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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi considers, "The End Of Facts In The Trump Era."

Uri Avnery shares a memory, "That's How It Happened."

Glen Ford finds, "DeVos, Obama, Booker, Trump - All Enemies Of Public Education."

Pepe Escobar explores, "The Pivot To China."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Is Trump's America Our America?"

Glenn Greenwald declares, "The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn's Lie Committed Serious - and Wholly Justified - Felonies."

William Rivers Pitt is, "Confronting the Unprecedented Chaos of Trumpland, Fatherhood Edition."

John Nichols reports, "Congressional Democrats Are Already Warning Trump About Impeachment."

Chris Hedges concludes, "The Elites Won't Save Us."

Norman Solomon explains how, "The Long Road to Impeach Trump Just Got Shorter."

Jane Stillwater observes, "Trump vs. the Deep State: Battle of the dinosaurs."

David Swanson considers, "Which Washington Crimes Matter Most?"

Kali Holloway examines how, "Time Is Running Out On American Democracy."

Jeff Sessions wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich asks, "Who Lacks Respect for the Office of the President?"

Peter Maass uncovers, "Dark Essays By White House Staffer Are The Intellectual Source Code Of Trumpism."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz discovers, "Putin Starting To Wonder If His Puppets Are Smart Enough To Pull This Off" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Welcome To The New Dark Ages."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Dwayne Booth, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Lee Horsey, Michael De Adder, George Frey, Victor Juhasz, Alex Wong, Tom Williams, Getty Images, Common Dreams, Pixabay, Carolyn Caster, Mikhail Svetlov, Slate, IoSonoUnaFotoCamera, Bettmann Archive, Reuters, AP, Asia Times, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com 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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Welcome To The New Dark Ages
By Ernest Stewart

"Democracy's fatal flaw: There are more dumb people than smart people. Welcome to the new Dark Ages!" ~~~ Oliver Gaspirtz

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." ~~~ Donald Trump

"Israel's strategic goal is to impose 'Greater Israel' on the region: to take over all of historical Palestine, expell the entire non-Jewish population and subsidize 'Jews-only' settlements for settler-immigrants, often from the US and former USSR." ~~~ James Petras

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

Many of you still can't wrap your mind around the phrase, "President Trump." Are the American people really that dumb? Yes they are! Sure Hillary actually won the election but because of our founding fathers, you know, good old slave owners like Washington, Jefferson and the brain dead who came up with the bright idea of the Electoral College, Hamilton! The Electoral College was created so they could run the country to their advantage, and we got saddled with another braindead who might get us all killed!

Our 1% president, who acts like a spoiled 5 year old, you know, herr Trump! Donald is, with-out-a-doubt, a delusional, ego-centric, pathological liar, narcissist, with APD or antisocial personality disorder, and that's just the tip of the iceberg, folks!

Trouble is, Donnie isn't getting his way in everything that he wants and that's where the trouble lies! Kind of like giving that spoiled 5 year old, the launch codes. Can you says, Armageddon boys and girls? I knew that you could!

I got to thinking, yes, I know, a very dangerous thing and thought, why don't we make voting a mandatory thing, like they did in, Australia? With half of our voters not bothering to vote seems like a plan! If everyone would have voted and the result came out the same, only doubling! Hilary would have beat Trump by 6 million votes, she would have carried enough states to satisfy the College, and Trump would be back doing game shows. Oh, and if you were like me and couldn't stomach either candidate you could have written in Bernie's name or, whoever, or tell the government where they can "shove this ballot," because that's fine too. You're are not required to vote in, Australia, just to show up and take a ballot, whatever you do next is up to you. Did I mention that all elections in Australia are held only on Saturdays? And finally, what if every race had the option of "None-of-the-Above" and if that category won, then the parties would have to run other candidates. What do you think?

Unfortunately, we don't have that law, so we're stuck with "The Donald" until he is either impeached or run out of Foggy Bottom on a rail! Until that happens, we are sooooo screwed, America. Still, you might want to sharpen the tines of your pitch fork, just in case! May mighty Zeus protect us all!

In Other News

You may recall Jack Nicholson's field day in, "China Town." While the main story was fiction a lot of background was fairly true. For example Hollis I. Mulwray's character was somewhat based on William Mulholland who is probably more famous for the Drive named after him in the Hollywood Hills, than for the Los Angeles Aqueduct that he designed and built. Had Mulholland stopped there he would have been remembered as a brilliant engineer and hero of the people, but William didn't. As head of the water department he decided what Los Angles really needed was a dam to hold water for droughts, as you may know, Los Angels was built in the middle of a desert! So he built a concrete dam, the "St. Francis Dam" about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Two years after it was built it collapsed around midnight and became California's second worst disaster in history, after the San Francisco earthquake.

Meanwhile, the Oroville Dam, the tallest dam in America, is starting to fall apart due to huge amounts of rainfall. A couple of months ago there was hardly any water behind the dam after a 5 year drought, today water is spilling over the dam and one of the dams two spillways is collapsing. Unlike the St. Francis dam where no one was warned, today at the first signs of a breach everyone was evacuated, some 200,000 people who live below the dam.

That's the thing about Global Warming, we really don't know what to expect next. Five years of drought followed by a continuing monsoon. More major rainfall expected this weekend for northern California, while just over the mountains an eighteen year old drought continues for millions of people.

The winters of my childhood are gone now in Michigan. Some years it started snowing well before Halloween with a snow storm every week dropping at least a foot of snow every week through April. This year all the snow we've gotten totaled well under a foot. We gotten the same moisture but 90% of it fell as rain. That's another thing that Global Warming does, is to put more moisture in the air, to fall as rain, or, it might fall as snow; as you east coasters know by now I'm sure. Last week you got up to a foot, this week another two feet of snow. Oh, and did I mention that this week the temperatures in Oklahoma were twice normal average with temperatures around 100 degrees in some spots? So who ya gonna believe America? Your lying eyes, or those damn Chinese, who Trump says made up Global Warming, so that they could rule the World.

And Finally

I see that Netanyahu is in town to sell Trump a one state "final solution" to the "Palestinian question." Now where, oh where, have I heard that terminology before? I wonder? I use to call him Nuttin-Yahoo but then I found out that there is nothing funny about, Netanyahu, nothing funny at all.

Bibi is in town to sell Sheldon Adelson's idea of the one state, i.e., including all the rest of Palestine into Israel. Haaretz reported earlier last week "Netanyahu sat with Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul and billionaire funder to the GOP who has backed both Trump and Netanyahu. The two reportedly discussed Adelson's stance against the creation of a Palestinian state, the possible move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and online gambling." Speaking of which, I wonder if Israel will give the Palestinians the right to own casinos, like we do for our own Palestinians, or will they just fire up the ovens. Either way Donnie will go along with them as long as he can make a buck out of it. Similarly if China wants to calm things down all they need to do is give the Donald a small piece of the action like Israel does. Either that, or they could borrow the Russian film of Donald being peed on, in the face, by a couple of hooker/KBG agents, either way would work! Ya think?

Keepin' On

As the great American philosopher, Yogi Berra once said, "It's like deja vu all over again," and ain't that the truth! It certainly is when coupled with the magazine's bank account as of late. Zero, zip, zilch, nada coming in; in fact, the only thing in my PO Box this month was the bill to renew my PO Box; funny thing that, huh?

It gets harder every year, coming to you; cap in hand, begging for a few alms to keep us afloat and operating. If I have anything, it's stamina, and we are paid up until June, who knows by then we may pick up an advertiser or two? Stranger things have happened!

Ergo, a little help ya'll. If, in the final daze of America, what we do for you and yours is deemed just a wee bit helpful or incredibly necessary, then please send us, whatever you can, whenever you can; and we'll keep fighting for you and yours, bringing you the truth that you need to know, to figure all this madness out!


08-27-1945 ~ 02-10-2017
Thanks for the read!

03-12-194o ~ 02-12-2017
Thanks for the music!


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

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

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish 10 times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2017 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.

The End Of Facts In The Trump Era
By Matt Taibbi

The order floated down from the lunatic's castle late on a Friday. No more visas of any kind from seven countries, Donald Trump decreed, and mayhem replaced a weekend.

Thunderstruck customs officials scrambled to make sense of the surprise order; planes landed and innocent travelers were detained; the Internet exploded; protesters stormed airports everywhere; the acting attorney general refused to go along and was fired like a contestant on one of Trump's shows; it was Keystone Kops meets Pinochet.

And then there were the lies. If there is one thing the first few weeks of the Trump administration have proved, it's that keeping track of what we used to call "objective fact" is now a fool's errand.

Did the visa ban affect green-card holders? On a case-by-case basis, the administration said. The following day, a senior official said the ban "doesn't affect them."

Reporters then asked if that was different from what was said at first.

The answer, "No," constituted a seemingly impossible third response to a simple question. The Trump administration is breaking new metaphysical ground in the mechanics of untruth.

Trump went on to blame the media for falsely reporting that the plan was a "Muslim ban," when a ban on Muslims was one of his most explicit campaign promises. He misled about it being "similar" to Barack Obama's 2011 policy regarding Iraqi visas (it wasn't close). He lied about everything with regard to the visa story, except for one thing: its popularity.

"A majority of Americans agree with the president," chirped Sean Spicer, already a challenger to former Disney tour guide and Nixon flack Ron Ziegler for the title of most loathed White House spokesman ever.

Because this was the Trump administration, most sensible people assumed Spicer's line was a lie. But it wasn't. Despite near-unanimous condemnation by the international community and massive demonstrations, polls showed that more Americans than not supported whatever it was Trump was doing with the borders.

This gets to the heart of a chilling truth that much of educated America has yet to face about the Trump era. Amid all the howling about Trump's deceptions, the far more upsetting story is the mandate behind them - not so much the death of truth in politics, but the irrelevance of it. Donald Trump is proving that if you connect with America's anger and paranoia, you can get by quite easily without facts.

Clearly, we're in the midst of a mass-hysteria movement that approaches the McCarthy era, with the caveat that our version is utterly ridiculous in addition to being terrifying. Take the fable of the "3 to 5 million illegal voters" investigation, another of Trump's early provocations. (Incidentally, there have already been enough baffling episodes in this administration to fill several history books; like a bad hallucinogenic experience, it feels like years have passed already, when it's only been days.) Trump called for a "major investigation" into an apparent incidence of mass voter fraud by undocumented immigrants. This story began just after the election as a report peddled by Trump's favorite conspiracy theorist and aneurysm-in-waiting, Alex Jones of Infowars. But after the inauguration, Trump explained to congressional leaders that he'd gotten additional proof from "the very famous golfer Bernhard Langer."

Trump, according to a New York Times report, said that Langer had told him that while he, Langer, had been turned away from the polls, two people who "did not look as if they should be able to vote" had been waved through. Trump then speculated to Congress that the two individuals might have come from Latin American countries.

An alarmed Langer, who is a German citizen and can't vote in America, quickly issued a statement clearing things up. Langer himself never went to the polls. He'd heard the story from someone else, and he in turn told the story to a friend, who in turn told the story to Team Trump. If the Earth were the truth and the story a rocket, it was past the moon and screaming toward Mars by the time it reached Trump's brain.

In any case, Trump never spoke to Langer, the actual ineligible voter in the story, and Langer in turn never saw the two suspicious people, who in turn were almost certainly legal voters, if they even existed to begin with. All of this insanity ended up being relayed with a straight face to real members of Congress, who probably all soiled themselves at the thought that Washington was finally being run by someone who thinks just like their voters.

Trump Week One saw a string of such gruesome stories, from an order greenlighting the construction of the Great Wall of Trump, to the open embrace of the word "torture," a low to which even Stalin never sank. Trump even ordered his Department of Homeland Security to begin compiling a list of crimes committed by immigrants, which, as many noted, is a trick culled directly from the Nazi Institute for Research on the Jewish Question, which kept lists of crimes committed by Jews.

If you're rolling your eyes at the increasing number of Godwin's Law offenses in the Trump story, that's fine, but consider this: If Trump isn't stealing ideas from the Nazis, and it's just a coincidence that he shares so many of their policy instincts, that's not much of a comfort either.

But for all of the lunacies of Trump's first week, the war on facts might have been the one that shook liberal America the most.

The anti-truth campaign started with Spicer, a career GOP stooge who 18 months ago was denouncing Donald Trump for insulting John McCain. The ginger-faced Rhode Islander spent the first day of the Trump administration swimming in the world's most ill-fitting suit - the fabric looked hacked from an airport couch with garden shears - as he insisted that Trump's anemic inauguration crowd had been the biggest ever. It was such a whopper that even the Trump administration had to cop to it, sort of.

"Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts," said White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on Meet the Press the next morning, and the Trump presidency had its first laugh line.

Commentators wondered aloud if Conway's "Alternative Facts" routine had marked the beginning of a new Orwellian dystopia. Fears in this direction even rocked the publishing industry, where 1984 hit number one on Amazon, triggering a new printing practically overnight.

Facts are the closest thing we have to a national religion. In America, where sex-tapers become royalty and monster trucks massively outdraw Shakespeare, even advertisers aren't supposed to just lie. The truth is the last thing here that isn't openly for sale. This is why so many people responded to Conway not as if she'd said something stupid - we're used to that from our politicians - but more as though she'd said something irreligious.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer makes a statement to members of the media at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. This was Spicer's first press conference as Press Secretary where he spoke about the media's reporting on the inauguration's crowd size.

The Washington Post reported with alarm on this crumbling of the Church of the Fact. As a test, they showed a group of Americans aerial photos of the Trump and Obama inaugurations. An astounding 15 percent of Trump supporters identified the clearly emptier Trump inaugural photo as the one containing a bigger crowd. We're now such a divided people that we literally see the world differently.

A primary characteristic of any authoritarian situation, from East Germany to high school, is the total uselessness of facts and evidence as a defense against anything. Trump is in the White House because he and his people understood this from the start. His movement isn't about facts. All that matters to his followers is that blame stays fixed in the right direction.

While Trump's new staff spent the first few weeks tearing apart presidential tradition like a troop of apes let loose in the Louvre, progressives spent their energy pushing news outlets like The New York Times and CNN to begin using words like "lie" in headlines, as if this were somehow going to be a game-changer.

When the Times finally began doing just that in its coverage of President Trump ("Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers" was the paper's proud January 23rd formulation), a parade of self-congratulation ensued.

The Times covered its own decision like it was news. Other outlets, from CNN to The Nation, began running their own headlines containing what was unironically described as the "l-bomb."

There's nothing wrong with calling Trump and his minions liars. They are liars. But no Trump voter is going to pick up the Times and suddenly be struck now by the deceptiveness of Donald Trump. What the Trump voter will perceive instead is a whining bunch of "snowflakes." And he'll think Trump's neck-bloated chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is right on when he calls the media the "opposition party."

The whole situation recalls America's first great post-factual tragedy, the O.J. Simpson trial. Twenty-two years ago, that sprawling blood-soaked epic of crime and narcissistic impunity perfectly foreshadowed the election of Donald Trump.

Apart from the monumental scale of the error - we put O.J. in the White House this time, instead of just letting him loose on golf courses for a few more years - that was exactly the same story of myopic intellectuals clinging to facts and rules, while scoundrels steamrolled their way to victory riding narrative and celebrity.

Like O.J.'s lawyers, Trump doesn't stand and fight but continually moves the battle to a different arena, one where facts mean nothing and anger means everything. O.J.'s prosecutors never understood that they'd been swallowed up by a bigger game. Can we afford to make the same mistake now?
(c) 2017 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. .

That's How It Happened
By Uri Avnery

AFTER MY last article, in which I mentioned that the Arabs started the 1948 war after the partition resolution of the UN, I received several furious messages.

The writers, who (I suppose) were born after the events, accuse the Zionists of starting the war in order to expel the Arab population.

Since I took part in the events - I was 24 years old at the time - I feel that it is my duty to describe what really happened, as truthfully as possible. (I have written two books about it, one during the war and one immediately after.)

TO DESCRIBE the atmosphere in the country just before the war, let me recount one of the great moments of my life.

In the late summer, an annual folk dance festival took place in a natural amphitheater in the Carmel mountains. About 40 thousand young men and women were assembled, a very large number given that our total population was only about 635,000.

At the time, a commission of the United Nations (UNSCOP) was touring the country in order to find a solution to the Jewish-Arab conflict.

We were watching the dance groups - among them one from a neighboring Arab village, who danced the Debka with such enthusiasm that they just couldn't stop - when the loudspeakers announced that members of the UN commission were visiting us.

Spontaneously, all the thousands of young men and women stood up and broke into the National Anthem with such vigor that the echo resounded from the mountains around us.

It was the last time that my generation was assembled. Within a year, thousands of those present were dead.

FOLLOWING THE recommendation of that commission, the General Assembly of the UN resolved on November 29, 1947, to partition Palestine between a Jewish and an Arab state, with Jerusalem as a separate unit under international rule.

Though the territory allotted to the Jewish state was small, the Jewish population realized the immense importance of statehood. It was just three years after the end of the Holocaust.

The entire Arab world opposed the resolution. As they saw it, why should the Arab population of Palestine pay the price for the Holocaust committed by Europeans?

The day after the resolution, a Jewish bus was shot at. That was the beginning of Phase 1 of the war.

To understand the events, one must consider the situation. The two populations on the country were closely intertwined. In Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa-Tel Aviv, Arab and Jewish quarters were situated close together.

Every Jewish village was surrounded by Arab ones. To exist, they needed use of the highroads, which were dominated by Arab villages. By now, shootings broke out all over the country. The British were still nominally in charge, but tried to get involved as little as possible.

The underground Jewish paramilitary organization, called Haganah ("Defense"), was responsible for keeping the roads open. Jewish traffic moved in convoys, defended by Haganah members, male and female. The females were needed, because they could hide the illegal weapons under their clothes.

The Arab side had no centralized command. Attacks were undertaken by villagers, many of whom had old rifles at home. Since some of these fellahin were quite primitive, atrocities happened. Our side retaliated the same way. As a result, this became a very bitter struggle. One group of Haganah fighters, composed of university students, who rushed to the defense of a Jewish settlement bloc, was ambushed and killed to the last man. We saw photos of their severed heads paraded through the streets of Arab Jerusalem.

The inevitable strategy of the Jewish side was to remove the Arab villages along the highways. Jewish villages were told to stay put, whatever the price, though a very few of the most exposed ones were evacuated. In February, 1948, the British evacuated a Tel Aviv area, and this became the nucleus of the Jewish state. The British left at the same time some compact Arab areas, too.

By the end of March, both sides had already suffered heavy casualties. Phase 2 began.

ON APRIL 1, my company was rushed to the improvised port of Tel Aviv to receive a large shipment of Soviet bloc arms. A year before, in a surprise move, the Soviet bloc in the UN had started to support the Zionist side. Stalin, as anti-Zionist as anybody could be, had probably decided that a Jewish state in Palestine was better than a British-US military base.

We spent a day removing the grease from the rifles, which had been produced by the Czechs for Hitler's army but were too late for World War II. That was the beginning of Phase 2 of the war.

The Jewish quarters of Jerusalem were cut off by the Arab villages on the road. Our operation, the first big one of the war, was to open the road.

A stretch of road, several kilometers long, passed though a narrow gorge, with steep hills on both sides. Bab-al-Wad (Arabic for "Gate of the Valley") was the terror of every soldier. If we were shot at from above, we would have to get out, climb these hills under fire and fight on top. Not a very pleasant prospect.

A huge convoy of 135 trucks had been assembled, and it was our job to get them to Jerusalem. My squad was allotted a truck carrying cheese, and we tried to arrange some cover between the crates. Luckily, we got through without being attacked. We entered Jerusalem on a Shabbat, masses of religious Jews left the synagogues and received us with immense joy, it resembled de Gaulle's entry into Paris. (By chance, a photographer took my picture there.)

We returned unscratched. Ours was the last convoy to get through - the next one was attacked and had to turn around. Several costly battles to open the road, which was now blocked by an irregular Arab volunteer force from Syria, failed. We lost a hundred dead.

The road remained closed for decades. Our army found an alternative route which we called the Burma Road, after the British route from India to China in World War II.

BY THAT time it became clear that the regular armies of the surrounding Arab countries were about to enter the war. This changed the character of the fight entirely.

In preparation for the battle, the Israeli army "cleared" large stretches of land of their Arab inhabitants, so as not to leave Arab concentrations behind our lines. This could still be justified by tactical necessity. On May 14, the last of the British left, and the next day the regular armies of five Arab states - Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, with some help from Saudi Arabia - entered the war. They were regular troops, trained and equipped by their former British and French overlords, and had artillery and air power, which we still lacked.

On paper, the Arab side enjoyed a huge superiority in armaments, training and (I am not sure) numbers. But we had three advantages. First, we knew that we were fighting for our lives, quite literally, with our backs to the wall. We had a unified command, while the Arab armies competed with each other. And third: the Arabs had a profound contempt for us. Who has ever heard of Jews fighting? Also, in tactical terms, we had the advantage of "inner lines", being able to quickly move forces from one front to another.

The following weeks - Phase 3 - saw the most desperate fighting of the entire war, battles that resembled World War I. I saw battles in which almost all our fighters were killed or wounded, and a solitary last machine gun kept firing. There were hours when everything seemed lost.

But then, slowly, the fortunes of war turned. By the end of this round, we were alive and fighting, standing our ground.

Phase 4 still saw some pitched battles, even an attack with bayonets. But our side scented victory. It was then that the mass expulsion of the population of Arab towns and villages became obviously conscious government policy. At that point in time I was severely wounded and left the front.

When everybody on both sides was exhausted, the war ended with a set of armistices, which defined the recognized borders of Israel.

Within these borders, very few Arabs were left. But an almost forgotten fact is that not a single Jew was left in the areas conquered by the Arab side. Fortunately for us, these areas were few and small compared to the large areas conquered by our side. The term "ethnic cleansing" was not yet invented.

THESE ARE the facts. Everybody can build on them any interpretation and ideology they fancy.

But, please, no Trumpian "alternative facts".
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

DeVos, Obama, Booker, Trump - All Enemies Of Public Education
By Glen Ford

Betsy DeVos barely won confirmation as the next secretary of education, so dreadful is the performance of the charter schools she promotes in Michigan. But the educational atrocities of the DeVos schools are inseparable from the larger war against public education. Barack Obama doubled charter school enrollment, and Cory Booker, who hopes to be president, is a fanatical advocate of private school vouchers. Trump and Devos aren't the only villains.

Sometimes, when ruling class competitors collide, the villainy of both factions is made manifest. Donald Trump did the nation's public schools a great service by nominating Betsy DeVos, the awesomely loathsome billionaire Amway heiress, for secretary of Education. In turning over that rock, Trump exposed the raw corruption and venality at the core of the charter school privatization juggernaut. Only an historic tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence saved DeVos from rejection by the U.S. Senate. Two Republicans abandoned their party's nominee, joining a solid bloc of Democrats, including New Jersey's Cory Booker, a school privatizer that crawled out of the same ideological sewer as DeVos and has long been her comrade and ally. Booker defected from his soul mate in fear that the DeVos stench might taint his own presidential ambitions.

The New York Times editorial board, a champion of charters, bemoaned that DeVos' "appointment squanders an opportunity to advance public education research, experimentation and standards, to objectively compare traditional public school, charter school and voucher models in search of better options for public school students" - a devious way of saying that the Senate hearings exposed the slimy underbelly of the charter privatization project and the billionaires of both parties that have guided and sustained it.

The greatest privatizer of them all, the man who broke the back of public education and more than doubled charter school enrollment through his Race to the Top program, was cavorting with Richard Branson on the British billionaire's private Caribbean island when Betsy DeVos was on gruesome display at the Senate hearings. Obamacare will soon be history, but the First Black President's most enduring domestic legacy was to make charter schools the effective alternative to public education -- but only in Black America, and to a much lesser degree, in Latino neighborhoods. Beginning in 2010, Obama deployed the coercive powers of Race to the Top to force states to increase the spread of charters schools or lose access to $4.35 billion in additional federal funding. On Wall Street, it's called "making a market." In his two terms in office, President Obama succeeded in creating a privately-run network of schools that are both effectively segregated and outside democratic processes of accountability.

His first secretary of education, Arne Duncan, famously said Katrina was the best thing that ever happened for New Orleans education. The federally-fueled charter storm has devoured much of the educational sphere in Black and brown cities across the nation. Below is a list of the top charter school jurisdictions, based on percentage of enrollment. New Orleans, LA 93%
Detroit, MI 53
Flint, MI 47
Washington, DC 44
Kansas City, MO 41
Gary, IN 40
Philadelphia, PA 33
Hall County, GA 32
Victor Valley, CA 32
Indianpolis, IN 31
Grand Rapid, MI 31
Dayton, OH 30
San Anontio, TX 30
Cleveland, OH 30

These cities are the domestic mirrors of Obama and Bush foreign policies - the bombed out public educational infrastructures selectively targeted in Black and brown America. Betsy DeVos' depredations in Michigan, where the largely for-profit charters she promotes score worse than traditional public schools on national tests, are like the wedding party and hospital bombings that punctuate U.S. foreign wars: although singular, horrific atrocities, they are part and parcel of the larger aggression, the logical consequences of the war against public education.

Sen. Cory Booker is a mercenary in that war. He entered politics as an advocate of public funding for private schools, two of which he operated in Newark, New Jersey. While a first-term city councilman, Booker became deeply entangled with the most right-wing corporate sugar daddies (and mommas) of the private school vouchers "movement"-- actually, a billionaires club encompassing many of the main funders of the Hard Right in the U.S. (See "Fruit of the Poisoned Tree ,"The Black Commentator, April 5, 2002.) Booker's rise to national prominence has been funded and promoted by these same right-wing networks, to whom he remains loyal. From 2004 to 2008, Booker sat with Betsy DeVos on the board of the Alliance for School Choice, a pro-charter and school vouchers outfit founded by John Walton, one of the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune. Hakeem Jeffries, a Black congressman from Brooklyn, is a protege of Booker and fellow supporter of tax credits for private schools. In the wake of Obama's eight-year crusade on behalf of charters, much of the Congressional Black Caucus is now amenable to various privatization schemes.

In their zeal to confront and delegitimize Donald Trump, the Democrats primp and posture as if in genuine opposition to President Cheeto's governance-by-billionaires. But, charter school privatization, like U.S. wars, is a project of both wings of the ruling class duopoly. When you scorn DeVos, you must also curse Obama, and reject Booker -- or you are no better than Trump.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

One Belt, One Road, One China: Is the new White House crew changing tack on Beijing?

The Pivot To China
By Pepe Escobar

When President Xi Jinping visited the United Nations in Geneva last month, before his landmark pro-globalization speech in Davos, he said China's proposition to the world was to "build a community of shared future for mankind and achieve shared and win-win development."

Then came the astonishing numbers. "In the coming five years, China will import US$8 trillion of goods, attract US$600 billion of foreign investment, make US$750 billion of outbound investment, and Chinese tourists will make 700 million outbound visits."

For most of the "community of shared future," it didn't take long for the implications to sink in.

Then came the threat of a US-China trade war. The possible ending of the One China policy. The threat of a blockade in the South China Sea.

Then came The Letter. From Trump to Xi, sending good wishes to "the Chinese people." Too little, too late - over a week after the start of the Year of the Rooster. Still, with great tact, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing stressed communication was always on, "led by China's top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister."

Then, finally, came The Phone Call. The first time they ever talked. Trump told Xi he plans to respect the One China policy. Game on.

What's next?

Exit 'borders'; enter 'corridors'

It's open to debate whether any of Trump's China hands - in fact, they are virtually non-existent - have written him a memo laying out the magnitude of what Beijing is trying to accomplish, business-wise. That won't last long because Trump eventually will wake someone up with a 3am phone call wondering, "How come we're not part of the action?"

Inbuilt in the New Silk Roads, aka One Belt, One Road, is a new transpolitical concept; territoriality is extrapolated from national borders towards belts and roads - in fact, supply chains. This goes way beyond mere technicalities: supply-chain management; inter-modality; inter-operability; a new approach to logistics; you name it. It's posing the foundation of a transnational new geoeconomic model, and, if successful in the long run, a new geopolitical model.

The model implies that China is proposing through all these corridors - across the upgraded high-speed Trans-Siberian rail route, across Southeast Asia, across Pakistan - whole new layers to the notion of multinational cooperation; political, economic, financial (as in the role of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund). No wonder a group of Chinese researchers recently published a groundbreaking essay in Monthly Review titled

One Belt, One Road: China's strategy for a new global financial order.

Riding the iron rooster: Xi is attempting
to redraw the global geopolitical map.

Add to this the progressive interpolation of OBOR with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. The EEU is fully institutionalized, complete with bureaucratic layers, while OBOR is still a loose experiment in progress. As Xi and Vladimir Putin have stressed, OBOR and EEU are ultimately complementary - and that adds an extra dimension to the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Beijing's advance across Central Asia is essentially geoeconomic, as an infrastructure provider; Moscow for its part is not paranoid that Beijing harbors political hegemonic designs. The light at the end of the (high-speed rail) tunnel is always Eurasia integration, with regional powers Iran and eventually Turkey also on board for the long haul.

Time for dialectic hostility

Klaus Baader, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong, recently told Bloomberg: "How many times did Trump say he would label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office? It was pure rhetoric - Rhetoric that cannot be implemented."

That does not mean that after the Trump-Xi call all the rhetoric will vanish. The folks in Trump's internal audience/electoral base have eagerly entertained the desire - or illusion - that they deserve a better distribution of wealth since they're right at the heart of the "indispensable nation"; and that this may happen mostly at the expense of a China that has profited immensely from globalization. That's what Trump's rhetoric has been emphasizing.

The heart of America: how to let him down softly?

For its part, China is embarking on a much more ambitious path - albeit one fraught with danger. It needs to stop depending so much on exports to the US. It must also continue to invest in its internal market, transferring wealth and opportunities from the eastern seaboard to central provinces and the west. But most of all, Beijing is focused on paving the way for a new geoeconomic Pax Sinica down the road.

Vast sectors of the US deep state though remain committed to the pivot to China - as in, its outright containment. Trump may have already understood that a trade war is a lose-lose proposition. In the absence of an Asian economic version of NATO (the dead-in-the water Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal), the emphasis will be on "vigilant" allies/semi-disguised vassals such as Japan, South Korea and Australia (after "that" phone call to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Canberra will be a tough proposition).

In a nutshell: the pivot to Asia will survive in some shape or form. Notice the set of "recommendations" to the president by a task force on US-China policy organized by the Asia Society and the University of California San Diego.

Nestled among platitudes on human rights and the need to "reaffirm US commitments," there's the same misleading emphasis on "freedom of navigation" - which China reads as US naval hegemony meant as a law of nature - and the proverbial need to "maintain an active US naval and air presence" to "respond resolutely to China's use of force against the United States or its treaty allies." (Note the premise is always Chinese aggression.)

Wishful thinking - already debunked by reality - is also the norm, as in "changes are needed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership to gain bipartisan ratification in Congress."

This is all too predictable. Kurt Campbell, at the moment part of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, among other roles, is a key member of the task force. Campbell was the conceptualizer of the pivot to Asia, which he sold to Hillary Clinton who then sold it to Obama. For the Pentagon, the categorical imperative remains the same: China must not be allowed in any circumstances to contest US "access" or escape from its geostrategic containment in the South and East China Seas.

Add the chilling message delivered by former CIA director James Woolsey, who until recently was advising Trump on national security: "The US sees itself as the holder of the balance of power in Asia and is likely to remain determined to protect its allies against Chinese overreach." Crude translation: it's our way or the highway (rather, bottom of the ocean).

So welcome to the overall guidelines of Trump's China pivot. Dialectic hostility, anyone?
(c) 2017 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

Is Trump's America Our America?
By Jim Hightower

Who are we?

Are we the America of courage, openness, inclusion, opportunity, and democratic promise - as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, and on the Statue of Liberty?

Or are we the America of fear, bigotry, xenophobia, intolerance, and autocracy - negative traits now emanating from the darkness of Donald Trump's dystopian view of our society? It's his mix of fearful nativism and imperiousness that's behind his edict imposing a contemptible and chaotic ban on immigrants from seven Muslim nations.

The Donald and his regime of demagogic autocrats from the far-right fringe are hoping we're the timorous America. They shout that the people voted for the fair-haired strongman and now expect him to save them from bloodthirsty terrorists sneaking into America from Muslim nations. But wait - first of all, 72 percent of us did not vote for him, with 27 percent preferring Hillary and 45 percent not voting at all. So spare us the lie that you have a "mandate" to discriminate.

Second, if your aim really was to save us from Islamic terrorists, you missed by miles. Exactly zero Americans have been killed in terrorists attacks here by any immigrants from those seven countries. So why them, and not Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan - Muslim nations with citizens who have attacked Americans on our soil? And, by the way, isn't it curious that Trump's ban doesn't include Muslim countries where he has major corporate investments?

This disgraceful, self-aggrandizing political play is just one more Trump fraud. But the good news is that the American people are rallying in mass opposition to his autocratic arrogance, revealing that his America is not our America - and vice versa.
(c) 2017 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.

The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn's Lie Committed Serious - and Wholly Justified - Felonies
By Glenn Greenwald

President Trump's national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, was forced to resign on Monday night as a result of getting caught lying about whether he discussed sanctions in a December telephone call with a Russian diplomat. The only reason the public learned about Flynn's lie is because someone inside the U.S. government violated the criminal law by leaking the contents of Flynn's intercepted communications.

In the spectrum of crimes involving the leaking of classified information, publicly revealing the contents of SIGINT - signals intelligence - is one of the most serious felonies. Journalists (and all other nongovernmental citizens) can be prosecuted under federal law for disclosing classified information only under the narrowest circumstances; reflecting how serious SIGINT is considered to be, one of those circumstances includes leaking the contents of intercepted communications, as defined this way by 18 § 798 of the U.S. Code:

Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates ... or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes ... any classified information ... obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

That Flynn lied about what he said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was first revealed by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who has built his career on repeating what his CIA sources tell him. In his January 12 column, Ignatius wrote: "According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking."

That "senior U.S. government official" committed a serious felony by leaking to Ignatius the communication activities of Flynn. Similar and even more extreme crimes were committed by what the Washington Post called "nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls," who told the paper for its February 9 article that "Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country's ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials." The New York Times, also citing anonymous U.S. officials, provided even more details about the contents of Flynn's telephone calls.

That all of these officials committed major crimes can hardly be disputed. In January, CNN reported that Flynn's calls with the Russians "were captured by routine U.S. eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats." That means that the contents of those calls were "obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of [a] foreign government," which in turn means that anyone who discloses them - or reports them to the public - is guilty of a felony under the statute.

Yet very few people are calling for a criminal investigation or the prosecution of these leakers, nor demanding the leakers step forward and "face the music" - for very good reason: The officials leaking this information acted justifiably, despite the fact that they violated the law. That's because the leaks revealed that a high government official, Gen. Flynn, blatantly lied to the public about a material matter - his conversations with Russian diplomats - and the public has the absolute right to know this.

This episode underscores a critical point: The mere fact that an act is illegal does not mean it is unjust or even deserving of punishment. Oftentimes, the most just acts are precisely the ones that the law prohibits.

That's particularly true of whistleblowers - i.e., those who reveal information the law makes it a crime to reveal, when doing so is the only way to demonstrate to the public that powerful officials are acting wrongfully or deceitfully. In those cases, we should cheer those who do it even though they are undertaking exactly those actions that the criminal law prohibits.

This Flynn episode underscores another critical point: The motives of leakers are irrelevant. It's very possible - indeed, likely - that the leakers here were not acting with benevolent motives. Nobody with a straight face can claim that lying to the public is regarded in official Washington as some sort of mortal sin; if anything, the contrary is true: It's seen as a job requirement.

Moreover, Gen. Flynn has many enemies throughout the intelligence and defense community. The same is true, of course, of Donald Trump; recall that just a few weeks ago, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer warned Trump that he was being "really dumb" to criticize the intelligence community because "they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you."

It's very possible - I'd say likely - that the motive here was vindictive rather than noble. Whatever else is true, this is a case where the intelligence community, through strategic (and illegal) leaks, destroyed one of its primary adversaries in the Trump White House.

But no matter. What matters is not the motive of the leaker but the effects of the leak. Any leak that results in the exposure of high-level wrongdoing - as this one did - should be praised, not scorned and punished.

It is, of course, bizarre to watch this principle now so widely celebrated. Over the last eight years, President Obama implemented the most vindictive and aggressive war on whistleblowers in all of U.S. history. As Leonard Downie, one of the editors at the Washington Post during the Watergate investigation, put it in a special report: "The [Obama] administration's war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I've seen since the Nixon administration."

It's hard to put into words how strange it is to watch the very same people - from both parties, across the ideological spectrum - who called for the heads of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Tom Drake, and so many other Obama-era leakers today heap praise on those who leaked the highly sensitive, classified SIGINT information that brought down Gen. Flynn.

It's even more surreal to watch Democrats act as though lying to the public is some grave firing offense when President Obama's top national security official, James Clapper, got caught red-handed not only lying to the public but also to Congress - about a domestic surveillance program that courts ruled was illegal. And despite the fact that lying to Congress is a felony, he kept his job until the very last day of the Obama presidency.

But this is how political power and the addled partisan brain in D.C. functions. Those in power always regard leaks as a heinous crime, while those out of power regard them as a noble act. They seamlessly shift sides as their position in D.C. changes.

Indeed, while Democrats have suddenly re-discovered the virtues of illegal leaking, Trump-supporting Republicans are insisting that the only thing that matters is rooting out the criminal leakers. Fox News host Steve Doocey and right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham today both demanded to know why the leakers weren't being hunted, while congressional Republicans are vowing investigations to find the leakers. And Trump himself today - echoing Obama-era Democrats - said that "the real story" isn't the lies told by his national security adviser but rather the fact that someone leaked information exposing them:

But this is just the tawdry, craven game of Washington. People with no actual beliefs shamelessly take diametrically opposite views on fundamental political questions based exclusively on whether it helps or hurts their leaders. Thus, the very same Democrats who just three months ago viewed illegal leaking as a grave sin today view it as an act of heroic #Resistance.
What matters far more than this lowly and empty game-playing is the principle that is so vividly apparent here. Given the extreme secrecy powers that have arisen under the war on terror, one of the very few ways that the public has left for learning about what its government officials do is illegal leaking. As Trevor Timm notes, numerous leaks have already achieved great good in the three short weeks that Trump has been president.

Leaks are illegal and hated by those in power (and their followers) precisely because political officials want to hide evidence of their own wrongdoing, and want to be able to lie to the public with impunity and without detection. That's the same reason the rest of us should celebrate such illegal leaks and protect those who undertake them, often at great risk to their own interests, so that we can be informed about the real actions of those who wield the greatest power. That principle does not change based upon which political party controls the White House.

(c) 2017 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Confronting the Unprecedented Chaos of Trumpland, Fatherhood Edition
By William Rivers Pitt

Without the balancing context of everyday life, all you have is the news, and news by its nature is generally bad. ~~~ Zadie Smith

My Achilles heel in this gig has always been events which lack historical context. When something unbelievable happens, I almost always get to tell myself, "Yeah, but something a lot like that also happened in 1922," and I feel grounded, and that's good. I'm a lawyer's kid; precedent is king. Most events have a sister somewhere in history; even the astonishment of September 11 has Pearl Harbor, right down to the LIHOP (Let It Happen On Purpose) conspiracy theories. If you want to be a true original in this world, you best eat your Wheaties.

Rogue wave events, however, have a way of roaring over the gunwhale and swamping my ship. A good example came when Dick Cheney declared the Vice President's office was not part of the Executive Branch because he didn't want to hand over his papers to the National Archive as required by three different laws. Yeah, that happened, and I was a good two days talking to the cat afterward. Once upon a time, such unsettling events were a relative rarity. That, as they say, was then.

Suddenly, as if we all lost some cosmic bet, events seemingly without historical context have been flying in the window like those damned monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. In virtually every way imaginable, Trump & Co. have been borrowing pages from every tin-pot dictator and wannabe fascist that has ever scarred the skin of the planet. It would be boringly repetitive if it wasn't so flatly terrifying: overwhelm with bombast, charge from all sides, be deliberately unpredictable. The absence of context is not a bug; it's a feature.

The first time I had to write the words "President Donald Trump," I became untethered, opaque, a ghost in a fog bank. My mental fingers frantically clawed the dirt seeking purchase, to no avail. I was lost in strange space with a moment that seemed to have no satisfactory peer ... and then a hailstorm of peerless moments followed in a deluge, day after day, until the very concept of context itself became little more than a bad joke poorly told.

Consider Thursday all by its lonesome, just one day in the firmament. The morning opened with the news wires thrumming over the words of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch, either in an act of candor or total ingratiation, told a gaggle of Democrats that Trump's harsh attacks against the judicial branch were "demoralizing" and "disheartening" ... and it was wheee! Let's wriggle down that memory hole to try and find another instance of a Supreme Court nominee slagging his benefactor in the public prints. I came up empty, again, but not for lack of trying.

Late that afternoon, word came down that the three-judge federal appeals panel hearing argument on Mr. Trump's thinly veiled Muslim travel ban decided unanimously to make the president stand in the corner with a dunce cap on his head until he said he was sorry and promised never to do it again. Predictably, Mt. Trump erupted on Twitter: "WE'LL SEE YOU IN COURT!" This, the response to ... a federal court?! Well and good, that's his right, but the talking heads' reaction made my brain want to slither out my ear. Heavyweight litigator Alan Dershowitz congratulated Trump for accepting the court's ruling, and some nameless studio counterpart earnestly warned us all not to be overwhelmed "by the power of an all-caps tweet."

Let's review, shall we? In the time it took for the sun to frown down on both American coastlines, a Supreme Court nominee took a very public dump on the guy who nominated him, possibly because he really wants Democrats to like him. Later, the president lost a major court ruling (for failing to show due precedent, I might add), and a renowned lawyer congratulated him on television for following the rule of law instead of rolling tanks on Washington State. After the decision came down, the president screamed into social media for the eleventy millionth time, and a journalist felt compelled to counsel that we not take capital letters too seriously.

Context shmontext, who's got the booze?

We are dealing with a world where all the buckles have come loose. Meanwhile, this exterior chaos is being mirrored by some context-free bedlam under my very own roof. My daughter -- who was seven pounds and nineteen inches long maybe a minute ago -- begins preschool on Monday. For the first time in four years, someone else besides my wife and I will feed her, entertain her, read to her, and put her down for a nap.

The true price of fatherhood is not the gray hair or the sleepless nights. It is being required to learn the softly brutal art of letting go one finger at a time, of filling yourself in every waking moment with a love so profound as to beggar the poets, full in the knowledge all the while that a day will come when you must pull that perfection from yourself with deliberation and intent, and show it the road with a smile and a wave. That day is upon me. For things to remain the same, everything must change, because love is chaos triumphant.

I have come to believe that what we call "reality" is little more than a veneer built at right angles to impose some semblance of order on a universe in constant flux. The dark matter of space is made of surprise, and the only real wonder is that we aren't all left in a persistent state of shock from confronting it. Politics is now context-free? So be it; so is fatherhood, in which everything lacks precedent except diapers. I'm pretty good at the latter, and will come to grips with the former in the fullness of time. When I crack the newspaper on some future morning to find that Donald Trump has signed an executive order which offends the very fabric of time, I will be ready. I will not go tharn. I will put it in the pile with all the others and begin the work of undoing the damage. I will deploy my coping skills to maximum effect. My daughter is teaching me how.
(c) 2017 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.

Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan at a news conference where he and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus criticized many of Trump's cabinet picks, December 8, 2016.

Congressional Democrats Are Already Warning Trump About Impeachment
Progressive Caucus Vice Chair Mark Pocan says the president must resolve "direct conflicts in both domestic and foreign policy" or face constitutional consequences.
By John Nichols

Impeachment is not a legal mechanism, it's a political act. The founders intentionally employed the catch-all phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" to give guardians of the American experiment leeway for holding presidents, vice presidents, cabinet members, and other errant officials to account. An impeached official is not charged by a prosecutor and tried in the courts; nor is he or she jailed or fined if found guilty. An impeached official is charged by the House of Representatives, tried by the Senate, and removed from office if convicted.

That is a sufficient remedy, as the point of impeachment is to protect the republic, to preserve the rule of law, to maintain proper checks and balances and to respect the US Constitution.

Congressman Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, has been explaining this essential premise of the American experiment as he has begun talking in recent days about impeachment. Pocan has spoken, as members of Congress should, with an eye toward "keeping every option open to try to get this administration to function like any other administration in the past-Democrat or Republican." "Clearly," the congressman says, "one of those remedies is the power of impeachment."

The Trump White House is rattled by any criticism, any expression of dissent. So it should come as no surprise that Trump aides have attacked the very mention of "impeachment" as "extreme rhetoric from a completely out-of-touch party." But there is nothing extreme about noting that impeachment was fashioned as a tool for holding members of the executive branch to account.

When Pocan went to the floor of the House earlier this month he referenced the impeachment power calmly, thoughtfully, and with respect for a separation of powers that demands vigilance on the part of a legislators from both parties.

Using a map of the Middle East to illustrate "another round of questions about President Trump's potential conflicts of interest over his business holdings," Pocan pointed to the countries that were targeted by Trump's executive order restricting travel from predominantly Muslim countries. "These seven countries do have at least one thing in common," he noted. "According to Bloomberg News, the Trump Organization does not have business or pursued business deals in any of them."

In contrast, he explained, Muslim-majority countries where the Trump Organization has had development projects and licensing deals-such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and possibly Egypt-were not included in the presidential executive order. "These countries were excluded from the executive order despite being home to many of the terrorists who carried out 9/11," the congressman told the House.

"I'm not saying we should ban people from these countries," Pocan was quick to add. "I firmly oppose any ban based on nationality or religion. But it is unacceptable that business interests have played potentially a role in such a destructive policy, a policy that also makes our country less safe in the long run."

What Pocan was saying is that "It's time for the president to stop defending his divisive and unconstitutional executive order and start being transparent about his business interests. Every president in the modern era has released tax records to ensure the American people that their actions will not be impacted by financial holdings."

Focusing on concerns about the president's potential violations of the US Constitution's Emoluments Clause, Pocan described instances where Trump has disregarded safeguards "designed to prevent corruption and foreign influence over policy decisions."

"These are just tip of the iceberg examples of direct conflicts in both domestic and foreign policy under this president," said Pocan, who addressed Trump directly when he said: "Mr. President, it's time for you to fix this. One, divest your business holding immediately to remove any suggestion of conflicts in your decision making. Two, show us your tax returns so financial interests are transparent to the American people. And three, get rid of your unconstitutional executive order, which will make us less safe and only serve to embolden our enemies."

Should the president fail to address potential conflicts and embrace necessary transparency, Pocan said, "we'll have to take other actions, including legislative directives, resolutions of disapproval and even explore the power of impeachment."

There are plenty of Americans who agree. Forty-six percent of registered voters surveyed this month by Public Policy Polling indicated that they favor Trump's impeachment, while another 9 percent refused to rule out the prospect. ("The public is already there...," Pocan told The Bill Press Show last week. "Clearly, this is something the public wants us to keep available if necessary.") Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, has warned that, if the president orders federal agencies to ignore judicial rulings halting parts of his immigration order, "There should be a resolution of censure. And if he does it again, there should be articles of impeachment." Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-California, says it is "legitimate" to discuss impeachment, explaining that "I have not called for the impeachment yet. He's doing it himself." John Bonifaz, the well-regarded constitutional lawyer who serves as president of the group Free Speech for People, argues that "there must be an impeachment investigation initiated in the United States Congress based on the violations of the emoluments clauses, the foreign emoluments clause and the domestic emoluments clause, both of which make clear that the president of the United States cannot engage in the kind of corruption that we're seeing now of the Oval Office." More than 850,000 Americans have signed petitions supporting this argument.

Congressman Pocan has put the discussion of impeachment in perspective-and he's also put the president on notice. The people are agitated and the founders empowered Congress to respond to such agitation by holding errant presidents to account.

It was not a congressman from Wisconsin who observed, "No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice?" It was George Mason, speaking to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.
(c) 2017 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 Elites Won't Save Us
By Chris Hedges

The four-decade-long assault on our democratic institutions by corporations has left them weak and largely dysfunctional. These institutions, which surrendered their efficacy and credibility to serve corporate interests, should have been our firewall. Instead, they are tottering under the onslaught.

Labor unions are a spent force. The press is corporatized and distrusted. Universities have been purged of dissidents and independent scholars who criticize neoliberalism and decry the decay of democratic institutions and political parties. Public broadcasting and the arts have been defunded and left on life support. The courts have been stacked with judges whose legal careers were spent serving corporate power, a trend in appointments that continued under Barack Obama. Money has replaced the vote, which is how someone as unqualified as Betsy DeVos can buy herself a Cabinet seat. And the Democratic Party, rather than sever its ties to Wall Street and corporations, is naively waiting in the wings to profit from a Trump debacle.

"The biggest asset Trump has is the decadent, clueless, narcissistic, corporate-indentured, war-mongering Democratic Party," Ralph Nader said when I reached him by phone in Washington. "If the Democratic strategy is waiting for Godot, waiting for Trump to implode, we are in trouble. And just about everything you say about the Democrats you can say about the AFL-CIO. They don't control the train."

The loss of credibility by democratic institutions has thrust the country into an existential as well as economic crisis. The courts, universities and press are no longer trusted by tens of millions of Americans who correctly see them as organs of the corporate elites. These institutions are traditionally the mechanisms by which a society is able to unmask the lies of the powerful, critique ruling ideologies and promote justice. Because Americans have been bitterly betrayed by their institutions, the Trump regime can attack the press as the "opposition party," threaten to cut off university funding, taunt a federal jurist as a "so-called judge" and denounce a court order as "outrageous."

The decay of democratic institutions is the prerequisite for the rise of authoritarian or fascist regimes. This decay has given credibility to a pathological liar. The Trump administration, according to an Emerson College poll, is considered by 49 percent of registered voters to be truthful while the media are considered truthful by only 39 percent of registered voters. Once American democratic institutions no longer function, reality becomes whatever absurdity the White House issues.

Most of the rules of democracy are unwritten. These rules determine public comportment and ensure respect for democratic norms, procedures and institutions. President Trump has, to the delight of his supporters, rejected this political and cultural etiquette.

Hannah Arendt in "The Origins of Totalitarianism" noted that when democratic institutions collapse it is "easier to accept patently absurd propositions than the old truths which have become pious banalities." The chatter of the liberal ruling elites about our democracy is itself an absurdity. "Vulgarity with its cynical dismissal of respected standards and accepted theories," she wrote, infects political discourse. This vulgarity is "mistaken for courage and a new style of life."

"He is destroying one code of behavior after another," Nader said of Trump. "He is so far getting away with it and not paying a price. He is breaking standards of behavior-what he says about women, commercializing the White House, I am the law."

Nader said he does not think the Republican Party will turn against Trump or consider impeachment unless his presidency appears to threaten its chances to retain power in the 2018 elections. Nader sees the Democratic Party as too "decadent and incompetent" to mount a serious challenge to Trump. Hope, he said, comes from the numerous protests that have been mounted in the streets, at town halls held by members of Congress and at flash points such as Standing Rock. It may also come from the 2.5 million civil servants within the federal government if a significant number refuse to cooperate with Trump's authoritarianism.

"The new president is clearly aware of the power wielded by civil servants, who swear an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, not to any president or administration," Maria J. Stephan, the author of "Why Civil Resistance Works," writes in The Washington Post. "One of Trump's first acts as president was a sweeping federal hiring freeze affecting all new and existing positions except those related to the military, national security and public safety. Even before Trump's inauguration, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives reinstated an obscure 1876 rule that would allow Congress to slash the salaries of individual federal workers. This was a clear warning to those serving in government to keep their heads down. Trump's high-profile firing of acting attorney general Sally Yates, who refused to follow the president's immigration ban, sent shock waves through the bureaucracy."

A sustained, nationwide popular uprising of nonviolent obstruction and noncooperation is the only weapon left to save the republic. The elites will respond once they become afraid. If we do not make them afraid we will fail.

"The resiliency of democratic institutions has been encouraging-the courts, the protests," Nader said. "Trump boomerangs himself. He personally outrages people around the country based on race, gender, class, geography, his lies, his false statements, his narcissism, his lack of knowledge, his flippancy and his morbid desire to respond to slurs with tweets. He is not a smart autocrat. He weakens himself daily. He allows the opposition to have more effect than it ordinarily would."

"Most dictatorial heads of state deal with abstract ideologies-the fatherland and so forth," Nader went on. "He doesn't do much of that. He attacks personally, low on the sensuality ladder. You are a fake. You are a loser. You are a crook. You are a liar. This arouses people more, especially when he does this based on gender, race and religion. The best thing going for the democratic awakening is Donald Trump."

Nader said that Trump will, however, be able to consolidate power if we suffer another catastrophic terrorist attack or there is a financial meltdown. Dictatorial regimes need a crisis, either real or manufactured, to justify total suspension of civil liberties and assuming uncontested control.

"If there is a stateless terrorist attack on the U.S. he is capable of concentrating a lot of power in the White House against the courts and against Congress," Nader warned. "He will scapegoat the people opposed to him. ... This will weaken any resistance and opposition."

The tension between the Trump White House and segments of the establishment, including the courts, the intelligence community and the State Department, has been misconstrued as evidence that the elites will remove Trump from power. If the elites can work out a relationship with the Trump regime to maximize profits and protect their personal and class interests they will endure the embarrassment of having a demagogue in the Oval Office.

The corporate state, or deep state, also has no commitment to democracy. Its forces hollowed out democratic institutions to render them impotent. The difference between corporate power and the Trump regime is that corporate power sought to maintain the fiction of democracy, including the polite, public deference paid to bankrupt democratic institutions. Trump has obliterated this deference. He has plunged political discourse into the gutter. Trump is not destroying democratic institutions. They were destroyed before he took office.

Even the most virulent fascist regimes built shaky alliances with traditional conservative and business elites, who often considered the fascists gauche and crude.

"We have never known an ideologically pure fascist regime," writes Robert O. Paxton in "The Anatomy of Fascism." "Indeed, the thing hardly seems possible. Each generation of scholars of fascism has noted that the regimes rested upon some kind of pact or alliance between the fascist party and powerful conservative forces. In the early 1940s the social democratic refugee Franz Neumann argued in his classic Behemoth that a 'cartel' of party, industry, army, and bureaucracy ruled Nazi Germany, held together only by 'profit, power, prestige, and especially fear.' "

Fascist and authoritarian regimes are ruled by multiple centers of power that are often in competition with each other and openly antagonistic. These regimes, as Paxton writes, replicate the "leadership principle" so that it "cascades down through the social and political pyramid, creating a host of petty Fuhrers and Duces in a state of Hobbesian war of all against all."

The little fuhrers and duces are always buffoonish. Such strutting demagogues appalled liberal elites in the 1930s. The German novelist Thomas Mann wrote in his diary two months after the Nazis came to power that he had witnessed a revolution "without underlying ideas, against ideas, against everything nobler, better, decent, against freedom, truth and justice." He lamented that the "common scum" had taken power "accompanied by vast rejoicing on the part of the masses." The business elites in Germany may not have liked this "scum," but they were willing to work with them. And our business elites will work with their modern counterparts now.

Trump, a product of the billionaire class, will accommodate these corporate interests, along with the war machine, to build a mutually acceptable alliance. The lackeys in Congress and the courts, puppets of corporations, will, I expect, mostly be submissive. And if Trump is impeached, the reactionary forces that are cementing into place authoritarianism will find a champion in Vice President Mike Pence, who is feverishly placing members of the Christian right throughout the federal government.

"Pence is the perfect president for the Republican leaders who control Congress," Nader said. "He is right out of central casting. He looks the part. He talks the part. He acts the part. He has experienced the part. They would not mind if Trump in a fit quit, or had to resign. ..." We are in the twilight stages of the rolling corporate coup d'etat begun four decades ago. We do not have much left to work with. We cannot trust our elites. We cannot trust our institutions. We must mobilize to carry out repeated and sustained mass actions. Waiting for the establishment to decapitate Trump and restore democracy would be collective suicide.
(c) 2017 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 Long Road to Impeach Trump Just Got Shorter
Norman Solomon

The momentum to impeach President Trump is accelerating.

On Thursday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) filed a "resolution of inquiry" that amounts to the first legislative step toward impeachment.

A new poll shows that registered voters are evenly split, at 46-to-46 percent, on whether they "support" or "oppose" impeaching Trump. Just two weeks ago, the pro-impeachment figure was 35 percent.

Since inauguration, more than 800,000 people have signed a petition in the first stage of the Impeach Donald Trump Campaign, which will soon involve grassroots organizing in congressional districts around the country.

Under the Trump presidency, defending a wide range of past gains is both necessary and insufficient. Fighting for impeachment is a way to go on the offensive, directly challenging the huge corruption that Trump has brought to the White House.

From the outset, President Trump has been violating two provisions of the U.S. Constitution-its foreign and domestic "emoluments" clauses. In a nutshell, both clauses forbid personally profiting from presidential service beyond receiving a government salary.

Some believe that the Republican-controlled Congress is incapable of impeaching Trump, but history tells us what's possible when a president falls into wide disrepute. On July 27, 1974, seven GOP representatives on the 38-member House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach a fellow Republican, President Richard Nixon.

As for objections that impeaching and removing Trump from office would make Mike Pence the president, that concern is apt to bypass one set of key considerations after another. Along the way, in political terms, people need to think through the implications of the fact that Trump could only be removed from office with the help of many votes from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Even if every Democrat in the House voted in unison to impeach Trump, impeachment would only be possible if at least two-dozen Republican members of the House voted in favor. Likewise, a vote in the Senate (requiring two-thirds) to remove Trump from the presidency would only be successful if at least 19 Republican senators voted for conviction. Such events would badly splinter and damage the Republican Party -- causing divisive bitterness, putting GOP leaders back on their heels and hobbling a Pence presidency.

Arguably most important of all, democracy requires that no one be above the law-a principle that's most crucially applied to the holder of the most powerful office in the U.S. government. Extreme abuse of power from the top of the government must be seen and treated as intolerable.

The Constitution that Trump continues to flagrantly violate is supposed to be "the supreme law of the land." To give Trump a pass would be to wink at his merger of vast personal wealth and corporate holdings with vast governmental power.

From the grassroots, it's crucial for constituents to push back with determination. As the Impeach Donald Trump Now campaign's website documents in detail, Trump's personal riches are entangled with countless policy options for his administration. That precedent must be resisted and defeated.

So far, the Democratic Party's leadership in Congress has shown scant interest in impeaching Trump. With escalating pressure from constituents, that may soon change.

Congressman Nadler's unusual resolution of inquiry will be able to avoid some of the standard roadblocks in the House. As his website explains, "A Resolution of Inquiry is a legislative tool that has privileged parliamentary status, meaning it can be brought to the floor if the relevant Committee hasn't reported it within 14 legislative days, even if the Majority leadership has not scheduled it for a vote."

Nadler has just put a big toe in the impeachment water. Yet no members of the House have taken the plunge to introduce an actual resolution for impeachment. They will have to be pushed.
(c) 2017 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Trump vs. the Deep State: Battle of the dinosaurs
By Jane Stillwater

l According to journalist Yanatab Zunger, Donald Trump currently appears to be targeting the CIA and its other Deep State cronies for extinction -- while at the same time hiring his own security team to protect himself. Ah, if only President Kennedy had engineered this kind of power-grab/self-protection combination when he was first elected, he would still be alive today and we would live in a whole different (and far better) world. 

Make no mistake, Trump is no friend of democracy like JFK obviously was, and I am totally appalled by many of Trump's policies and buddies. With regard to Trump's plans to cut MediCare, Social Security and various government food and housing programs, these cuts basically amount to the financial genocide of America's elderly -- the very same white male demographic that The Donald has sworn to protect. And the buddies he has chosen to guide him appear to be totally committed to ecological genocide of the entire human race as well.

However. Trump, like Kennedy before him, also seems to be calling out the Deep State's right to rule America (and the world) with an iron hand. Good luck with that one, President Trump. Let's just hope you don't go the way of others who have also tried this in the past. Patrice Lumumba, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy immediately come to mind.

The so-called Deep State, AKA the military-industrial complex and/or Wall Street and War Street, is a political dinosaur whose time has come -- and gone. These days, "People everywhere just want to be free," to paraphrase an old-school New Jersey rock band. But this particular Deep State dinosaur seems at first glance to be the T-Rex of them all, impossible to defeat even though its extinction has already been written in the sand.

So who better to take out a mean dinosaur than another mean dinosaur? Enter the Trump political machine. Battle to the death here folks. But no matter if Trump loses and ends up in the tar pits of Vegas or if the Deep State loses and ends up buried in the swamps of Washington DC, hopefully democracy will be the ultimate winner.

PS: The reptilian part of the human brain still seems to be the boss of most human mental operations these days. Even after almost a million disastrous years of this kind of thinking, since even before caveman times, many of us still function mainly from the depths of our reptile cortex -- and still believe that full-spectrum dominance will solve any problem. But as St. Valentine constantly reminds us, love is a much sharper tool.

But Trump and the Deep State aren't the only ones who still think like dinosaurs. There is also the Pentagon, ISIS, the Israeli/Saudi alliance, the para-military police up at Standing Rock, serial killers, child abusers, Klan members, banksters, gang-bangers and other hooligans of all types. The list goes on and on. However, like the T-Rex and the brontosaurus before them, these outdated reptiles are also doomed to extinction.

But, sadly, if these gross dinosaurs with expired sell-by dates who now run our show don't "get their minds right" immediately, the rest of us evolving types who try very hard to live in the image of MLK, JFK, Gandhi and even Buddha and Jesus -- we also are gonna be doomed, right along with the reptiles of Wall Street and War Street.
(c) 2017 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Quotable Quote...

"When the world looks at America, what it sees is an Israeli colony." ~~~ Paul Craig Roberts

Which Washington Crimes Matter Most?
By David Swanson

Michael Flynn participated in mass murder and destruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, advocated for torture, and manufactured false cases for war against Iran. He and anyone who appointed him to office and kept him there should be removed from and disqualified for public service. (Though I still appreciate his blurting out the obvious regarding the counterproductive results of drone murders.)

Many would say that prosecuting Al Capone for tax fraud was a good move if he couldn't be prosecuted for murder. But what if Al Capone had been funding an orphanage on the side, and the state had prosecuted him for that? Or what if the state hadn't prosecuted him, but a rival gang had taken him out? Are all take-downs of major criminals good ones? Do they all deter the right activities by up-and-coming criminals?

Michael Flynn was not removed by public demand, by representative action in Congress, by public impeachment proceedings, or by criminal prosecution (though that may follow). He was removed by an unaccountable gang of spies and killers, and for the offense of seeking friendlier relations with the world's other major nuclear-armed government.

Now, in a certain sense, he was taken down for other related offenses, just as Bill Clinton was not technically impeached for sex. Flynn lied. He may have committed perjury. He may have obstructed justice. He supposedly made himself susceptible to blackmail, although the logic of Russia wishing to reveal its own secret and punish those who help it seems weak. Flynn also dealt with a foreign government on behalf of an election campaign.

Some of these are very serious charges. If you removed all liars from the U.S. government, you'd suddenly have room in their empty offices to house all the homeless, but even the selective punishment of lying has a certain merit. And electoral campaign dealings with foreign governments has a nasty history including Nixon's sabotaging of peace in Vietnam, Reagan's sabotaging of the release of U.S. hostages in Iran, etc.

But what did Flynn supposedly talk about with the Russian ambassador, before or after the election? Nobody accuses him of trying to keep a war going or people locked up. He's accused of talking about removing sanctions, possibly including sanctions used to punish Russia for things it did not do. The notion that Russia was the aggressor in Ukraine or invaded Ukraine and conquered Crimea on the model of the U.S. invasion of Baghdad is simply false. The idea that Russia hacked Democratic Party emails and gave them to WikiLeaks is a claim for which we have not been shown credible, non-ludicrous evidence. Despite somebody leaking it every time Donald Trump blows his nose, nobody has yet leaked actual evidence of this supposed Russian crime.

Then there's what members of the U.S. public tell you that it's obvious Flynn simply must also have talked about. Supposedly he must have arranged for Russia to steal the U.S. election for Trump, either by informing the U.S. public of the crimes and abuses of the Democratic Party in its members own words, which supposedly swayed huge numbers of voters -- though there's no evidence Russia did this or that it had this impact, and a better informed electorate is a stronger democracy, not one that has been "attacked" -- or by somehow directly altering vote counts or manipulating our minds or something. If anything along these lines were proven it would be serious indeed, although it would be one of a great many fatal flaws in the U.S. electoral system alongside legalized bribery, corporate media, the electoral college, gerrymandering, unverifiable counting, open intimidation, purging of rolls, etc.

And then, finally, there's what journalists and members of the public will tell you Flynn's offense consists of, once it's been established that Russia is evil. He was friendly with Russia. His colleagues in the White House love Russia. They've visited Russia. They've met with other U.S. business tycoons in Russia. They're planning business deals with Russians. And so on. Now, I'm opposed to corrupt business deals, if they are corrupt, anywhere. And if Russian fossil fuels, like Canadian and U.S. fossil fuels, don't stay in the ground, we're all going to die. But the U.S. media treats U.S. business deals in other countries as ordinary respectable plundering. Any association with anything Russia has become a sign of high treason.

Coincidentally or not, that is exactly what weapons profiteers say they want. Is what they want good for us? Is there a legitimate reason to be taking their route toward punishing people in power, when other routes stand wide open with plush red carpets unrolled from massive golden doorways?
(c) 2017 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.

Time Is Running Out On American Democracy
By Kali Holloway

Timothy Snyder, a Yale scholar and an authority on European political history, has spent decades studying the rise of fascist movements. With the ascension of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Snyder sees echoes from history, and warns that the time to save America from autocracy is in short supply.

"I think things have tightened up very fast; we have at most a year to defend the republic, perhaps less," Snyder stated in an interview with German outlet Suddeutsche Zeitung. "What happens in the next few weeks is very important."

Snyder, whose multiple books include On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, points out that Americans must dispense with wishful thinking about institutions helping to curb Trump's power. In fact, that misguided notion is precisely what landed us in this situation.

"The story that Americans have told themselves from the moment he declared his candidacy for president, was that one institution or another would defeat him or at least change his behavior-he won't get the nomination; if he gets the nomination, he will be a normal Republican; he will get defeated in the general election; if he wins, the presidency will mature him (that was what Obama said)," Snyder recounts. "I never thought any of that was true. He doesn't seem to care about the institutions and the laws except insofar as they appear as barriers to the goal of permanent kleptocratic authoritarianism and immediate personal gratification. It is all about him all of time, it is not about the citizens and our political traditions."

In the days after the election, Snyder penned a must-read Slate article that recalled historical markers from Hitler's rise to reveal the similar path of Trump's advance. The historian had hoped to cajole Americans out of complacency, to urge them to "find their bearings," to remind them none of this is normal and that democracy is in the crosshairs.

"The temptation in a new situation is to imagine that nothing has changed," Snyder says. "That is a choice that has political consequences: self-delusion leads to half-conscious anticipatory obedience and then to regime change... Most Americans are exceptionalists; we think we live outside of history. Americans tend to think: 'We have freedom because we love freedom, we love freedom because we are free.' It is a bit circular and doesn't acknowledge the historical structures that can favor or weaken democratic republics. We don't realize how similar our predicaments are to those of other people."

"I wanted to remind my fellow Americans that intelligent people, not so different from ourselves, have experienced the collapse of a republic before. It is one example among many. Republics, like other forms of government, exist in history and can rise and fall."

Snyder points to the desperate need to shake off historical amnesia as the Trump administration looks to authoritarian regimes as models. "One reason why we cannot forget the 1930s is that the presidential administration is clearly thinking about them, but in a positive sense," Snyder stated. "They seem to be after a kind of redo of the 1930s with Roosevelt where the Americans take a different course-where we don't build a welfare state and don't intervene in Europe to stop fascism. Lindbergh instead of FDR. That is their notion. Something went wrong with Roosevelt and now they want to go back and reverse it."

"During the campaign (Trump) used the slogan 'America First' and then was informed that this was the name of a movement that tried to prevent the United States from fighting Nazi Germany and was associated with nativists and white supremacists. He claimed then not to have known that. But in the inaugural address he made 'America First' his central theme, and now he can't say that he doesn't know what it means. And of course Bannon knows what it means. America First is precisely the conjuration of this alternative America of the 1930s where Charles Lindbergh is the hero. This inaugural address reeked of the 1930s."

Snyder urges immediate resistance to the administration's targeting of Muslims, immigrants, blacks and LGBT people, because if it can "slice off one group, it can do the same to others." He says protest and pushback should continue with regularity.

"The Constitution is worth saving, the rule of law is worth saving, democracy is worth saving, but these things can and will be lost if everyone waits around for someone else."
He also notes that the speed with which the Trump team has worked to hammer home its agenda is a strategy designed to cause fatigue and depression. The key is not to be grow tired or become resigned. In particular, he cautions against succumbing to Trump's attempts to paint all those who reject his agenda as un-American.
(c) 2017 Kali Holloway is a Senior Writer and Associate Editor, Media and Culture at AlterNet

The Dead Letter Office...

Jeff gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Deputy Fuhrer Sessions,

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 total sellout to your 1% brothers, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, 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 "Republican 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 03-15-2017. We salute you Herr Sessions, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Who Lacks Respect for the Office of the President?
By Robert Reich

Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway charges that media coverage of Donald Trump lacks "respect for and recognition of the dignity for the office of the president." No, Kellyanne, it's Donald Trump who lacks respect for and recognition of the dignity of the office of the president.

A small sampling of Trump's words and actions from recent days: 1. After being told of a Texas state senator who wants to require convictions before the state can forfeit property, Trump asks for the senator's name and says "we'll destroy his career."

2. In response to criticism by Senator John McCain that his Yemen operation wasn't successful, Trump says McCain "only emboldens the enemy! He's been losing so long he doesn't know how to win anymore."

3. After Senator Richard Blumenthal relates that his Supreme Court nominee finds Trump's criticisms of the courts "demoralizing," Trump blasts Blumenthal "who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him."

4. Trump tells the press that "daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom," after Nordstrom dropped her line due to declining sales.

5. Trump tells military officials that America's "very dishonest press doesn't want to report" acts of terrorism.

6. Trump threatens to "end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths," when there's no evidence of "needless deaths" in sanctuary cities.

7. When his ban on entry to the United States from 7 Muslim countries, which exempts Christians, is stayed by a federal judge, Trump attacks the "so-called judge," saying "if something happens blame him and court system."

8. He tells a meeting of senators that he would have won New Hampshire in the presidential election if not for the "thousands" of people who were "brought in on buses" from neighboring Massachusetts to "illegally" vote in New Hampshire - despite not one iota of evidence this occurred.

9. In that same meeting he Trump taunts Democrats by telling them "Pocahontas is now the face of your party," his insult of choice for Senator Elizabeth Warren.

10. Trump warns Mexican President Pena Nieto that he's ready to send U.S. troops to Mexico to stop "bad hombres down there" if Mexico's military can't control them.

11. He berates Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for assuming the U.S. would follow through on its deal to take some refugees that had come to Australia.

12. At a National Prayer Breakfast Trump asks attendees to "pray for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger" (who replaced him as the host of NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice) because the show's ratings haven't reached the level they did with Trump as the star.

13. Trump continues to rake in money from his businesses that benefit from his being president.

Every day that goes by, Trump further disgraces the office he holds. His lack of respect for the presidency knows no bounds.
(c) 2017 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

Michael Anton attends the daily news briefing at the White House, Feb. 1, 2017

Dark Essays By White House Staffer Are The Intellectual Source Code Of Trumpism
By Peter Maass

Let's say you are a top official on the National Security Council and Donald Trump requests a memo explaining the purpose of his chaotic presidency. What are the odds you would draft a 4,000-word essay arguing that America is like a doomed aircraft that's been hijacked by terrorists in which Trump has madly rushed the cockpit and seized the controls but we still might die because he doesn't know how to fly the plane?

That would be an unusual memo, even if its first paragraph didn't actually evoke the tragedy of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11 after its passengers tried to wrest control of the jet from its al Qaeda hijackers. Yet a senior member of the NSC named Michael Anton has written precisely that justification of the Trump presidency - not as an NSC memo, but as an anonymous article for an arch-conservative website, published two months before the election, when Anton was still a private citizen.

The article, headlined "The Flight 93 Election," caused a minor stir when it came out. Conservatives who didn't like Trump were aghast at its strange endorsement of the brutish candidate, while liberals thought it showed the crackpot essence of the conservative case for the reality TV star. There was also the buzz of a guessing game: Who wrote this incredible thing? Here's how the article began:

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You - or the leader of your party - may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees. Except one: if you don't try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.
On February 2, the guessing ended when the Weekly Standard revealed Anton as the author. More crucially, the magazine also revealed that Anton had just been hired as the senior director of strategic communications at the NSC and accurately described him as "the leading conservative intellectual to argue for the election of Donald Trump." This cast Anton's five-month-old essay, as well as other articles he has written, in a new light - they are virtually the only attempt by a Trump insider to present a holistic explanation of what his presidency stands for and seeks to accomplish. The outing of Anton has inadvertently exposed the intellectual source code of Trumpism.

Of course, Trump and his senior aides have issued a steady outpouring of startling statements and tweets about the administration's ideas and plans. There's also been a flurry of radical executive orders and appointments of cabinet officers whose backgrounds - as billionaires or Christian warriors or civil rights opponents - provide alarming data points. A number of officials have written crude and inflammatory books in years past, such as Michael Flynn, the retired general who heads the NSC. And, yes, there's the case of Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive who is Trump's senior adviser. But nobody in the administration has drawn up a real-time ideological blueprint to explain the intentional chaos of what's happening under Trump - except, as it now turns out, Michael Anton, whose radical theories have been compared to those of a German philosopher named Carl Schmitt, who helped lay the legal foundations of the Nazi Party.

Charles A. Lindbergh, left, with R. Douglas Stuart Jr., national director of the America First Committee, when Lindbergh enrolled as a member.

In the beginning, Anton attended Claremont Graduate College, an incubator for conservative thinkers. He became a speechwriter and press secretary for New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, then took a mid-level job at the NSC in the George W. Bush administration. As the Weekly Standard reported, he was part of the team that pushed for the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Anton left the government in 2005 and became a speechwriter for Rupert Murdoch at News Corp., followed by several years in the communications shop at Citigroup, then a year and a half as a managing director at BlackRock, the asset management firm.

In September, using the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus, a Roman consul who died on the battlefield, Anton published his Flight 93 essay at the Claremont Review of Books and followed it up with additional posts responding to his critics. While those got noticed, he had actually written a far longer article in March that few people had read, and its edges were even sharper. Bearing the title "Toward a Sensible, Coherent Trumpism," it began by noting that "Trump himself - no man of ideas, to say the least - is unsuited to the task of thinking through what his popularity means or how to build on it. Others will have to do the real work." In an effort to justify the "America First" slogan that Trump was beginning to use, the article argued that the anti-Semitic "America First Committee" of the early 1940s, which opposed U.S. entry into World War II and was supported by Charles Lindbergh, had been "unfairly maligned" and was just an "alleged stain" on U.S. history. Anton described diversity as "a source of weakness" and one of the "ridiculous lies" that have been foisted on America by its liberal overlords.

The essays had two targets: the liberals who had so deeply degraded America that it might never recover unless there was an insurrection, and the complacent conservatives who abetted it all. (Ironically, Anton was fiercely critical of what he described as "the Davos overclass," though BlackRock, his employer at the time, was a cornerstone of it.) The liberal establishment didn't get terribly upset, but some conservatives turned livid over these impolite rants from an anonymous writer hiding behind the 3,000-year-old robes of a Roman consul. This is how Anton described the generation of conservatives whom he deemed insufficiently radical and energetic:

The whole enterprise of Conservatism, Inc., reeks of failure. Its sole recent and ongoing success is its own self-preservation. Conservative intellectuals never tire of praising "entrepreneurs" and "creative destruction." Dare to fail! they exhort businessmen. Let the market decide! Except, um, not with respect to us. Or is their true market not the political arena, but the fundraising circuit?
One conservative retort, from the writer Ben Shapiro, was bluntly headlined, "The Widely Praised 'Flight 93 Election' Essay Is Dishonest and Stupid." Shapiro described Anton's essay as "incoherent, mind-numbing horseshit," faulting him for repeating his noxious points "like a dog licking its own vomit." Another conservative critique, from Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, described the essay as "a master class in overwriting," and added, "seldom has a pseudonym been more needful to protect an author's reputation."

Gerson's critique was not all jokiness. One of the most disturbing elements of Anton's writings is the racism deeply baked into them. In the Flight 93 essay, Anton described the Black Lives Matter movement as one of many "inanities" of America. The election of Hillary Clinton, he warned, could mean "a million more Syrians" getting into the country. (In 2016, the United States accepted 12,587 Syrian refugees, and Clinton proposed raising the number to 65,000.) Muslims who come to America "change us - and not for the better," Anton wrote. (Anton did not respond to a request for comment.)

The dark value of Anton's work is that it makes plain the bigotry of Trumpism before Trump and his supporters won the election and became a bit more careful about what they said. There's nothing that Steve Bannon has written or said in recent years that comes close to the clarifying sweep of Anton's essays, which are not just a product of racism but an argument for it. Gerson put his finger on this:

When you shift through all the hyperbole and insults of "The Flight 93 Election," you are left with a residue of prejudice. The author refers to "tribal, sub-Third-World foes" and "the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty" who are making America "less traditionally American with every cycle." Immigrants are typically guilty of "rape, shooting, bombing or machete attack." Their importation is the sign of "a country, a people, a civilization that wants to die." Trump, in contrast, would say, "I want my people to live." Just think on that. Who exactly is "my people"?

Donald Trump greets supporters at a rally in Grand Junction, Colo., in October.

To save America, Anton proposes a blitz of desperate actions. The point, he argues, is to take exceptional and potentially suicidal steps (the rushing-the-cockpit scenario) because the America that conservatives aspire to preserve faces total elimination. He reveals this in a section of his essay that looks at the intentions of "the Left." Some of the Left regard conservatives as Nazis, he writes: "How does one deal with a Nazi - that is, with an enemy one is convinced intends your destruction? You don't compromise with him or leave him alone. You crush him."

The flip side of believing your enemies want to crush you because you are a Nazi is the belief that you must crush them first. "So what do we have to lose by fighting back?" Anton asks. "The Left, the Democrats, and the bipartisan junta (categories distinct but very much overlapping) think they are on the cusp of permanent victory that will forever obviate the need to pretend to respect democratic and constitutional niceties." Anton's ideology has a temporal as well as political edge: It is now-or-neverism.

When the news broke that Anton had been appointed to the NSC, William Kristol posted an acid tweet connecting him to a legal theorist who provided intellectual cover for the Nazi Party: "From Carl Schmitt to Mike Anton: First time tragedy, second time farce." Kristol is the godfather of contemporary neoconservatism and a leader of the Never Trump movement, so part of Anton's rant was directed at mandarins of the right like him. Kristol didn't take it well.

Carl Schmitt was a highly regarded intellectual in Weimar Germany when he joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and became a prominent and enthusiastic supporter of the worst anti-Jewish laws that were soon enacted. His detractors have referred to him as "Hitler's Crown Jurist," and after World War II he was held for more than a year at an allied internment camp for Nazis. His intellectual legacy is complicated, and his ideas, which retain influence today, have taken hold on the anti-liberal extremes of both the left and the right.

Schmitt despised liberalism and, as Michael Lind explained in an incisive article two years ago, made a philosophical argument for a type of populism led by "a charismatic leader who saves the people from danger by acting decisively, outside of the law if necessary." This is sometimes referred to as "decisionism," in which authority is derived from taking action, strong action, without necessarily having a plan or needing to show positive results or following the law. The opening line of Schmitt's 1922 book, "Political Theology," gets at some of this: "Sovereign is he who decides on the exception." One of the most important tasks of leadership, according to Schmitt, is to identify and fight against a common enemy. As he put it in one of his most-cited lines, "The high points of politics are simultaneously the moments in which the enemy is, in concrete reality, recognized as the enemy." Lind described Schmitt's view of the political world in this way: "The exception is the rule. The emergency is the norm. The nation is constantly on the verge of collapse and threatened by enemies without and within."

Sound familiar?

The echoes between Schmitt's ideas and Trump's presidency have been the subject of academic murmurings for a number of months. Quinta Jurecic, an associate editor of the blog Lawfare, noted in an essay a few weeks before Trump took the oath of office that he "has given us genuine reason for concern that he may actually represent the Schmittian nightmare feared by many on the left and in the civil libertarian community after 9/11." A few weeks later, after Trump had issued his sweeping anti-Muslim travel ban, a professor at George Mason University, Mark Koyama, described the 45th president as "a perfect Schmittian. With the stroke of a pen, he has drawn an arbitrary distinction between friends and enemies of the United States."

The outing of Anton in the Weekly Standard was accompanied with a picture of him on the sidelines of a press briefing at the White House. He doesn't look fearsome. He is thin, with large glasses, unfashionably wide tie, and he is holding a green notebook in one hand and two pens in the other. He looks a bit uncertain, very much the image of a middle-aged white intellectual who is more comfortable with books than the spotlight or actual struggle. His mild manner in that picture contrasts with the unforgiving belligerence of his ideas.

In his inaugural address, Trump used the phrase "American carnage" to describe the way things are now. Trump was wrong about the state of our nation, which is not a wasteland from coast to coast. But if Anton's deadly Flight 93 vision comes true, carnage may well describe our future.
(c) 2017 Peter Maass

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Putin Starting To Wonder If His Puppets Are Smart Enough To Pull This Off
By Andy Borowitz

MOSCOW (The Borowitz Report)-Russian President Vladimir Putin is "starting to get concerned" that the puppets he installed in the executive branch of the U.S. government "might not be up to the task at hand," sources confirmed on Tuesday.

According to the sources, the flameout of the national-security adviser Michael Flynn was only the most recent event that has caused Putin to wonder if the figureheads he propelled into office are "just too dim-witted" to serve the goals of the Russian Federation.

"When you choose a puppet, you're looking for a sweet spot," one source close to Putin said. "You want to choose someone who's dumb enough to be manipulated, but not so dumb that he can't find the light switches."

"Increasingly, it looks like we missed that sweet spot," the source said.

Putin is reportedly willing to have a "wait and see" attitude with his current puppets, but, if things do not improve markedly, he will not hesitate to "make some changes," the source said.

"President Putin knew that this bunch didn't have a lot of experience in government and that there were bound to be some growing pains," the source said. "But geez.
(c) 2017Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report for

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 07 (c) 02/17/2017

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