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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi concludes, "Donald Trump's Thinking On Nukes Is Insane And Ignorant."

Uri Avnery wonders, "What The Hell Am I?"

Glen Ford examines, "Bandit Baltimore Cops And The Black Misleadershp Class."

Greg Palast reminds us, "The "Steele Dossier" On ... Me: The Nunes Memo Shouldn't Prompt Us To Defend The FBI."

Jim Hightower explains, "Why The American Majority Despises Trump's Washington."

John Nichols finds, "Randy Bryce's Campaign Is Not Just Pro-Union-It's Unionized."

James Donahue covers, "The Attack On Our Brains."

Elizabeth Warren returns with, "Yes. Let's Talk About Pocahontas."

Heather Digby Parton says, "There's Definitely A Cover Up --- But Don't Forget The Crime."

David Swanson explains, "Why And Why Not To Oppose A Trumparade."

Charles P. Pierce reveals, "It's Not Just These Cops. It's Not Just Baltimore."

Dahr Jamail warns, "Study: 'Amplified Warming' Has Ended The Era Of Stable Climate."

William Rivers Pitt considers, "Rand Paul And The Sleepover Shutdown: A Three-Act Farce."

Kentucky's Republican Governor Matt Bevin wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explores, "Trump's Big Buyback Bamboozle."

Chris Hedges warns of, "The Deadly Rule Of The Oligarchs."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Frustrated Hope Hicks Wishing She Could Find One Nice Guy In This Autocratic Personality Cult," but first Uncle Ernie examines, "Trump's New War On America."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Daryl Cagle, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Andrew Harrer, Alex Wong, Bill Clark, Chip Somodevilla, Johner Images, Reynold Rex, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Trump's New War On America
By Ernest Stewart

"In addition to the proposed border wall funding, increase in defense spending and changes to welfare programs, the budget also calls for ObamaCare repeal.

The budget additionally proposes to eliminate federal agencies that Republicans have viewed as wasteful federal spending, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The budget also calls for restructuring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency much criticized by the GOP, by subjecting it to congressional appropriations. ~~~ Naomi Jagoda ~ The Hill

"No one disputes the climate changes, is changing, that's, we see that, that's constant. We obviously contribute to it; we live in the climate, right?...Now measuring that with precision, Gerard, I think is more challenging than is let on at times but I think the bigger question it an existential threat? Is it something that is unsustainable or what kind of effect or harm is this going to have? I mean, we know that humans have most flourished during times of what, warming trends. I mean, so, so, I think there's assumptions made that because the climate is warming that that necessarily is a bad thing." ~~~ Scott Pruitt ~ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator

"We continue to keep the victims, and their friends and family, in our thoughts and prayers." ~~~ Sarah Huckabee Sanders

"No one has ever become poor by giving. ~~~ Anne Frank

Amongst other things the Trump 2019 budget proposes is cutting $266 billion from the Medicare program over the next decade, despite campaign promises to keep the program as is. Considering that Medicare is a paid for program that has absolutely nothing to do with the budget deficit and would be stealing from money that all Americans have paid for, and would likely be a death sentences for the sick, elderly, and the poor, Trump's all for it.

The plan would also cut $214 billion from food stamps over the next decade by eliminating cash payments in favor of "American grown food" packages given directly to recipients. Instead of using their own discretion at food markets, the White House proposes that recipients receive parcels that "include items such as shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit, vegetables, and meat, poultry or fish." Most of which are full of GMO poisons which will certainly kill millions more of the poor and elderly.

The budget claims it will save money by cutting back on alleged welfare fraud. "Millions of Americans are in a tragic state of dependency on a welfare system that does not reward work and, in many cases, pays people not to work," the president's budget message claims, without providing a drop of evidence. "These programs, expanded during the previous administration, must now be reformed." In other word if Obama had anything to do with it it must be destroyed no matter the cost to America.

SNAP, America's food stamp program, currently gives about 42 million Americans an average of $125.79 per month. That money can be redeemed for food items at a grocery store. Instead what amounts to a new "Government Cheese" program, you oldies may remember that. Most of what is offered may kill or hurt folks forced to eat it. Oh and did I mention if you get social security because you are sick or injured you can kiss those government checks good bye.

Some other cuts proposed are 42.3 percent cut to all "non-defense discretionary" spending, from the currently planned level of $756 billion in 2028 to $436 billion. This category includes funding for government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department, certain safety net programs like Head Start, law enforcement spending at the FBI and Department of Justice, and scientific research through the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. In other words if it helps or protects Americans it's got to go!

A 33.7 percent cut to the EPA, a 29.5 percent cut to the National Science Foundation, a 22.2 percent cut to the Army Corps of Engineers (a major infrastructure program), a 21.4 percent cut to the Labor Department, and a 26.9 percent cut to the State Department, among many other discretionary spending cuts.

A $777 billion boost to defense spending over 10 years, paid for partially by reducing "overseas contingency operations" spending (also known as the war budget). By 2028, total defense spending will be lower, but over the next few years it will be significantly higher (7.9 percent higher in 2020, for instance). Any one surprised by that? We now spend more on defence that the next 8 top spenders combined! Oh, and did I mention, there's billions for the border wall!

Of course, the chances of this budget passing are highly unlikely with the current House and Senate and if the Dems pick up any seats in November this will be seen as a Trump pipe dream with no chance of passing. If, however, the Rethuglicans pick up any seats in the Senate this could be the new reality and the end of America as we have known it! Still glad you voted for Trump, America?

In Other News

You may recall that last February Trump instructed cabinet members "to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people," and it appears Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has taken that to mean attack the environment and public health. He attempted to suspend a rule put in place under President Barack Obama to regulate methane emissions from new gas and oil wells. But now a federal appeals court has dealt Pruitt and Trump a setback.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the EPA can't suspend the Obama-era rule. In a two to one decision, the court said under the Clean Air Act, the EPA doesn't have the authority to obstruct the rule. Pruitt had placed a 90-day moratorium on enforcing portions of the methane rule, and then stretched that moratorium to two years. He also said his move wasn't subject to court review. But the federal appeals court begged to differ calling his decision unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious. And ruled the Clean Air Act stands.

Meanwhile, global warming has again almost drowned certain sections of the south as it did last year! Several rounds of heavy rain are moving in from the south with widespread flooding concerns from the Florida Panhandle to southern Massachusetts. Rainfall rates on Sunday morning in parts of southern Alabama and Florida are nearing 2 inches per hour.

Radar is estimating that nearly 3 inches of rain fell in the Nashville area on Saturday, with more falling early Sunday morning. Several road closures were reported in the region due to water covered roadways. Flooding caused problems in southwest Virginia and southeast Kentucky as well. Dickenson County, Virginia reported road closures, mudslides and evacuations due to relentless heavy rain.

The Cumberland River in Baxter, Kentucky has risen nearly 18 feet since Saturday morning due to heavy rain and is now in major flood stage. Harlan County, Kentucky has declared a state of emergency due to the heavy rain and flooding. But don't worry, America, Scott Pruitt says this global warming is going to be a good thing so keep that in mind when you're going under for the third time!

And Finally

Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people and wounded 14 others with a M-15 assault rife while wearing a gas ask and lobbing smoke bombs as he systematically walked through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

This Florida high school is the eighth shooting to have resulted in death or injury during the first seven weeks of the year, that more than one a week. At this rate we should have about 70 mass murders in our schools by the end of the year, because nothing will be done about it. In all, guns have been fired on school property in the US at least 18 times so far this year, according to incidents tracked by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group. In eight of these cases, a gun was fired on school property, but no one was injured. Another two incidents were gun suicides, claiming the lives of one student and one adult on school property.

And can you just hear the NRA puppets in the US Senate and House offering their thoughts and prayers instead of any real changes in gun laws. Of course, Trumpy the wonder boy said it was because Cruz was mentally disturbed, no sh*t Sherlock? Because guns don't kill people, people with guns kill people!

Researchers say that when compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States' gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher. I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs...

A gun murder rate that's 25 Time Higher than anywhere else!!!

And, even though the United States' suicide rate is similar to other countries, the nation's gun-related suicide rate is eight times higher than other high-income countries.

Donald made it a priority in the early days of his administration to reverse an Obama-era rule that was part of the implementation of a 2008 law that Congress passed in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting. The rule would have allowed the Social Security Administration to provide information to the gun background check system of people who have so severe a mental disability that they can't perform any kind of work and can't manage their own benefits.

As Pearl Jam once sang, Jeremy spoke in class today!

Keepin' On

I'm having a deja vu all over again, so until things change I'll just run this...

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

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

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


04-08-1931 ~ 02-09-2018
Thanks for the film!

09-13-1949 ~ 02-09-2018
Thanks for the music!

03-23-1922 ~ 02-12-2018
Thanks for the laughs!


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

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

Trump delivers remarks on his recent trip to Asia.

Donald Trump's Thinking On Nukes Is Insane And Ignorant
The president's new "Nuclear Posture Review" shows Trump at his most cowardly and dangerous
By Matt Taibbi

If one could adjectivize the president, there has never been anything Trumpier than Donald Trump's posture on nuclear weapons. It's an issue where he embraces contradictory thoughts in the same breath with routine. In candidate Trump's debate with Hillary Clinton on September 26, 2016, he said, "I would certainly not do first strike" and "I can't take anything off the table" within the space of seconds. In between, he pulled a Reagan and told a homespun tale on the subject, except his made no sense. "I looked the other night, I was seeing B-52s," he said (where? In his head? On Sixth Avenue?). "They're old enough that your father, your grandfather could be flying them," he added. "We are not keeping up with other countries."

Nukes are the ultimate Trump policy problem because it's a subject that requires scientific knowledge he completely lacks, while also forcing him to choose between two of his most sharply conflicting narcissistic affectations: the deal-making man of peace vs. the "I love war" Lieutenenant Schiesskopf-style missile-humping parade-master.

Remember, candidate Trump ran as a quasi-isolationist who was too smart to waste treasure and lives on pointless regional confrontations in Middle Eastern countries. His first major foreign policy address in April of 2016 was an extended diatribe against post-Cold War interventionism.

In it, he decried military adventures from Syria to Iraq to Libya that unleashed "civil war, religious fanaticism, thousands of Americans... killed... many trillions of dollars... lost..." etc. etc.

But Trump, like Americans generally, can't handle even the possibility of people thinking he's a wimp for a second. So even as he ran as an isolationist, an issue that probably won him some key votes -studies showed Trump did well in areas hit hardest by military casualties from our recent dumb wars -he also constantly hyped himself as someone so crazy and unpredictable, he just might use nuclear weapons (as if we needed to be told this!).

Recall Trump telling Face the Nation this, in response to a question by CBS host John Dickerson, about nuke use:

I made a great business deal. And the person on the other side was interviewed by a newspaper. And how did Trump do this? And they said, he's so unpredictable. And I didn't know if he meant it positively or negative. It turned out he meant it positively. We have to be somewhat unpredictable in this whole thing. Nuclear, though, has to be absolute last stance.
Now, on the heels of reports that Trump wants his own version of a Bastille Day parade -classically Soviet behavior in the mold of George W. Bush or Nikita Khruschev, lifelong political creatures who craved military affirmation in the form of medals, unis, and parades -we get the release of Trump's "Nuclear Posture Review." And it's every bit as bad as could be expected.

The scariest passage in the NPR is meant to clarify a word used with incredible frequency in the massive document: flexibility (I counted 38 usages). After explaining that Russia may feel it has a tactical advantage over the United States because of its greater diversity of nuclear weapons, and in particular its "limited first nuclear use" capability, the NPR explains new technologies are needed.

America will answer in kind, the paper says, by replacing our arsenal with newer and more "flexible" weapons:

To address these types of challenges and preserve deterrence stability, the United States will enhance the flexibility and range of its tailored deterrence options. To be clear, this is not intended to, nor does it enable, "nuclear war-fighting." Expanding flexible U.S. nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression.
Translation: not that we want to enable "nuclear war-fighting," but we want to have the option of "nuclear war-fighting" should we need to opt for... "nuclear war-fighting." Therefore, we need "low-yield options."

The Swiss-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won the Nobel Prize in 2017 for its work campaigning for the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by the U.N. in July.

The ICAN-lobbied Treaty -similar maybe to the Paris accord, or International treaties on land mines or chemical weapons -would effectively outlaw nuclear weapons and represents the latest thinking of most educated people on the subject, which is that nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable health and safety risk no matter how they're deployed or "modernized."

Certainly pushing a program that involves the mass-construction of "low-yield options" that would create in the mind (or what passes for the mind) of someone like Trump a more "usable" nuclear weapon is pretty much the worst-case scenario.

The reality is that we've been incredibly lucky since 1945 that there haven't been more nuclear disasters. Only the quick thinking of a Soviet army lieutenant in 1983 (after a mistaken launch detection) and half-dead Boris Yeltsin in 1995 (in the so-called "Norweigan rocket incident") prevented global annihilation.

"If you're going to have nuclear weapons forever, they will be used, by accident, intention, or misunderstanding," says Beatrice Fihn, who accepted the Nobel Prize on behalf of ICAN.

Fihn told Rolling Stone that the problem was bad enough before. But now "it's a completely different scenario than when it was just two blocs threatening each other."

Remember, back then, at the height of the Cold War, even the morons who sat in positions of responsibility in both the Pentagon and in the Soviet Union recognized the inherent danger that nuclear weapons posed to humanity. Even people who stood to benefit politically and financially from endless campaigns of weapons development and propaganda about "missile gaps" nonetheless managed to head in the right direction on this issue.

From a high of 60,000-70,000 warheads the two sides managed, through a series of treaties (from ABM to SALT to START to START II), to reduce international stockpiles to somewhere around 15,000 warheads or below.

Which is all well and good, but two problems have emerged of late.

One is this new re-proliferation direction continued (and worsened) by Trump. Barack Obama, too, went from being practically an antinuke activist -he famously called for a "world without nuclear weapons" -to green-lighting a trillion-dollar "modernization" program.

Trump's NPR continues and expands on that idea, and the emphasis on low-yield, Hiroshima-sized weapons that might offer more strategic "flexibility" is exactly the problem.

In 2007, a study by Alan Robock and other scientists in "Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics" estimated that a "limited" nuclear war involving just 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs could have a devastating effect on the world's food supply.

An updated study published by the Physicians for Social Responsibility concluded that more than two billion people could end up threatened by reduced food stocks after just such a "limited" exchange of "low-yield" weapons (the study posited an exchange of warheads between India and Pakistan). This means that a "regional" war would kill in less than a week more than in all over World War II. Two billion dead from starvation would be a few hundred holocausts. And yet, this is the strategy we're moving toward, not away from.

This is why the situation with Trump, his plans for a more "flexible" arsenal, and moreover his ongoing saber-rattling with North Korea, are so troubling. Donald Trump, guaranteed, is not thinking about what's going to happen to American and Chinese soybean crops if he has to lob a few missiles back and forth with "little Rocket man" Kim Jong-Un.

That's the problem with the embrace of "low-yield" strategies. They assume survivability on one side anyway, but they don't explain what methodology they're using to make these assumptions.

"Who would clean up afterwards?" Fihn asks. "Where would you bury the bodies? If there's a nuclear war over a densely populated area, what do you do with the bodies to prevent infections from spreading?"

The nuclear powers "don't engage on these questions," says Fihn, so no one knows how they're doing the math to bring us back to "flexible" nuclear options.

This is also what made Trump's State of the Union address so hair-raising. A fair portion of it was devoted to making emotional appeals about the evil nature of the North Korea regime, including a gruesome story about the dual amputation/torture of dissident Ji-Seong-ho.

The telling of a horrifying human rights abuse story about a foe by the president is often a precursor to some kind of military action.

Those of us old enough to remember will recall the tale of Iraqi soldiers occupying Kuwait taking babies out of incubators and leaving them to die.

The story turned out to have dubious provenance, but George H.W. Bush repeated it in a news conference prior to the first Gulf War. Bill Clinton compared Milosevic to Hitler. George W. Bush ran through a litany of human rights abuses ascribed to former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein prior to the second invasion, citing "beating, burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape."

This is not to say these things weren't or aren't true, just that if you go by the U.S. playbook of military conflict, there is almost always a high-profile human rights abuse accusation that comes shortly before the exchange of hostilities. And as Bob Dreyfuss wrote in this space a few days ago, Trump's saber-rattling with North Korea could easily push us to the one place we can't go -a nuclear exchange.

Trump's new NPR shows that the president and the people around him believe in the usability of nuclear weapons. They're ignorant enough to not have asked questions about what happens after we hit "send" on that one. After all, this is a president who clearly didn't even consider the next steps of winning an election. And we expect him to have plans for how to manage nuclear war? Of all the nightmares of the Trump era, this, Elizabeth, is the big one.

Actually it isn't. In part because we've backed away from anti-proliferation efforts, the Russians have apparently developed a real-life Doomsday Device -the Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6 or "Kanyon" bomb, which is 1,000 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb and apparently would be delivered by drone submarine. So that's awesome. Now we get to go back in time to worrying for real about the specter of mutual mass-annihilation, only this time with more devastating weapons.
(c) 2018 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

What The Hell Am I?
By Uri Avnery

An Israeli? A Jew? A peace activist? A Journalist? An author? An ex-combat soldier in the Israeli army? An ex-terrorist? A...?

All of these and more.

OK. OK. But in what order? Which is the most important component?

First of all, of course, I am a human being, with all the rights and duties of a human being. That part is easy. At least in theory.

Then I am an Israeli. Then I am a Jew. And so on.

AN AUSTRALIAN man of English extraction would have no trouble answering such a question. He is first and foremost an Australian, and then an Anglo-Saxon. In two world wars he rushed to the aid of Britain, for no practical reason. But in the second war, when his own homeland was suddenly in danger, he rushed back home.

That was quite natural. True, Australia was created mainly by British people (including deported convicts), but the Australian's mental world was formed by the geographical, political and physical environment of Australia. In the course of time, even his (and her) physical appearance changed.

ONCE I had a discussion about this with Ariel Sharon.

I told him that I consider myself an Israeli first, and a Jew only second.

Sharon, who was born in pre-Israel Palestine, retorted heatedly: "I am first of all a Jew, and only then an Israeli!"

This seems an idle discussion. But it has a very practical relevance for our daily life.

For example, is this a "Jewish" state, how can it exist without the dominance of the Jewish religion?

Israel was founded by very secular idealists. Most of them looked upon religion as a relic of the past, a handful of ridiculous superstitions that must be discarded in order to clear the way for a healthy, modern nationalism.

The founding father, Theodor Herzl, whose picture hangs in every Israeli schoolroom, was completely non-religious, not to say anti-religious. In his ground-breaking book, "Der Judenstaat" (The Jewish State), he declared that in the future Zionist state, the rabbis would be kept in the synagogues, without any influence on public affairs.

The rabbis answered in no uncertain terms. They cursed him outright, using the most extreme language. They believed that God Almighty had sent the Jews into exile as a punishment for their sins, and only God Almighty had the right to bring them back by sending the Messiah.

Even the German reform rabbis, a small minority at the time, condemned him. Only a handful of rabbis joined the Zionist movement in the early days.

In Jerusalem, an important group of Orthodox rabbis, who called themselves Neturei Karta ("Guardians of the City"), were openly anti-Zionist. Much later, I often met them in Arafat's office. Other Orthodox rabbis, a bit less radical, insisted on being non-Zionist while still accepting Zionist money. They are now members of the governing coalition.

David Ben-Gurion, the leading Zionist when the State of Israel came into being, despised the religious. He believed that they would disappear by themselves in time. Therefore (and in order to gain the support and money of orthodox Jews abroad) he made all kinds of concessions to them, which allowed the religious community to grow out of all proportion. Now they endanger the very existence of our secular state.

Although representing only about a fifth of Israel's population, the Orthodox of various shades now constitute a powerful force in Israeli politics. From being a moderate force for peace they have turned to a radical nationalism, often a religious fascism. Their influence on daily life is becoming more and more pervasive.

Lately they succeeded in passing a law that forbids the opening of supermarkets on Saturday (Shabbat). The extreme Orthodox wing forbids its sons to serve in the army, demanding that all female soldiers be removed altogether, or at least be prevented from having any contact at all with their male comrades.

Since most Israelis see the army as (perhaps) the only unifying force left in Israel, this results in a perpetual crisis. Other Orthodox wings take the contrary view: they see the army as God's instrument for cleansing all of the Holy Land of non-Jews.

Arab citizens of Israel - more than 20% of the population - do not serve in the army, with some exceptions. How could they be counted on to fulfill the designs of the God of Israel?

If Ben-Gurion and all the dead soldiers of my generation could hear about this situation, they would turn in their graves.

THIS IS only one of the manifestations of the Jewish-first ideology. Another is the question of Israel's place on the region. Jewish-first dictates a quite different outlook than Israeli-first.

I was just 10 years old when my family fled from Nazi Germany to Palestine. On the ship from Marseille to Jaffa I cut myself off completely from the European continent and connected with the Asian one.

I loved it. The sounds, the smells, the environment. I wanted to embrace it all. When at the age of 15 I joined the underground liberation struggle against the British overlords of Palestine, I felt that we were a part of the general struggle of a new world against Western domination.

At the time, a linguistic usage was accepted by all of us, even without noticing. We all started to distinguish between "Jewish", by which we meant the Jews of the Diaspora ("exile Jews" in Zionist terms), and "Hebrew", by which we meant everything local, home-grown.

"Jewish" were the religion, the Ghettos, the Yiddish language, everything over there. Hebrew were we, the renewed language, the new community in our country, the Kibbutzim, everything local. In time, a small group of young intellectuals, nicknamed "Canaanites", went much further and asserted that we Hebrews had nothing in common with the Jews, that we were a new nation altogether, a direct continuation of the Hebrew nation which was dispersed by the Romans some 2000 years ago.

(This picture, by the way, is denied by many non-Jewish historians, who assert that the Romans exiled only the intelligentsia, and that the simple people remained, adopted Islam and are now the Palestinians.)

When the truth about the Holocaust came out, a wave of remorse swept the Hebrew community here. Jewish became the dominant self-definition. Since than, a steady process of re-Judaization of Israel has been in progress.

When the State of Israel was founded, the term "Israeli" replaced the term "Hebrew". The question is now: "Jewish" first or "Israeli" first? It has a direct bearing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Herzl had no problem. He was a convinced Westerner. In his book he wrote the fateful words: "For Europe we would constitute (in Palestine) a part of the wall against Asia, we would become an outpost of culture against barbarism." (My translation.)

In other words, the founder of Zionism conceived the future Jewish state as a bastion of European imperialism against the native peoples. More than 120 years ago, the present situation was already envisioned. Zionism has followed this line consistently.

COULD IT have been different? Could we have re-integrated ourselves in the region? I don't know. When I was young, I believed so. I was 22 years old when I founded a group called "Young Eretz-Israel" (and in Arabic and English "Young Palestine") which was generally known - and detested - as the "Struggle-Group", because we published an irregular paper by that name. When Jawaharlal Nehru convened an Asian-African congress in New Delhi, we sent him a congratulatory telegram.

After the 1948 war, I founded a group called "Semitic Action", devoted to the idea of Israel's integration in the "Semitic Region". I chose the term "Semitic" because it included all Arabs and Israelis, by descent and language.

In 1959 I met Jean-Paul Sartre in Paris. He had hesitations about the term, because it sounded racist to him. But I succeeded in convincing him and he published an article I wrote on this subject in his Temps Modernes.

THE MORE "Jewish" Israel becomes, the wider the abyss between it and the Muslim world. The more "Israeli", the higher the chance of an eventual integration in the region, an ideal much more profound than just peace.

Therefore I repeat: I am Israeli first, Jewish second.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Bandit Baltimore Cops And The Black Misleadershp Class
By Glen Ford

Two of the undercover cops that have terrorized poor Black neighborhoods of Baltimore could get up to 60 years in prison following their convictions in federal court on racketeering, conspiracy and robbery charges. Six other former members of the "elite" Gun Trace Task Force await sentencing, having testified to the defendants' and their own crimes against drug dealers, large and small, and anybody else that crossed their predatory paths.

The cops' lawlessness was generalized and routine - part of the job. According to the Baltimore Sun, "Officers routinely violated people's rights in the course of their work with Baltimore's plainclothes police squads - profiling people and vehicles, performing "sneak and peek" searches without warrants, using illegal GPS devices to track suspects they claimed to be watching, and driving at groups of men to provoke them to flee so they could be chased and searched" - dating back to 2010 or earlier. A dozen cops have been directly implicated, but not charged.

Acting police commissioner Darryl De Sousa put out an all-caps bulletin. "Let me make it clear: I have ZERO TOLERANCE for corruption," he wrote, promising that his new corruption unit will probe more deeply into the case.

We can be sure that nothing of lasting value will come out of De Souza's efforts. The root problem is not "corruption" of the police mission, but the mission, itself, which is to control, contain and terrorize the Black community. Baltimore's cops have simply become adept at stealing lots of money in the process.

They are also fearless and shameless, in the knowledge that their true job description is organized terror. Former detective Momodu Gondo, who pleaded guilty to robbing various victims of over $100,000, testified that he didn't fear being caught. "It was just part of the culture," he said.

Such pervasive police predation is no secret to the residents of the targeted neighborhoods, who pleaded in vain for relief from the blue scourge before, during and after Baltimore's 2015 Freddie Gray rebellion. However, the nominally Black-controlled local government is incapable of meaningful response, since the Black political (misleadership) class accepts both its own subordination to the real, corporate rulers of the city, and their role as managers of the system of control, containment and terror.

The president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund expressed the frustration felt by most Black people in Baltimore. "Neither City Hall, BPD's Internal Affairs, nor the State's Attorney's Office was able to uncover and hold accountable the officers at the heart of this criminal conspiracy," said Sherrilyn Ifill. However, Ifill then endorsed the usual formulas for fine-tuning the existing system of oppression. "Residents deserve new procedures, practices, regulations, safety valves, and training across city agencies - including the State's Attorney's office - to ensure that this cannot happen again."

No - what Baltimore's Black residents need is democracy: community control of the hiring, firing and, above all, the mission of the police.

They don't need more Black police. Integrating the ranks of the oppressor's machine is what gave us salt-and-pepper terrorist duos like Daniel T. Hersl and Marcus R. Taylor, the two cops convicted this week. The department's Gun Trace Task Force has been disbanded, along with its related Violent Crime Impact Section, but the white corporate powers-that-be in Baltimore already seem impatient to get their thugs back on the street. A new study by the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University - the city's premier employer and gentrifier - admits the police unit has generated lots of public complaints and lawsuits, but claims it's good for law and order, and that's what counts.

"The reductions in shootings connected with Baltimore's VCIS are consistent with the experiences of other cities that have used specialized police units targeting illegal gun possession in areas with the highest rates of shootings," said Daniel Webster, the center's director and the study's lead author. "But it is important for these programs to be carried out in a manner that is legally justified, professional, and acceptable to the communities they serve with appropriate accountability."

Webster makes the obligatory bow to (non-existent) "accountability," but the purpose of the study is to put forward Johns Hopkins' position on policing in a city largely owned by the university, and which Hopkins hopes to rid of its Black majority as soon as possible. The top dog in Baltimore's permanent ruling circles is demanding that the same hyper-aggressive, neighborhood saturation police tactics that encouraged whole units of cops to behave like warlords, be continued - minus the embarrassing robberies.

When Johns Hopkins says "jump," much of the Black political class says "how high"? - which is what passes for "accountability to the community" in Baltimore. The same groveling relationship to corporate power obtains across Black America. Therefore, in Baltimore and elsewhere, the struggle for Black community control of the police is largely an internal Black political battle.

The first stage of this fight must be the rejection and defeat of the Black political class that turned the Gun Trace Task Force loose on the people.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and Rep. Peter King leave the committee's secure meeting rooms
in the basement of the US Capitol House Visitors Center February 6, 2018, in Washington, DC. The committee voted unanimously
Monday night to send a Democratic memo rebutting claims of bias in the Russia investigation FISA court application to the White House.

The "Steele Dossier" On ... Me: The Nunes Memo Shouldn't Prompt Us To Defend The FBI
By Greg Palast

Progressives should not be cheerleaders for the FBI when it shaves the truth, even if the bureau is now portrayed as Donald Trump's enemy. This is, after all, the FBI infamous for the wiretap of Martin Luther King Jr., the broader COINTELPRO operation, and, recently, smearing antiwar and environmental activists with claims of Russian influence.

Like it or not, that creepy little GOP shill Rep. Devin Nunes is stating a fact when he writes that FBI agents failed to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court that the file it used to justify spying on a US citizen, the "Steele dossier," was paid for in part by Hillary Clinton's campaign.

True, the FBI dropped a footnote about the source coming from a "political entity," a fuzzy cover-our-ass comment that failed to state known partisan bias. But failure to tell the court the whole truth and nothing but the truth is perjury.

Ironically, Nunes himself commits the same perjury by failing to name the original creator of the report. Before Clinton paid for a copy, the file was already written for a news front sponsored by a Republican billionaire named Paul Singer.

Singer, the court should have been told, has a long history of creating what former FBI Director James Comey himself called "salacious and unverifiable" files on his enemies.

I know something about this history, because Singer created a file on me. He also created files on elected officials worldwide who got in the way of his next billion. The files consisted of poisonous garbage -- but really effective, deadly garbage.

In 2007, I flew to the Congo and discovered that Singer had seized the funds meant to end a cholera epidemic, which I reported at the top of the BBC news and on the front page of the Guardian. To spike the story, Singer's PR flunky called my BBC "Newsnight" producer and said, "We have a file on Greg Palast." Apparently, it contained the kind of salacious garbage peddled by Steele. The BBC was un-moved, saying, it seems that "Palast has a file on you."

The BBC pressed Singer's flak to turn over the actual dossier. They backed down after admitting it contained old fabricated smears that had been long discredited. (In fact, a US power company had to write me a fat check in punishment for the libel.)

So when I hear that some Trump toady is slimed by a Singer file, I don't clap with joy.

Singer has used secret, poisoned dossiers slipped to media outlets to destroy the reputations of elected officials from Argentina to the Congo -- all to make another billion.

Indeed, his PR flak boasted how he planted stories about the president of the Republic of Congo with the pliant Washington Post. It was part of Singer's campaign to seize $400 million from the Congo to pay off interest and penalties on ancient debts of the war-ravaged nation that Singer had picked up for just $10 million.

Singer has seized millions in Congo assets -- funds that were made available to the Congo by US and European taxpayers to help the Congo clean its water supply and end a cholera epidemic.

The Singer-funded groups in Argentina that smeared former President Cristina Kirchner with allegations of murder, all to get her removed from office. It worked. Despite large public protests, the new president, Mauricio Macri, in his first days in office, paid Singer the billions of dollars Kirchner had refused.

Singer -- a top funder of Marco Rubio's candidacy against Trump and leader of the "Never Trump" campaign -- then decided to use the tricks that succeeded in other countries on our nation.

Let me be clear: Despite Nunes' assertions -- nothing in his memo, none of this FBI misconduct, however unacceptable -- undermines Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump and gang.

Still, I cannot applaud billionaires bending our elections, manipulating -- wittingly or unwittingly -- the FBI.

And I cannot believe my fellow progressives are also cheering the FISA court, the very agency Edward Snowden courageously exposed as the judicial inquisitors blessing an ugly police spy state.

Just one of the thousands of FISA court spy authorizations -- revealed by Snowden -- permitted the National Security Agency to get every single phone call made by Verizon callers, and similar demands were approved to seize the records of every major phone carrier.

The ACLU has been in legal combat with the FISA court over "mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans," allowing use of "Network Investigative Techniques" (i.e. malware), and information collected under the law without a warrant that could be "used to disproportionately target disfavored groups, whether minority communities, political activists, or even journalists."

So I ask you what Snowden asks: When you've crossed the wrong billionaire, when they come for you, will they quote your own words in praise of the Gestapo Lite?
(c) 2018 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review

Why The American Majority Despises Trump's Washington
By Jim Hightower

It's odd that Washington Republicans are so loudly crowing about their passage of the Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax law. Odd because the people outside of Washington hate that law.

Yes, hate. With a public approval rating of only 30 percent, the GOP's trillion-dollar giveaway to multinational corporations and multimillionaires turns out to be Congress' second-most disliked domestic law in the past quarter-century. Second only to the multiple attempts by Trump, McConnell, and Ryan last year to take away the healthcare coverage of 23 million Americans - a move so mingy that 77 percent of the public opposed it.

Why do these doofuses keep trying to shove such wildly unpopular measures down people's throats? Because, as The Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky succinctly explained, "They are serving their megarich donors and the most extreme elements of their base." Yes. In today's rigged political system, the special interests of a tiny minority trump the will of the great majority.

Since the GOP's tax bill drastically reduced corporate taxes and increased many of ours, a few corporations are trying to dodge public fury by pulling a trickle-down trick on us. They're awarding a tiny portion of their bonanza to workers - not as pay raises, but as one-time "bonus" payments. Bank of America, for example, is doling out $145 million in worker bonuses, while pocketing $2.6 billion it will get this year alone from the tax cut.

In addition, the tax boondoggle for corporate giants guts our public treasury, so Washington Republicans and their army of corporate lobbyists are now demanding cuts in our Social Security, Medicare, and other safety-net programs.

That is where America's inequality comes from. If the corporate-GOP syndicate wonders why they're so despised, there it is.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Randy Bryce at the State of the Union address on January 30, 2018

Randy Bryce's Campaign Is Not Just Pro-Union-It's Unionized
The Campaign Workers Guild has negotiated its first collectively bargained contract, with the Democratic candidate challenging Paul Ryan.
By John Nichols

Wisconsin congressional candidate Randy Bryce is a union man. He's a proud member of Ironworkers Local 8 in southeastern Wisconsin. He has organized with workers, marched picket lines, and rallied against Republican assaults on labor rights. Bryce maintains a heart-and-soul faith that working men and women have a right to representation.

Including, he says, the working men and women who staff congressional campaigns.

So when Nate Rifkin, the digital director for the Democratic challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan, brought up the idea of organizing workers on the campaign, Bryce recalls that his immediate response was: "Let's do this."

Rifken and other Bryce campaign staffers contacted the Campaign Workers Guild, a new national union that organizes non-management campaign staff. "We met with the unit and negotiated our first collectively bargained contract on a political campaign," recalls Meg Reilly, a national student organizer for the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, who serves as vice president of the guild.

Under the groundbreaking contract, the eight members of the Bryce campaign staff secured a 1 percent pay raise and reimbursements for health-insurance premiums. In addition, the contract provides for a formal grievance process and a third-party reporting system for sexual harassment.

All of this is "very unique in campaigns," says press secretary Lauren Hitt, a union member who served as communications director for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney before joining the Bryce campaign.

But it may not be unique for long. Reilly says that, while "campaign workers have been talking about unionizing for decades," organizing bargaining units to represent specific campaigns is to her knowledge a new front for the labor movement. Now that it's happening, however, she says interest and enthusiasm is growing fast.

"We're currently bargaining a few other contracts, and encourage other campaign workers who are ready to unionize to reach out to us. This is a movement. Labor abuses on campaigns have gone on for far too long so together, as the Campaign Workers Guild, we're all standing up to protect each other," says Reilly, who argues that: "For far too long, candidates have sought labor endorsements while mistreating the labor on their own campaigns. Candidates need to practice what they preach by bringing their own labor standards in line with the Democratic platform."

That makes sense to Bryce, one of two contenders for the Democratic nomination to take on Ryan. (The other Democrat, Cathy Myers, is a longtime teachers' union member and local official, who currently serves on the Janesville School Board.)

"If I'm talking about the importance of unions on the campaign trail, it makes sense that the people who work on the campaign should have representation," says Bryce, who encourages other candidates to get to know about the efforts of the Campaign Workers Guild to assure that campaign staffers are treated with respect. That goes for the campaigns of Democrats and Republicans, says Bryce.

Does that mean that Paul Ryan should welcome union representation of his reelection campaign staff? "Absolutely," says the challenger. "I would encourage him to do so."
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The Attack On Our Brains
By James Donahue

"Me thinks the whole world is crazy except me and thee; and sometimes I wonder about thee." ~~~ Old Quaker saying.

The talk about getting psychiatric help for "disturbed" people like pedophiles, compulsive drug users and those choosing to shoot large numbers of people in public places may be pushing the American mindset into dangerous territory. If the field of psychology ever had any merit, it has been buried under contemporary drives by big business and certain branches of our government to control the minds of the masses and make a lot of money doing it.

The disclosure that the latest edition of the DSM-5 "psychiatry bible," released in 2013, lists normal human emotions like sadness, grief, anxiety, frustration, impatience and excitement as forms of mental disorder suggests that the industry is using every extreme trick in the book to force chemical "treatments" for as many people as possible.

Published periodically by the American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 is the "go to" document that defines all mental health disorders and is used for diagnosis, treatment approaches, and perhaps most especially, for insurance coverage and reimbursement for professional psychiatric services.

The latest thought . . . not yet included in the "bible," is that consentual sexual activity may also be considered a mental disorder. People who think too much about sex, and are inclined to have consentual sex with various partners, or want "too much" sex, also may be insane. Oh really?

A report by writer Gary Null notes that as many as 3.8 million school children, mostly boys, are currently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and at least a million children are taking Ritalin, an amphetamine-type brain-altering pharmaceutical. Null wrote that even preschoolers, aged 2 to 4, are being dosed with psychotropics.

Null warned that both "the medical and educational establishments are conducting a skyrocketing campaign to get kids, and their parents, to 'just say yes' to these brain-altering pharmaceuticals, with the drug of choice being Ritalin."

New York Magazine reports that Lanza, who was diagnosed as suffering from Asperger's syndrome, was prescribed the controversial anti-psychotic medicine Fanapt, known to cause aggressive behavior in patients who took it.

Thus we are faced with the sickening thought that it may have been the psychological and drug industry, working in concert that is triggering some if not all of these mass killings.

A recent commentary by writer Jon Rappoport for World Press attacks the entire field of psychiatry as a faked science and claims that there is no such thing as true mental illness.

"It's fiction," Rappoport writes. "It's a billion-dollar fiction. It's a gigantic steaming pile of bullshit. Always has been. There is not a single diagnostic test for any so-called mental disorder. Never has been. No blood test, no urine test, no saliva test, no brain scan, no genetic test. No science."

Rappoport goes on: "The government gives psychiatry its fake legitimacy. That's how the game works. The government blesses the medical licensing boards that award psychiatrists permission to drug your children, alter their brains, poison them, and of course make all the fake diagnoses in the first place. Media, naturally, go along with the psychiatric hoax. Thousands of articles keep coming out of the hopper to support the authoritative pronouncements of these deranged monsters with medical degrees and 'training' in diagnosing mental illnesses."

So we all know of individuals that appear disturbed, unable to cope with their surroundings, suffer from severe depression and do such insane things as shoot people around them or commit suicide. Are they not suffering from some kind of mental disorder? Would a well-trained psychiatrist not be able to help them? And what about the known psychotics that make life miserable for everyone around them?

Rappoport seems to cover all of the bases in his article. He wrote: "There are people with problems, there are people who suffer, there are people who are in desperate circumstances, there are people who have severe nutritional deficiencies, there are people who have been poisoned by various chemicals, there are people who have been abused and ignored, there are people who have been told there is something wrong with them, there are people who are different and can't deal with the conforming androids in their midst, but there are no mental disorders."

When I was in college I studied sociology. The sociologists believe the society, our surroundings, and the events that occur especially during the early years of our lives, shape our personalities. They label it learned behavior. That may be mostly true, but I also believe the genetic makeup we inherit from our ancestors also plays a role in who we become in life.

I had a roommate in college we will call Bill who had an extremely high IQ, and consequently had difficulty "conforming" with the "androids" in his midst. He studied both sociology and psychology. I always thought Bill's interest in psychology was an attempt to understand himself and discover why he was different. I personally liked Bill because he was strickingly different from the norm. His genius made it possible for him to make all of the strange things he said and did both funny and entertaining. I never perceived him as crazy.

Apparently my opinion was not shared by others. After college Bill was committed to a state facility for the treatment of the insane, and a year or two after he was released, I was a pall-bearer at his funeral. He drove his car into a utility pole. I always thought it was a suicide. So was Bill insane, or was he a victim of a fake industry that convinced him that he was crazy?

I distinctly remember that during our evening chats, usually over a cold beer at the local tavern, Bill would make comparisons between the fields of sociology and psychology and tell me how he believed psychologists were on the wrong track. He saw no value in what we were being told and I am sure he did not believe it was a science.

Over the years during my work as a newspaper reporter, I have covered strange stories surrounding county Community Mental Health clinics in Michigan. There were stories about psychologists who were fired after being caught parading in public places in the nude, pilfering money from the patients they treated, or working under false credentials. I came to the conclusion that if there were crazy people in that agency, they were probably the people working there. All of the "patients" I saw at that facility were the mentally impaired. But they were not insane.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

"Even today, politicians in Washington want to let their Big Oil buddies
pad their profits by encroaching on your land and fouling your rivers and streams."

Yes. Let's Talk About Pocahontas
At a time when bigotry threatens to overwhelm our discourse, we must amplify voices of basic human respect.
By Elizabeth Warren

Editor's note: The following are the prepared remarks of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for a speech given at the National Congress of American Indians on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Thank you for having me here today.

I want to start by thanking Chairwoman Andrews-Maltais for that introduction. It has been an honor to work with, to learn from, and to represent the tribes in my home state of Massachusetts, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head - the Aquinnah - and the Mashpee Wampanoag.

I also want to thank President Jefferson Keel, and everyone at the National Congress of American Indians. For over 70 years, you've championed the rights and dignity of First Americans and I am honored to be here with you today.

I've noticed that every time my name comes up, President Trump likes to talk about Pocahontas. So I figured, let's talk about Pocahontas. Not Pocahontas, the fictional character most Americans know from the movies, but Pocahontas, the Native woman who really lived, and whose real story has been passed down to so many of you through the generations.

Pocahontas - whose original name wasn't even Pocahontas.

In the fairy tale, Pocahontas and John Smith meet and fall in love.

Except Smith was nearly 30, and Pocahontas was about 10 years old. Whatever happened between them, it was no love story.

In the fairy tale, Pocahontas saves John Smith from execution at the hands of her father.

Except that was probably made up too.

In the fable, her baptism as "Rebecca" and her marriage to a Jamestown settler are held up to show the moral righteousness of colonization.

In reality, the fable is used to bleach away the stain of genocide.

As you know, Pocahontas's real journey was far more remarkable - and far darker - than the myth admits.

As a child, she played a significant role in mediating relations between the tribes ruled by her father and the early settlers at Jamestown. Those efforts helped establish early trade relations between the two peoples. Without her help, the English settlers might well have perished.

But in her teens, Pocahontas was abducted, imprisoned, and held captive. Oral history of the Mattaponi tribe indicates that she was ripped away from her first husband and child and raped in captivity.

Eventually she married another John - John Rolfe. Her marriage led to an uneasy harmony between Jamestown and the tribes, a period that some historians call the Peace of Pocahontas.

But she was not around to enjoy it. John Rolfe paraded her around London to entertain the British and prop up financial investments in the Virginia Company. She never made it home. She was about 21 when she died, an ocean separating her from her people.

Indigenous people have been telling the story of Pocahontas - the real Pocahontas - for four centuries. A story of heroism. And bravery. And pain.

And, for almost as long, her story has been taken away by powerful people who twisted it to serve their own purposes.

Our country's disrespect of Native people didn't start with President Trump. It started long before President Washington ever took office.

But now we have a president who can't make it through a ceremony honoring Native American war heroes without reducing Native history, Native culture, Native people to the butt of a joke.

The joke, I guess, is supposed to be on me.

I get why some people think there's hay to be made here. You won't find my family members on any rolls, and I'm not enrolled in a tribe.

And I want to make something clear. I respect that distinction. I understand that tribal membership is determined by tribes - and only by tribes. I never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead. I never used it to advance my career.

But I want to make something else clear too: My parents were real people.

By all accounts, my mother was a beauty. She was born in Eastern Oklahoma, on this exact day - Valentine's Day - February 14, 1912. She grew up in the little town of Wetumka, the kind of girl who would sit for hours by herself, playing the piano and singing. My daddy fell head over heels in love with her.

But my mother's family was part Native American. And my daddy's parents were bitterly opposed to their relationship. So, in 1932, when Mother was 19 and Daddy had just turned 20, they eloped.

Together, they survived the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. They saved up to buy a home. They raised my three older brothers, and they watched as each one headed off to serve in the military. After Daddy had a heart attack and was out of work, after we lost the family station wagon and it looked like we would lose our house and everything would come crashing down, my mother put on her best dress and walked to the Sears and got a minimum-wage job. That minimum-wage job saved our house and saved our family.

My parents struggled. They sacrificed. They paid off medical debts for years. My daddy ended up as a janitor. They fought and they drank, but more than anything, they hung together. 63 years - that's how long they were married. When my mother died, a part of my daddy slipped away too.

Two years later, I held his hand while cancer took him. The last thing he said was, "It's time for me to be with your mother." And he smiled.

They're gone, but the love they shared, the struggles they endured, the family they built, and the story they lived will always be a part of me. And no one - not even the president of the United States - will ever take that part of me away.

Our stories are deeply woven into the fabric of who we are. The stories of immigrants and slaves, of explorers and refugees, have shaped and reshaped our country right up to the present day. For far too long, your story has been pushed aside, to be trotted out only in cartoons and commercials.

So I'm here today to make a promise: Every time someone brings up my family's story, I'm going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities.

Your story is about contributions. The contributions you make to a country that took so much and keeps asking for more, contributions like serving in the military at rates higher than any other group in America.

It is a story about hope. The hope you create as more Native people go to college, go to graduate school and grow local economies.

It is a story about resilience. The resilience you show as you reclaim your history and your traditions.

And it is a story about pride and the determination of people who refuse to let their languages fade away and their cultures die.

I honor that story.

But there's another story that also needs to be told. The story of our country's mistreatment of your communities. And this isn't just a story about casual racism - war whoops and tomahawk chops and insulting Facebook memes.

It's a story about discrimination and neglect - the unmet health care needs of Native children and families, the alarmingly high rate of suicide among Native teenagers, the growing opioid crisis and the broader epidemic of substance abuse that has ravaged so many Native communities.

It's a story about greed. For generations - Congress after Congress, president after president - the government robbed you of your land, suppressed your languages, put your children in boarding schools and gave your babies away for adoption. It has stolen your resources and, for many tribal governments, taken away the opportunity to grow and prosper for the good of your people.

Even today, politicians in Washington want to let their Big Oil buddies pad their profits by encroaching on your land and fouling your rivers and streams. Meanwhile, even as the economic future of your communities hangs in the balance, they want to cut nutrition assistance, cut Medicaid, and cut other programs that many Native families rely on to survive.

It's a story about violence. It is deeply offensive that this president keeps a portrait of Andrew Jackson hanging in the Oval Office, honoring a man who did his best to wipe out Native people. But the kind of violence President Jackson and his allies perpetrated isn't just an ugly chapter in a history book. Violence remains part of life today. The majority of violent crimes experienced by Native Americans are perpetrated by non-Natives, and more than half - half - of Native women have experienced sexual violence.

This must stop. And I promise I will fight to help write a different story.

Washington owes you respect. But this government owes you much more than that. This government owes you a fighting chance to build stronger communities and a brighter future - starting with a more prosperous economic future on tribal lands.

For example. Banking and credit are the lifeblood of economic development, but it's about 12 miles on average from the center of tribal reservations to the nearest bank branch. Meanwhile, Native business owners get less start-up funding than other business owners.

And when it comes to crucial infrastructure, Native communities are far behind the rest of the country. Rural broadband access on tribal lands is worse than anywhere else in America, and more than a third of those living on tribal lands don't have high-speed broadband at all. Without it, Native communities are simply shut out of a 21st century economy.

It's time to make real investments in Indian country to build opportunity for generations to come.

And that's only part of the real change we can make.

* We can stop giant corporations from stealing your resources.

* We can expand federally protected land that is important to your tribes.

* We can protect historic monuments like Bears Ears from companies that see it as just another place to drill.

* We can take steps to stop violence against Native people - including passing Savanna's Act to fight the plague of missing Native women and girls.

Most of all, we can fight to empower tribal governments and Native communities so you can take your rightful seat at the table when it comes to determining your own future.

And we can fight to make sure that all Americans who have been left out in our economy, left out in our democracy, and left out in our history can take their rightful seat at that table.

At a time when children are still drinking bottled water in Flint, when families are still desperate for help in Puerto Rico, and when tribal governments are still asking Washington to live up to its promises, we must demand a federal government that works for all of us - because if we don't, we become a country that belongs to only a privileged few.

That's why, even when divide-and-conquer looks to some like smart politics, we must choose unity. We must be willing to join together in each other's fights. And at a time when bigotry threatens to overwhelm our discourse, we must amplify voices of basic human respect.

We must stand with everyone who has gotten the short end of the stick from Washington over and over and over. We must weave our voices together to make them strong. We must come together to write a new story, not just for Native Americans, but for all Americans.

A story of power and respect. A story in which everyone's voice can be heard.

A story worthy of those who came before us. A story our children and grandchildren will be proud to tell.

Thank you!
(c) 2018 Elizabeth Warren is an US Senator representing Massachusetts.

There's Definitely A Cover Up --- But Don't Forget The Crime
By Heather Digby Parton

This latest Trump White House scandal, involving one high-level staffer's firing and another's hasty resignation, after reports surfaced that they had been accused of domestic violence, has been infuriating. As is par for the course, the president stepped forward to defend Rob Porter, the man accused of abusing not one but two wives, telling the nation that he was sad for the poor man and that he "absolutely" wished him well. It was reminiscent of his earlier comments after Charlottesville, when he expressed the sentiment that some of the Nazis who rallied there were "very fine people." He always seems to find the good in violent white men.

But this scandal is about more than the rampant misogyny surrounding Donald Trump. The irony in the fact that Trump's White House counsel, Don McGahn, and his chief of staff, John Kelly, allowed Porter to operate without a top security clearance in a job that handles the United States' most sensitive secrets cannot be overstated. This president ran an entire campaign insisting that his rival should be jailed for using a private email server for non-classified State Department correspondence. Yet here we are, a year after the inauguration, and the Trump White House is reportedly employing dozens of people who cannot qualify for a security clearance. One of them was in a job that requires the highest level of clearance and another, Jared Kushner, has apparently been given access to the same intelligence the president gets.

Aside from the ongoing horror at every aspect of this presidency, this issue once again raises the question of just how fast and loose Trump and his aides play with these national security issues. If they can be this cavalier about handling the nation's most sensitive secrets in the White House, is it really hard to believe they might have been open to a little deal-making with a friendly Russian or two during the campaign?

It seems as if many observers believe that special counsel Robert Mueller is homing in on Trump over issues of obstruction of justice. It is the one case that offers the most public evidence, mainly stemming from the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey and various leaks about Trump's clumsy demands that just about everyone who walks into the White House do whatever it takes to get him off the hook. It's not much of a stretch to think there might be a case there.

There is more to the Russian investigation than obstructing it, however. We don't have a clear idea what that might be yet, which is as it should be, but there is enough evidence in the public domain to see the basic outlines. Jonathan Alter and Nick Akerman stitched it together nicely in this piece for the Daily Beast.

They make the common-sense observation that during the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon was never shown to have known about the original crime and was done in by the coverup, but the current political environment is quite different and will likely require the underlying crime be proven as well. After all, this case is about a conspiracy with a foreign government and if there is evidence that actually happened, it's something that should be properly adjudicated. It's not your run-of-the-mill corruption investigation.

Alter and Akerman point out that Nixon's prosecutors had almost all the information they needed more than nine months before he resigned, and they assume Mueller too has amassed most of the evidence for his case, which they believe consists of "conspiracy, wire fraud, illegal foreign campaign contributions, or all three." For the conspiracy, they point to Michael Flynn's statement to the court admitting that he'd lied to the FBI about something that "had a material impact" on the FBI's probe "into the existence of any links or coordination between individuals associated with the [Trump] Campaign and Russia's efforts to intervene in the 2016 election." They write:

The conspiracy case -- the heart of Mueller's efforts -- almost certainly boils down to an old-fashioned quid pro quo. Flynn's "quid" - the substance of his recorded conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak - was lifting the sanctions that President Obama imposed on Russia in late 2016 and the earlier sanctions related to Russia's invasion of the Ukraine. The "quo" was collusion ("conspiracy" in legal terms) with Russians to harm Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, which Flynn effectively admitted was "material" to his lies after the election. Anyone associated with this deal is in deep legal trouble.
They note that fraud charges could be related to any "overlap between the illegal Russian fake news posts and the Trump campaign's routine micro-targeted negative messages -- a painstaking but manageable set of data comparisons." There is also the suspicion that campaign contributions were routed through the NRA -- and there is the major line of inquiry into money laundering and the Trump Organization. That's the one we have seen the least amount of information about that could be the real blockbuster.

According to Alter and Akerman, the legal definition of "conspiracy" is simply "a mutual understanding, either spoken or unspoken, between two or more people to cooperate with each other to accomplish an unlawful act." This understanding can happen before, during or after the crime. Furthermore:

"It is not necessary that a defendant be fully informed of all the details of the conspiracy, or all of its participants," the model jury instructions continue. "You need not find that the alleged members of the conspiracy met together and entered into any express or formal agreement."
With all the meetings and emails, public pronouncements and guilty pleas, it does appear that there may be more to all this than a coverup of a crime that never took place. Since this gang has been shown to be so lax about national security even after they entered the White House, it's entirely possible they didn't understand or didn't care about the implications of their actions during the campaign and the presidential transition.

Unfortunately for them, while being ignorant and careless may be a selling point in the Republican Party these days, it's still no excuse for breaking the law. This time around, the crime could very well be worse than the coverup.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Why And Why Not To Oppose A Trumparade
By David Swanson

People have a wide range of reasons for opposing a military Trumparade through Washington. Here are nearly 20,000 people who say:

"We demand that the United States hold no militarism-glorifying parade displaying weaponry of war. Should such a thing be staged, we will visibly support peace on that day."

But thousands of those petition signers have added further comments, and many others in my email box and social media have put their own twists on it. So, here's my own personal angle:

The predictable (and predicted) messages of "Why are yall more upset about a parade than about actual wars" are now showing up on social media. For this reason, I think we need to be very clear. I am against a war parade not because it is uncouth and certainly not because it fails to properly "support the troops" or to properly prepare for more wars, and not merely because it costs money or damages streets (are you kidding me?), but because it makes more wars more likely from the Pentagon and from other nations and groups that see the parade. It stirs up war fever. It encourages fear, obedience, violence, nationalism, xenophobia, racism, and Trumpism. It antagonizes foreign governments and people. It teaches the need to praise both personnel and weaponry regardless of what they have been used for or might be used for.

The rarity of such parades in the United States in recent years is not due to the high nobility of our previous U.S. presidents, but rather to the fact that none of the U.S. wars since the Gulf War has been able to even remotely pretend to a "victory." The point is not that we need a victory after which we should want a parade, but rather that there is no such thing as a victory - the Gulf War wasn't one either - and we need to recognize that basic truth before we're all turned into fire and fury. The endless bombings and sanctions, and new wars, and troops in Saudi Arabia, and terrorism aimed at getting troops out of Saudi Arabia, and further militarization of the Middle East, and horrible illnesses among veterans, and all the other horrors that followed from the Gulf War render grotesque the notion that it was a "victory."

I oppose celebrating the worst thing humanity does to itself, the greatest waste of life and resources, the greatest environmental damage, political damage, cultural damage. People who honestly believe that some wars are necessary are badly deluded but should share my opposition to celebrating war as glorious.

Here are some interesting comments from the petition linked above:

"I strongly feel this would be a instigation tactic to North Korea! America does not need to do this kind of show off. No military parade!" - Carol Lavoie

"As a person who lived through WWII, I am horrified that US is part of a re-militarisation of the world. Guns and armaments cannot be used if they do not exist. The level of conflict in the world today could not be on such a scale if countries such as US had not sold arms all over the world. Please no glorification of War and Armaments." - Ruth Haig

"This is horrendously despicable and serves no purpose .. this is not his tyrannical regime .. i am humiliated to have to tell friends in other countries this is serious." - Pamela Patrou

"Should this parade happen, I will declare far and wide that it is anti-American because it celebrates war and violence, and threatens war and violence." - Steven Crain

"It would be an appropriate display of the current fascist oligarchy but I hope it can be avoided." - Anonymous

"Didn't Hitler do this right before starting WWII?" - Bernadette Belcastro

"For f- sake, stop this s- show. Why would there be a "parade" for this treasonous, lying, sexual predator, bat shit crazy, wannabe dictator?" - Tracy Mosier

Now, can we bottle this outrage? Can we direct it toward a major public display of rejection of militarism in favor of nonviolence and decency? Can we make sure that any images a Trumparade sends to the world are images of a public rejection of war? Can we use this moment, in fact, to build a broader opposition to war among all those who ought to oppose it for stripping them of wealth and security and rights and a livable planet? We have to try!
(c) 2018 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

This is Baltimore, gentlemen. The gods will not save you. ~~~ Ervin Burrell ~ The Wire

It's Not Just These Cops. It's Not Just Baltimore
Lessons we must take from an extraordinary trial.
By Charles P. Pierce

As our invaluable guide Justin Fenton of The Baltimore Sun reports, the extraordinary trial of two former Baltimore police officers is now in the hands of the jury. Both Marcus Taylor and Daniel Hersl worked for something called the Gun Trace Task Force, a law-enforcement initiative that did not work out for the best.

Federal prosecutors called more than 30 witnesses during the trial, including four officers who have admitted their roles in brazen robberies the squad carried out. Six members of the task force have pleaded guilty to federal charges that include racketeering, robbery and firearms violations. The trial included years worth of allegations that officers from the elite unit used illegal tactics to stop citizens on the street and search their property without justification, then skimmed money. But the unit also was carrying out much bigger heists, targeting people they believed to have large amounts of cash and finding ways to get to their property. Officers testified that Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, the unit's commander, often sought out the next target by asking victims whom they would rob if given the chance. Hersl and Taylor are charged with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, robbery and use of a firearm in a crime of violence, with prosecutors saying their service weapons were used for the purpose of committing extortion.
That only scratches the surface of the testimony in the trial. The GTTF was engaged in open outlawry, much of it aimed at Baltimore's African-American community. A sampling of the testimony, compiled by the Sun, follows.
Ward said Jenkins liked to profile certain vehicles for traffic stops. Honda Accords, Acura TLs, Honda Odysseys were among the "dope boy cars" that they would pull over, claiming the drivers weren't wearing seat belts or their windows were too heavily tinted. Ward said Jenkins also believed males over the age of 18 carrying bookbags were suspicious and attempted to stop them.

Ward said the officers kept BB guns in their vehicles "in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them." He did not say whether the officers ever planted a BB gun on anyone.

In one incident, police took a man's house keys, ran his name through databases to find his address, went into the home without a warrant and found drugs and a safe. The officers cracked open the safe, which had about $200,000 inside. They took $100,000 out, closed the safe back up, then filmed themselves pretending to open it for the first time. 'Nobody touch anything,' [The unit's Sgt. Wayne Jenkins] can be heard saying on the video, which was played for jurors.

Ward said the unit's supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, instructed the officers to carry replica guns to plant if they found themselves in a jam. Police recovered a replica gun from the glove box of Taylor's vehicle after he was arrested last year. The gun, shown to jurors, is nearly indistinguishable from Taylor's service pistol.

This was an absolutely astonishing trial, replete with what headline writers love to call "revelations." But nothing that was "revealed" in the trial was revelatory to the people who live in the neighborhoods where these cops ran wild. All of the people they rousted, and all of the people from whom they stole, and all of the people they set up, have mothers and uncles and sons and grandmothers.

On Wednesday, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund appeared with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! to talk about the ripple effects of what was placed into evidence in this trial.

Absolutely, because, as I suggested it, it confirms so many things that the community had been saying over years. And the reframing that needs to happen is to bring those voices to the table, to allow those voices to have air, to let them be believed, that communities are a key part of the public safety narrative. Without question, Baltimore has been besieged by violent crime over the past few years. And I've been saying for some time that until we resolve the issue of policing and trust between-the distrust, the legitimate distrust, that many members of the community have for law enforcement, we can't deal with issues of public safety.

And this demonstrates the way in which communities have been preyed upon by officers in ways that make them unwilling to trust the police. They will not call and say, "This is what I saw." They will not be witnesses. They will not trust those who claim they need their help to solve crimes. So, until we deal with that issue, until we deal with the legitimate distrust of the community towards law enforcement, because of officers like those in this task force, we can't get to the kind of public safety outcomes that everyone wants.

The next time police violence touches Baltimore off, anybody who claims to be shocked is a liar.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance."
~~~ Benjamin Franklin

Study: 'Amplified Warming' Has Ended The Era Of Stable Climate
By Dahr Jamail

A study recently published in the journal Nature brings grim news: anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) has officially ended the era of stable climate that has made possible the development of modern civilization.

The world we live in today, based on industrial-scale agriculture capable of feeding billions of people and sustaining these vast numbers of humans, is only possible within a stable climate paradigm.

The recent study, "Reconciling divergent trends and millennial variations in Holocene temperatures," underscores this by showing that temperatures across North America and Europe have reached levels that are unprecedented over the last 11,000 years. This research confirms the findings of a groundbreaking Oregon State/Harvard study from 2013.

Record-Breaking Warming

The 2013 study, published in the journal Science, was at the time the single most comprehensive reconstruction of global temperatures over the last 11,000 years ever carried out.

When that study was published, lead author of the current study, Jeremiah Marsicek, explained at a news release, "we learned that the climate fluctuates naturally over the last 11,000 years and would have led to cooling today in the absence of human activity."

The study also found that if the planet had not already been in the midst of a natural cooling phase when humans began warming it with our emissions, Earth's atmosphere would be nearly an additional 1 degree F warmer now than it already is. Global temperatures have now broken with the naturally slow-changing and relatively stable conditions that existed before ACD began.

The recent study confirmed that the average global temperature of the last decade, from 2007 to 2016, was higher than that of even the warmest centuries over the last 11,000 years by more than 0.5 degrees F.

Our Trumpian Climate Future

Given what the data of these two studies shows, it is worth remembering the results of a government ACD report that leaked last August. The product of 13 federal agencies, the National Climate Assessment showed that, via their "higher emissions" scenario, the US will experience a stunning 8 degrees F to 10 degrees F warming above where we are now over the interior of the country by 2100.

The projections also showed that the Arctic will experience a shocking 18 degrees F of warming sometime between the years 2071 to 2100 and global sea levels could increase by eight feet above current levels by 2100, swamping every major coastal city on Earth.

Meanwhile, a 2009 study from MIT showed that there is a chance things could be even far worse than this: Unchecked ACD could result in more than 7 degrees C planetary warming by 2100.
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Sen. Rand Paul, who made a move to block Thursday's budget deal, walks back to his office after a
TV interview at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill February 8, 2018, in Washington, DC.

Rand Paul And The Sleepover Shutdown: A Three-Act Farce
By William Rivers Pitt

It was quite a morning, yeah? Let's see: The federal government shut down, the Senate passed the budget bill, the House passed the Senate's bill, the Dreamers got screwed and the Tea Party movement evaporated like a wholly unnoticed fart. Be glad you slept: Watching these chowderheads try to govern is a sad, debasing experience in broad daylight. In the dungeons of 3 am, it's an existential crisis.

Why did this spectacle play out the way it did?

For one thing, Rand Paul is running for president in 2020. He hasn't formally announced yet, and has made no public moves to prepare for such an endeavor, but he's running. Last night's display of hypocritical hubris was genuinely Ted Cruzian in scope, a sure sign that the lust for that highest office is once again upon him.

Paul wanted an amendment to keep the budget spending caps -- the "sequester" from days of yore -- in place, and sought a floor debate on the matter. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted a damn vote, thank you, as the bill was already locked up. McConnell was also concerned that other senators would want to add their own amendments if Paul was allowed to do so. He called for a vote, and Paul ran him right off the road by holding everything up, which any single senator is empowered to do.

In this, Rand Paul murdered irony. Here is the deficit defender, his hands still red from the vote he gave in favor of the trillion-dollar-plus tax giveaway, trying to show the world that he and his hair gel are all that lies between us and fiscal doom. By making his stand, Paul exposed the Republican Party as nothing more than a cartel of hypocrites. His fellow GOP senators know it, and they are pissed. Sen. John Cornyn in particular appeared to be gnawing on gravel as Paul held forth.

Pause a moment to appreciate the perfect strangeness of the moment, in the wake of the $1.5 trillion tax cuts that Republicans passed at the end of last year.

"The long-term implications of all this borrowing," reports Alan Rappeport, "put the United States on track to ultimately owe more to its creditors than the economy produces over the course of a year. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget projects that the United States will run $2 trillion annual budget deficits by 2027 and have a debt-to-gross domestic product ratio of 105 percent -- a level not seen since the end of World War II."

The GOP styles itself as the party of fiscal responsibility, the deficit hawks seeking to drown the government in a bathtub. Now, after passing back-to-back bills that massively increase spending (particularly on the military) while drastically decreasing incoming revenue, Republicans have fundamentally rewired their alleged reason for being.

Consider this: The budget deal, passed by the House and Senate and supported by President Trump, is more expensive than the budget proposed by Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign, and is also more expensive than President Obama's final budget request. That's some heady company to be keeping if you're a fiscal conservative, yet here we are.

One of Paul's colleagues eventually managed to strap some rigging tape over his mouth, and in the bleak morning hours of "Shutdown Friday Again," the bill passed 71-28. In a move that stunned and surprised virtually no one, this latest bill -- which sets aside hundreds of billions of dollars for a vast array of programs and pet projects -- says nary a word about the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, the nearly 800,000 Dreamers facing deportation for the crime of being babies when they were carried across the border. McConnell's prior-shutdown promise to Sen. Chuck Schumer stands unshockingly unfulfilled.

After the Senate passed the thing, the stage was set for a truly Homeric bloodbath in the House. On the right, the Freedom Caucus was frothing over all the new spending, except for all the defense spending which is so awesome you guys. On the left, Nancy Pelosi tried to rally progressives to oppose the legislation with a historic eight-hour floor speech denouncing the bill for not addressing the Dreamers, though curiously, she did not actively whip for votes against it after her speech. All this before the House even had a chance to tinker with the bill in reconciliation. The walls were sweating in anticipation of the collision.

... and then, foop, it was done. No muss, no fuss, no fight. At 5:30 this morning, the House passed the Senate bill untouched by a vote of 240-186, and Trump's mid-morning signature made it law. Pelosi's paper tiger had no bite. It was almost anti-climactic, except for this: The bill, as passed, only secures federal facilities' funding for another six weeks. If legislation to fund governmental operations is not passed and signed by March 23, the federal government will shut down again, because of course it will. This is the Reign of the Chowderheads, and the only thing you can count on is not being able to count on anything.

The Tea Party thing is over now. Remember all those rallies in 2010 where people carrying guns and poorly spelled signs were all hot and bothered about the deficit? How quaint. The GOP rode that GOP-manufactured anger into broad congressional domination, the eventual election of Donald Trump and a massive tax heist. Now? Thanks folks, but we don't do that deficit stuff anymore. Here's a pat on the head and some Trump hats. This is but one of the many betrayals the GOP base can look forward to. One wonders if they will even notice.

Weirdest of all, perhaps, is the fact that this is actually not a wholly terrible bill -- certainly not a comprehensive horror show like the tax bill. A number of good things happen with this. For one thing, the debt limit is taken care of for a year, saving us from another go-round with that weaponized farce. Also, according to NPR:

The deal includes $6 billion in funding for treatment of mental health issues and opioid addiction, $2 billion in extra funding for the National Institutes of Health, and an additional four-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, which builds on the six years approved by Congress last month.

In the Medicare program, the deal would accelerate the closing of the "doughnut hole" in Medicare drug coverage that requires seniors to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket before catastrophic coverage kicks in. It would also repeal the controversial Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is charged with holding down Medicare spending for the federal government if it exceeds a certain level.

The agreement would also fund a host of more limited health programs. Those programs include more than $7 billion in funding for the nation's federally funded community health centers. The clinics serve 27 million low-income people and saw their funding lapse last fall -- a delay advocates say had already complicated budgeting and staffing decisions for many clinics.

Add to that funding for Puerto Rico and other regions still desperately in need of disaster relief, and what we have here is a number of Democratic priorities finally funded despite their minority status in Congress. The Pentagon gets another $300 billion it doesn't need and didn't ask for, because "defense" spending is where the real money laundering takes place. What those billions could accomplish but won't is flatly devastating. Despite this violent choice, this bill could have been a hell of a lot worse.

However, the Dreamers were again abandoned by the Democrats in this equation. Now, DACA recipients must still trust that Mitch McConnell will allow an actual immigration debate to take place in the Senate, and must then contend with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said he will only entertain an immigration bill Trump will sign. That is pretty much like trying to predict the weather in the Crab Nebula.

Approval for opening the full citizenship door to the Dreamers stands at more than 80 percent nationwide and enjoys broad Republican support, so one wonders where the controversy lies. Hey, it's only 800,000 people and their families, right? If proof were ever needed that racism still guides the heart of American politics, look no further than the precarity of the Dreamers and the way Congress keeps sweeping their lives to the wayside.

All I know for sure is the GOP seems to have reinvented itself and thrown the Tea Party into the harbor. McConnell and Ryan will do nothing for the Dreamers unless their hand is forced, so it's time for Schumer and Pelosi to get creative and force the issue. The Dreamers are not a line item; they are hundreds of thousands of human beings whose lives are at stake. Can the Republicans be shamed into helping them? Stranger things have happened. It falls to the Democrats to try, and a whole lot of people will be watching.
(c) 2018 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

The Dead Letter Office...

Matt give the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear der Gouverneur Bevin,

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 joining Trump to eliminate 350,000 Kentuckians from Medicaid, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 03-17-2018. We salute you Herr Bevin, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Trump's Big Buyback Bamboozle
By Robert Reich

Trump's promise that corporations will use his giant new tax cut to make new investments and raise workers' wages is proving to be about as truthful as his promise to release his tax returns.

The results are coming in, and guess what? Almost all the extra money is going into stock buybacks. Since the tax cut became law, buy-backs have surged to $88.6 billion. That's more than double the amount of buybacks in the same period last year, according to data provided by Birinyi Associates.

Compare this to the paltry $2.5 billion of employee bonuses corporations say they'll dispense in response to the tax law, and you see the bonuses for what they are - a small fig leaf to disguise the big buybacks.

If anything, the current tumult in the stock market will fuel even more buybacks.

Stock buybacks are corporate purchases of their own shares of stock. Corporations do this to artificially prop up their share prices.

Buybacks are the corporate equivalent of steroids. They may make shareholders feel better than otherwise, but nothing really changes.

Money spent on buybacks isn't reinvested in new equipment, research, or factories. Buybacks don't add jobs or raise wages. They don't increase productivity. They don't grow the American economy.

Yet CEOs love buybacks because most CEO pay is now in shares of stock and stock options rather than cash. So when share prices go up, executives reap a bonanza.

At the same time, the value of CEO pay from previous years also rises, in what amounts to a retroactive (and off the books) pay increase - on top of their already humongous compensation packages.

Big investors also love buybacks because they increase the value of their stock portfolios. Now that the richest 10 percent of Americans own 84 percent of all shares of stock (up from 77 percent at the turn of the century), this means even more wealth at the top.

Buybacks used to be illegal. The Securities and Exchange considered them unlawful means of manipulating stock prices, in violation of the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934.

In those days, the typical corporation put about half its profits into research and development, plant and equipment, worker retraining, additional jobs, and higher wages.

But under Ronald Reagan, who rhapsodized about the "magic of the market," the SEC legalized buybacks.

After that, buybacks took off. Just in the past decade, 94 percent of corporate profits have been devoted to buybacks and dividends, according to researchers at the Academic-Industry Research Network.

Last year, big American corporations spent a record $780 billion buying back their shares of stock.

And that was before the new tax law.

Put another way, the new tax law is giving America's wealthy not one but two big windfalls: They stand to gain the most from the tax cuts for individuals, and they're the big winners from the tax cuts for corporations.

This isn't just unfair. It's also bad for the economy as a whole. Corporations don't invest because they get tax cuts. They invest because they expect that customers will buy more of their goods and services.

This brings us to the underlying problem. Companies haven't been investing - and have been using their profits to buy back their stock instead - because they doubt their investments will pay off in additional sales.

That's because most economic gains have been going to the wealthy, and the wealthy spend a far smaller percent of their income than the middle class and the poor. When most gains go to the top, there's not enough demand to justify a lot of new investment.

Which also means that as long as public policies are tilted to the benefit of those at the top - as is Trump's tax cut, along with Reagan's legalization of stock buybacks - we're not going to see much economic growth.

We're just going to have more buybacks and more inequality.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

The Deadly Rule Of The Oligarchs
By Chris Hedges

Oligarchic rule, as Aristotle pointed out, is a deviant form of government. Oligarchs care nothing for competency, intelligence, honesty, rationality, self-sacrifice or the common good. They pervert, deform and dismantle systems of power to serve their immediate interests, squandering the future for short-term personal gain. "The true forms of government, therefore, are those in which the one, or the few, or the many, govern with a view to the common interest; but governments that rule with a view to the private interest, whether of the one, of the few or of the many, are perversions," Aristotle wrote. The classicist Peter L.P. Simpson calls these perversions the "sophistry of oligarchs," meaning that once oligarchs take power, rational, prudent and thoughtful responses to social, economic and political problems are ignored to feed insatiable greed. The late stage of every civilization is characterized by the sophistry of oligarchs, who ravage the decaying carcass of the state.

These deviant forms of government are defined by common characteristics, most of which Aristotle understood. Oligarchs use power and ruling structures solely for personal advancement.

Oligarchs, though they speak of deconstructing the administrative state, actually increase deficits and the size and power of law enforcement and the military to protect their global business interests and ensure domestic social control. The parts of the state that serve the common good wither in the name of deregulation and austerity. The parts that promote the oligarchs' power expand in the name of national security, economic growth and law and order.

For example, the oligarchs educate their children in private schools and buy them admissions into elite universities (this is how a mediocre student like Jared Kushner went to Harvard and Donald Trump went to the University of Pennsylvania), so they see no need to fund good public education for the wider population. Oligarchs can pay teams of high-priced lawyers to bail them and their families out of legal trouble. There is no need, in their eyes, to provide funds for legal representation for the poor. When oligarchs do not fly on private jets, they fly in first class, so they permit airlines to fleece and abuse "economy" passengers. They do not use subways, buses or trains, and they slash funds for the maintenance and improvement of these services. Oligarchs have private clinics and private doctors, so they do not want to pay for public health or Medicare. Oligarchs detest the press, which when it works shines a light on their corruption and mendacity, so they buy up and control systems of information and push their critics to the margins of society, something they will accelerate with the abolition of net neutrality.

Oligarchs do not vacation on public beaches or in public parks. They own their own land and estates, where we are not allowed. They see no reason to maintain or fund public parks or protect public land. They hand such land over to other oligarchs to exploit for profit. Oligarchs cynically view laws as mechanisms to legalize their fraud and plunder. They use their lobbyists in the legislative branch of government to author bills that increase and protect their wealth, through the avoidance of taxes and other means. Oligarchs do not allow free and fair elections. They use gerrymandering and campaign contributions to make sure other oligarchs are elected over and over to office. Many run unopposed.

Oligarchs look at regulations to protect the environment or the safety of workers as impediments to profit and abolish them. Oligarchs move industries to Mexico or China to increase their wealth while impoverishing American workers and leaving U.S. cities in ruins. Oligarchs are philistines. They are deaf, dumb and blind to great works of art, reveling in tawdry spectacles, patriotic kitsch and mindless entertainment. They despise artists and intellectuals who promote virtues and self-criticism that conflict with the lust for power, celebrity and wealth. Oligarchs always unleash wars on culture, attacking it as elitist, irrelevant and immoral and cutting its funding. All social services and institutions, such as public housing programs, public parks, meals for the elderly, infrastructure projects, welfare and Social Security, are viewed by oligarchs as a waste of money. These services are gutted or turned over to fellow oligarchs, who harvest them for profit until they are destroyed.

Oligarchs, who do not serve in the military and who ensure their children do not serve in the military, pretend to be great patriots. They attack those who oppose them as anti-American, traitors or agents for a foreign power. They use the language of patriotism to stoke hatred against their critics and to justify their crimes. They see the world in black and white-those who are loyal to them and those who are the enemy. They extent this stunted belief system to foreign affairs. Diplomacy is abandoned for the crude threats and indiscriminate use of force that are the preferred forms of communication of all despots.

There is little dispute that we live in an oligarchic state. The wealthiest 1 percent of America's families control 40 percent of the nation's wealth, a statistic similar to what is seen globally: The wealthiest 1 percent of the world's population owns more than half of the world's wealth. This wealth translates into political power. The political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern, after examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, concluded, "In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule-at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover ... even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it."

Oligarchs accelerate social, political, cultural and economic collapse. The unchecked plunder leads to systems breakdown. The refusal to protect natural resources, or the economic engines that sustain the state, means that poverty becomes the norm and the natural world becomes a toxic wasteland. Basic institutions no longer work. Infrastructure is no longer reliable. Water, air and soil are poisoned. The population is left uneducated, untrained, impoverished, oppressed by organs of internal security and beset by despair. The state eventually goes bankrupt. Oligarchs respond to this steady deterioration by forcing workers to do more for less and launching self-destructive wars in the vain attempt to restore a lost golden age. They also insist, no matter how bad it gets, on maintaining their opulent and hedonistic lifestyles. They further tax the resources of the state, the ecosystem and the population with suicidal demands. They flee from the looming chaos into their gated compounds, modern versions of Versailles or the Forbidden City. They lose touch with reality. In the end, they are overthrown or destroy the state itself. There is no institution left in America that can be called democratic, and thus there is no internal mechanism to prevent a descent into barbarity.

"The political role of corporate power, the corruption of the political and representative processes by the lobbying industry, the expansion of executive power at the expense of constitutional limitations, and the degradation of political dialogue promoted by the media are the basics of the system, not excrescences upon it," the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin wrote in "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism." "The system would remain in place even if the Democratic Party attained a majority; and should that circumstance arise, the system will set tight limits to unwelcome changes, as if foreshadowed in the timidity of the current Democratic proposals for reform. In the last analysis, the much-lauded stability and conservatism of the American system owe nothing to lofty ideals, and everything to the irrefutable fact that it is shot through with corruption and awash in contributions primarily from wealthy and corporate donors. When a minimum of a million dollars is required of House candidates and elected judges, and when patriotism is for the draft-free to extol and for the ordinary citizen to serve, in such times it is a simple act of bad faith to claim that politics-as-we-now-know-it can miraculously cure the evils which are essential to its very existence."

The longer we are ruled by oligarchs, the deadlier our predicament becomes, especially since the oligarchs refuse to address climate change, the greatest existential crisis to humankind. The oligarchs have many mechanisms, including wholesale surveillance, to keep us in check. They will stop at nothing to maintain the sophistry of their rule. History may not repeat itself, but it echoes. And if we don't recognize these echoes and then revolt, we will be herded into the abattoirs that tyrannies set up at the end of their existence.
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Daryl Cagle ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Frustrated Hope Hicks Wishing She Could Find One Nice Guy In This Autocratic Personality Cult
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Heartbroken over the resignation of boyfriend Rob Porter from the Trump administration following reports that the now-former White House staff secretary had physically and emotionally abused his ex-wives, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks told reporters Friday she wished only to find one nice guy in the executive branch's autocratic personality cult.

"Every time I think I've found someone who shares my values in this legion of totalitarian sociopaths, they turn out to be nowhere near as good a guy as I first thought," said Hicks, noting that the dating pool of single, oppressive pricks is fairly small, and connecting with a draconian tyrant who is also sweet and caring is increasingly difficult.

"I just know the perfect, ruthless monster for me is out there somewhere in this fanatical hive mind of unfeeling narcissists-a selfish, vicious bastard who will sweep me off my feet. I just have to find the one for me."

As of press time, White House sources reported Hicks had been seen making eyes at a male colleague rumored to have good looks, kind eyes, and the appealing personality of a serial killer.
(c) 2018 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 07 (c) 02/16/2018

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