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In This Edition

Dahr Jamail warns, "If Emissions Aren't Curbed, Clouds May Disappear."

Matt Taibbi concludes, "This Battle of Billionaires Was Inevitable."

Glen Ford watches as, "Bernie Tries To Steal The Rich Man's Party."

Jim Hightower returns with a must read, "As We Gape At Trump's Sideshow, Corporations Are Picking Our Pockets."

David Swanson finds, "The New York Times Is Scared Of Peace."

John Nichols concludes, "Legislators Who Dismiss Colin Kaepernick Dismiss Wisconsin History."

James Donahue explores the, "Mysteries Of Deep Space."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Say Goodbye To Mitch McConnell's America."

Heather Digby Parton wonders, "Who Is Muller's Corruption Expert?"

David Suzuki reminds us that, "You May Not Like Insects, But You Need Them."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "The 2020 Election Will Be A Referendum On Oligarchy."

Ralph Nader asks, "What are Torts? They're Everywhere!"

Jane Stillwater explains, "Border Wall vs. Sea Wall."

Trump's new climate czar William Happer wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explores, "Howard's End."

Chris Hedges sees a, "Extinction Rebellion."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst examines, "Peaches The Wall" but first Uncle Ernie asks, "Is This The End Of Trump?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Cole, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Anton Watman, Nathan Dumlao, Melina Mara, Brian Duffy, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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Is This The End Of Trump?
By Ernest Stewart

"I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat." ~~~ Michael Cohen

"I believe that more CO2 is good for the world, that the world has been in a CO2 famine for many tens of millions of years and that one or two thousand ppm would be ideal for the biosphere. I am baffled at hysterical attempts to drive CO2 levels below 350 ppm [parts per million], or some other value, apparently chosen by Kabbalah numerology, not science." ~~~ William Happer

"Number 2 solution is to compensate me 3000 USD. We will name it as a donation in this situation i most certainly will asap eliminate your video tape. You will resume your daily life like this never occurred and you will not hear back again from me." ~~~ Darian Outram

"Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more." ~~~ H. Jackson Brown Jr.

I spent most of Wednesday watching Michael Cohen, tRumps former lawyer, testify before Congress, Here's Cohen's opening statement:
"Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today.

I have asked this Committee to ensure that my family be protected from Presidential threats, and that the Committee be sensitive to the questions pertaining to ongoing investigations. Thank you for your help and for your understanding.

I am here under oath to correct the record, to answer the Committee's questions truthfully, and to offer the American people what I know about President Trump. I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.

Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for President, launch a 2 campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win. I regret the day I said "yes" to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way.

I am ashamed of my own failings, and I publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.

I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty - of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him.

I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump's illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.

I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.

He is a racist.

He is a conman.

He is a cheat.

He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.

I will explain each in a few moments.

I am providing the Committee today with several documents. These include:

• A copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account - after he became president - to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign;

• Copies of financial statements for 2011 - 2013 that he gave to such institutions as Deutsche Bank;

• A copy of an article with Mr. Trump's handwriting on it that reported on the auction of a portrait of himself - he arranged for the bidder ahead of time and then reimbursed the bidder from the account of his non-profit charitable foundation, with the picture now hanging in one of his country clubs; and

• Copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump's direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores.

I hope my appearance here today, my guilty plea, and my work with law enforcement agencies are steps along a path of redemption that will restore faith in me and help this country understand our president better.

Before going further, I want to apologize to each of you and to Congress as a whole.

The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today, I'm here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump. I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false - our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign.

Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That's not how he operates.

In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there's no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.

There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me "How's it going in Russia?" - referring to the Moscow Tower project.

You need to know that Mr. Trump's personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.

To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.

And so I lied about it, too - because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie. And he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.

Over the past two years, I have been smeared as "a rat" by the President of the United States. The truth is much different, and let me take a brief moment to introduce myself.

My name is Michael Dean Cohen.

I am a blessed husband of 24 years and a father to an incredible daughter and son. When I married my wife, I promised her that I would love her, cherish her, and protect her. As my father said countless times throughout my childhood, "you my wife, and you my children, are the air that I breathe." To my Laura, my Sami, and my Jake, there is nothing I wouldn't do to protect you.

I have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity, and compassion - qualities my parents ingrained in my siblings and me since childhood. My father survived the Holocaust thanks to the compassion and selfless acts of others. He was helped by many who put themselves in harm's way to do what they knew was right.

That is why my first instinct has always been to help those in need. Mom and Dad...I am sorry that I let you down.

As many people that know me best would say, I am the person they would call at 3AM if they needed help. I proudly remember being the emergency contact for many of my children's friends when they were growing up because their parents knew that I would drop everything and care for them as if they were my own.

Yet, last fall I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with Individual.

For the record: Individual #1 is President Donald J. Trump. It is painful to admit that I was motivated by ambition at times. It is even more painful to admit that many times I ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when I should not have. Sitting here today, it seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong.

For that reason, I have come here to apologize to my family, to the government, and to the American people.

Accordingly, let me now tell you about Mr. Trump.

I got to know him very well, working very closely with him for more than 10 years, as his Executive Vice President and Special Counsel and then personal attorney when he became President. When I first met Mr. Trump, he was a successful entrepreneur, a real estate giant, and an icon. Being around Mr. Trump was intoxicating. When you were in his presence, you felt like you were involved in something greater than yourself - that you were somehow changing the world.

I wound up touting the Trump narrative for over a decade. That was my job. Always stay on message. Always defend. It monopolized my life. At first, I worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. Over time, I saw his true character revealed.

Mr. Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.

Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation - only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the "greatest infomercial in political history."

He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign - for him - was always a marketing opportunity.

I knew early on in my work for Mr. Trump that he would direct me to lie to further his business interests. I am ashamed to say, that when it was for a real estate mogul in the private sector, I considered it trivial. As the President, I consider it significant and dangerous.

But in the mix, lying for Mr. Trump was normalized, and no one around him questioned it. In fairness, no one around him today questions it, either.

A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes.

As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails.

In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump's office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of "wouldn't that be great."

Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries "shitholes."

In private, he is even worse.

He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn't a "shithole."

This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.

While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.

And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.

And yet I continued to work for him.

Mr. Trump is a cheat.

As previously stated, I'm giving the Committee today three years of President Trump's financial statements, from 2011-2013, which he gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to Forbes. These are Exhibits 1a, 1b, and 1c to my testimony.

It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.

I am sharing with you two newspaper articles, side by side, that are examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his assets, as I said, to suit his financial interests. These are Exhibit 2 to my testimony.

As I noted, I'm giving the Committee today an article he wrote on, and sent me, that reported on an auction of a portrait of Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 3A to my testimony.

Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself. Please see Exhibit 3B to my testimony.

And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.

And yet, I continued to work for him.

Mr. Trump is a conman.

He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly - and she did not deserve that.

I am giving the Committee today a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer from me to Ms. Clifford's attorney during the closing days of the presidential campaign that was demanded by Ms. Clifford to maintain her silence about her affair with Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 4 to my testimony.

Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. I did that, too - without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family, or the public.

I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later.

As Exhibit 5A to my testimony shows, I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank 14 account on August 1, 2017 - when he was President of the United States - pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me - the word used by Mr. Trump's TV lawyer - for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year - while he was President. Other checks to reimburse me for the hush money payments were signed by Don Jr. and Allen Weisselberg. See, for example, Exhibit 5B.

The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. You can find the details of that scheme, directed by Mr. Trump, in the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

So picture this scene - in February 2017, one month into his presidency, I'm visiting President Trump in the Oval Office for the first time. It's truly awe-inspiring, he's showing me around and pointing to different paintings, and he says to me something to the effect of...Don't worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming. They were FedExed from New York and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system. As he promised, I received the first check for the reimbursement of $70,000 not long thereafter.

When I say conman, I'm talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.

As I mentioned, I'm giving the Committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump's direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump's grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without his permission. These are Exhibit 6.

The irony wasn't lost on me at the time that Mr. Trump in 2011 had strongly criticized President Obama for not releasing his grades. As you can see in Exhibit 7, Mr. Trump declared "Let him show his records" after calling President Obama "a terrible student."

The sad fact is that I never heard Mr. Trump say anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better. In fact, he did the opposite.

When telling me in 2008 that he was cutting employees' salaries in half - including mine - he showed me what he claimed was a $10 million IRS tax refund, and he said that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving "someone like him" that much money back. During the campaign, Mr. Trump said he did not consider Vietnam Veteran, and Prisoner of War, Senator John McCain to be "a hero" because he likes people who weren't captured. At the same time, Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft.

Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery. He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.

He finished the conversation with the following comment. "You think I'm stupid, I wasn't going to Vietnam."

I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now.

And yet, I continued to work for him.

Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.

Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, "Dirt on Hillary Clinton." Something clicked in my mind. I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father's desk - which in itself was unusual. People didn't just walk behind Mr. Trump's desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: "The meeting is all set." I remember Mr. Trump saying, "Ok good...let me know."

What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone - and certainly not without checking with his father.

I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump's knowledge and approval. So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad's desk that day - and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about when he said, "That's good...let me know."

Over the past year or so, I have done some real soul searching. I see now that my ambition and the intoxication of Trump power had much to do with the bad decisions I made.

To you, Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, the other members of this Committee, and the other members of the House and Senate, I am sorry for my lies and for lying to Congress.

To our nation, I am sorry for actively working to hide from you the truth about Mr. Trump when you needed it most.

For those who question my motives for being here today, I understand. I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man. I have fixed things, but I am no longer your "fixer," Mr. Trump.

I am going to prison and have shattered the safety and security that I tried so hard to provide for my family. My testimony certainly does not diminish the pain I caused my family and friends - nothing can do that. And I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.

And, by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the President and his lawyer - trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel. Mr. Trump called me a "rat" for choosing to tell the truth - much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.

As Exhibit 8 shows, I have provided the Committee with copies of Tweets that Mr. Trump posted, attacking me and my family - only someone burying his head in the sand would not recognize them for what they are: encouragement to someone to do harm to me and my family.

I never imagined that he would engage in vicious, false attacks on my family - and unleash his TV-lawyer to do the same. I hope this committee and all members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will make it clear: As a nation, we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate witnesses before congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable.

I wish to especially thank Speaker Pelosi for her statements in Exhibit 9 to protect this institution and me, and the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff and Chairman Cummings for likewise defending this institution and my family against the attacks by Mr. Trump, and also the many Republicans who have admonished the President as well.

I am not a perfect man. I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life.

But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me. I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today. Thank you for your attention. I am happy to answer the Committee's questions.

You could see and hear the Democrats smell the blood in the water. In a normal country this would be the end of citizen tRump, but with Turtle boy, and his fascist cabal in the Senate, I rather doubt it. Too bad Mikie, snitches get stitches!

In Other News

I see where the Democratic chairman of a key congressional subcommittee on Tuesday characterized the Trump administration's latest efforts to challenge the science behind global warming as "dangerous."

The comments by Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing federal climate funding, came amid news reports that White House officials are putting together a national security advisory panel aimed at countering the science behind human-caused global warming.

The panel's preconceived findings will give tRump, who has challenged his own government's conclusions about the causes of and threats from global warming, a convenient excuse to ignore it.

Serrano, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, said that would be perilous.

"This unaccountable working group appears set to deliberately cherry-pick data and science with the sole purpose of pushing back against the widely accepted science around climate change," he said at a hearing Tuesday that featured government scientists testifying on the crisis. "This only serves to diminish the magnitude of this crisis, and it is dangerous."

Which is the very reason that tRumps panels head "climate czar" William Happer won this week's Vidkun Quisling Award. You may recall that the Quisling Award is given weekly to the bigest traitor in America that we could find that week, and Happer certainly deserves it! On the bright side, the majority of Americans aren't buying tRump's smoke and mirrors tricks anymore and his panels lies won't be bought by any one except by his cult members which are a tiny minority of Americans!

And Finally

Somewhere along the dark web someone has my name and a password that I haven't used in 14 years. Those old passwords of 6 to 8 letters and numbers were replace by passwords that average 19 letters, numbers and symbols. So about every 3 or 4 months I get a letter like this one. This one is from Darian Outram at As you can see, he's obviously an English major, 4th grade English would be my guess! As you can see by his sentence structor, it looks like tRump could have written it!
"I am aware yomama one of your pass. Lets get straight to purpose. No-one has compensated me to check you. You may not know mw and you're probably wondering why you're getting this e-mail.

Well, i actually setup a malware on the adult video vids (pornographic material) web site and there is more, you visited this website to have fun (you know what i mean) When you were watching videos, your web browser initiated working as a Remote Desktop having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your screen and cam. immediately after that, my software gathered all your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook, and emailaccount, and then i made a video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you got a fines taste lmao) and 2nd part shows the view of your cam, and it's u.

You do have not one but two possibilities. Shall we look at these types of possibilities in detail:

1st alternative is to skip this email. in this situation, i will send your video clip to everyone of your personal contacts and also visualize regarding the disgrace you will definitely get. Furthermore in case you are in an affair, precisely how it will eventually affect?

Number 2 solution is to compensate me 3000 USD. We will name it as a donation in this situation i most certainly will asap eliminate your video tape. You will resume your daily life like this never occurred and you will not hear back again from me.

You will make the payment via Bitcoin (if you don't know this search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google search engine.)

BTC address to send to 14mPEQqwquD9gUfaq6NhZLfyeAqfe42apxk
(CaSe sensitive copy & paste it)

Should you are making plans for going to the cops, very well, this e mail cannot be traced back to me. I have delt with my actions. i am just not trying to ask for much i wish to be paid, You have 48 hours to pay. I've a special pixel in this email, and right now i know that you have read this email message. if i don't get the Bitcoins, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including family members, co-workers and so forth. having said that, if I receive the payment, i will destroy the recording immediately. if you want evidence reply Yea! then i will certainly send your video recording to your 6 friends. This is the non-negotiable offer, so don't waste my time and yours by responding to this email."

My reply...
"So you bought my name and a 14 year old password off the dark web thinking I'd fall for your scam? At least you charge half the price of the last guy that tried to blackmail me! The guy before wanted $2500 and like the two others I just turned them all over to the FBI! First off Bozo, I haven't used that password since 2005, 2nd my camera on my computer is covered over so you have no photo of me. When they come for you, tell the FBI I said hi! In 15 years when you get out of prison perhaps you'll get a real job where you'll ask, "Do you want fries with that, sir?" I think I'll expose you in next weeks column, so thanks for helping me write it!""
As I always recommend to families with children, cover your computers camera with a simple round bandaid to keep the perverts from watching your children, or yourself for that matter. It's always something, America!

Keepin' On

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

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

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


04-13-24 ~ 02-23-2019
Thanks for the film!

05-23-25 ~ 02-24-2019
Thanks for the music!

01-30-51 ~ 02-26-2019
Thanks for the music!

04-06-29 ~ 02-28-2019
Thanks for the music!


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So please help us if you can-?

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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

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

If clouds vanish, so would life on Earth, which could warm by a staggering 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees F).

If Emissions Aren't Curbed, Clouds May Disappear
By Dahr Jamail

A study just published in the journal Nature Geoscience shows that if we continue with business-as-usual fossil fuel emissions, the atmosphere will hold 1,200 parts per million CO2 in about a century from now, which will cause stratocumulus clouds to disappear. Their absence could leave the Earth to warm by a staggering 8 degrees Celsius (8°C).

The computer simulation used in the study showed that once that 1,200 parts per million (ppm) tipping point of atmospheric CO2 is breached, the Earth's temperature would soar by 4 degrees C just from the CO2. Then, it would increase by another 4 degress C due to the absent clouds no longer reflecting solar radiation back into space.

Stratocumulus clouds cover around two-thirds of the planet, and play a key role in keeping the planet cool, due to their white color and reflective qualities. Research has shown that planetary warming correlates with the loss of clouds. This is yet another unforeseen climate feedback loop that could catapult us into catastrophic warming.

Kerry Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is a leading authority on atmospheric physics, told Quanta Magazine that the results of the study still needed to be replicated independently, but that the possibility of the simulation being accurate was "very plausible."

Crocodiles in the Arctic

It is highly unlikely that most complex life could survive on a planet that has warmed to 8 degrees C. A previous cataclysmic hot spell gives us clues as to what Earth's future could look like.

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which occurred 56 million years ago, was triggered by heat-trapping carbon causing the planet to gain 6 degrees C. (At the time, the Earth was already several degrees Celsius warmer than it is now.)

Global mass extinctions resulted, as the oceans warmed dramatically. Horses, monkeys, and other animals migrated northward as they chased vegetation that moved into the higher latitudes. Mammal life miniaturized over many generations as their food became less nutritious due to the warmer carbon-filled air, and flash flooding and increasingly violent storms became the norm.

During the PETM, the equatorial regions of Earth were scorched and nearly completely lifeless, while crocodiles swam in the Arctic.

"Schneider and co-authors have cracked open Pandora's box of potential climate surprises," Matt Huber, a paleoclimate modeler at Purdue University told Quanta Magazine of the study.

Huber added that, "all of a sudden this enormous sensitivity that is apparent from past climates isn't something that's just in the past. It becomes a vision of the future." The tipping point of the loss of clouds, and the instability it causes, is significant: It helps to explain the volatility in Earth's paleoclimate records.

"Climate transitions that arise from this instability may have contributed importantly to hothouse climates and abrupt climate changes in the geological past," reads the abstract of the study. "Such transitions to a much warmer climate may also occur in the future if CO2 levels continue to rise."

(c) 2019 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump

This Battle of Billionaires Was Inevitable
A surprise decision over a Pentagon contract seems like the latest volley in a war between President Trump and Jeff Bezos
By Matt Taibbi

The original "Battle of the Billionaires" was a harmless entertainment event, pitting WWE chief Vince McMahon against Donald Trump in Wrestlemania 23. It was notable for being perhaps the last time Trump was not cast as the heel in a public showdown. Nothing was at stake beyond McMahon's hair, which Trump shaved on camera in the end.

The sequel - a war between Trump and Amazon chief Jeff Bezos - is less entertaining, namely because there is too much that matters at stake. Also, neither one is believable in the Good Guy role.

Much of the action lately surrounds Bezos. Who knows what someone worth $137 billion would consider a bad month, but Bezos is having a pretty rough February.

In addition to Amazon's much-panned withdrawal from a "second headquarters" deal in New York City - which had the New York Post comparing Bezos to ex-Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray for his inability to "take the kind of pressure New York can dish out" - the Pez-headed tech giant's dreams of Pentagon riches are suddenly being thwarted.

The blow involves a surprise delay in the award of the so-called JEDI contract, a $10 billion (or more) prize for Pentagon cloud management that once seemed gift-wrapped for Amazon.

The massive military deal, if and when it's handed out, will likely make Bezos the most powerful man in Washington, even without physically being there.

Bezos would have deep bonds with both the CIA and the Pentagon as a contractor, and own the Washington Post as a pulpit. Trump, fighting off investigations conducted by (among others) his own executive branch, has a couple of Senators, Fox News and a Twitter account. Bezos might easily wield more institutional might in the end.

JEDI would have put Amazon in charge of standardizing the Pentagon's disorganized mish-mash of computer systems, but federal claims court judge Eric Bruggink just stayed the award.

Paul Manafort's Lawyers Ask for Lenient Sentence, Citing His Altar Boy Past This started as a lawsuit filed by would-be bid competitor Oracle, whose co-CEO, Safra Catz, is reportedly one of Trump's biggest supporters in Silicon Valley. The suit suggested Pentagon procurement officer Deap Ubhi's involvement in the JEDI negotiations constituted a conflict. Ubhi used to work for Amazon and in 2017 tweeted, "Once an Amazonian, always an Amazonian."

This started as a lawsuit filed by would-be bid competitor Oracle, whose co-CEO, Safra Catz, is reportedly one of Trump's biggest supporters in Silicon Valley. The suit suggested Pentagon procurement officer Deap Ubhi's involvement in the JEDI negotiations constituted a conflict. Ubhi used to work for Amazon and in 2017 tweeted, "Once an Amazonian, always an Amazonian."

Oracle also charged the JEDI award was a violation of the 2008 Defense Authorization Act, which put controls on so-called "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity" (IDIQ) awards.

These are government awards in which the contractor is essentially on standby to provide services "from time to time." Such awards began to flourish after a 1994 law called the Federal Acquisitions Streamlining Act essentially limited the ability of rival firms to whine about it, when another company was given a fat IDIQ contract.

According to a later report by the Acquisition Advisory Panel, within a year after the passage of FASA, the government was spending more on services than on goods. Then, after 9/11, such contracts surged even more. The Department of Defense alone spent $141 billion on service contracts in 2005, a 75-percent increase from 1999.

The most infamous IDIQ award probably involved Halliburton in Iraq. In 2006, at a hearing on "lessons learned" from Iraqi reconstruction, Michigan Democrat Carl Levin testified about what Halliburton revealed about the inherent problems of IDIQ awards.

"That IDIQ contract," Levin said, "lends itself to abuse because when we finally decide what work we want done ... we will have no competition. As a result, we pretty much have to take whatever estimate the contractor offers." Should Amazon win the JEDI deal, it would essentially become the Halliburton of the cloud. In the same way you couldn't go to the bathroom in Iraq without seeing the name of former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, Amazon would be a ubiquitous digital presence in the Pentagon and the security services, making bank on an endless stream of services.

There have been charges that the deal was always rigged for Amazon. A pair of Republican congressmen, Steve Womack of Arkansas and Tom Cole of Oklahoma, complained the Pentagon wrote the award in such a way that only one company could get it.

They said the deal requires Defense Information Systems Agency Impact level 6. This highest level of cloud security is a requirement that only Amazon meets, reportedly.

The press also critiqued the deal. A Vanity Fair piece from August of last year argued the 1,375 page JEDI proposal "contains a host of technical stipulations" that would rule out all but a few companies. The magazine pointed to one requiring $2 billion in annual cloud revenues, for instance.

Around that same time, a 100-page privately prepared "dossier" began to circulate in Washington, alleging corruption on the part of Defense officials in their effort to hand Amazon the contract.

The stories surrounding this "dossier," said to be prepared by the firm RosettiStarr (which has refused comment publicly) are remarkably similar to stories surrounding the Steele report. They suggest a private research firm has been spreading mysteriously sourced tales of corruption to reporters all over the capital, in the hope some of them would bite.

As with the Steele report, no one did bite initially, or at least "for months," according to NextGov. That site eventually wrote a story of its own in December: "Someone is Waging a Secret War To Undermine The Pentagon's Next Cloud Contract"

In other words, both Trump and Bezos have stinging, privately prepared research reports about them and their businesses ping-ponging around Washington.

Each man is convinced the other is scheming against him. Trump believes Bezos (he calls him "Jeff Bozo") and his minions at the "Amazon Washington Post" are helping lead the Russiagate charge against the White House. Bezos is meanwhile convinced Trump is behind recent attacks on his private life.

He has made this explicit since the National Enquirer ran an expose on the affair between Bezos and Laura Sanchez (an expose that triggered a divorce with Bezos' wife of 25 years). Bezos accused the Enquirer, its parent company AMI and AMI chief David Pecker of being in league with Trump in an effort to blackmail him with texts and a "below-the-belt selfie."

Bezos made the charge in a Medium post bearing the unfortunate headline, "No thank you, Mr. Pecker." A Daily Beast story claimed "investigators" from "Bezos' personal security team" were looking at "various figures in the president's orbit, who might have also had access to Bezos' or Sanchez's phones." It's come out that the investigation focused on Michael Sanchez, brother of Bezos' paramour, who is a Trump supporter and supposedly has ties to Roger Stone. All of which is interesting and also gross, but as the Verge put it recently, though it's "plausible" that texts and photos were leaked to the Enquirer for political reasons, "there is still no direct evidence to that effect."

The Bezos-Trump war has captivated Washington and paralyzed the public imagination with tales of far-reaching political conspiracies. So far, though, all we know for sure is that both men cheated on their wives incautiously enough that retch-inducing details about their genitalia have been foisted on the public through news reports.

The next presidential election is still two years away; Bezos-Trump is what we will live off for a while. It is the kind of grubby fight for power between unlikable oligarchs that populations in Third World countries are often forced to follow in place of elections.

If Bezos wins, he becomes the first plausible archetype for a real-world Big Brother, an unelected surveillance overlord with broad political and informational power. If Trump wins, that's bad for reasons Rolling Stone readers hardly need explained. Somehow, I miss Wrestlemania.

(c) 2019 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

Bernie Tries To Steal The Rich Man's Party
By Glen Ford

The plutocrats did not invest billions of dollars every election cycle in the Democratic Party to see it used as a tool of their disempowerment.

Having launched his second campaign for the presidency on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders is now the recurring nightmare of corporate Democrats: an old lefty who speaks the language of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the age of endless capitalist austerity and war. Sanders' signature proposals on Medicare for All, free higher education, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and dramatically higher taxes on the rich, are supportd by super-majorities of the Democratic electorate, most independent voters, and even about half of Republicans. On top of that winning array of issues, younger self-styled "socialists" have put forward a Green New Deal that is both wildly popular and potentially transformative of the oligarchic order.

If there was anything "democratic" about the Democratic Party, Sanders would be the consensus choice for the nomination and an odds-on favorite to evict Donald Trump from the White House in 2020 -- a fact painfully understood by the institutional servants of capital, if not the oligarchs, themselves. However, the Party is not a democratic institution, but an embedded apparatus of capitalist governance, control of which is not negotiable. If anything, the Democratic Party has become even more strategically vital to capitalist governance, in the U.S. and globally, since the takeover of the Republican half of the electoral duopoly by the erratic and untrustworthy real estate magnate, Donald Trump. The bulk of the ruling class has arrayed itself against Trump in the most serious split among the Lords of Capital since the Great Depression, throwing the whole system into a crisis of legitimacy. For most of finance and high tech capital, the Democratic Party has become an indispensable tool whose loss is unthinkable. But, here comes Bernie Sanders - again -- threatening to mobilize millions to seize control of the oligarchs' favored party of governance. When combined with the raging crisis of legitimacy, this is a volatile brew.

The billionaires will never assent to allow the Democratic Party to be deployed against their core policies of endless war and austerity: the ruling class consensus. Bernie Sanders "socialism" is not the issue. The Lords of Capital know as well as real Marxists do, that Sanders is a "semantic" socialist, not the kind they are sworn to kill (or else he would likely be dead already). But, Sanders' New Deal proposals would mean an end to domestic austerity, and would almost certainly also unleash irresistible pressures to dramatically shrink the war budget. This is totally unacceptable to the Lords of Capital and their servants, whose political task is to pacify society while wealth and power continue to devolve to an ever-shrinking group of oligarchs. The very idea of redistribution is anathema, a Pandora's box that must not be opened, lest it never be shut. Endless warfare keeps the people's minds on fake "existential" problems ("Russians") instead of the real, metastasizing crises of capitalism.

Therefore, Bernie Sanders' non-socialism is perceived by the rulers as almost as dangerous as the real thing. In truth, Sanders' agenda is derived almost wholly from Franklin Roosevelt's "Economic Bill of Rights ," spelled out in an annual address to Congress on January 11, 1944. Roosevelt's rights included:

*The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

*The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

*The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

*The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

*The right of every family to a decent home.

*The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

*The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

*The right to a good education.

Corporate Democrats have been turning their back on the Roosevelt legacy ever since...well, ever since FDR's death, but with shameless abandon beginning in the 1970s. It's been so long since actual New Deal rhetoric has been part of the national conversation, it passes for socialism in the American bubble. Bernie Sanders spelled out his "socialism" in an interview with CBS News shortly after announcing his second presidential run:
"I believe that people are inherently entitled to health care. I believe people are entitled to get the best education they can. I believe that people are entitled to live in a clean environment, People are entitled to have decent-paying jobs."
Sanders said he's "not talking about the government running the local grocery store." He's also not talking about overthrowing the rule of capital -- which is fundamental to any notion of socialism. But, when systems are in crisis, slippery slopes appear everywhere, real and imagined.

Sanders' program does not directly threaten the rule of capital, but it would spell the end of the Age of Austerity. And, although some billionaires may be reconciled to sharing a portion of their wealth in the interest of social peace, there is nothing remotely approaching a consensus on redistribution among the Lords of Capital. At any rate, the plutocrats did not invest billions of dollars every election cycle in the Democratic Party to see it used as a tool of their disempowerment. If Sanders insists on playing FDR, the Lords of Capital are determined that he do so in one of the small, non-governing parties. They will take all measures necessary to keep control of the Democratic apparatus, especially while Trump remains the top Republican.

The Party is dutifully carrying out its masters' orders. Shortly after the votes were counted this past November House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had her minions meet with insurance corporation executives to assure them she would block Medicare for All from becoming law, by hook or crook. (See "Pelosi Sabotages Medicare for All, But Corporate Media Pretend Not to Notice," BAR, February 13). The corporate Democratic establishment moved early to field a colorful menagerie of presidential candidates in hopes of rendering Bernie Sanders irrelevant, or just hopelessly late. For good measure, they assigned two youngish Black senators, one of them a woman, to lay a trap for Sanders in the southern primaries, sparking a predictable (and infinitely cynical) scramble among the Black Misleadership Class to coalesce around the "Black" candidate -- almost certainly, the laughing corporatist Kamala Harris. Both Booker and Harris caught a (laughable) case of Me-Too'ism in preparation for their block-Sanders mission, claiming to have suddenly converted to the Church of Medicare for All.

The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and PBS either ignored Sanders and his frequent speech-making, or tried to make it seem as if he had missed the train. But the old New Dealer finally made it official, on Tuesday:

"Our campaign is taking on the powerful special interests that dominate our economic and political life. I'm talking about Wall Street, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the military industrial complex, the private prison industry and the large multinational corporations that exert such an enormous influence over our lives," said Sanders.

Sanders is calling forth a movement -- as opposed to the faux-movement orchestrated by Barack Obama, in 2008. "The only way we will win this election and create a government and economy that work for all is with a grassroots movement -- the likes of which has never been seen in American history.... [W]e need at least a million people to join our campaign and help lead the movement that can accomplish these goals."

It took only 12 hours for Sanders to raise $4 million from 150,000 mainly small donors, averaging $27 apiece. In contrast, corporatist Democrat show horse Kamala Harris took a full day to raise just $1.5 million. In 2016, Sanders amassed a phenomenal $228 million for his anti-corporate war chest, mostly from small donors.

The Sanders campaign, or the Sanders "movement," if such a thing crystallizes, will not be allowed to defeat the Lords of Capital on their own bought-and-paid-for property: the Democratic Party. At this strange and ominous juncture in history, with the ruling class's media organs incessantly blathering that the Republican President is a vassal of the Kremlin, the Democratic Party IS the party of the ruling class -- the only party they've securely got. It is inconceivable that the richest ruling class in the world would surrender such an indispensable political apparatus - crippling their ability to govern the rest of us - under any circumstances. Sanders must either be defeated -- by any means necessary - or be forced to capitulate under terms acceptable to the Lords of Capital (or, he can be incapacitated or killed).

There's nothing in Sanders' history that marks him as a hero. In the end, he'll fold, like last time around. But the whole world will bear witness to the perversions of democracy that the Democratic Party is preparing to inflict on Bernie and his movement. It would be poetic justice for Sanders, a purported socialist whose sense of solidarity is limited to European social democrats, were to have his democratic rights gang-raped in the full light of day, as has been the fate of so many folks in poor non-white countries targeted by the U.S. war machine, with not a peep from Bernie.

In the end, the Democratic Party may be so discredited it's not worth keeping, and the people will have to find other places to make politics.

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

The great corporations . . . are the creatures of the State, and the State has not only the right to control them,
but it is duty-bound to control them wherever the need of control is shown. ~~~ Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, 1902

As We Gape At Trump's Sideshow, Corporations Are Picking Our Pockets
By Jim Hightower

As America rapidly urbanized in the 1920s and '30s, nearly every burgeoning city gave rise to a jumbled, boisterous side of town that lay somewhere between exciting and dangerous. One such place in my state, known as "Deep Ellum," was a stretch of Elm Street in East Dallas. A predominantly African-American community, it also hosted a freewheeling mix of immigrant laborers, rural migrants, musicians, saloonkeepers, preachers, fortune tellers, and assorted hustlers. It was both bedazzling and dicey-the sort of place where the blues lay in wait for innocents. As a popular song of the day warned:

If you go down in Deep Ellum,
Keep your money in your shoes
Or you'll go home
With the Deep Ellum blues.
Oh, sweet mama,
Your daddy's got them Deep Ellum blues.
A 1937 article in a black weekly described it as a rollicking scene "where business, religion, hoodooism, gambling, and stealing goes on at the same time without friction." The writer told about seeing a Bible-thumping street preacher mesmerize a crowd by prophesizing that "Jesus Christ would come to Dallas in person in 1939." As the evangelizer grew louder, "a pickpocket was lifting a week's wages from another guy's pocket, who stood with open mouth to hear the prophecy."

Grifter nation

Some 80 years later, our whole country is living through a reign of pure flimflam-one without any of Deep Ellum's sketchy charms. Our media, politics, government, public discourse, and civic focus have been captured by the mesmerizing sideshow of AllThingsTrump-from the Putin bromance to the Saudi bone-saw horror, from constant Cabinet chaos to the caravan bugaboo, from his vanishing middle-class tax cut to his illusory wall, from peep-show vulgarity to full-monty corruption ... and to the nonstop spectacles emanating from this White House. As we gape 24/7 at the amazing ridiculousness of The Donald, however, our pockets are being picked, not by scammers who are barely getting by themselves, but by wildly rich, greedy, and powerful corporations.

While the corporate elite in America profess dismay at Trump's ignorance, arrogance, and all-around awfulness, they're delighted to exploit his power of distraction, which helps them grab more power and wealth at the expense of you and me. They've known all along that Trump's "drain the swamp" campaign pledge was a cynical political slogan. After all, he is the scion of a New York real estate con artist who followed Daddy into the mucky gurgles of deep financial rot. Sure enough, far from draining Washington's pay-to-play swamp, Trump promptly re-packaged it as a luxury hot-tub resort, selling off parcels to eager corporate buyers.

And lo, in practically no time, the slick ooze of Trump's swamp (including tax breaks, regulatory repeals, monopoly promotion, and labor suppression) has lubricated the way for the biggest, richest, and greediest of corporate powers to broaden and deepen their control over consumers, workers, suppliers, competitors, technology, and government itself.

The dominance of these profiteering interests did not, of course, begin with Trump. For the past half century, they and their acolytes have steadily spread the pernicious legalistic fiction that a corporation's sole obligation is to generate as much profit as possible for its shareholders (see The Lowdown, February 2016). Every administration since (Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama) has essentially accepted this ridiculous fairy tale as fact-and, to one degree or another, each has taken steps that have incrementally advanced the supremacy of corporate interests over all others.

But when Trump Inc. crashed into Washington-KABLOOIE!-incrementalism exploded into a government of agencies almost wholly owned and run by Wall Street bankers, CEOs, industry lobbyists, and corporate lackeys often plucked from the ranks of former congresscritters. Rather than seeking favors from government officials, corporate interests have now largely become the government. And while we gawk at the president's monkeyshines, these gluttons are looting the people's treasury and fast locking in a permanent American oligarchy.

Let's look at a couple of their power grabs.

Where the money is

Famed bank robber Willie Sutton once explained that he busted into banks because "that's where the money is." What a small timer! Corporate thieves (including the biggest banks) know that the big scores are in the tax code and federal budget. So, seeing the Trumpsters as their inside enablers, America's superrich establishment-from the Koch brothers to Fortune 500 CEOs-set aside their personal revulsion at our crude charlatan-in-chief to kiss-up, wooing him and his fanatical constituency to back their agenda of plutocratic plunder.

It's working. The single legislative accomplishment of the guy who claimed to be a working-class hero is his 2017 Christmastime signing of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA). As most Americans now realize, the tax cut was not for them, but instead was a disgrace- ful trillion-dollar-a-year giveaway to corporate giants and their wealthiest shareholders. The Koch brothers alone invested $20 million on political ads and lobbying to pressure GOP lawmakers to unilaterally slash the corporate tax from 35 to 21 percent.

And why wouldn't the Koch boys spend big on this bill? As calculated by Americans for Tax Fairness, the billionaire duo and their private corporation will pocket about $1.4 billion each year from this dodge. Likewise, hundreds of TCJA's corporate backers are already making a killing. In just the first three quarters of 2018, big business quietly pocketed stunning tax savings they would have (and should have) paid to support America's public needs:

* Apple: $4.5 billion
* AT&T: $2.2 billion
* Bank of America: $2.4 billion
* Verizon: $1.75 billion
* Walmart: $1.6 billion
And what about the "jobs" part of the act? Its core promise was that CEOs would devote their huge tax gift to new jobs and pay raises for working stiffs. Indeed, in 2017, about three dozen brand-name giants funded a lobbying front, deceptively named Reforming America's Taxes Equitably (RATE), to promote the notion that a tax break would "boost job creation."

But found that in 2018 RATE members-including AT&T, Capital One, CSX, Ford, General Dynamics, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, Lockheed Martin, Macy's, Northrop-Grumman, T-Mobile, Verizon, Viacom, and Walmart-have instead eliminated more than 100,000 US jobs. Verizon, for instance, promptly offered a "voluntary severance package" to 44,000 employees and offshored thousands of its US jobs to India. It was "an opportunity to find more efficiencies," the CEO told workers, "and help expedite ... an innovative operating model for our future." Or to put it more simply: It was greed.

Ah ... there you have it: Forget America's fundamental values of justice and opportunity for all, and don't expect even a modicum of honesty from rich shareholders and top executives. For example, Kevin Hassett, a far-right corporate ideologue chosen by Trump to head the White House Council of Economic Advisors, flat-out lied that the corporate gifts would spark "an immediate jump in wage growth" averaging as high as $9,000 a year.

Got yours yet?

So where did the money go? To the top. After all, only the tax giveaways were mandated-not a dime in obligations (not even thank-you notes) was written into law. With no strings attached and union voices largely hushed or marginalized, top executives and board members were free to allocate their corporations' multibillion-dollar windfalls as they pleased. And-surprise!-it pleased them to spend it on themselves and their big investors, hiding their grubby motives behind "stock buybacks," an accounting gimmick that hikes the pay of bosses who do nothing to earn it. The three-step fraud: (1) Humongous Incorporated gets a $1 billion tax gift from Uncle Sam. (2) HI quickly spends the booty to buy its own stock, which inflates the shares' value. (3) Since HI top executives are awarded big chunks of company stock-abracadabra!-they can reap huge gains by selling that stock at the inflated price.

[Hidden Tidbit: As economist Paul Krugman notes, since foreigners own 35% of US corporate stocks, roughly a third of the tax cut supposed to "Make America Great Again" flowed abroad. Shhhhh ... Trump and his fat-cat backers want to keep this secret.]

Workers, who mostly own no stock, gain little or nothing from these buyback scams. They're another financial maneuver that cynically widens inequality, deepens the federal deficit, and weakens America's economic potential. But today's corporate ethic (shamelessly practiced by the president) is clear: Take the money and run. Buybacks in 2018, the highest number on record, were expected to top $1 trillion, effectively gobbling up all the first year Trump/GOP Jobs Act money. So, at the same time as workers' real wages fall, CEO pay skyrockets. For example, as Politico reported last July:

* Two weeks after AbbVie, a pharmaceutical giant, announced a $10 billion buyback in February, its stock price soared and eight top execs cashed in $27 million in stock.
* Eight days after cigarette-maker Altria announced a $1 billion buyback, its CEO cashed in nearly $1 million in stock.
* The day after T.J. Maxx stock price was boosted by a February buyback, a top executive sold $11 million in shares.
* After Mastercard's $4 billion stock buyback, its CEO cashed in for a personal payday of $44 million.
* After Oracle jacked up its stock price with a $12 billion buyback, its co-CEO cashed in a whopping $250 million in shares.
Playing Monopoly for reals

Shouting "Down with big government," today's tea party Trumpateers claim to be tax rebels-direct descendants of the Boston bunch who boarded three British ships in 1773 and heaved their cargo of tea chests into the harbor. But, wait! That historic tea party wasn't actually a tax protest. The audacious colonists were rebelling against the British East India Company's tea monopoly that excluded local importers.

What the gutsy rebels were actually tossing was monopolistic corporate power. Get your heave-ho muscles in shape, for the monopolists are back, and they're going for more than our tea; they're rapidly locking up major economic sectors. The louder Trump touts his commitment to competition and free markets, the faster his corporate operatives, lobbyists, and congressional henchmen scheme to create cartels and combines. His justice department, regulatory agencies, monetary policies, tax rules, judicial appointees (especially Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch), and other inside players are all at work greasing the skids for the monopolization of America.

This era's corporate dominance did not, of course, begin with Trump. The merger wave swelled in the Reagan years, but since his Federal Trade Commission stopped collecting industry consolidation data in 1981, its full extent is hidden. But we do know, thanks to public interest watchdogs, that a tsunami of monopoly power now threatens our economy at the very time Trump Inc. is dismantling consumer protections and facilitating the rise of dominating behemoths in airlines, banks, computer tech, pharmacies, groceries, hospitals, meatpacking, media, oil, online sales, pharmaceuticals, railroads, software, telecom services, and other essential industries. While Americans are told to worship the magic of the free market, real markets are being hogtied by a handful of crony capitalist oligarchs.

High tech Two giants, Verizon and AT&T, control 69% of US cellphone service last year. Two others, Facebook and YouTube (owned by Google) have 64% of social network visits, and another two, Android (launched by Google) and Apple, control 99% of smartphone operating systems.


Five Wall Street mega-powers now control nearly half of all US financial assets; 20 years ago, the top five controlled only about 20%.

Air travel

In recent years six of the largest US airlines merged into three, which now control 50% of US flights.

Mass media

Three decades ago, 50 conglomerates owned 90% of media outlets; today, just 6 mega-monopolists control 90% of the market. America's two largest newspaper owners are not even media chains, but Gatehouse Media and Digital First Media Wall Street hedge funds that now own some 670 papers, including dailies in Augusta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Phoenix, and St. Paul. And Digital First is now attempting to take over the Gannett chain of 100 more papers.


As of August 2018, Apple's stock value was greater than that of Bank of America, Boeing, Ford, Volkswagen, Walt Disney, and 20 other colossal corporations-combined. In 2015, just 30 super-sized corporations grabbed half the profits generated by all corporations listed on the stock market.


The two largest truck and bus manufacturers now control 62% of the market; the two largest drug store chains, shipbuilders, and mattress makers have over 60% of those markets, and the two largest home improvement chains control about 80% of the market.

The real target

"We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~~~ Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court justice, 1916-39

Periodically throughout American history the tension between democracy and plutocracy has reached a breaking point, and people have risen up in great confrontations with elites who assert that their property rights and wealth must reign supreme over the majority's interests and our nation's common good.

And here we are again. A handful of corporate consolidators and property rights supremacists is dictating pay and conditions to America's workers, crushing unions, jacking up prices, squeezing out independent businesses, controlling the media, suppressing the vote and public dissent, literally running our government ... and becoming even bigger, richer, and more powerful. That's our real fight. We're not merely up against the Little Tweeter Man in the White House-but against the unfathomable greed and oligarchic ambitions of the moneyed powers who are using him.

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

The New York Times Is Scared Of Peace
By David Swanson

The New York Times and the people it gives voice to are very worried that Donald Trump may be too much in favor of peace in Korea, more in favor of peace than of disarming North Korea prior to peace - a sure recipe, of course, for never arriving at peace.

North Korea has disarmed in the past when there were real steps toward peace from both sides.

North Korea is no threat to the United States - the actual United States, not its mission of global domination.

The United States has no business in Korea and would facilitate peace and disarmament, make itself better liked around the world, and save many billions of dollars by getting out.

Allowing the people of Korea to officially and finally end the Korean War is the smallest step that could be taken, and there is no excuse for not taking it.

That the media depict Trump as favoring peace is not actually a good reason for supporting war. If Trump declared his love for your family would you immediately announce your hatred for them? Or is independent thought still possible?

Now, no president of any country, and certainly no war maker who refrains from making war in a particular instance should come anywhere near a Nobel Peace Prize, which should also not be given to people who've just been elected president and not yet done a darn thing, and also not to people who do great work on great causes unrelated to the abolition of war.

This is not my opinion, but the legal requirement of Alfred Nobel's will. The prize is to fund the work of leading advocates for global disarmament and peace. Trump doesn't need any funding, is threatening Venezuela and Iran, and has just announced new plans for his weapons parade at which he can celebrate having expanded the biggest military ever seen and escalated every war he inherited. Having people aspire to winning a peace prize is a good thing. Not giving it to some of them will best help to keep the prize a worthy thing for others to aspire to.

Meanwhile, here's a petition that everyone in the world ought to be able to support:

Tell the U.S. Congress and President to Finally Allow Ending the Korean War

While U.S. mass media ignores or demonizes the people of North Korea, it is all too easy to forget that there are millions of children, factory workers, and peasants being brutalized by cruel U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

A century ago, Woodrow Wilson promised self-determination to smaller nations but denied it to Koreans, and gave the Empire of Japan the green light to continue its colonialist violence. After the Pacific War, the U.S. and the USSR split the country in two. Syngman Rhee - a George Washington University graduate just like Juan Guaido - was imported to serve as dictator of South Korea. The United States labeled anyone who resisted him a "communist" and helped Rhee torture and kill them.

The Korean War resulted from the division of the country and subsequent provocations from both sides, one of them heavily backed by the United States. The U.S. military invaded the North in the autumn of 1950 and destroyed the country, flattening nearly every city. The United States has retained wartime control of the South Korean military, maintained a major occupation of South Korea, and refused to allow a peace agreement to end the war ever since.

In the past two years, the democracy-loving people of South Korea have brought Moon Jae-in to power and the U.S. and North Korean leaders together. As a result, North Korea has not tested any new missiles, has returned U.S. soldiers' remains, and has begun dismantling nuclear sites and demilitarizing the Demilitarized Zone. The United States has scaled back its threatening war rehearsals.

Now the United States needs to support an end to the war. Petty impediments like partisanship and major disagreements on unrelated topics need to be set aside for the sake of peace. Nuclear war, scientists now understand, is not containable. If it happens on Earth, it threatens the whole Earth. Those unable to act against the risk of the mass killing of people distant and different from themselves still can and must act against the risk of nuclear apocalypse.

Sanctioning the people of North Korea for decades has utterly failed to accomplish anything other than great human suffering. It is time to end the war, end the sanctions, allow families to reunite, and begin planning to bring U.S. troops home to the United States.

SIGN HERE. Share on Facebook and Twitter.

If you can only take actions for peace that Trump is not depicted in the media as supposedly already supporting, please help us save theINF Treaty, stop the Trump-Saudi war on Yemen, end war games, urge Google to get out of the war business, stop U.S. military transports through Germany, BDS the United States, oppose any war makers' nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, uphold Japan's Article 9, keep U.S. troops out of Ireland, create a peace holiday, ban weaponized drones, and create the right to conscientious objection from war payments.

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

In this 2016 photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7)
kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif.

Legislators Who Dismiss Colin Kaepernick Dismiss Wisconsin History
By John Nichols

My family settled in Wisconsin when it was a territory - in the 1820s on my dad's side, the 1840s on my mom's side. My many-greats-grandfather Abner Nichols served as territorial treasurer and represented Mineral Point in the first state Legislature. My great-grandfather campaigned across southwest Wisconsin for Robert M. La Follette and John Blaine, and served as Blue River's village president. Other relatives were elected to town boards, village boards, county boards and school boards, and to a few legislative seats.

Growing up in Racine County, I learned how the Underground Railroad operated in Burlington and Racine, where Joshua Glover took refuge in his flight from slavery - before a crowd of 5,000 abolitionists freed him from a Milwaukee jail in 1854 and spirited him to free Canada. I was taught to be proud of Wisconsin's heritage as an anti-slavery state where the Supreme Court ruled the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional, and where Wisconsinites refused to cooperate with the slave hunters who sought to extend the sinful reach of human bondage.

With relatives from Grant County, I gathered on the courthouse square in Lancaster, around the oldest memorial to the Wisconsin regiments that fought in the Civil War, celebrating "the memory of the brave soldiers of Grant County who fell in defense of universal liberty."

A century after that marker was erected, our friend Ed Garvey went south with the freedom riders to join the African-American-led struggle against Jim Crow segregation. Lloyd Barbee, whom my dad knew from UW Law School days, organized civil rights marches in Milwaukee. Another of those remarkable UW Law School grads, Vel Phillips, lived long enough to tell my daughter Whitman stories of her pioneering campaigns as an African-American woman seeking (and winning) local and statewide office.

Wisconsin has not always gotten things right, and there are so many inequities that still must be addressed, so many struggles yet to be waged and won. Yet I have always respected the legacies of the Wisconsinites who have taken risks to put our state - and our nation - on the right side of history.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has earned a place on the list of these Wisconsinites. Born in Milwaukee and raised during the first years of his life in Fond du Lac, Kaepernick moved with his family to California when he was young. But he is a Wisconsin native and, as another Wisconsin native, I know how important it is for this state to recognize his tremendous talent and his vital activism on behalf of racial justice.

Wisconsinites took note when Colin Kaepernick took a knee as the national anthem was played before 49ers games in 2016. There were those who disagreed with his approach. Yet people of good will respected the sincerity of a man who put his own career at risk to focus attention on the killings of young African-American men by police officers. "This stand wasn't for me. This stand wasn't because I feel like I'm being put down in any kind of way," Kaepernick explained. "This is because I'm seeing things happen to people that don't have a voice, people that don't have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and affect change. So I'm in the position where I can do that, and I'm going to do that for people that can't."

This is why it was so unsettling for so many Wisconsinites when the Republicans who control the state Legislature objected to mentioning Kaepernick in a resolution honoring Black History Month. According to Time magazine, "State Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, a Republican, said GOP lawmakers would not endorse Kaepernick's inclusion 'for obvious reasons' and to avoid including controversial figures."

Give me a break.

Yes, the actions Kaepernick took to highlight concerns about police brutality stirred controversy. But history is not made by people who avoid controversy.

The abolitionist protests in Milwaukee 165 years ago were controversial. So, too, were the civil rights protests of 55 years ago. Don't let anyone tell you that what Wisconsin is now proud to celebrate - as part of Black History Month and as part of the whole history of this state - wasn't once controversial.

Kaepernick has been widely honored for his protest. He's the recipient of the 2017 GQ Magazine Citizen of the Year award, the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, the 2017 American Civil Liberties Union Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award, the 2017 Puffin/Nation Institute Prize for Creative Citizenship, the 2018 Harvard University W.E.B. Du Bois Medal and the 2018 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award. And he has earned high marks for giving away $1 million to a long list of worthy causes, including Milwaukee's Urban Underground, a group that works with teenagers in the city.

The legislators who went out of their way to disregard Colin Kaepernick did not just dismiss him. They dismissed much of what is best about Wisconsin history. Kaepernick's advocacy on behalf of racial justice merits recognition by the state where he was born. Doing so puts Wisconsin on the right side of history. As state Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee, so well and wisely reminded the legislators who objected to Kaepernick: "Many of these people that you don't agree with will still be in the history books that your children and grandchildren will be reading."

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

Mysteries Of Deep Space
What is Rreally out there?
By James Donahue

As our world plunges toward its own apocalyptic demise because of overpopulation human pollution and mismanagement of our natural resources, people are thinking seriously about escaping to the stars.

But even if humans can somehow physically evolve and adapt to living on other worlds, space is not the solution to the human dilemma. The classic science fiction image of human space travel and settlement throughout the stars may be prohibited by the fact that we are only now learning about what is out there.

What we see is frighteningly confusing, and filled with obstacles that might prohibit a successful trip even as far as Mars. We know that we must contend with vast distance, weightlessness, bringing along our own life-support system. Then there are the thousands of flying objects from old space launches, some no larger than a broken bolt but moving fast enough to penetrate a steel hull, that seem to zip through space on their own strange trajectories. Arrival at our destination offers no sanctuary since we already know the other planets in our solar system are devoid of life as we know it and environments too hostile for human existence.

And there is something else.

It is the stuff we don't see . . . the black holes and now a new phenomena they are calling "dark matter," that could be our biggest obstacles, especially for exploration beyond our own solar system.

The subject of dark matter was brought to the forefront because of something strange that has been happening to two old spacecraft, Pioneer 10 and 11. These are probes sent off into the distant stars nearly 40 years ago.

After passing most of the planets in our solar system, snapping pictures as they went, the two Pioneer probes were destined to continue blindly on past Pluto, through the Kuiper Belt and into deep space. But the two craft appear to now be in the grip of a mysterious force that is altering their expected behavior.

The tracking of the two Pioneers has been carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and Los Alamos National Laboratory by using giant dishes from NASA's Deep Space Network. Scientists say that by the time the two probes were beyond Pluto they noticed anomalies in their trajectories.

Every time they looked, the ships were in the wrong place. According to one account, the effect was small, but significant. "Something more than the Sun's gravity appeared to have a grip on the craft," one story said.

The Voyagers were launched about five years later and given the same tasks which included catapulting them into deep space. By 2010 Voyager 2 had reached the outer edge of our solar system. And this was when another odd thing happened. The spacecraft's communication system was altered and it began sending back gibberish. It was as if something had "hacked" into the system and altered a digit in the binary code. How could this have happened?

Some scientists are suggesting that cosmic rays may have been involved. Others wonder if it wasn't the effect of dark matter.

What is dark matter? No one knows, except that physicists now are suggesting it must exist in order to give the universe consistency. Using quantum physics, they claim that 90 to 99 percent of the universe is matter in a form that cannot be seen. But beyond this, they cannot explain what it is.

Some suggest dark matter comes in the form of massive objects like black holes that are found in the midst of galaxies. Other scientists theorize that dark matter consists of subatomic particles that rarely interact with ordinary matter. Then there is negative matter, which science has not only proven exists, but is reportedly learning how to use it to make new military weaponry.

One writer noted that the term dark, or "missing" matter is misleading because it is really the light that is missing. "Scientists can tell that the dark matter is there, but they cannot see it," the story said.

Bruce Margon, chairman of the University of Washington's astronomy department, once said in an interview with the New York Times: "It's a fairly embarrassing situation to admit that we can't find 90 percent of the universe."

Margon joked that "Mother Nature is having a double laugh. She's hidden most of the matter in the universe, and hidden it in a form that can't be seen."

There is another esoteric way of looking at our universe that science is overlooking. People that manage to achieve right-brain functioning and expand the use of their brains have the ability of opening the third eye. This is a spiritual eye that sees beyond the limited tunnel reality that binds most humans in our three-dimensional world.

Practitioners of yogi know this eye to be one of the body chakras, the one that exists in the middle of the forehead, just between the eyes. When opened, I have known people who have used this eye to see their way through total darkness, see claim to view life in the fourth, fifth and other dimensional astral world that whirls around us, and achieve a vast understanding of the universe as it really is.

To achieve this knowledge, however, humans must evolve. This form of evolution is not going to just happen over time because time is running out, and we have allowed outside spiritual forces to intervene.

They have given us religion, a blinding, enslaving force of our own choosing that has blocked human evolution and prevented humans from learning how to expand their minds and utilize the full brain.

Some researchers have reasoned that there may be a correlation between the fact that humans only use about 10 percent of their brains, and they can see only about 10 percent of the universe that surrounds them.

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

With his leadership team, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to journalists after the weekly Senate policy luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

Say Goodbye To Mitch McConnell's America
By William Rivers Pitt

We stand today upon the fulcrum of history, a crossroads at midnight with a blood moon rising. Down one road lies fire, flood, famine, failure and the final triumph of greed. What awaits down the other road is unknown, terra incognita, a mystery to be solved one gentle step at a time. As a species, we tend to recoil from what we do not know, often choosing the awful alternative simply because it is familiar. Now, even that poor option is a suicidal indulgence leading inexorably to our common doom.

Everyone, from leader to laborer, is a teacher delivering a simple lesson: how to be, or how not to be. We go to school on the words and behavior of others, and it falls to us as individuals to either absorb what those others teach us by being who they are, or to cast their lessons aside in search of more worthy instruction. As bad lawsuits make bad law, however, bad people make worse people by example. We are often childlike in our emulation of what we see, and if we only see scoundrels, well ... that script writes itself.

Which brings us to a most valuable teacher: a privileged, compromised, cowardly, racist, sexist, hate-swaddled, power-mad, greed-gorged, double-dealing, fathomless void where all integrity goes to die. I speak, of course, of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If Donald Trump is the Devil waiting at that moonlit crossroads to tune our guitar at the cost of our souls, Mitch McConnell drove him there and paid for the gas.

Mitch McConnell is valuable because he teaches us in graphic fashion how not to be. In his own words, McConnell shines a light down that road to ruin - his road, his way - and compels us for our own sake to choose the other route. He serves to make the decision binary: zero vs. one, nothing vs. something, altogether elegant in its simplicity.

McConnell was featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Green New Deal and the mainstreaming of progressive policy initiatives. "I can pretty safely say," he declared, "this is the first time in my political career that I thought the essence of America was being debated."

Whoomp, as the song says. There it is.

"American democracy has never accorded all the people a meaningful voice," writes Nancy Isenberg in White Trash, her scathing examination of ignored U.S. history. "The masses have been given symbols instead, and they are often empty symbols. Nation-states traditionally rely on the fiction that a head of state can represent the body of the people and stand as their proxy; in the American version, the president must appeal broadly to shared values that mask the existence of deep class divisions. Even when this strategy works, unity comes at the price of perpetuating ideological deception. Instead of a thoroughgoing democracy, Americans have settled for democratic stagecraft."

It is all of a piece, the centuries-old notion of this country as a paycheck for the few at the expense of the many. British colonialists sought to peel the land using kidnapped Africans and impoverished Britons, slaughtering and displacing Native peoples wherever and whenever they were encountered. Wealth must be compounded with wealth, power must be held by the few to wield against the many. The fiction of democracy provides an illusion of freedom to obscure the looting that was the whole point of the endeavor to begin with.

Mitch McConnell is a highly visible champion of that ideological deception, a deft practitioner of that stagecraft. The "essence of America" he spoke of certainly exists, but cunning politicians of his ilk are too canny to mention it in public. That essence - the belief that the nation and its population are a gilded platter to be gorged upon, a fertile field to be plundered and despoiled for profit with the people serving as replaceable tools for the aristocracy - is McConnell's poisoned birthright, and he defends it with all the powers at his disposal, just as his colonial predecessors did.

By recognizing this, we recognize Mitch, and all who rally to his banner. They want freedom for themselves, not for you. Their "freedom" is elite, expensive and jealously guarded. Yet a thousand choices on Netflix is not freedom, any more than the constant choice of corporate political candidates is freedom, but therein lies the illusion. Pick your poison. See? You're free!

McConnell's "essence" is a con, a sham history inflicted upon us from our first kindergarten recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance: "With liberty and justice for all."

And yet there are six words that have caused great consternation over the years for men like Mitch. Nathaniel Philbrick, in his book Bunker Hill, compellingly describes "the unappreciated radicalism within the Declaration of Independence - ‘that all men are created equal.'" At the time, it was a lie, what Philbrick describes as "a rhetorical flourish." Native peoples, enslaved Africans, women and the economically dispossessed did not merit equality in the eyes of the Framers. But those six words have come to be a thumb in the eye to what Mitch McConnell meant when he speaks of "the essence of America."

Indeed, those six words are now correctly taken by many as a demand for equal rights for men, women, poor people, people f color, immigrants, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, the elderly, the incarcerated, children, laborers and every other human being who breathes the same air. The Framers did not mean it, but they damn well wrote it down, and public officials of every stripe swear an oath to defend it every single day.

Obtaining those rights has been an ongoing multi-century bloodbath because those who subscribe to McConnell's "essence" choose to ignore the imperative embedded within those six words. For them, equality is bad for the bottom line and rattles the calcified infrastructure of entrenched power. Their violent devotion to that "essence" has caused unspeakable agony and degradation even to this day, but that is not their concern.

Men like Mitch McConnell flee the very notion of those six words, because at the far end of the struggle for equality lurks a bill to be paid. Nothing so final as a guillotine awaits them at the conclusion; merely a sharing of power and wealth, of rights and privileges, which is anathema to them and their rampant belief in their own superiority. To fight this rising tide, they divide and denounce, fashioning enemies out of natural allies because when we fight each other, we serve them.

Look no further than the tumult of the moment to witness how far the few will go to confuse and control the many. See their white nationalist puppets on the march and immigrants on the run; see the Black people cut down by the police officer's gun; see women using a social media hashtag to explain how it has always been so it may someday cease to be; see the people deprived of options by the economics of enforced inequality fed into the maw of a profitable war machine; see LGBTQ+ people stripped of rights by a heteronormalized society that uses splinter Christianity to rationalize fear and hate; see the rage-flecked faces at one of Donald Trump's rallies as they howl at enemies conveniently created to incur their distracted wrath; and see the oceans rising and the fires burning because the nature of plunder is damage. This is the place we have been, and the place we are going, if we choose poorly at this crossroads.

And therein lies the rub, because Mitch McConnell was absolutely correct. The essence of this country as he understands it is not merely being debated, it is being run to ground and throttled, finally. The anger on display from those who have been privileged to own center stage in this society comes from the fact that voices besides their own are finally being widely heard.

"Sharing" is not in their lexicon, and so we must see this as a teachable moment. Not a vengeance tour but an education, because we are all teachers, and there is a better way. Pediatricians call it "growing pains," biologists call it "evolution," and I call it fulfilling the promise of those six radical words. Hell, we might even get around to applying a long-required tweak to those words: "All people are created equal." This version, at last, has the virtue of being true.

The road we have been on is littered with bones and sorrow. The road we must take is strange, and new, and dangerous, and difficult. There are no promises, other than it will be - by dint of our collective will - better than the way that is failing before our eyes. This crossroads is freedom distilled, and the time to choose is now.

Change is coming, Mitch. Not a slogan. A fact. Tell your friends.

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

Andrew Goldstein with his former boss Preet Bharara

Who Is Muller's Corruption Expert?
By Heather Digby Parton

An interesting profile in the New York Times about a Mueller prosecutor we know nothing about:

The routine was always the same. President Trump's lawyers would drive to heavily secured offices near the National Mall, surrender their cellphones, head into a windowless conference room and resume tense negotiations over whether the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, would interview Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Mueller was not always there. Instead, the lawyers tangled with a team of prosecutors, including a little known but formidable adversary: Andrew D. Goldstein, 44, a former Time magazine reporter who is now a lead prosecutor for Mr. Mueller in the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.

Mr. Mueller is often portrayed as the omnipotent fact-gatherer, but it is Mr. Goldstein who has a much more involved, day-to-day role in one of the central lines of investigation.

Mr. Goldstein, the lone prosecutor in Mr. Mueller's office who came directly from a corruption unit at the Justice Department, has conducted every major interview of the president's advisers. He questioned Donald F. McGahn II, Mr. Trump's former White House counsel, and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump's former fixer and lawyer, for dozens of hours. He signed Mr. Cohen's plea agreement. He conducted grand jury questioning of associates of Roger J. Stone Jr., the former adviser to Mr. Trump who was indicted last month.

And he was one of two prosecutors who relayed to the president's lawyers dozens of questions about Mr. Trump's behavior in office that Mr. Mueller wanted the president to answer under oath. The questions showed the Mueller team's hand for the first time: extensive, detailed lines of inquiry that could imperil the presidency.

"He knew the facts like I knew the facts," John Dowd, Mr. Trump's former lawyer, said of Mr. Goldstein.
Now that Mr. Mueller is expected to deliver his report in the coming weeks, Mr. Goldstein's past as a prosecutor offers a glimpse into how he might be helping the special counsel make a final determination.

Interviews with Mr. Goldstein's colleagues and friends and an examination of his past work reveal someone profoundly at odds with the cowboylike image Mr. Trump has painted of Mr. Mueller's team. He is one of the few in the group with a career outside the law - in addition to working for Time, Mr. Goldstein was a high school teacher - and is known for his nonconfrontational personality and cautious approach to prosecutions.

Before Mr. Mueller hired him, Mr. Goldstein, the son of a former Republican United States attorney, led the corruption unit in the United States attorney's office in Manhattan as the office made a highly unusual call to announce that it had declined to charge Mayor Bill de Blasio with a variety of crimes. The decision revealed how restrained high-level prosecutors often are in major political investigations.

"Investigating and prosecuting public corruption offenses can only go so far," Mr. Goldstein said in a rare speech around the time he joined the special counsel's team in 2017. "We can only police the outer bounds of misconduct: the really bad stuff, or at least the stuff that we can prove."

That's the first of several times this is mentioned in the article which begins to sound like a warning that everyone had better pour themselves a big drink because this thing probably isn't going anywhere.
From the beginning, the byzantine structure of the Mueller investigation split its dozen-plus prosecutors into silos and specialties: money laundering, hacking, national security and public corruption.

Starting in the summer of 2017, when Mr. Trump's closest White House advisers were summoned to Mr. Mueller's offices, they typically met the same calm stare and gravelly voice of the man his former high school students still call Mr. Goldstein.

With James L. Quarles III, a former prosecutor in the Watergate investigation, Mr. Goldstein has led the office's investigation into whether the president's dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey - and Mr. Trump's repeated assaults on the Justice Department - should be considered obstruction of justice.

He has tried to determine the president's motives in Mr. Comey's firing during dozens of hours questioning Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump's former chief strategist, and nearly seven hours with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, in April.

As evidence built over two years, Mr. Goldstein functioned as a repository of conversations that Mr. Trump had with lawyers, advisers and top law enforcement officials from early 2017 on. Among Mr. Goldstein's jewels, according to Mr. Trump's lawyers: exhaustive notes taken by Annie Donaldson, Mr. McGahn's former chief of staff, which detailed in real time Mr. Trump's behavior in the West Wing.

Did we know this before? I didn't. It sounds ... intriguing.

The article goes on to describe that case in New York in which Goldstein declined to indict Mayor Bill DeBlasio on corruption charges. And then:

The office made a highly unusual decision to release a public statement explaining why Mr. de Blasio would not be charged, citing "the high burden of proof" and the "difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit."

"He was very much measure 10 times, cut once," said Kan M. Nawaday, a prosecutor who worked with Mr. Goldstein in the corruption unit. "Nine times out of 10, you do a lot of investigation, and you realize the conduct is pretty terrible and foul. But since you're here to do justice, it isn't a crime, and you walk away."

Mr. Goldstein has also gone out of his way to attack defendants who repeatedly fail to tell the truth. "And why do people lie?" Mr. Goldstein said in a closing argument against Sheldon Silver, the former Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly, who had covered up illegal payments from a friend seeking favors and was found guilty on all counts. "Why do people hide things? Why do people keep secrets? Because they have something to hide."

I don't know what that tells us. But unless they have Trump on tape saying "I've got to fire that James Comey or my handler Comrade Putin will be so angry" it won't be surprising if they decide that he's so damned stupid that he didn't indent to obstruct justice because he literally doesn't understand what it is.
"You want to have people who have had experience not only bringing high-profile cases, but in walking away from them because it's the right thing to do," he said. "The fact that you have a person who's comfortable saying there's nothing here, even though there's a lot of clamor for it, is exactly the kind of person you want."
See what I mean?

I guess we can hope this is all just a way of pointing out that this is not an angry Democrat so if they do bring some charges and/or write a report that outlines impeachable offenses nobody can claim he's some cowboy who loves to put people away. I hope no one thinks that will stop Trump from saying it anyway.

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

Wild pollinators such as monarch butterflies are crucial to human survival. Climate change and widespread pesticide use are compromising their habitat and food sources.

You May Not Like Insects, But You Need Them
By David Suzuki

An alarming scientific review has found human activity is driving insects to extinction. When the bottom of the food chain is endangered, so too is everything up the chain - including people. Insect declines threaten birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians that eat insects, as well as the many plants that require them for pollination. Insects are also crucial to soil health, nutrient recycling and ecosystem functioning.

"If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind," review co-author Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, from the University of Sydney, Australia, told the Guardian.

Habitat loss from intensive agriculture and urbanization is the main cause of the decline, according to the review, "Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers," published in Biological Conservation. Agricultural pesticide and fertilizer use, pathogens, invasive species and climate change are also major factors.

Review authors Sanchez-Bayo and Kris Wyckhuys, from the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, analyzed 73 scientific reports from around the world. Although the authors admit to some limitations with the study, the reports indicate that 40 per cent of insect species are declining, one-third are endangered and the total mass of insects is dropping by 2.5 per cent a year. If these trends continue, most insects could be gone within a century - with severe consequences for all life.

The planet is already headed into its sixth mass extinction. Humans - who make up just 0.01 per cent of Earth's living biomass - are the major drivers of the current catastrophe. A World Wildlife Fund study concluded that we've wiped out 60 per cent of mammals, fish, birds and reptiles since 1970. Another study found people have destroyed 83 per cent of wild mammals and half of all plants since the dawn of civilization. As frightening as that is, the rate of insect extinction is eight times that of mammals, birds and reptiles.

Sanchez-Bayo said insect declines started at the beginning of the 20th century and accelerated in the 1950s and '60s, reaching "alarming proportions" over the past two decades. He believes recent rapid declines are a result of increased use of new classes of insecticides like neonicotinoids and fipronil, which remain in lands and water, sterilizing soils and killing beneficial insects. (Canada has delayed phasing out neonicotinoids.)

Butterflies and moths are hardest hit, with bees and beetles also dramatically affected. The researchers found that a few adaptable species are increasing, but nowhere near enough to offset losses or replace services like pollination, animal nourishment and soil-health maintenance.

People have made great advances over our short history, but we've often failed to apply our unique foresight to understand the consequences of our actions. Industrial agriculture increased our ability to produce more food, internal combustion engines and oil facilitated mobility and trade, and computer technologies brought about efficiencies in many areas, as well as enhanced social connection.

But our lack of care in implementing these many "advances" has led to overpopulation, pollution, habitat loss, extinction, climate change and more. If we're capable of so much innovation and technological prowess, surely we have what it takes to resolve the growing environmental crises we've caused.

Some solutions can be implemented quickly and relatively easily, such as banning the worst pesticides, implementing the many available and emerging solutions to pollution and global warming, and examining better ways to grow, produce and distribute food.

Sanchez-Bayo argues that changes in agricultural methods are crucial, noting organic farms and farms that used limited pesticide amounts in the past had more insects. Research also shows organic farms maintain healthier soils, use less energy, emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions and produce higher yields than conventional farms, especially during droughts.

Improving soil health is also a way to sequester more carbon and help reduce the threat of global warming.

Many people are repelled by insects or are frightened at the thought of bites and stings. No matter what you think of them, there's no denying they're essential to all life. If insects die out, we won't survive. From banning destructive pesticides to reforming agricultural methods to planting insect- and pollinator-friendly gardens in urban areas, there's much we can and must do to help the critters survive and thrive.

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

The 2020 Election Will Be A Referendum On Oligarchy
Two new plans from Elizabeth Warren spell out the terms of engagement.
By Charles P. Pierce

On Friday, Senator Professor Warren gave a speech to the McIntyre-Shaheen Dinner in Manchester in which she linked her big proposal for universal child-care to income inequality and the dawning of an intractable oligarchy, which is shrewd politics, as well as the right thing to do. She said:

"We are failing mamas and daddies all across this country - and we are failing our kids, too. That's just wrong. We're the richest country in the history of the planet. Access to high-quality care and education during the first five years of a child's life shouldn't be a privilege reserved for the rich. It should be a right for every child."
And the key to her child-care plan is her proposed "wealth tax"-a two-to-three percent levy on those people who have $50 million and up. This again fastens the issue of child-care to the issue of the income gap, and does so in a way that is easily understood by anyone juggling two kids and a job.

In addition, on Monday, SPW announced that, in the primary election anyway, she is swearing off big-money fundraisers and dinners with the fattest of the cats. From Fortune:

In an email to supporters, the Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts senator wrote that "this decision will ensure that I will be outraised by other candidates in this race. We're going to take the time presidential candidates typically reserve for courting wealthy donors and instead use it to build organizing event after organizing event, in the early primary states and across the country," she further wrote.
(One of the non-economic considerations arising from Warren's proposal for universal child-care is whether or not universal child-care is an unqualified good for the children in question. A year ago, the National Bureau of Economic Research accepted a paper from three authors-one of whom was Jonathan Gruber of MIT, the health-care expert demonized on the Right for being the dark genius behind the Affordable Care Act-that, based on a comprehensive study of a similar program initiated in Quebec, concluded that the effects on the children in the program were decidedly mixed.)

This is quite a gamble. As Fortune points out, even Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama, the twin avatars of small-donor presidential campaigning, both got over 40 percent of their money from large donors. Warren is now saying that she isn't even going to do that, at least during the primaries. (It's hard to imagine anyone going into a general election having hamstrung themselves this way.) But it is now clear already that the primary driving engine behind this election will be a referendum on oligarchy. It may not be pitched that way, but that's what it's going to be.

It's going to be framed that way through dozens of issues, but that's what the essential debate is going to be. If, for example, you plan to campaign as a "moderate," know that you will be running as a "moderate" on the subject of the New Gilded Age that everybody knows is underway, but that nobody of influence wants to admit exists. That is the shadow over this campaign that already is thick and dark.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"The essence of the liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment."
~~~ Bertrand Russell

What are Torts? They're Everywhere!
Ralph Nader

What exposed the Tobacco industry's carcinogenic cover-up? The lethal asbestos industry cover-up? The General Motors' deadly ignition switch defect cover-up? The Catholic Church's pedophile scandal? All kinds of toxic waste poisonings?

Not the state legislatures of our country. Not Congress. Not the regulatory agencies of our federal or state governments. These abuses and other wrongs were exposed by lawsuits brought by individuals or groups of afflicted plaintiffs using the venerable American law of torts.

Almost every day, the media reports on stories of injured parties using our legal system to seek justice for wrongful injuries. Unfortunately, the media almost never mentions that the lawsuits were filed under the law of torts.

Regularly, the media reports someone filing a civil rights lawsuit or a civil liberties lawsuit. When was the last time you read, heard, or saw a journalist start their report by saying..."so and so today filed a tort lawsuit against a reckless manufacturer or a sexual predator, or against the wrongdoers who exposed the people of a town like Flint, Michigan to harmful levels of lead in drinking water? Or lawsuits against Donald Trump for ugly defamations or sexual assaults"?

I was recently discussing this strange omission with Richard Newman, executive director of the American Museum of Tort Law and a former leading trial attorney in Connecticut. He too was intrigued. He told me that when high school students tour the Museum, their accompanying teachers often admit that they themselves never heard of tort law!

Last fall, a progressive talk show host, who has had many victims of wrongful injuries on her show, visited the museum. While walking through the door, she too declared that she didn't know what tort law was. She certainly did after spending an hour touring the museum. (See

Public ignorance about tort law should have been taken care of in our high schools. Sadly even some lawyers advised us not to use the word "tort" in the Museum's name because nobody would know what it meant.

"Tort" comes from the French word for "a wrongful injury." Millions of torts involving people and property occur every year. Bullies in schools, assaults, negligent drivers, hazardous medicines, defective motor vehicles, toxic chemicals, hospital and medical malpractices, and occupational diseases, and more can all be the sources of a tort claim.

Yes, crimes are almost always torts as well. When police officers use wildly excessive force and innocent people die, families can sue the police department under tort law and have recovered compensation for "wrongful deaths."

American law runs on the notion that "for every wrong, there should be a remedy." When Americans get into trouble with the law, they are told by judges that "ignorance of the law is no excuse" and that "you are presumed to know the law." In that case, why then don't we teach the rudiments of tort law (or fine print contract law for that matter) in high schools?

After all, youngsters are not exempt from wrongful injuries in their daily street and school lives. Just recently, scores of schools' drinking water fountains were found to contain dangerous levels of lead. That is a detectable, preventable condition and would be deemed gross negligence invoking tort law.

Most remarkably, the insurance industry has spent billions of dollars over the past fifty years on advertising and demanding "tort reform", meaning restricting the rights of claimants who go to court and capping the compensation available to injured patients no matter how serious their disability. Still the public's curiosity was never quickened to learn more about tort law and trial by jury. The right to trial by jury is older than the American Revolution, is protected by the seventh amendment to our Constitution and is available to be used by injured parties to help defend against or deter those who would expose people and their property to wrongful harm or damage.

One way to educate people is to do what a physician friend of mine did at a conference of Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialists. He walked in wearing a Tort Museum T-Shirt, raising eyebrows and provoking discussion.

There are, of course, more systematic ways to inform Americans about tort law. Bring the high school curriculums down to earth and educate students about this great pillar of American freedom. Devote one of the 600 cable channels in America to teaching citizens about the law, and how to use it to improve levels of justice in our country.

From social media to traditional media, the law of torts needs to be illustrated with actual case studies showing its great contribution and even greater potential to provide compensation for or deterrence to all kinds of preventable violence.

Artists and musicians should use their talents to convey many of these David vs. Goliath battles in our courts of law. Oh, for a great song on the delights of having a jury bring a wrongdoer to justice.

The powerless can hold the powerful accountable, with a contingent fee attorney. Tort law remains vastly underutilized-though it is before us in plain sight. The plutocrats must be happy that so few people know about or use the remedies available through tort law.

Hear this practicing plaintiff lawyers-wherever you are: You number 60,000 strong in the U.S. If you each speak to small groups-classes, clubs, reunions, etc.-totaling some 1,000 people a year, that is 60 million people receiving knowledge central to their quality of life and security. Every year! Fascinating human interest stories full of courage, persistence, and vindication of critical rights will captivate and inspire your audiences. What say you, "officers of the court"?

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

Border Wall vs. Sea Wall
Which one will really keep us safe?
By Jane Stillwater

Suppose you threw a small party for friends but a bunch of uninvited rowdy thugs showed up? "We demand a border Wall," they chanted. "Otherwise we are going to bust this party up!"

So you reluctantly say "Yes to the Wall" and that's that. Or is it?

A few years pass. You finally dredge up the nerve to throw another small party. And the same thing happens again. Only this time it's the entire Atlantic Ocean that shows up at your door uninvited.

This time you really are in danger.

This time you really do want a freaking Wall.

But, sadly, there's no money left in your budget for Walls. You've spent it all on that stupid border Wall. Bad choice. Soon Los Angeles and Miami and New York City are gone. Swept away by the tides. "Doh!" you say to yourself. "I coulda had a Sea Wall" -- instead of just a stupid Donald Wall-Banger hangover.

Now your entire apartment complex is under at least ten feet of cold ugly grey sea water. Now octopuses swim in your bathtub and sharks hang out on your couch. No more parties for you!

Unless you move to Montana -- or Mexico City.

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

The Dead Letter Office-

Heil Trump,

Dear Klima Zar Happer

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, Donald J. Trump, 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 lies denying global warming, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 04-01-2019. We salute you herr Happer, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Howard's End
By Robert Reich

America is the only place in the world where any citizen over the age of 35 can run for president. No experience in government necessary. No support from a political party necessary. You don't even have to have any ideas or policy proposals.

Take Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks whose most notable achievement to date has been the Mocha Frappucinno.

Last Tuesday, CNN made Schultz a Serious Presidential Candidate by giving him an hour-long "town hall" in which he fielded questions from an audience.

Why did CNN do this? Because Schultz is worth over $3.6 billion.

In today's America, someone with this much money can buy so much advertising and self-promotion that he automatically becomes a SPC just by virtue of wanting the job and having the capacity to self-finance a campaign.

Ironically, CNN and other major media are giving Schultz free media now because he can afford an almost infinite amount of paid media later.

Years ago, political parties played the major roles in selecting presidential candidates. Candidates came up through the ranks. They had to convince party leaders across the nation they had what it took to be president. Conventions were the last step in the winnowing process.

Then, over the last several decades, the media took over the job of winnowing the pack. Winners were determined largely by campaign coverage, including presidential primary debates.

Donald Trump became a SPC in 2015 not only because of his billions but also his notoriety as the star of a popular reality TV show and, before that, decades in the tabloids where he learned the art of getting media attention.

Now, it seems, all you need to get the media to anoint you is the money to buy an infinite amount of media.

Part of the reason is the dramatic escalation in presidential campaign spending.

In the 2000 election, neither George W. Bush nor Al Gore spent more than $200 million, in today's dollars. In 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the total spent by and for Barack Obama was $730 million. In 2016, total spending by Trump and Clinton came to around $1.16 billion.

At the same time, there's more money at the top to spend on politics. Michael Bloomberg, another SPC, with his own media empire, makes Schultz look like a piker by comparison. Bloomberg is worth over $40 billion, of which he's already pledged at least 1% - $400 million - to defeating Trump.

It's not clear if Bloomberg will run. If he does, he'll run as a Democrat. But Schultz is planning to run as an independent, so he won't even have to go through the gauntlet of primary battles.

Which means Schultz could deliver the 2020 election to Trump by siphoning off votes from the Democratic candidate.

Schultz cannot win, so why is he running? Not because he has any burning issue he wants to raise, or policy he wants to push. His interviews to date have been curiously anodyne.

Back in 2014, before anyone thought of Trump as a plausible candidate, Schultz berated the incivility he saw in American politics and called for business leaders like himself to "take the lead and do what we can to move the country forward."

Is that it? He wants more civility?

It didn't seem to occur to Schultz that America's growing incivility might be related to the frustrations of people earning coffee grinds while those at the top run off with the Super Venti Flat White.

That same year, Starbucks paid its baristas an average of $9 an hour (it now pays $11, which, adjusted for inflation, isn't much more). Schultz took home $149.8 million.

Under Schultz, Starbucks touted its so-called "social responsibility," but it was for show.

Take, for example, the bracelets it sold for $5, whose proceeds were donated to banks and loan funds to support investment in poor communities. At the very same time, Starbucks kept some $1.9 billion offshore to avoid paying US taxes - representing hundreds of millions in lost tax revenues that might otherwise have helped poor communities.

Social responsibility my macchiato. Starbucks spends millions each year lobbying the federal government, often seeking spending cuts along with the kind of tax breaks that continue to minimize Starbucks's tax bill.

For Schultz, like Trump, it's all about money and media.

Schultz is running because he thinks it will be a hoot - the capstone to his coffee career, the apex of his espresso.

But like many other billionaires of America's New Gilded Age, Schultz doesn't seem to give a damn about what his political escapades do to America.

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

Extinction Rebellion
By Chris Hedges

There is one desperate chance left to thwart the impending ecocide and extinction of the human species. We must, in wave after wave, carry out nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to shut down the capitals of the major industrial countries, crippling commerce and transportation, until the ruling elites are forced to publicly state the truth about climate catastrophe, implement radical measures to halt carbon emissions by 2025 and empower an independent citizens committee to oversee the termination of our 150-year binge on fossil fuels. If we do not do this, we will face mass death.

The British-based group Extinction Rebellion has called for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience on April 15 in capitals around the world to reverse our "one-way track to extinction." I do not know if this effort will succeed. But I do know it is the only mechanism left to force action by the ruling elites, who, although global warming has been well documented for at least three decades, have refused to carry out the measures needed to protect the planet and the human race. These elites, for this reason alone, are illegitimate. They must be replaced.

"It is our sacred duty to rebel in order to protect our homes, our future, and the future of all life on Earth," Extinction Rebellion writes. This is not hyperbolic. We have, as every major climate report states, very little time left. Indeed, it may already be too late.

In Britain, Extinction Rebellion has already demonstrated its clout, blocking roads, occupying government departments and amassing 6,000 people to shut down five of London's bridges last Nov. 17. Scores of arrests were made. But it was just the warm-up act. In April, the group hopes, the final assault will begin.

If we do not shake off our lethargy, our anomie, and resist, our misery, despondency and feelings of helplessness will mount. We will become paralyzed. Resistance, especially given the bleakness before us, is about more than winning. It is about a life of meaning. It is about empowerment. It is a public declaration that we will no longer live according to the dominant lie. It is a message to the elites: YOU DO NOT OWN US. It is about defending our dignity, agency and self-respect. The more we free ourselves from the bondage of fear to throw up barriers along the forced march toward ecocide the more we will be enveloped by a strange kind of euphoria, one I often felt as a war correspondent documenting horrific suffering and atrocities to shame the killers. We obliterate despair in our acts of defiance, even if our victories are Pyrrhic. We reach out to those around us. Courage is contagious. It is the spark that ignites mass revolt. And we should, even if we fail, at least choose how we will die. Resistance is the only action left that will allow us to remain psychologically whole. And it is the only action left that has any hope of halting the wholesale extinction of the human race, not to mention most other species.

"The times are inexpressibly evil," Daniel Berrigan wrote. "And yet-and yet ... the times are inexhaustibly good. In this time of death, some men and women, the resisters, work hardily for social change. We think of such people in the world and the stone in our breast is dissolved."

"People have to go to the capital city," said Roger Hallam, the co-founder of Rebellion Extinction and a researcher at King's College London, who spoke to me from London. "That's where the elite is, the business class. That's where the pillars of the state exist. That's the first element. Then you have to have a lot of people involved. They have to break the law. There's no point in just doing a march. They have to literally close down the streets. They have to remain nonviolent. That's absolutely crucial. Once you get violent, police and the state have an excuse to remove you. It's got to be cultural. You make it into a sort of Woodstock affair. Then thousands more people come onto the streets."

"There's a fundamental difference between breaking the law and not breaking the law," he went on. "It's a binary difference. When you break the law, then you're massively more effective in terms of material and psychological influence as well as media interest. The more dramatic the civil disobedience, the better. It's a numbers game. You want people blocking the streets, but you need ten, twenty, thirty thousand. You don't need 3 million. You need enough for the state to have to decide whether to use repression on a mass scale or invite you into the room. The gambit, of course, particularly in the U.K., is that the state is weak. It's been hollowed out by neoliberalism. They're going to find themselves overwhelmed. We will get in the room."

"We're going to start on that Monday [April 15]," he said. "We're going to block several major roundabouts in central London. We're going to spread across the city-swarming. When the riot police or the police come, we're going get up and go somewhere else. This is a tactic we innovated in November. We'll give the authorities a fundamental dilemma: 'Do we allow these people to continue blocking the center of a global city, or do we arrest thousands of people?' If they opt for arresting thousands of people, lots of things are going to happen. They will be overwhelmed. The police force in the U.K. is underfunded, like most of the public sector. There's massive disaffection amongst the police. I won't be surprised if they form a union and say, 'We're not doing this anymore.' I've been arrested 10, 12 times in the last two years. Every time, police come up to me going, 'Keep it up, mate. What you're doing is great.' We're disciplined, nonviolent people. They're not going to get pissed off at us. They also know it's over. They spend their days scraping mentally ill people off the streets. There's no glamour in being a police officer in a global city. The security forces are something you want to subvert, not denigrate."

The group has stressed what it calls a "pre-social-media age" strategy for organizing. It has created structures to make decisions and issue demands. It sends out teams to give talks in communities. It insists that people who participate in the actions of Rebellion Extinction undergo "nonviolent direct-action" training so they will not be provoked by the police or opposition groups.

"Most of recent mass mobilizations have been social-media-fueled," Hallam said. "Consequently, they have been chaotic. They are extremely fast mobilizations. Social media's a bit like heroin. It's a high, but then it collapses, like we've seen in France. It becomes chaotic or violent. A lot of modern social movements put stuff on social media. It gets clogged up with trolls. There's lots of radical-left organizations arguing about different privileges. We've circumvented that and gone straight to the 'common people,' as you might say. We've held meetings in village town halls and city halls. We go around the country in a 19th-century sort of way, saying, 'Hey guys. We're all fucked. People are going to die if this isn't sorted out.' The second half of the talk is: There's a way of dealing with this called mass civil disobedience."

"Nonviolent discipline, as the research shows, is the No. 1 criterion for maximizing the potential for success," he said. "This is not a moral observation. Violence destroys movements. The Global South has been at it for a few decades. Violence just ends up with people getting shot. It doesn't lead anywhere. You might as well take your chances and maintain nonviolent discipline. There's a big debate within the radical left over the attitude towards the police. This debate is a proxy for the justification of violence. As soon as you don't talk to police, you're more likely to provoke police violence. We try to charm the police so they'll arrest people in a civilized way. The metropolitan police [in London] are probably one of the most civilized police forces in the world. They have a professional team of guys who go to social protests. We've been in regular communication with them. We say to the police, 'Look, we're going to be blocking the streets. We're not going to not do that because you ask us not to.' That's the first thing to make clear. This is not an item for discussion. They know it's serious. They don't try to dissuade us. That would be silly. What they are concerned about is violence and public disorder. It's in our interest as civil-disobedience designers not to have public disorder, because it becomes chaotic."

"You're basically holding the economy of a city to ransom," he said of the shutdowns. "It's the same dynamic as a labor strike. You want to get into the room and have a negotiation. Extinction Rebellion hasn't quite decided what that negotiation is going to be. We've got three demands-the government tells the truth, the carbon emissions go to zero by 2025, which is a proxy for transformation of the economy and the society, and we have a national assembly which will sort out what the British people want to do about it. The third demand [calling for a national assembly] is a proxy for transforming the political structure of the economy. It proposes a different, concrete form of democratic governance, based around sortition rather than representation. This has had a big influence in Ireland and Iceland. The optimal transition is going to be from the corrupted 'representational' model to a sortition model in the same way aristocratic law shifted to representational law at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 19th century."

"The intelligent people on the political left have woken up to the fact that we've got an existential emergency that could destroy human society in the next 10 years," he said. "It's in the cards. A lot of us have already gone through the grief process. But these [newly awakened] people just had that enlightenment. They're in shock. They're maintaining a veneer of 'It's sort of OK.' This is what the Green Deal [a United Kingdom government policy initiative] is about. It is an attempt to pretend that industrialization can stay the same. We can all still be wealthy. We can all still have great jobs. It is like Roosevelt's New Deal. But the New Deal was based on the idea that we can carry on plundering nature and nothing's going to happen. Maybe that was right in the 1930s. But it's not right anymore. It's a matter of physics and biology. We simply cannot maintain these levels of consumption. They haven't reckoned with that. One of the main reasons the climate debate has not gotten into a serious mode over the last 30 years is because people who are in charge of informing the public are terrified of telling the public that they can't have the high consumer lifestyle anymore. It's a taboo. But like any addiction, there comes a moment of truth. We're there now."

"For 30 years we've had one political metaphysic, reform," he said. "You either reform or you are irrelevant. But now, we have two massive, exponentially increasing structural faults-the inequality problem and the climate problem. A lot of people-because of path dependency dynamics-have worked for 30 years in this lost-cause sort of space. They're desperate for change. For 30 years they've been putting their money on reform. The tragedy-and you can see this in the history of political struggle going back hundreds of years-is there's a flip where the reformists lose control. They're still living in the past world. The revolutionaries, who everyone thinks are ridiculously naive, suddenly come to the fore. It's usually a quake. It's not a gradualist thing. It's a double tragedy because it's a quake and the revolutionaries usually aren't organized. I think that's what's happening now. It has very big implications for [resistance against] fascism. Unless you have a clearheaded mass mobilization on the left which is connected with the working class you're not going to be able to stop the fascism."

The mass actions on April 15 might fizzle out. The crowds might not gather. The public might be apathetic. But if only a handful of us attempt to block a bridge or a road, even if we are swiftly swept away by the police, so swiftly there is not enough disruption to notice, it will be worth it. I am a father. I love my children. It is not about me. It is about them. This is what parents do.

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

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ John Cole ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

President Donald Trump loves him some wall. He even said opponents can name it "peaches." So Peaches the Wall it is.

Peaches The Wall
By Will Durst

President Donald Trump loves him some wall. Not the wall of corruption he's surrounded himself with. Not that karmic wall of wasting all his political capital sucking up to superstitious xenophobes. Nor the huge self erected wall that keeps him from learning or uttering or even caring about the truth. No, not those thick as a brick wall.

We're talking about his obsession with a physical structure on our southern border, which he's variously described as being big and beautiful, see through, transparent, steel slats, concrete, fences, barriers, whatever you want to call it. He even said opponents can name it "peaches."

So Peaches it is.

Resolving a 35-day government shutdown, he agreed to a congressional compromise that gives him less money for Peaches than they agreed to back in December, before he got chastised by Fox News. They don't call him Mister Art of the Deal for nothing.

In response, he declared a national emergency and wants to take money from other programs to build Peaches. Or does he? He knows this maneuver will put reluctant GOP senators on record and be challenged in the courts. And he's already set himself up to lose by announcing that he didn't have to do this now, he could have waited. Which seriously questions the "emergency" part of national emergency.

The dirty little secret is that he doesn't actually want Peaches. He just gets a kick out of talking about her. To goose his base into roaring and cheering while demonizing people who don't look like them. To get liberals so red in the face they make ripe tomatoes look pale pink covered in talcum.

Recently, the president switched from having rallies chant "Build the Wall" to "Finish the Wall," as if he already started construction. Which is like a naked guy asking for alterations to the cuffs of the suit he isn't wearing and doesn't own. Adding another chapter to that whole Emperor's New Clothes analogy. Only true supporters can see his kingly robes.

It doesn't make any sense. Riling up Texas ranchers by invoking eminent domain. Slashing pet projects of the military. Besides, exactly how does he plan to build a 1,952 mile-long wall on the Mexican border without using Mexican labor? Is he going to draft housewives from La Jolla? "Marilyn, hand me that masonry trowel."

And why does he need Congress to give him money? Whatever happened to Mexico paying for Peaches? Are we supposed to just forget about that? Perhaps he was kidding. He didn't mean it. Or was it a figurative "paying for it?" He should build Peaches around his refrigerator. Or between his hands so he can't tweet.

"But they're taking all our jobs." Dude, if you're losing your job to someone with a fifth-grade education who doesn't speak English, maybe immigration isn't your biggest problem.

He certainly is right on one point. This country is experiencing a state of affairs that requires quick and decisive action. As that self described American patriot Ann Coulter said after his announcement, "The only national emergency is the president is an idiot."

(c) 2019 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed comedian, columnist, and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For past columns, commentaries and a calendar of personal appearances, please please visit:

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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 08 (c) 03/01/2019

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