members will include Republican Representatives Steven Palazzo, Tom Graves and Chuck Fleischmann, along with Democratic Representatives Barbara Lee, Nita Lowey and David Price. The committee's leadership from both chambers all have long experience in appropriations, and a New York Times headline has dubbed them collectively as the "Dealmakers." The battle lines seem plainly drawn, but appearances deceive. Thanks in large part to the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, the Democrats' main united demand remains no funding for Trump's preposterous border wall. There is reason to believe they will hold to this line in the forthcoming negotiations, but as ever, there is plenty of room to fudge the edges. A wall, after all, does not necessarily need to be made from concrete.

Before this latest shutdown ended, a group of House Democrats was putting together an offer that would spend Trump's wall money on also-spurious measures like more border agents and "smart wall" technologies. Odds are better than good this proposal, or a version of it, will reappear during these new negotiations. Senator Durbin, one of the committee's Democratic leaders, helped write the DREAM Act in 2001, so we should expect protections for the "Dreamers" to be involved as well.

The tea leaves are well and truly scrambled on this one, but if I had to make a guess, I believe this committee is going emerge in 16 days with a deal that will be greeted as "reasonable" and "responsible" by the Beltway press, even as it sets the heads of base voters from both sides on fire. In the end, however, I expect that deal, or any deal, to come to absolutely nothing because Donald Trump remains Donald Trump, period, end of file.

The Democrats will likely offer Trump billions in border security measures to address a crisis that only exists in the over-boiled egg perched beneath the president's hairdo. Their rationale - better to govern than fight - may make sense to some in theory, but for the fact that the times absolutely require a fight, and not a go-along-to-get-along offer that rewards the wolf for slaughtering the sheep.

With a couple of notable exceptions, the Democrats on this committee are not known to be fighters. I believe they will not offer funding for Trump's actual Gulf of Mexico-to-Gulf of California wall, but the package they do come up with will be wall-ish enough to, they'll hope, garner a presidential signature and allow Trump to escape the trap he so foolishly laid for himself. This we call "governing" by the "dealmakers."

It is worthwhile to note that Senator Tester began this week by announcing he would be in favor of giving Trump at least some funding for his silly wall. "I think to take that off the table entirely," he said, "would be not the best direction to go." The involvement of Democrats like him on this committee makes the ground considerably softer for actual border wall proposals than it was when the whole argument was the Nancy Pelosi Show, despite the presence of proven political warriors like Representative Lee, whose long record on matters of conscience and social justice is beyond question. She is but one voice among 17, however, and the pressure to cut a deal will be huge.

Because of Senator Durbin's deep involvement in the inception of the DREAM Act, I also believe the deal the Democrats will ultimately offer will include a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers, who have spent years now being used as unwilling ping pong balls batted around by the likes of the Freedom Caucus and Trump's in-house fascist, Stephen Miller. It would be sweet mercy and true justice if a way could be found to spare these 800,000 people a life spent wondering if a ringing doorbell is announcing their imminent deportation.

A deal that combines increased border security and Dreamer protections would avoid another shutdown or an emergency declaration, and end once and for all the cruel existential crisis being endured by the Dreamers. However, such a deal validates not only institutions like Immigration and Customs Enforcement but the entire idea that an emergency at the border actually exists. Even with Dreamer protections included, it will not sit well with the Democratic base, with progressives or with anyone who believes that Trump deserves to get nothing for the debacle he created so he could snuggle up with his white nationalist base. Genuine protections for the Dreamers will be what ultimately sells it, but there will be definite grumbling.

Which brings us to the committee's Republicans, several of whom have been border wall advocates for years. In a Trumpless world where this shutdown calamity never took place, the Democratic deal I have described would probably be laughed out of the room by the GOP. But Trump is real, the shutdown happened, and the political fallout is coming down on the Republicans like a rain of steel girders. The question they face is not so much if they can accept a deal from the Democrats, but if they can convince Trump to take it and avoid the political disaster that will surely come if the government is shut down again.

Thanks to their feckless fealty to the Orange Menace, the Republicans on this committee have precious few cards to play. If they take the hard line Trump and his base wants them to - The wall or nothing! No amnesty! MAGA! - the Democrats have only to shrug, show the world the "reasonable" offer that was turned down and wait for Trump to put the country in a blender again. Once the grinding stops for the second time, the soupy remains of the Republican Party would probably agree to anything just to make the pain stop and would probably even find the 20 GOP Senate votes needed for a veto override along the way.

Yet even this possibility comes with its own set of gaping holes, thanks to the true nature of the modern Republican Party. This mess is not completely Trump's fault. Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and all the other congressional GOP collaborators let this happen in broad daylight without so much as a blink, and continue even now to have about as much compassion for those affected by the shutdown as a hammerhead shark has for its prey.

For evidence, look no further than the plight of some 500,000 federal contractors who were badly damaged financially by the shutdown. While federal workers will get back pay for the time they were involuntarily furloughed, no such compensation is forthcoming for the contractors without specific legislation to earmark the funds. Democratic Sen. Tina Smith has introduced legislation to do precisely this, and it is backed by more than 20 of her Democratic colleagues. As of this printing, however, not one single Republican has offered support for her bill. These are the kind of people Senator Durbin and his Democratic comrades on the committee will be dealing with, a fact that does not bathe one in optimism.

Still, devoid of empathy as they are, these Republicans are petrified of political blowback. The government shutdown was calamitous for the Republican Party's image, another would be worse, and the party leadership knows this. An emergency declaration would be equally ruinous, and the Republicans know this as well. Trump, however, cannot be trusted in any way to reach a similar conclusion. Even if he does, there is no reason to believe he will give a damn. He has as much use for the Republicans who carry his water as a dog has for a fudge recipe. If they don't get him his border wall funding, odds are better than good he will bus-tire them, again, and take his chances with his base, again.

Trump is almost inevitably bound to use any deal that is an actual compromise as rhetorical toilet paper. Why? The president of the United States is an anthropomorphic Furby who faithfully repeats the last words he hears, and these days the last words he hears on immigration matters usually pass the lips of Stephen Miller, whose entire political philosophy is centered around the belief that vanilla yogurt isn't white enough.

Bottom line: Expect a national emergency declaration and/or another shutdown, because Trump's skull is thicker than the wall he dreams of, and the lessons just don't seem to take.

(c) 2019 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Bill Barr's Catch-22
By Heather Digby Parton

"A concern:"

A planned Senate Judiciary Committee vote on William P. Barr's nomination to serve as attorney general has been delayed for a week, as Democrats continue to raise concerns about whether he would allow special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to finish his probe and publicize the results unimpeded.

The delay, which is customary for high-profile nominations, is not expected to impede Barr's chances of being confirmed by the full Senate. But it is the latest reflection of the deep partisan tension surrounding Barr's nomination, most of which centers on Democrats' desire to protect Mueller's probe from being unduly constrained.

The committee postponed its vote on Barr as one of 46 nominations the panel was scheduled to vote on Tuesday but decided to delay until its next meeting.

In both his public testimony and his written answers to senators' questions, Barr has repeatedly refused to give senators any firm guarantee that he will release Mueller's report to Congress and the public free of redactions. In similar fashion, he has only promised to ask for, but not necessarily heed, the advice of the Justice Department's ethics counsel on the matter of whether he should recuse himself from oversight of the probe.

That has particularly frustrated Democrats, who take issue with a memo Barr penned last year arguing that in scrutinizing the actions of the Trump campaign, Mueller appeared to be interpreting an obstruction of justice statute too broadly. Democrats fear the memo is evidence that Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush during the early 1990s, might seek to limit the scope of Mueller's probe.

Though Barr has said that, as a former attorney general, he often weighs in on topics of the day, he acknowledged in written answers to lawmakers that he could not recall another case in which he sent the Justice Department such a memo.

Barr's written answers also sparked bipartisan concerns about how much information he might allow Mueller to release specifically concerning Trump. In an answer to Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Barr said that "it is Department policy and practice not to criticize individuals for conduct that does not warrant prosecution."

On Tuesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) pointed out that if Barr decided to follow department legal guidance that a sitting president could not be indicted - or, by extension, prosecuted - it could keep Trump out of the report entirely - even if Mueller found concerning information about the president.

Panel chairman Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) agreed that possibility was concerning.

"If you agree you can't indict the president, it's probably not a good reason not to share with us the derogatory information," Graham said, promising to pursue Barr on that point. He also pledged to ask Barr whether he would let Trump claim executive privilege to muzzle portions of the report.

Yeah, that's a problem. If everyone assumes that a sitting president can only be impeached, not indicted, then the standard rule that you don't reveal any evidence about subjects you don't indict means the Justice Department cannot share evidence of Trump's criminality with the congress. In other words, the congress would have to develop all the information on its own, without any of the resources of the Justice department and, in this case, the intelligence community, to determine whether the president is a criminal or a traitor.

The congress has certain power. It can subpoena witnesses and documents. But it depends upon the Justice Department for enforcement purposes. This won't work.

But I don't expect this will make a difference. If Bill Barr decides that his job is to protect the president, that's probably what will happen. We only have two years.

If this happens, we'll end up with the vague conclusion that Trump is just a moron, which could easily be interpreted as exoneration. I mean, everyone knows he's a moron. I don't think that's a deal breaker, frankly. Reagan and Bush weren't exactly intellectual giants. This country is fine with that.

(c) 2019 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley addresses reporters about the Kinder Morgan
Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. Much of the information governments and media
are spreading about pipelines is false.

Canadian Pipeline Push Promotes False And Misleading Claims
By David Suzuki

An Angus Reid poll found 58 per cent of Canadians think lack of pipeline capacity is a national crisis. They can be forgiven for this. The company that owns a near monopoly on newspapers in Canada, aided by politicians and fossil fuel interests, has put significant effort into convincing them.

That the number rises to 87 per cent in Alberta, with 96 per cent believing that not building new pipelines would have a major impact on the Canadian economy, isn't surprising. All mainstream newspapers there are owned by the same company, political parties across the spectrum prioritize oil and gas interests over everything, and even educational institutions like the University of Calgary have been compromised by industry influence.

When the National Post signed a 2013 agreement with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, its publisher, Douglas Kelly, said, "We will work with CAPP to amplify our energy mandate and to be a part of the solution to keep Canada competitive in the global marketplace. The National Post will undertake to leverage all means editorially, technically and creatively to further this critical conversation." That agreement and similar language later extended to its parent company, Postmedia, which owns most major daily newspapers in Canada, as well as many community papers.

The National Post's opinion pages are full of climate-science denial, with few opposing viewpoints. And the Alberta government has spent $23 million on a slick, misleading ad campaign to convince people B.C. is hurting the country by opposing a pipeline project from the oilsands to Vancouver.

Is lack of pipeline capacity a crisis? Are there not things that should concern us more?

Much of the information governments and media are spreading about pipelines is false. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley claims Canada is losing $80 million a day because of a "price discount" on Canadian bitumen that could be overcome with a pipeline to ship more to markets beyond the U.S. Her figure is double the estimate in a Scotiabank report that itself was found to be flawed.

There is no real "discount" on Canadian product, nor are there countries outside the U.S. clamouring for our bitumen. The lower price is because it's costly to extract and process and must be diluted before being shipped by pipeline. As Will Horter writes in the National Observer, new international marine shipping fuel standards limiting high-sulphur heavy crude "will shrink Alberta's share of marine fuel market and add an additional two to three dollars a barrel in refining costs to remove the sulphur." Beyond that, the economic and societal costs from the pollution and climate impacts of rapidly digging up, shipping and consuming these fossil fuels, whether the end product is burned here or in other countries, continue to rise along with global emissions and temperatures. That's a crisis!

An Insurance Bureau of Canada report found damages to homes, businesses and vehicles from extreme weather events in 2018 cost insurers here $1.9 billion, up from $300 to $400 million in 2009. That represents just a fraction of overall costs to governments, businesses and individuals of extreme weather events, increasing health impacts, habitat damage and loss, cleanup of abandoned oil and gas wells, fluctuating global energy markets, food and water security, and even increasing refugee claims.

A study in Nature Communications concluded the world could meet Paris Agreement climate targets and slow impacts by immediately phasing out fossil fuels and their infrastructure. That's in line with a recentIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that concluded we must take significant action over the next dozen years to reduce the threat of catastrophic global warming.

Phasing out fossil fuels won't be easy, but it's necessary, and we have to start now. There's no shortage of solutions. Clean energy technologies are improving as costs are dropping, providing economic and employment opportunities. Carbon pricing has been proven effective in reducing reliance on coal, oil and gas and encouraging energy conservation, efficiency and cleaner alternatives.

What won't help is continuing to dig up, frack and sell climate-disrupting fossil fuels as quickly as possible before markets tank in the face of climate change and better alternatives. Those in media, government, industry and society who lack the insight, imagination or courage to recognize our plight and work for change are putting everyone at risk.

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

White House Tours Sure Ain't What They Used To Be
The president* gives weird ones, and he hosts weird people.
By Charles P. Pierce

Apparently, the president* has been livening up his personal tours of the White House by talking about the places where Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky had their encounters, and that he also slanders Barack Obama for the benefit of his guests. At least, that's what the Washington Post tells us.

Flashing a grin, he wants his friends to see where Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky reportedly began their sexual encounters. "We've remodeled it since then," he said on a tour in December, said a person with direct knowledge of the event. In a visit in 2017, Trump told a TV anchor, "I'm told this is where Bill and Monica ..." - stopping himself from going further, according to "Team of Vipers," a new book by former White House aide Cliff Sims that The Washington Post obtained before its publication Tuesday.

Three other people who have embarked on a tour with Trump said he made similar comments regarding the former president and White House intern, laughing and making facial expressions. The subject often leads to lengthy, sometimes crass conversations, aides said.

No kidding. Electing the Keeper of the Golden Commode has led to crass conversations echoing through those sacred halls? There was no way anyone could have predicted that.
The president has also claimed to guests, without evidence, that his private dining room off the Oval Office was in "rough shape" and had a hole in the wall when he came into the West Wing and that President Barack Obama used it to watch sports, according to two White House officials and two other people who have heard him discuss the dining room. "He just sat in here and watched basketball all day," Trump told a recent group, before saying he upgraded Obama's smaller TV to a sprawling, flat-screen one, the four people said. No kidding. Electing someone whose campaign rhetoric was shot through with truthless racist slanders has resulted in truthless racist slanders resounding through The Residence? There was no way anyone could have predicted that, either.

But that wasn't the most exquisite bit of insanity to emerge from the presidential* casino and day-spa this week. That came from The New York Times, which reported that a whole exaltation of the wingiest of the Beltway wingnuts paid a visit.

During the meeting last Thursday in the Roosevelt Room, which was attended by about a half-dozen White House aides, one woman argued that women should not serve in the military because they had less muscle mass and lung capacity than men did, according to those familiar with the events. At another point, someone said that gay marriage, which the Supreme Court determined in 2015 was the law of the land, was harming the fabric of the United States. And another attendee was dismissive that sexual assault is pervasive in the military.
The leader of this delegation from the Phantom Zone was Ginni Thomas, the controversial spouse of Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court. She was accompanied by the chief of staff in the office of Congressman Louie Gohmert, Padishah Emperor for life of the crazy people. (The latter was masquerading as a "conservative columnist.") It is obviously improper for the wife of a Supreme Court justice to show up at the White House to lobby for her ideological soulmates. But Ginni Thomas's rap sheet is not that of the average SCOTUS spouse. She has been the wildest of wild cards.

She deals in paranoid social media. She trafficked in all manner of slander during the pursuit of Bill Clinton in the 1990s. She has organized a political lobbying and advocacy group that commands a serious audience, and that wields considerable influence on the hard right. In her most famous escapade, in 2010, out of the clear blue, Thomas called Anita Hill, the woman whose sexual harassment claims nearly derailed Clarence Thomas's nomination, and demanded that Hill apologize, which was a thing that did not happen. From The New York Times:

In a voice mail message left at 7:31 a.m. on Oct. 9, a Saturday, Virginia Thomas asked her husband's former aide-turned-adversary to make amends. Ms. Hill played the recording, from her voice mail at Brandeis University, for The New York Times. "Good morning Anita Hill, it's Ginni Thomas," it said. "I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband."

Virginia Thomas sits behind her husband, Clarance, at the Anita Hill hearings.
Ms. Thomas went on: "So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day." Ms. Hill, in an interview, said she had kept the message for nearly a week trying to decide whether the caller really was Ms. Thomas or a prankster. Unsure, she said, she decided to turn it over to the Brandeis campus police with a request to convey it the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "I thought it was certainly inappropriate," Ms. Hill said. "It came in at 7:30 a.m. on my office phone from somebody I didn't know, and she is asking for an apology. It was not invited. There was no background for it." She's still out there on the fringes, too, cold-calling democracy and disturbing its peace.
More recently, she hired as an assistant a woman fired by the conservative group Turning Point USA for texting a colleague a year earlier that "I HATE BLACK PEOPLE." The woman, Crystal Clanton, was on the list of people Ms. Thomas's group asked to have attend the meeting, the people familiar with the sit-down said. She has also drawn criticism for sharing social media posts promoting conspiracy theories, including one suggesting that the billionaire philanthropist George Soros was working against Mr. Trump and that Democrats had committed voter fraud during last year's midterm elections. Shortly before the elections, Ms. Thomas also shared a misleading post about the caravan of migrants traveling toward the United States.
This is a very strange White House these days.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future."
~~~ Leonard Bernstein

John "Jack" Bogle Sr., founder of Vanguard Group.

John C. Bogle
Renaissance Money Manager for the People and More
By Ralph Nader

The accolades were uniformly respectful for the honest, innovative, and unyielding defender of shareholder/investor rights - the late John C. Bogle - the founder of the now giant Vanguard Group of mutual funds. Writers took note of his pioneering low-cost, low-fee investing and mutual funds tied to stock-market indices. Index funds, tied to such indices as the S&P 500, now total trillions of dollars.

Bogle abhorred gouging by the money managers. He would add up their fees - seemingly small at less than 1% a year - and show how over time they could cut the cumulative return by 50% or more. That's why he set up Vanguard in 1974, which by holding down costs and fees has begun to push the rest of the smug industry to be more reasonable. Vanguard now has over $5 trillion in managed assets.

He could have become as rich as Edward Johnson III- his counterpart at Fidelity Investments, who is worth over $7 billion. Instead, Bogle organized Vanguard as a mutual firm, not a stock firm, owned by its investors. Bogle's fortune, at the time of his passing last week, was estimated at $80 million after a lifetime of giving away half of his annual adjusted gross income to charitable and educational groups.

In the admiring words of Warren Buffett, Bogle's work "helped millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned. He is a hero to them and to me."

The Philadelphia Inquirer described the Malvern, Pennsylvania-based local giant of the investing world as "motivated by a mix of pragmatism and idealism. Mr. Bogle was regarded by friends and foes alike as the conscience of the industry and the sheriff of Wall Street." It was hard to be his foe. Bogle, a father of six children, was calm, gregarious, and amicable. He connected his irrefutable rhetoric with unassailable evidence. He was Mr. Fair Play, the go-to wise man for his judgment on whether the torrent of financial services and offerings were, as he put it, "all hat and no cattle." He unraveled the sweet talk and complex camouflage of the financial services industry with analytic precision and explained it with clear language.

He would call out the corporatists whenever he saw rank speculation" reckless debt, "obscene" executive pay, or the disgraceful, unearned golden parachutes handed to bosses who tanked their own companies. For Bogle, there were serious economic differences between "speculation" and "investment" with "other peoples' money."

His admirers were so numerous they organized themselves as "Bogleheads," two of whom wrote the book The Bogleheads 'Guide to Investing. Right up to his passing at the age of 89, after surviving 6 heart attacks and a heart transplant, Bogle, was still humble, approachable, and writing memorable articles.

He was responsive and kind. In May and September of 2016, we held 4 days of the Super Bowl of civic activities in Washington, D.C. I invited Mr. Bogle to speak on the topic of "Fiduciary Duties as if Shareholders Mattered." His voice sounded weary from being over scheduled and other responsibilities. Yet he said "yes, I'll take the train down from Philadelphia." (You can watch his presentation here).

We were fellow Princetonians and he often told me about his 1951 Princeton senior thesis where he laid the basis for his career emphasizing a "reduction of sales loads and management fees."

His family business - American Can - crashed in the Depression, so he grew up poor, working as a newspaper delivery boy, waiter, ticket seller, mail clerk, cub reporter and a pinsetter in a bowling alley, and as he described "growing up the best possible way." The cheerful champion of the fiduciary rule between sellers of financial advice and their client pension funds, insurance policyholders and other buyers/investors wanted fiduciary responsibility to be the law, not just a principle. He urged the large institutional investors - mutual, pension and university endowment funds - to end their passivity and exercise their ownership rights as shareholders in giant companies (Exxon/Mobile, Bank of America, Pfizer, GM etc.), including specifically challenging their political activities and campaign contributions.

Ever the contrarian, in a November 29, 2018 Wall Street Journal article, Bogle warned about the index mutual funds - an industry he started - having too much power! The big three - Vanguard, Black Rock, and State Street Global dominate the field with a collective 81% share of index fund assets. He wrote: "if historical trends continue, a handful of giant institutional investors will one day hold voting control of virtually every large U.S corporation… I do not believe that such concentration would serve the national interest."

Rick Stengel, former managing editor of Time magazine and former president of the National Constitution Center, when Jack Bogle was the Board chair, described him as "the last honorable man, a complete straight-shooter." In his 2008 book, Enough: True Measures of Money, Business and Life, Bogle ranged far beyond index funds and shareholders. The Philadelphia Inquirer put it well: he was "less interested in counting than in what counts. ... He revered language, history, poetry, and classical wisdom, and frequently amazed and delighted people by reciting long passages of verse ...a social critic, civic leader, mentor, and philanthropist." He was also very courteous - striving to return calls and respond to letters, which makes him unique these days.

A devoted father and husband, Jack Bogle declared that the "essential message is, stop focusing on self and start thinking about service to others."

Now is the time for his family, friends, and Bogleheads to plan a series of living memorials to this great and resourceful man, so that his legacy is more than a memory but an ongoing foray into the future that he so fervently wanted to become realities.

(c) 2019 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

ER Blues
How giant health conglomerates are putting our emergency rooms on life-support
By Jane Stillwater

I'm a big fan of Gray's Anatomy, The Resident, The Good Doctor and all those other exciting television shows involving emergency-room drama -- but what really does go on in our emergency rooms these days? It's not at all like what is being portrayed on TV. I just chatted with an ER doctor about what really goes on in America's emergency rooms -- and apparently it's far more about greedy conglomerates, mountains of paperwork, lack of supplies, overworked staff and overcrowded conditions than it is about drama.

"Sure, doctors are paid well," the ER doctor told me. "I'm not complaining about that because basically I'm not in this profession for the money but rather to be able to save lives and help sick people get well. But our workload has gone through the roof lately -- yet we don't get the extra help or resources we need to do all this extra work."

And of course the hospital administrators get pay raise after pay raise, right? "That goes without saying," replied the doc. "Plus we go to school and train for 30 years first -- but almost anyone with a BA and a SmartPhone can handle an administrator's job." This doctor truly loves helping people. "But that's not my job any more. My job right now? To practice medicine the way the insurance companies and the drug industry want us to. And more and more laws keep getting passed that, while well-intentioned, result in our spending much of our time at the computer instead of at the bedside."

"Then you don't mind treating broken bones, sick babies and gunshot wounds?"

"No. That's what we're here for. We're doctors. We signed on for that. But that's not what we do any more. Now we are just one more set of rubber stamps for our ER's true product -- administrative paperwork. Patients line the walls of the waiting rooms, waiting for hours and hours. We don't have the facilities to accommodate them any more because we are being swamped. And actual hospital ERs are closing, consolidating, being replaced by so-called 'Urgent Care' clinics staffed by people with little or no training in emergency medicine." Oh dear.

"It's all about money, no longer about health. And because we are expected to care for anyone who comes to us we have become the final safety net for everything that is falling apart in the health care system. Dealing with so many non-emergency issues is delaying our ability to care for the patients who have actual medical emergencies. This is the big crisis. It's not about money. I don't care about my salary. And not about the shift to nurse-practitioners for primary care either. I welcome that." But?

"As more and more hospitals and ERs close, there are fewer and fewer places that are trying to deal with the constantly increasing need for emergency services, the continually more complex health issues we face, an aging population with health issues unique to themselves and the higher percentage of sick people among us. The increasing poverty and homelessness. The increasing number of people addicted to drugs and alcohol. The increasing number of people with mental illness who have no way to care for themselves. We need more help, not more work.

"And the response of health care organizations here in California is to reduce resources, close hospitals and reduce staffing -- all in an effort to turn a profit and maintain the salary of the administrators. And the response of our legislators is just to shift more and more extraneous work onto the nurses and doctors already battling to provide the needed care."

Sounds like a matter of life and death. "Yeah." Our lives, our deaths.

Slowly the healthcare conglomerate giants are downsizing our American emergency rooms. Will they eventually be reduced to the point where all you're gonna get when you go to one in the future will be a band-aid and a kiss on your boo-boo from your mom? What to do about this extreme medical crisis in our ERs? We have two basic choices here. Either we get angry, very angry, and demand better healthcare -- or else just plan to never get sick at night or on weekends.

And what is causing even more problems here is a new law that California just passed wherein anyone who is homeless can just show up at any emergency room statewide and demand food and help with housing. It's basically a good idea to help the homeless, but this law has not been carefully thought out.

"This new bill mandates us to distribute food, clothing and housing assistance, which homeless people are now becoming aware of and we've started to have a huge influx of people without any medical problems coming in merely to get a hot meal and a change of clothes, which we have no resources to provide to them." Yikes!

"And how will ERs ever be able to handle all that when we don't have the personnel or the space for this extra burden? When we don't even have the time or space to do what they are asking us to do now," wondered this overwhelmed doctor -- who already had dark circles under his eyes. "And when, exactly, are we supposed to do our actual jobs of taking care of the sick?"

And then he clarified his fears even further. "The main thing I am upset about is that much of what is wrong with the fabric of our society is now falling upon the ERs to deal with: homelessness, drug abuse, mental health issues, lack of access to medical care. The ongoing response of well-meaning legislators is to mandate that the ER staff do more and more things that society itself should be taking care of, such as screening for domestic violence, offering meals, clothing and assistance with housing placement to all homeless patients and testing for hepatitis C and HIV -- yet with no accompanying funding or resources." I'd probably end up having nightmares if forced to cope with all this. Sucks to be an ER doctor these days.

"But what good does it do to screen for domestic abuse when I can't offer them safety? How and why is an ER doctor supposed to counsel people about HIV or hepatitis C? What are we supposed to do with all the mentally ill patients who come in, sometimes several times a day, when we have nowhere to send them for help unless they are sick enough to need hospitalization?"

Perhaps we Americans need to reconsider our priorities here. We can either ask -- force -- our government to put our tax monies toward promoting decent emergency-room care (so we don't have to die in the street) or we can continue to let our government spend our tax money on promoting endless "war" and making weapon-makers rich beyond belief as they gleefully murder millions of strangers abroad in far away places like Syria, Congo and Afghanistan -- and thus by default help murder millions of Americans here at home too.

Plus we Americans also need to put our big-boy pants on and demand that giant healthcare corporations put a cap on how much they can gouge us for when we are too weak and desperate to resist.

Which one of these options would you chose if you were sick?

(c) 2019 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Wilber get's dressed up for a night on the town!

Heil Trump,

Dear Handelsminister Ross

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 let them eat cake attitude, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 02-16-2019. We salute you herr Ross, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Fall Of Davos Man
By Robert Reich

The annual confab of the captains of global industry, finance, and wealth is underway in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.

Meanwhile, Oxfam reports that the wealth of the 2,200 billionaires across the globe increased by $900 billion last year - or $2.5 billion a day. Their 12 percent increase in wealth contrasts with a drop of 11 percent in the wealth of the bottom half of the people of the world. In fact, the world's 26 richest billionaires now own as much as the 3.8 billion who comprise the bottom half of the planet's population.

If Davos's attendees ignore all this, and blame the rise of right-wing populism around the globe on racism fueled by immigrants from the Middle East and from Central America, they're deluding themselves.

The real source of the rise of repressive authoritarianism, nativism, and xenophobia in the United States as well as Italy, Spain, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, Bulgaria, Greece, France, and Britain is a pervasive sense that elites are rigging the world economy for themselves. And, guess what? They are.

Message to Davos Man (and Women): Either commit to pushing for broader prosperity and democracy, or watch as trade wars, capital controls, and isolationism erode global prosperity (including yours) and global peace.

(c) 2019 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The World To Come
By Chris Hedges

The ruling elites are painfully aware that the foundations of American power are rotting. The outsourcing of manufacturing in the United States and the plunging of over half the population into poverty will, they know, not be reversed. The self-destructive government shutdown has been only one of numerous assaults on the efficiency of the administrative state. The failing roads, bridges and public transportation are making commerce and communications more difficult. The soaring government deficit, now almost a trillion dollars thanks to the Trump administration's massive corporate tax cuts, cannot be eliminated. The seizure of the financial system by global speculators ensures, sooner rather than later, another financial meltdown. The dysfunction of democratic institutions, which vomit up con artists such as Donald Trump and hold as alternatives inept, corporate-indentured politicians such as Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, is cementing into place a new authoritarianism. The hollowing out of the pillars of the state, including the diplomatic corps and regulatory agencies, leaves the blunt force of the military as the only response to foreign disputes and fuels endless and futile foreign wars.

Just as ominous as the visible rot is the internal decay. Among all social classes there is a loss of faith in the government, widespread frustration, a sense of stagnation and entrapment, bitterness over unfulfilled expectations and promises, and a merging of fact and fiction so that civil and political discourse is no longer rooted in reality. The nation's isolation by its traditional allies and its inability, especially in the face of environmental catastrophe, to articulate rational and visionary policies have shattered the mystique that is vital to power. "A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial," George Orwell wrote. "That is when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud." Our elites have exhausted fraud. Force is all they have left.

The United States is a wounded beast, bellowing and thrashing in its death throes. It can inflict tremendous damage, but it cannot recover. These are the last, agonizing days of the American Empire. The death blow will come when the dollar is dropped as the world's reserve currency, a process already underway. The value of the dollar will plummet, setting off a severe depression and demanding instant contraction of the military overseas.

Seth A. Klarman, who runs the Baupost Group hedge fund, which manages about $27 billion, just sent a sobering 22-page letter to his investors. He pointed out that the nation's ratio of government debt to gross domestic product from 2008 to 2017 exceeded 100 percent and is close to that in France, Canada, Britain and Spain. The debt crisis, he warned, could be the "seeds" of the next financial crisis. He decried the global unraveling of "social cohesion," adding, "It can't be business as usual amid constant protests, riots, shutdowns and escalating social tensions."

"There is no way to know how much debt is too much, but America will inevitably reach an inflection point whereupon a suddenly more skeptical debt market will refuse to continue to lend to us at rates we can afford," he said in the letter. "By the time such a crisis hits, it will likely be too late to get our house in order."

The ruling elites, worried about impending financial collapse, are scrambling to cement into place harsh legal and physical forms of control to stymie what they fear could be widespread popular unrest, nascent forms of which can be seen in the strikes carried out by American teachers and the protests by the "yellow vests" in France.

The ruling ideology of neoliberalism, the ruling elites recognize, has been discredited across the political spectrum. This is forcing the elites to make unsavory alliances with neofascists, who in the United States are represented by the Christian right. This Christianized fascism is swiftly filling Trump's ideological void. It is embodied in figures such as Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Brett Kavanaugh and Betsy DeVoss.

In its most virulent form, one that will be expressed once the economy goes into crisis, this Christian fascism will seek to purge the society of those branded as social deviants, including immigrants, Muslims, "secular humanist" artists and intellectuals, feminists, gays and lesbians, Native Americans and criminals-largely poor people of color-based on a perverted and heretical interpretation of the Bible. Abortion will be illegal. The death penalty will be mandated for a variety of crimes. Education will be dominated by white supremacist views of history, indoctrination and the teaching of creationism or "intelligent design." The pantheon of new America heroes will include Robert E. Lee, Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon. The state will portray the white majority as victims.

This Christian fascism, like all forms of totalitarianism, wraps itself in a cloying piety, promising moral as well as physical renewal. The degradation of mass culture with its celebration of sexual sadism, graphic violence and personal dysfunction, its plagues of opioid addiction, suicide, gambling and alcoholism, along with social chaos and government dysfunction, will lend credibility to the Christian fascists' promise of a return to a "Christian" purity. The cloak of this piety will be used to snuff out all civil liberties.

Central to any totalitarian ideology is a constant inquisition against supposedly clandestine and sinister groups held responsible for the country's demise. Conspiracy theories, which already color Trump's worldview, will proliferate. The ruling rhetoric will whipsaw the population, swinging from championing individualism and personal freedom to calling for abject subservience to those who claim to speak for the nation and God, from the sanctity of life to advocating the death penalty, unrestrained police violence and militarism, from love and compassion to the fear of being branded a heretic or traitor. A grotesque hypermasculinity will be celebrated. Violence will be held up as the mechanism to cleanse the society and the world of evil. Facts will be erased or altered. Lies will become true. Political language will be cognitive dissonance. The more the country declines, the more the paranoia and collective insanity will grow. All of these elements are present in varying forms within the culture and our failed democracy. They will become pronounced as the country unravels and the disease of totalitarianism spreads.

The ruling oligarchs, as in all failed states, will retreat into fortified compounds, many of which they are already preparing, where they will have access to basic services, health care, education, water, electricity and security largely denied to the wider population. The central government will be reduced to its most basic functions-internal and external security and collecting taxes. Severe poverty will cripple the lives of most citizens. Any essential service once provided by the state, from utilities to basic policing, will be privatized, expensive and inaccessible to those without resources. Trash will pile up in the streets. Crime will explode. The electrical grid and water systems-decrepit, poorly maintained and run by corporations-will repeatedly turn on and off.

The mass media will become nakedly Orwellian, chatting endlessly about a bright future and pretending America remains a great superpower. It will substitute political gossip for news-a corruption already far advanced-while insisting that the country is in an economic recovery or about to enter one. It will refuse to address ever-worsening social inequality, political and environmental deterioration and military debacles. Its primary role will be to peddle illusions so that an atomized public, fixated on its electronic screens, will be diverted from the collapse and see its plight as personal rather than collective. Dissent will become more difficult as critics are censored and attacked as responsible for the decline. Hate groups and hate crimes will proliferate and be tacitly empowered and condoned by the state. Mass shootings will be commonplace. The weak-especially children, women, the disabled, the sick and the elderly-will be exploited, abandoned or abused. The strong will be omnipotent.

There will still be money to be made. Corporations will sell anything for a profit-security, dwindling food supplies, fossil fuel, water, electricity, education, medical care, transportation-forcing citizens into debt peonage that will see their meager assets seized when they can't make payments. The prison population, already the largest in the world, will expand along with the number of citizens forced to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day. Big corporations will pay no income tax or at best a symbolic tax. They will be above the law, able to abuse and underpay workers and poison the environment without oversight or regulation.

As income inequality becomes more massive, financial titans such as Jeff Bezos, worth some $140 billion, will increasingly function as modern-day slaveholders. They will preside over financial empires where impoverished employees will live in run-down campers and trailer parks while toiling 12 hours a day in vast, poorly ventilated warehouses. These employees, paid subsistence wages, will be constantly recorded, tracked and monitored by digital devices. They will be fired when the punishing work conditions cripple their health. For many Amazon employees the future is now.

Work will be a form of serfdom for all but the upper elites and managers. Jeffrey Pfeffer in his book "Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance-and What We Can Do About It" quotes a survey in which 61 percent of employees said workplace stress had made them ill and 7 percent said they required hospitalization as a result. The stress of overwork, he writes, may cause 120,000 deaths annually in the United States. In China there are an estimated 1 million deaths a year from overwork.

This is the world the elites are preparing for by setting in place legal mechanisms and internal security forces to strip us of liberty.

We, too, must begin to prepare for this dystopia, not only to ensure our survival but to build mechanisms to blunt and attempt to overthrow the totalitarian power the elites expect to wield. Alexander Herzen, speaking to a group of anarchists a century ago about how to overthrow the Russian czar, reminded his listeners that it was their job not to save a dying system but to replace it: "We think we are the doctors. We are the disease." All efforts to reform the American system is capitulation. No progressive in the Democratic Party is going to rise up, take control of the party and save us. There is one ruling party. The corporate party. It may engage in petty, internecine warfare, as it did in the recent government shutdown. It may squabble over power and the spoils of power. It may come wrapped in more tolerant stances regarding women, LGBT rights and the dignity of people of color, but on the fundamental issues of war, internal security and corporate domination there is no divergence.

We must carry out organized civil disobedience and forms of non-cooperation to weaken corporate power. We must use, as in France, widespread and sustained social unrest to push back against the designs of our corporate masters. We must sever ourselves from reliance on corporations in order to build independent, sustainable communities and alternative forms of power. The less we need corporations the freer we will become. This will be true in every aspect of our lives, including food production, education, journalism, artistic expression and work. Life will have to be communal. No one, unless he or she is part of the ruling elite, will have the resources to survive alone.

The longer we pretend this dystopian world is not imminent, the more unprepared and disempowered we will be. The ruling elite's goal is to keep us entertained, frightened and passive while they build draconian structures of oppression grounded in this dark reality. It is up to us to pit power against power. Ours against theirs. Even if we cannot alter the larger culture, we can at least create self-sustaining enclaves where we can approximate freedom. We can keep alive the burning embers of a world based on mutual aid rather than mutual exploitation. And this, given what lies in front of us, will be a victory.

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

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Chip Bok ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Trump Comes Out Strongly Against Intelligence
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Using some of his harshest rhetoric in recent memory, President Donald J. Trump came out strongly against intelligence on Wednesday morning.

"I've listened to these people with so-called intelligence go on and on, and, quite frankly, it's a waste of time," he said. "I know a lot more than people with intelligence do." Trump added that he has stopped receiving intelligence briefings at the White House, arguing, "I can do my job without any intelligence whatsoever."

He said that he has chosen, instead, to seek advice from his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and from his elder children, Ivanka, Eric, and Donald, Jr. "You won't find a trace of intelligence in anything they say," he boasted.

At a briefing for the White House press corps, the President's press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, denied that Trump's war on intelligence was a new development. "Intelligence has never played a role in Donald Trump's life," she said.

(c) 2019 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 05 (c) 02/01/2019

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