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In This Edition

Arundhati Roy returns with a must read, "Kashmir Is Potentially The Flashpoint For A Future Nuclear War."

Norman Solomon concludes, "The Big Obstacle For Bernie Isn't DNC "Rigging"-It's Media Trashing."

Glen Ford tells, "The Words And Deeds Of Social Imperialists."

Jim Hightower says, "Adios Amazon."

David Swanson wonders, "Are We Anti-Empire or Anti-War?"

John Nichols reports, "Tony Evers Recognizes That Wisconsin Needs Strong Unions."

James Donahue with an oldie, but a goodie, "Have Humans Been Turned Into Radio Controlled Zombies?"

William Rivers Pitt with a must read, "Trump May Want To Be President Forever. Take The Threat Seriously."

Heather Digby Parton watches, "A Stable Genius At Work."

David Suzuki finds, "Renewable Energy Brings Renewal To Indigenous Communities."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "Jane Mayer's Fox News Report Is Damning. It's Also Truly, Madly, Deeply Weird."

Ralph Nader warns of, "Unleashed Graphic Designers - Art Over Function."

Jane Stillwater asks, "Breaking Up Together: Is Venezuela The New Honduras?"

Alabama shyster Brent Helms wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich has, "A Bold New Idea To Boost Wages."

Chris Hedges says we're "Giving The Bomb To Saudi Arabia's Dr. Strangelove."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Offended Mark Meadows Reminds Colleagues He Never Once Complained About Capitol's Integrated Drinking Fountains" but first Uncle Ernie sees, "A Tempest In A Tea Pot."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of J.D. Crowe, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Robert Reich, Drew Angerer, Tauseef Mustafa, Roy Rochlin, Tasos Katopodis, Benjamin Lowy, Student Energy, MSNBC, 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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A Tempest In A Tea Pot
By Ernest Stewart

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It's stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans." ~~~ Glenn Greenwald

"Overfishing makes populations of fish more vulnerable to climate change, and climate change is hindering our abilities to rebuild overfished fish populations," ~~~ Christopher Free

"We have already had a victory, and it was the first one of its kind, ever," ~~~ Brent Helms

"We only have what we give." ~~~ Isabel Allende

I see where a revolt of the Democratic Party grassroots has stopped Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi's plan to hold a vote on a resolution "implicitly slamming Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her Tweets complaining about being pressured to pledge allegiance to Israel or else be considered unpatriotic." Nancy and her fellow Israeli fifth columnist traveler Steny Hoyer were all set to do their master's bidding by stopping the Muslims in the House from telling the truth about their Israeli masters.

While Rep. Omar has been unfairly dragged through the mud as a racist, she hasn't actually said anything about Jews at all. She complained about Israel Lobbies giving money to politicians' campaigns to nail down their allegiance to Israel. And when they buy an American politician, whether Demoncrat, or Rethuglican, they certainly get their moneys worth! Is the going rate, I wonder, still 30 pieces of silver?

Yes it is, "all about the Benjamins," from not only AIPAC but every other corpo-rat bribes the Con-gress takes to do someone else's bidding, and not ours, which was the message that Omar was conveying. How dare Omar tell the truth about Washington's dark money bribes. Have no doubt that Israel will spend millions of our tax dollars seeing that Omar doesn't get reelected. If you don't believe me, ask former Issues and Alibis columnist Cynthia McKinney, how standing up to the Zionazis worked out for her political career!

Thankfully for Omar, the same grass roots activists that threw the Rethuglicans out of the House told Nancy and Steny the facts of life and they backed down. We can certainly replace Nancy and Steny with some more young blood come 2020 if they don't quickly straiten up their acts, and start attacking the Rethuglicans instead of members of their own party, for daring to tell the truth! We need more Omar's and less Pelosi's in the party if the Demoncrats are ever going to be the party of the people again!

In Other News

I see where according to a pair of studies published this week warming ocean waters have already taken a toll on the world's fisheries, and the impact will worsen if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace.

In one study, researchers found that the maximum sustainable catch had significantly declined as the oceans warmed over the past century. The other, looking forward, found that limiting further global warming to the Paris climate agreement goal of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius would help protect millions of tons of future catches, worth billions of dollars. So one might surmise that the party of the all mighty dollar would want to stop global warming before it seriously begins to effect that old bottom line.

Malin Pinsky of Rutgers University, a co-author of the study looking at the climate impact over past decades, in a written statement said, "We were stunned to find that fisheries around the world have already responded to ocean warming. These aren't hypothetical changes sometime in the future."

The study of past changes to ocean fisheries, published Thursday in the journal Science, looked at the impact of rising ocean temperatures on 124 marine species representing about one-third of the global catch from 1930 to 2010. It found that the "maximum sustainable yield," or the amount of fish that could be caught each year without jeopardizing future harvests, dropped by 4.1 percent over this period as a result of climate change.

The decline has a direct impact on food security and employment, especially in developing countries that rely heavily on fish.

The study's lead author, Christopher Free, a scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara said, "So much of the global population depends on fish as a source of protein and employment, and some of the regions where that is most true are the regions that have been most affected by ocean warming. I think the results are really important as a call to action to account for impacts of climate change in assessing the status of fish populations and setting the catch limits and regulations that dictate how we manage those populations."

With global warming; as Meatloaf once sang, "There's always something going wrong. That's the only guarantee." And the longer we wait to do something about it, the worse it's going to get. Don't take my word for it, just ask those folks down in Alabama how global warming is working out for them, that is, if you can find any of them still alive!

And Finally

Have you heard about the lawsuit recently filed in Alabama, yes I know, only in Alabama with their medieval laws, would a judge ok this mess for trial. The Madison County probate court recognized an aborted fetus as a person with legal rights. Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger is the moron in question who said, yes please let me make a total fool of myself, and set women's heath care back a few thousands years.

Daddy dearest, Ryan Magers' who wouldn't marry the lady in question, and of course, has zero proof that if the fetus actually existed he was it's sire, saw a way to make a quick buck from the clinic, and an unknown chemical company as he was being egged on by a group of shysters!

I don't know what the defence will bring up, but habeas corpus springs to mind, where is the body of the tiny group of cells, the size of a sweet pea, that some shyster attorney, i.e., Brent Helms is calling a baby? Where's the proof, that a liquid abortion ever took place? They claim she took a pill.

While no doubt the Probate Judge Frank Barger, who let this bullshit on his calendar, is a worthy candidate for this week's Vidkun Quisling Award after a vote from our jury, we've selected shyster Brett Helms as this week's winner!

If you'd like to share your thoughts with Brent, here's his email:

Keepin' On

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

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

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


10-11-1966 ~ 03-04-2019
Thanks for the film!


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

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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

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

Most Kashmiris call these rebel combatants "mujahids" and when they are killed, hundreds of thousands
of people-whether they agree with their methods or not-turn out for their funerals, to mourn for them and bid them farewell.

Kashmir Is Potentially The Flashpoint For A Future Nuclear War
Narendra Modi has demonstrated to the world that Kashmir is potentially the most dangerous place on earth
By Arundhati Roy

The war that we are in the middle of, is not a war between India and Pakistan. It is a war that is being fought in Kashmir which expanded into the beginnings of yet another war between India and Pakistan.

With his reckless "pre-emptive" airstrike on Balakot in Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inadvertently undone what previous Indian governments almost miraculously, succeeded in doing for decades. Since 1947 the Indian Government has bristled at any suggestion that the conflict in Kashmir could be resolved by international arbitration, insisting that it is an "internal matter." By goading Pakistan into a counter-strike, and so making India and Pakistan the only two nuclear powers in history to have bombed each other, Modi has internationalised the Kashmir dispute. He has demonstrated to the world that Kashmir is potentially the most dangerous place on earth, the flash-point for nuclear war. Every person, country, and organisation that worries about the prospect of nuclear war has the right to intervene and do everything in its power to prevent it.

On Feb. 14, 2019, a convoy of 2,500 paramilitary soldiers was attacked in Pulwama (Kashmir) by Adil Ahmad Dar, a 20-year-old Kashmiri suicide-bomber who, it has been declared, belonged to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad. The attack that killed at least 40 men was yet another hideous chapter in the unfolding tragedy of Kashmir. Since 1990, more than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict, thousands have "disappeared," tens of thousands have been tortured and hundreds of young people maimed and blinded by pellet guns. The death toll over the last 12 months has been the highest since 2009. The Associated Press reports that almost 570 people have lost their lives, 260 of them militants, 160 civilians and 150 Indian armed personnel who died in the line of duty.

Depending on the lens through which this conflict is viewed, the rebel combatants are called "terrorists," "militants," "freedom fighters" or "mujahids." Most Kashmiris call them "mujahids" and when they are killed, hundreds of thousands of people-whether they agree with their methods or not-turn out for their funerals, to mourn for them and bid them farewell. Indeed, most of the civilians who were killed this past year, are those who put their bodies in the way of harm to allow militants cornered by soldiers to escape.

In this long-drawn-out, blood-drenched saga, the Pulwama bombing is the deadliest, most gruesome attack of all. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of young men in the Kashmir Valley like Adil Ahmed Dar who have been born into war, who have seen such horror that they have become inured to fear and are willing to sacrifice their lives for freedom. Any day there could be another attack, worse, or less-worse than the Pulwama attack. Is the Government of India willing to allow the actions of these young men to control the fate of this country and the whole subcontinent? By reacting in the empty, theatrical way that he did, this is exactly what Narendra Modi has done. He has actually bestowed upon them the power to direct our future. The young Pulwama bomber could not have asked for more.

Indians who valorise their own struggle for Independence from British Rule and virtually worship those who led it are for the most part strangely opaque to Kashmiris who are fighting for the same thing. The armed struggle in Kashmir against what people think of as "Indian Rule" is almost thirty years old. That Pakistan has (at one time officially and now mostly through non-government actors) supported the struggle with arms, men and logistics is hardly a secret. Nor is it a secret that no militant can operate in the war-zone that is Kashmir if they did not have the overt support of local people. Who in their right mind could imagine that this hellishly complicated, hellishly cruel war would be solved or even mitigated in any way by a one-off, hastily executed, theatrical "surgical-strike," which turns out to have been not-so-surgical after all? A similar "strike" that took place after the 2016 attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri achieved little more than inspiring a Bollywood action film. The Balakot strikes in turn seem to have been inspired by the film. And now the media reports that Bollywood producers are already lining up to copyright "Balakot" as the name of their next film project. On the whole, it has to be said, this absurd waltz looks and smells more "pre-election" than "pre-emptive."

For the prime minister of this country to press its formidable Airforce into performing dangerous theatrics is deeply disrespectful. And what an irony it is, that while this irresponsible nuclear brinkmanship is being played out in our subcontinent, the mighty United States of America is in talks with the Taliban forces whom it has not managed to defeat or dislodge even after 17 years of straight-out war.

The spiraling conflict in the subcontinent is certainly as deadly as it appears to be. But is it as straightforward?

Kashmir is the most densely militarized zone in the world, with an estimated half a million Indian soldiers posted there. In addition to the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing and the National Intelligence Agency, the uniformed forces - the Army, the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force (and of course the Jammu and Kashmir Police) each does its own intelligence gathering. People live in terror of informers, double agents and triple agents who could be anybody from old school friends to family members. Under these circumstances, an attack on the scale of what happened in Pulwama is more than just shocking. As one pithy Twitter commentator put it, (she was referring to the increasingly popular Hindu vigilante practice in North India, of tracking down and lynching Muslims accused of killing cows), how is it that the BJP "can trace 3 kg of beef but cannot trace 350 kg of RDX"?

Who knows?

After the attack, the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir called it the result of "an intelligence failure." A few intrepid media portals reported the fact that the Jammu and Kashmir Police had indeed raised an urgent alert about a possible attack. Nobody in the media seems overly worried about why the warning was ignored, and where, in the chain of command, the breach took place.

Tragic as it was, the Pulwama attack came as a perfect political opportunity for Narendra Modi to do what he does best-grandstand. Many of us who had predicted months ago that a BJP that was losing its political footing would call down a fireball from the skies just before elections, watched with horror as our prediction came true. And we watched the Ruling Party adroitly parley the Pulwama tragedy into petty, political advantage.

In the immediate aftermath of the Pulwama Attack, as enraged mobs attacked Kashmiris who worked and studied in mainland India, Modi kept dead quiet and reacted only after the Supreme Court said it was the Government's duty to protect them. But after the air strikes he was quick to appear on TV to take credit, sounding for all the world as though he had personally flown the planes and dropped the bombs. Immediately India's roughly four hundred 24/7 news channels, most of them unapologetically partisan, set about amplifying this performance with their own personal "inputs". Using old videos and fake facts, their screaming anchors masquerading as frontline commandos, orchestrated an orgy of crazed, triumphalist nationalism, in which they claimed the air strikes had destroyed a Jaish-e-Mohammad "terror factory" and killed more than three hundred "terrorists". The next morning, even the most sober national newspapers followed suit with ridiculous, embarrassing headlines. The Indian Express said: "India Strikes Terror, Deep in Pakistan." Meanwhile Reuters, which sent a journalist to the site in Pakistan where the bombs had actually fallen, reported only damage to trees and rocks and injuries sustained by one villager. The Associated Press reported something similar. The New York Times said "Analysts and diplomats in New Delhi said the targets of the Indian airstrikes were unclear, as any terrorist groups operating along the border would have cleared out in recent days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India vowed retaliation over the Kashmir attack."

The mainstream Indian media did not carry the Reuters report. So, for the bulk of India's voting people who don't read the New York Times, their prime minister-with his famous 56" chest-had dismantled terrorism forever.

For the moment at least, it looked as though Modi had completely out-maneuvered his political opponents, who were reduced to tweeting in praise of India's brave pilots. Meanwhile he and his men were out electioneering. Doubters and dissenters were terrorized by Hindutva trolls, charged with being anti-national, or just debilitated by the fear of the on-call lynch mob that seems to lurk at every street corner in North India.

But things can change in a day. The sheen of false victory faded quickly after Pakistan struck back, shot down a fighter plane and captured a pilot of the Indian Air Force-Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Once again, the BJP's see-sawing electoral prospects have begun to look distinctly less rosy.

Leaving aside the business of electoral politics and the question of who will win the next elections, Modi's actions are unforgivable. He has jeopardized the lives of more than a billion people and brought the war in Kashmir to the doorsteps of ordinary Indians. The madness on television, fed to people like an IV drip morning, noon and night, asks people to lay aside their woes, their joblessness, their hunger, the closing down of their small businesses, the looming threat of eviction from their homes, their demands that there be an enquiry into the mysterious deaths of judges, as well as into what looks like the biggest, most corrupt Defense deal in the history of India, their worries that if they are Muslim, Dalit or Christian they could be attacked or killed-and instead vote, in the name of national pride, for the very people that have brought about this devastation.

This government has wounded India's soul so very deeply. It will take years for us to heal. For that process to even begin, we must vote to remove these dangerous, spectacle-hungry charlatans from office.

We cannot afford to have a prime minister who, on a whim has broken the back of the economy of a country of a billion people by declaring overnight, without consulting anybody that 80 percent of a country's currency is no longer legal tender. Who in history has ever, done this? We cannot have a prime minister of a nuclear power who continues to shoot for a movie about himself in a National Park while a huge crisis befalls the country and then airily declares that he has left the decision of what to do next to the "Sena"- the Army. Which democratically elected leader in history, has ever done this?

Modi has to go. The quarrelsome, divided, unstable Coalition government that might come in his place is not a problem. It is the very essence of democracy. It will be far more intelligent and far less foolhardy.

Modi addressing BJP workers on Thursday.

There remains the matter of the captured Wing Commander. Whatever anybody's opinion of him, and whatever Pakistan's role has been in the Kashmir conflict, Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan has acted with dignity and rectitude throughout this crisis. The Indian government was right to demand that Varthaman be accorded all the rights that the Geneva Convention accords a Prisoner of War. It was right to demand that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) be given access to him while he was in Pakistan's custody. Today Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that, as a gesture of good will, the Wing Commander will be released

Perhaps India can offer the same courtesy to its political prisoners in Kashmir and the rest of the country: protection of their rights under the Geneva Convention, and access to the ICRC?

The war that we are in the middle of, is not a war between India and Pakistan. It is a war that is being fought in Kashmir which expanded into the beginnings of yet another war between India and Pakistan. Kashmir is the real theatre of unspeakable violence and moral corrosion that can spin us into violence and nuclear war at any moment. To prevent that from happening, the conflict in Kashmir has to be addressed and resolved. That can only be done if Kashmiris are given a chance to freely and fearlessly tell the world what they are fighting for and what they really want.

Dear World, find a way.

(c) 2019 Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives, and has worked as a film designer, actor, and screenplay writer in India. Her latest book, Listening to Grasshoppers: Fields Notes on Democracy, is a collection of recent essays. A tenth anniversary edition of her novel, The God of Small Things (Random House), for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize, was recently released. She is also the author of numerous nonfiction titles, including An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire.

"Let's be clear, the huge obstacle ahead is not the DNC-it's the mass media."

The Big Obstacle For Bernie Isn't DNC "Rigging"-It's Media Trashing
Often functioning as propaganda outlets, the major news media serve as an amplification system for corporate power
By Norman Solomon

Some people are attached to the idea that the Democratic National Committee will "rig" the presidential nomination against Bernie Sanders. The meme encourages the belief that the Bernie 2020 campaign is futile because of powerful corporate Democrats. But such fatalism should be discarded.

As Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Of course top Democratic Party officials don't intend to give up control. It has to be taken from them. And the conditions for doing that are now more favorable than ever.

The effects of mobilized demands for change in the Democratic presidential nominating process have been major-not out of the goodness of any power broker's heart, but because progressives have organized effectively during the last two years.

"I think I will not shock anybody to suggest that the DNC was not quite evenhanded" during the 2016 race, Bernie said last week on CNN. "I think we have come a long way since then, and I fully expect to be treated quite as well as anybody else."

One big factor: This time, no candidate can gain frontrunner leverage with superdelegates the way Hillary Clinton did early in the race. Last August, under grassroots pressure, the DNC voted to abolish superdelegates' votes at the Democratic National Convention for the first ballot of the nominating process. There hasn't been a second ballot since 1952.

When timeworn polemics insist that what's now underway can't really happen, it is time to revise the polemics. For many years, we heard that genuinely progressive Democrats couldn't make meaningful inroads in Congress. Now, with impacts that far exceed their growing numbers, recently arrived House members are doing a lot to help reshape the political discourse-notably Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.

While ill-founded, the line that "the DNC will rig 2020" is apt to have perverse impacts. No doubt sincerely believed by some, the outdated notion serves to demoralize and de-energize.

Is the Bernie 2020 campaign facing a steep uphill climb? Of course it is. Are powerful forces arrayed to crush it? Absolutely.

But let's be clear. The huge obstacle ahead is not the DNC-it's the mass media. The corporate-owned and corporate-advertiser-funded media of this country are the biggest barriers between Bernie Sanders and the Oval Office.

Often functioning as propaganda outlets, the major news media serve as an amplification system for corporate power that has long shielded the Democratic Party from the combined "threats" of social movements and progressive populist candidates. The synergies of momentum from the left-outside and inside of electoral arenas-are continuing to accelerate.

It's crucial that progressives develop more effective challenges to the media serving the predatory big-money system. More than any other force, reflexive spin from corporate media stands between us and a Bernie Sanders presidency.

In sharp contrast to campaigns with enormous budgets for Astroturf, the first Sanders presidential campaign was able to effectively defy the conventional wisdom and overall power structure by inspiring and mobilizing at the grassroots. His campaign was-and is-antithetical to the politics of corporate media.

Two examples of news coverage, exactly three years apart, indicate what the Bernie 2020 campaign will be up against. In early March 2016, at a pivotal moment during the primary campaign, FAIR analyst Adam Johnson documented that the Washington Post "ran 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 hours . . . a window that includes the crucial Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, and the next morning's spin."

Days ago, when Bernie Sanders launched his campaign with a big rally in Brooklyn, the MSNBC coverage was so slanted that an assessment from Glenn Greenwald appeared under the headline "MSNBC Yet Again Broadcasts Blatant Lies, This Time About Bernie Sanders' Opening Speech, and Refuses to Correct Them."

Greenwald's critique of MSNBC focused on flagrantly inaccurate anti-Sanders commentary from a former Hillary Clinton aide that immediately followed the senator's Brooklyn speech. No Sanders supporter was included in the discussion. The coverage prompted an email from FAIR founder (and my colleague) Jeff Cohen to an MSNBC vice president: "You have no trouble finding hardcore Clintonite Bernie-bashers; please offer some balance in your analysts. In today's Democratic Party, there's clearly more sympathy for Bernie than the Clintons-but not on MSNBC."

It's worth noting that the Post is owned by the world's richest person, Jeff Bezos, while MSNBC is owned by Comcast, "the world's largest entertainment company."

To counteract the media propaganda arsenal now in place, we should fully recognize that arsenal as the main weaponry that corporate power will deploy against the Bernie 2020 campaign. We must confront those corporate media forces while vastly strengthening independent progressive media work of all kinds.

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

The Words And Deeds Of Social Imperialists
By Glen Ford

The US left makes celebrities of self-styled "socialists" that have no solidarity with real strugglers against imperialism in the world.

The best evidence of the profound weakness of the "left" in the United States is that it is necessary to credit Bernie Sanders with making "socialism" a benign term in national political discourse. The price of socialism's admission to polite conversation here in the belly of the hegemonic capitalist beast is that it must always be chaperoned by the word "democratic" so as to distinguish it from supposedly "authoritarian" ideologies of the same name. The "democratic" modifier works wonders, magically enlarging the historical "socialist" camp to include President Franklin Roosevelt, a wealthy guy that never thought of himself as a socialist but whose 1944 Economic Bill of Rights is the verbatim source of Bernie Sanders' brand of socialism. At the same time, almost all the actual socialist movements and governments in human history are demonized.

Under this "democratic" form of socialism, the capitalist ruling class is never overthrown, but nevertheless acquiesces to reforms that grant working people basic economic and political rights. Seeing no necessity to overthrow the Lords of Capital at home, the Sandernista socialists have no principled objection to the military-political-economic structures of global capitalism -- a system most people in the world call imperialism. But American "democratic socialists" don't like that word because it tends to upset the U.S. ruling class. Moreover, Bernie's brand of "socialists" carry around much the same list of enemy nations as their right-wing and "centrist" corporate comrades: Libya, Syria, and now Venezuela - the "authoritarian" socialists.

Sanders' socialism is devoid of solidarity -- except with those like-minded social democrats in white western Europe who long ago made peace with their own ruling classes and their predations in the colonized world, and who now accept the global domination of the U.S. war machine. V.I. Lenin put it succinctly in his 1917 volume, Imperialism, the Highest State of Capitalism. "The leaders of the present-day, so-called, 'Social-Democratic' Party of Germany are justly called 'social-imperialists,' that is, socialists in words and imperialists in deeds."

In current U.S. terms, "social imperialists" like Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are weak on peace -- only slightly less warlike than their corporate Democratic Party colleagues. In the face of President Trump's blatant acts of war against Venezuela, including an ongoing attempted coup, savage economic sanctions, the outrageous theft of billions in economic assets, and threats of armed intervention, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez make weak noises against military action while accepting the rationale of the aggression. Neither has a word to say about international law, a subject that has been banished from polite discourse in the imperial headquarters country.

When it comes to Venezuela, Bernie lies like an imperialist, and so does his protege, Ocasio-Cortez. Venezuela is the champion nation of the hemisphere, and possibly the world, when it comes to holding free and fair elections under international observation. "As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world," said former president Jimmy Carter, who is no socialist of any kind. During the 2016 campaign, Bernie Sanders slandered the man who set this democratic and socialist process in motion, the late Hugo Chavez. "Yesterday, one of Hillary Clinton's most prominent Super PACs attacked our campaign pretty viciously," Sanders wrote in a fundraising letter. "They suggested I'd be friendly with Middle East terrorist organizations, and even tried to link me to a dead communist dictator" -- meaning Chavez, whose repeated re-elections were without blemish. In his CNN Town Hall this week, Sanders issued a scaled back lie against the socialist government of Venezuela. "I think the evidence is pretty clear that the last election in Venezuela was not a free and fair election under international supervision," he said, parroting the coup-makers line with no justification in fact.

Having thus delegitimized the government in Caracas and endorsed the rationale for the attempted coup and possible invasion, Sanders then pretends to be a peacemaker:

"As you know, the United States overthrew democratically elected governments in Chile, and in Brazil, and in Guatemala and in other countries around the world. So, as someone who fervently believes in human rights and democracy, we have got to do everything we can. But I think sometimes you have unintended consequences when a powerful nation goes in and tells people who their government will be. So my view is that, whether it is Saudi Arabia which is the despotic regime, or whether it is Venezuela we must do everything we can to create a democratic climate. But I do not believe in US military intervention in those countries."
Ocasio-Cortez badmouthed Venezuela the night of Donald Trump's State of the Union address, framing the conflict as "an issue of authoritarian regime versus democracy" -- thus encouraging the coup-makers who, if successful, would carry out their threats to "exterminate" socialism in Venezuela.

Of the Democratic presidential contenders, only Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaii anti-war congressperson who does not call herself a socialist, was emphatically anti-intervention. Gabbard tweeted: "The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don't want other countries to choose our leaders - so we have to stop trying to choose theirs."

The rest of the Democratic candidates are warmongering imperialist pigs.

Sen. Kamala Harris:

"What's happening in Venezuela is a crisis. The people who have fled Maduro's dictatorial regime deserve safety and protection. As President, I would immediately extend TPS status to Venezuelans. It's the right thing to do. America must show moral leadership in this hemisphere."
Kirsten Gillibrand is all-in for the coup. A spokesperson for the New York Senator told the Huffington Post that Gillibrand "supports working with our allies to recognize Juan Guaidó -- who was legitimately elected -- as the interim president under the Constitution until Venezuela can hold new elections, And while she believes economic sanctions are the appropriate response to achieve this, she does not support sending troops to Venezuela."

Elizabeth Warren regurgitated the imperial propaganda. "The Venezuelan people deserve free and fair elections, an economy that works, and the ability to live without fear of violence from their own government," said the Massachusetts Senator.

Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) was already on record as having said, last year: "We've seen Nicolas Maduro undermine Venezuelan democracy and create a regional economic and humanitarian catastrophe."

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was a lower-key warmonger: "Maduro is alarming to me on many levels." Meanwhile, the 14-member Lima Group of white elite-led Latin American nations and the European bloc - Washington's only allies in its strangulation of Venezuela - ruled out military action against Venezuela. Africa, the Caribbean (except for The Bahamas) and most of the rest of the world oppose the lawless U.S. actions and threats.

At last count 38 members of the U.S. House had signed on as co-sponsors of H.R 1004, which would prohibit military action against Venezuela without permission of Congress. Among the co-sponsors is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the "socialist" who, like Bernie Sanders, is glad to validate the 20-year-long bipartisan destabilization campaign against Venezuela, but balks at the ultimate imperial logic of actual U.S. invasion. This is what passes for "progressive" and even "socialist" among a phony and incoherent left that is incapable of real solidarity with any social forces in the world that are not vouched for by the rulers and their media. They have not learned the first thing about socialism, which is that you can't be a socialist and an imperialist at the same time.

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

Adios Amazon
By Jim Hightower

Amazon's notorious attempt to squeeze $3 billion in subsidies from New York taxpayers had two very positive results: One, it shoved these immoral bribery schemes into the glare of the national spotlight; and two, it showed that outraged commoners can push back and push out a corporate bully that considered itself untouchable royalty.

Local activists pulled the curtain on the sordid affair between CEO Jeff Bezos and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and - whoa! - even jaded New Yorkers were aghast at the buck naked ugliness they saw. In a city with a housing crisis, a broken subway system, and other crying needs for public investment, taxpayer funds were to be doled out to a monopolistic, tax-dodging, anti-union colossus.

Then, when ordinary people and grassroots leaders dared to denounce the hubris and greed behind this raw deal, mighty Amazon turned out to be a fraidy-cat. Facing protest rallies and - worst of all - public questioning, Bezos & Company chose to scamper away rather than engage the community and find a way to become a good neighbor - starting by rejecting the money and apologizing for trying to rob the people.

We need a national discussion about how to end these corporate shakedowns that are now rampant across our country. They won't stop until We the People stop them - indeed, half a dozen states went running to Bezos the moment he fled New York, begging him to take their tax dollars.

This is Jim Hightower saying... To break this sick civic cycle - which diverts public funds from infrastructure, education, and other needs that actually create real economic growth for all - let's join people in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and elsewhere who are pushing an interstate compact called the End Corporate Welfare Act. For more information on how we can stop profiteers like Amazon from pitting us against each other, go to:

(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

Are We Anti-Empire Or Anti-War?
By David Swanson

Obviously many of us are both. I have zero use for either empire or war. But I'm using those tags as shorthand for two groups that sometimes unite and sometimes do not in their advocacy efforts. One speaks against empire and war with the emphasis on empire, tends to avoid advocating nonviolence, has little to say about alternative means of conflict resolution without war, usually likes the term "revolution," and sometimes advocates for violent revolution or revolution by any means available or "necessary."

The other speaks against war and empire with the emphasis on war, promotes the tools of nonviolent activism, disarmament, new structures to replace war, and doesn't have anything to say about the "right" to armed defense or the supposed choice between violence and "lying down and doing nothing."

It's critical that these two groups, which overlap and blend and contain infinite variations, talk with each other. Both understand the weakness of division. Both believe there is also great weakness in following the lead of the other. So, sometimes there is collaboration and sometimes not. But when there is, it's superficial. Rarely do the conversations go deep enough to find mutually beneficial strategies or to persuade those of one position to shift to the other.

A discussion often looks something like this:

A: The research that scholars have done appears to show clearly that movements to overthrow oppression have been over twice as likely to succeed, and those successes far longer lasting, when those movements have been nonviolent. Is there still some reason to advocate for or accept as a viable option violence even understanding that it's less likely to succeed?

B: Well, but what counts as success? And I'm not advocating violence. I'm just refraining from dictating to oppressed people what they may do. I'm not going to refuse to support their struggle against empire unless it suits my strategy. It's not our place to dictate to people, but to support them. I would never fail to support the freedom of a wrongly convicted political prisoner because he advocated violence.

A: But have you seen the research? You could start with Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan's book. Would you like a copy? Do you really think that there's something unsuccessful about the examples counted as successes? I've never ever once done or even dreamed of doing anything like dictating to a distant group of people what they must do. I have pretty darn limited ability to do such a thing if I wanted to, but must admit that the very idea never occurred to me prior to discussions very similar to this one. I support freeing everyone from prison and first and foremost those wrongly convicted. I oppose all domestic and foreign oppression everywhere regardless of how people are opposing it. But if someone asks for my advice, I'll point them to the best understanding I have - admittedly fallible - of the facts. That understanding says that violence is more likely to fail, and that the righteousness of the cause has little to do with that likelihood of failure.

B: But it's a question of building global solidarity to take on international capitalist pirates, and we can't do that without respecting the people themselves who are impacted and struggling to free themselves from the crimes our tax dollars fund. And we can't respect them, and have them respect us, if we insist that they do what we recommend. Do Iraqis not have the right to fight back? And does that fighting back not achieve victories?

A: It's absolutely not our place to dictate to the victims of our tax dollars and our own political failures. You and I couldn't be in closer agreement on the point. But, here's the tricky part: it most definitely is our place as human beings to defend the lives of those who will be unnecessarily and probably counterproductively killed and injured and traumatized and made homeless in efforts tied to a noble cause. We actually have to choose to be on the side of the victims - all of them - or that of the executioners. Much of the world ended slavery and serfdom without the sort of violence that the United States saw in the 1860s and has yet to recover from. You can hardly find a nobler cause than ending slavery, but there are plenty of noble causes lying around today waiting to be picked up. What if the people of the United States decided to end mass-incarceration? Would we want to first pick out some fields and kill each other by the millions, and then pass a law ending mass incarceration? Or would we want to jump straight to passing the law? Isn't it possible to do things in better ways than they have been done in the past?

B: So, Iraqis don't have the right to fight back because you know better?

A: I don't have much use for the notion of rights or the lack thereof. Sure, they can have the right to fight back, and the right to lie down and do nothing, and - for that matter - the right to eat nails. But that doesn't mean I would recommend doing any of those things. I most certainly - I'm not sure how to make this clear, but I'll keep saying it - would not instruct them or order them or dictate to them. If they have any so-called right it is the right to ignore the ever living hell out of me! But how does that prevent us being allies and friends? Aren't you and I allies and friends? I have friends in countries the United States military is occupying who are committed to nonviolent resistance, as am I. Some of them no more support or cheer for the actions of the Taliban or ISIS or various other groups than I do.

B: Those aren't the only groups that have used or could use violence. And there are individuals who are compelled to use violence, just as you would be if cornered in a dark alley.

A: You know, I've debated the guy who teaches "ethics" at the U.S. Army's academy at West Point, and he uses the exact same dark alley routine to justify imperialist wars. But building up massive machinery of death and deploying it actually has little in common with a lone guy in a dark alley - a guy who, for what it's worth, has more options than we like to imagine. Organizing a military resistance to an imperial invasion or occupation also has next to nothing in common with a lone guy in a dark alley. Here the options are vast indeed. The variety of nonviolent tactics is immense. Of course, violence can have successes, even major ones, but nonviolent action is more likely to have successes, with less damage along the way, with more people involved, with greater solidarity going forward, and with the successes more durable.

B: But if people are in reality organized into violent revolution, the choice is whether to support them or not support them.

A: Why is it? Can't we agree on opposing what they oppose, while disagreeing with how they are opposing it? I think I may know one reason why it's hard for us to do so. It's a reason that suggests a deeper disagreement between you and me, but I think we can only work through it if we talk about it. And it's this. When I ask you to publicly commit to nonviolence in a protest action in Washington, D.C., or New York, or London, there's no question of needing to respect the preference for violence of some distant group of our brothers and sisters in a far-off land. This is your preferences for here and now that we're dealing with. And you're still reluctant to commit to nonviolence, even though it could make our movement much larger, communicate our message more effectively, and stymie police infiltrators and saboteurs. Sometimes you agree with me on this point, but not usually.

B: Well, maybe we can manage to agree more often on some of these points, I don't know. But the same issue does arise: there are allies of ours here and now who want to use violence; there are also disputes as to what counts as violence. We can't build a movement by excluding people.

A: And how's that working out for you? Where's the movement? You could ask the same question of me, of course. But I have a theory backed by extensive evidence that one way to increase our chances of enlarging the movement is to publicly commit to nonviolence, at least in our own actions in the Belly of the Beast. We can't build a movement by excluding that vast majority of people who want nothing to do with violence. Yes, they may love violent movies and violence done with their tax dollars in their names. They may tolerate violent prisons and violent schools and violent Hollywood casting offices and violent police. But they do not want any violence near themselves.

B: So you want a movement of hypocrites?

A: Yes and of cowards and thieves and braggarts and cheats and perverts and failures and fanatics and narcissists and recluses and also of courageous leaders and geniuses. But we can't be overly picky when we're trying to bring in everyone. We can try to encourage and bring out the best in people to the extent we know how, and hope they do the same for us.

B: I can see that. But you still want to exclude the guy with a gun.

A: But only because the gun ends up excluding many more guys.

B: Yeah, you said that.

A: OK. Well, let me try saying one other thing about guns. I think there's a way that empires oppress distant peoples that's not quite the same as sanctions or bombs or missiles or death squads. It's the provision of products. Native Americans were given diseased blankets, but they were also given alcohol. The Chinese were given opium. You know what poor abused countries are given today by wealthy abusive countries? Guns. The places on the globe that we're trained to think of as violent manufacture almost no weapons. The weapons are sent in from the North, and largely from the West, like truckloads of diseased blankets. And the guns mostly kill the people who live in the nations they are sent to. I think celebrating the guns as a means of resistance is a mistake.

B: Well, that's one way of looking at it. But there are people who live in those places who don't see it that way. You see it that way from your safe, air-conditioned office. They don't see it that way. You know what we ought to do? We ought to have a meeting, a conference, not a contest, not a debate, but a discussion of these disagreements, a polite, civilized discussion so that we can figure out where we can and cannot agree. Do you think we can agree on that?

A: Absolutely. That is a very good idea.

B: You'll have to be part, of course. You were really killing it on some of these points.

A: And you of course. You were really living it.

(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.

Tony Evers gives budget address

Tony Evers Recognizes That Wisconsin Needs Strong Unions
By John Nichols

When he unveiled his ambitious "people's budget" in an address to the Legislature last Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers proposed a change of direction and expressed a sense of urgency about moving forward. "We have to be a better version of democracy than we have been in the past," said the new governor.

Elections matter. When Tony Evers challenged Scott Walker, the Democrat promised to reverse the Republican's anti-labor agenda, in order to put the leadership and the laws of Wisconsin back on the side of workers. "It's no secret Scott Walker has made his career by attacking Wisconsin's workers time and time again," the challenger's campaign declared in 2018. "This ends in an Evers administration."

That was not an idle promise. Evers is determined to renew Wisconsin's historic commitment to worker rights. And he is proposing concrete steps in that direction, with an ambitious plan to overturn the noxious "right-to-work" legislation that was a centerpiece of Walker's second-term agenda.

Walker signed that legislation as he was preparing to bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on a promise to take his anti-labor program to the national stage. Walker miscalculated; his campaign went nowhere after Donald Trump shredded the Wisconsinite in debates - with his declaration that, under Walker, "Wisconsin's doing terribly. It's in turmoil."

After he crashed and burned as a contender for higher office, Walker announced that, instead of the presidency, he really wanted another term as governor. But Evers, the state's longtime superintendent of public instruction, objected.

Evers mounted a campaign that highlighted the damage done to the state by Walker's implementation of policies that were popular with the Koch brothers - cuts to education and public services, assaults on the environment, giveaways to multinational corporations - but that made no sense for working Wisconsinites.

Evers won, and so did every other Democrat running for statewide office in 2018.

Replacing Walker was step one. Now, two months into his governorship, Evers is focused on step two: replacing the special-interest-dictated program that replaced Wisconsin's traditional Main Street Republicanism - as exemplified by former Gov. Tommy Thompson - with the cruel politics of Walkerism.

Last week, he unveiled an ambitious "people's budget" that seeks to undo Walkerism. At virtually every turn, the new governor proposed a change of direction. For the most part, he was suggesting a new course that gets Wisconsin focused on meeting the 21st century challenges that went unaddressed during his predecessor's reactionary tenure.

When he delivered the budget to the Legislature on Thursday, Evers tapped into a sense of urgency about moving forward.

"We have to be a better version of democracy than we have been in the past. At times, we've succumbed to the trivial pursuit of political out-posturing. At times, we've let partisanship cloud the opportunity for compromise. And at times, we've let power be the enemy of the good," said Evers, who explained that "this cannot be one of those times. We cannot afford to play politics with this budget. Folks, the stakes are simply too high."

As Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the 32-year-old community activist who now holds the state's No. 2 position, announced on his popular @TheOtherMandela Twitter feed:

"@GovEvers first budget address was a home run derby!

"* Criminal Justice Reform

"* Automatic Voter Registration

"* Healthcare Expansion

"* Redistricting Reform

"* Driver's Licenses/In-State tuition for immigrants

"* K-12/Higher Ed Funding

"* Transportation Fix

"* Clean Water."

Evers and Barnes know that worker rights issues have to be a part of every serious discussion of the future. Globalization, a digital revolution that is already here, and an automation revolution that is rapidly arriving are reshaping our work life and our home life in radical ways. Any program for reclaiming a proper balance must, necessarily, involve the renewal of unions (which will themselves need to adapt to the changing times).

Walker's determination to erect structural barriers to organizing strong unions, and to render collective bargaining virtually meaningless, moved Wisconsin in precisely the wrong direction. So when Evers proposes to take those barriers down, by overturning the state's right-to-work law and by restoring prevailing-wage protections, he is not just undoing Walkerism. He is talking about getting ready for the future.

Needless to say, there will be resistance to a future in which organized labor gives workers a meaningful say on the job and, perhaps more significantly, in society. This resistance will be evident throughout the budget debate in Wisconsin, where the gerrymandering of legislative district lines and the obliteration of campaign finance rules have allowed Walker-aligned Republicans to retain control of the state Assembly and the state Senate.

Evers has a fight on his hands. The Republicans will not bend easily to an agenda that would reverse their right-to-work legislation. And it will be even uglier when Evers attempts - as he eventually must - to upend Walker's destructive Act 10 legislation, which was designed to gut collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers and their unions.

All of the progressive proposals that Evers is advancing as part of his budget plan will face intense opposition from conservative legislators who imagine that his defeat of Walker was a fluke. But the struggle to renew and extend worker rights and to allow for the organizing of strong, forward-looking unions is no fluke. It's the fight for an equitable future and the "better version of democracy" that must come.

(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.

Have Humans Been Turned Into Radio Controlled Zombies?
What is Rreally out there?
By James Donahue

Worldwide shock and confusion over the re-election of George W. Bush for a second term in office has caused some people to wonder why so many people could have been so easily fooled.

I wrote recently about the generally low intelligence of the average American and suggested that this had something to do with the gullibility of so many voters.

A friend sent me a link to a story by Bruce Conway titled "Stealth Cell Towers and the 2004 US Presidential Elections" that offers another probability.

Conway notes that the sudden construction of thousands of new and unobtrusive cell towers, many of them disguised as flag poles, occurred during the months prior to the election. He suggests that instead of serving cell phones, the towers were used for a national mind control that forced voters to believe in Bush even though common sense should have warned them otherwise.

"When one considers the rapid advancements in electromagnetic and psychotronic mind control technology, this trend in utility concealment is rather sinister," Conway writes. "If researchers could successfully project human speech into the minds of the deaf, as Dr. Joseph C. Sharp of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research did in 1974, think of their present capabilities."

Conway said he became curious about the mysterious towers when one was erected as a camouflaged flagpole in his neighborhood and he decided to investigate.

He said he learned that the tower was being erected by Stealth Concealment Solutions, Charleston, South Carolina. He said he learned that the company was doing a "brisk business," and was installing thousands of similar towers, also disguised as cacti, palm trees, church crosses, rock formations, water towers and pine trees.

"This is happening without any of the dissent or protest usually surrounding cell tower erections," he wrote.

Ken Adachi, in another article titled "Mind Control, The Ultimate Terror," suggests that the abundance of cell towers throughout America is suspicious.

"No one is saying anything, but you're expected to presume that they're for cell phones," writes Adachi. "Do you really think that we need that much 'cell phone' transmission capability every few blocks? Do you realize how very little energy is used by genuine cell phone usage? Yet these towers are capable of putting out levels of power that exceed cell phone requirements by a wide margin."

If Americans are being mentally manipulated by some kind of mind control technology, it might explain why so many young men seem to willing to rush off to put their lives and physical bodies on the line for such a nonsensical war as the one we are fighting in Iraq.

It might explain why the military can hold so many soldiers captive in the battlefield, far beyond their normal tour of duty, and even call older soldiers back into service, without creating protests from the general public.

This writer was around during the Vietnam War years and recalls the massive public protests, especially on college campuses, that eventually forced an end to that conflict. Many young men fled to Canada to avoid the draft that was still in effect in those years.

What is not explained is why nearly half of the American people voted against Bush in the last election, and why some Americans are, indeed, protesting the war. If you want proof of that, surf the Internet for a while. The anti-war effort is well documented there.

If brain washing is occurring, it is not affecting everybody. Certainly it has not claimed this writer. Yet.

(This story is relevant now since the world is about to be ravaged by new G5 technology delivering high-powered messages and energy from thousands of satellites circling the planet. No one will escape the effects of what is looming.)

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

President Donald Trump hugs the U.S. flag during CPAC 2019 on March 2, 2019 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Trump May Want To Be President Forever. Take The Threat Seriously
By William Rivers Pitt

At the tag end of Michael Cohen's House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday, when the windbags were all aired out and the reporters were framing the lede, the star witness leaned into his microphone and dropped a dollar's worth of doom. "Given my experience working for Mr. Trump," said Cohen, "I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power."

Eat your hat, Ice Bucket Challenge. That woke me right up.

Say what you will about Mr. Cohen - and there is plenty to say about the disgraced, disbarred bagman who spent a decade as Donald Trump's top lickspittle - but he knows his old boss well, probably as well as anyone living. When Bill Maher says Trump might not voluntarily leave office, something the TV host has been suggesting for a year, I laugh and then shiver a bit. When Trump's long-time consigliere says it under oath during a congressional hearing, I start thinking about buying canned goods.

The idea of an amaranthine administration seems to have grown on Trump since he first rode down that golden escalator to inform us he was running for president because Mexicans are rapists. According to Cohen's testimony, Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was initially intended to be a giant infomercial to boost his brand as he sought to build skyscrapers in Moscow. He neither wanted nor expected to win. Toward the end of the race, however, the idea of losing suddenly seemed to grate.

In the fall of 2016 with the race nip and tuck, Trump began seeding his public remarks with claims that the election was being fixed in Hillary Clinton's favor by a nefarious cloud of shadowy forces like, for example, "the dishonest and distorted media." His sullen drumbeat - "rigged, rigged, it's all rigged" - grew louder as the election approached, finally causing some reporters to ask if he would actually accept the result of the election no matter the outcome. "I will totally accept the result of this great and historic presidential election," he told an adoring Ohio crowd on October 20, "if I win."

Then he actually won, and the question of whether he was kidding or not was moot, at least for a while. Flash forward to 2018, and the issue became suddenly relevant again. Trump was speaking at a private Mar-a-Lago fundraiser that took place not long after China's President Xi Jinping successfully repealed that nation's term limits law. "He's now president for life," said Trump. "President for life. No, he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot someday."

Again, har-de-giggly-har, right? Maybe? MSNBC host and self-anointed conservative martyr Joe Scarborough didn't think so. "When Republicans ignore the fact that this man is talking about being president for life," said Scarborough after Trump's Mar-a-Lago quip, "if they think that Donald Trump is joking, then they're fools. And I don't think they're fools. I think they know exactly what he's saying."

There are others who believe Trump lacks the intestinal fortitude required to become a despot. "Every waking minute for Trump is a struggle between his sadism and his cowardice," wrote Drew Magary for Deadspin last August. "He's caused irreparable harm to scores of people already thanks to both his policies (implemented by other people) and his outright neglect, and yet he can't even bring himself to fire Omarosa in person. He admires genocidal dictators because they have the stones to commit wanton acts of murder he either can't or won't commit himself. He's the greatest chickenshit who ever lived, and that's probably the lone reason we haven't all died yet." A month after the Xi comment, Trump was again mulling over the idea of remaining in office beyond his term before another friendly crowd. "I'm not looking to do it," he told them, "unless you want to do it."

What, then, do we make of all this? Sure, he pays fawning lip service to the most authoritarian leaders currently scalding the skin of the Earth, and will have yet another one to fall in love with if John Bolton and Elliott Abrams manage to throw Maduro out of office in Venezuela. Yes, he has run roughshod over constitutional norms at every turn, to the point that his own staffers routinely ignore him when he demands the law be broken for his own benefit. Senate Republicans have almost completely surrendered their constitutional role in government in order to please him, and the Supreme Court is stacked with right-wing justices who believe he is above the law.

There is an additional element of all this that makes Trump's maybe-jokes and Michael Cohen's somber warning anything but a laughing matter. This is the MAGA crowd, those hardcore believers who view Trump as some wild-eyed hybrid of King Cyrus, Ronald Reagan and Billy Mays come to save them all and own the libs. I absolutely do not doubt either their sincerity or the fact of their poorly fenced fury.

A great many of the hardest of the hard are avowed white nationalists who have been expecting a revolution for a long while now, and some of them are prepared, even eager, for a violent showdown. When Trump said "I'm not looking to do it, unless you want to do it," that is who he was talking to, the ones who will have his back even if he shoots someone on Fifth Avenue, and especially if the one he shoots is a person of color. They "want to do it," badly.

If a picture can speak a thousand words, this snapshot by New York Times staff photographer Damon Winter speaks libraries. There is young Jaden Rams with his father at a Trump rally in Grand Junction two weeks before the election. The moment captures him screaming, "Lock her up!" with the rest of the crowd, his eyes as vacant and lethal as fire. It is the story of our times captured in one jarring image. The boy is one thing, the father who made him into that screaming wraith is something else again. There are a lot of them out there, and they love their guns almost as much as they love their president.

It is easy to believe that Donald Trump won't even make it to the men's room if he tries to set himself up for life. Some would like to believe the Secret Service will snicker into their sleeves and then break him over their knee. Others are confident the FBI, the US Marshals, the Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies will take some kind of action. For all their cowardice, one might assume Republicans in Congress will not volunteer to extinguish their own existence as a governing body.

That's the idea, anyway. The truth, unfortunately, is that if Trump so much as twitches in that general direction, either after an election defeat or if Congress decides they've had enough of him and finally impeaches him, there will be bad trouble. Trump's followers already refuse to believe anything the news media tells them if comes from outside the conservative information bubble, and are convinced the entire federal government is a conspiracy against them and their beloved leader. If those two entities correctly and lawfully tell Trump it's time to go and he refuses to do so, people may well die.

If Michael Cohen is right, Trump will refuse to leave office either in defeat or through impeachment. He likes the power too much now, and the people who believe he is on their side will be on his side to the knife. It may also be worth noting that Erik Prince, brother of the sitting Education Secretary and a Trump devotee, used to have his own large, battle-tested private army. I'm sure he still has their phone numbers.

There is a legitimate concern that even discussing the idea of Trump seeking to be president past his term actually empowers him and his followers. Raising the specter, goes the argument, gives them a club to wield, a weapon of intimidation to add to their already formidable arsenal. This dilemma is real, but outweighed in the end by the dangers implicit in not sounding the alarm. Awareness of what he is capable of is the first requirement for any effective resistance. Trump is fully capable of doing this, and the people must be warned.

If all this sounds unduly paranoid to you, I invite you to close your eyes and think back on everything that has happened since that golden escalator ride nearly four long years ago. Ask yourself: Did you expect Donald Trump to win the presidency? At any point, even for a moment, has Donald Trump once put the best interests of the country before his own? Does a man who cages children to score points with his base have a moral center that can be trusted? Do you really think he is incapable of tearing the country to pieces in order to hold on to what he thinks belongs to him?

Now open your eyes, and keep them open. Donald Trump might be the most dangerous man ever to hold the office of the presidency, and only a fool would believe he will go quietly into that good night. Even if he does depart the office without leaving claw marks in the doorframe, he will still be out there afterward, causing trouble with a ready-to-go mob at his back. Genuine insurrections have a way of burning for a long time. People mistakenly think the Civil War ended at Appomattox, but in fact there were no less than six major battles fought after Lee's surrender, and the fighting actually ground on for another 16 months.

Some will tell you the Civil War never ended, and a lot of those folks voted for Donald Trump. If he calls, they will come.

(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.

A Stable Genius At Work
By Heather Digby Parton

Trump in Hanoi was even dumber than he looked:

As President Trump settled into the dining room of a French-colonial hotel in Hanoi on Thursday morning, the conversation with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader with whom he had struck up the oddest of friendships, was already turning tense.

In a dinner at the Metropole Hotel the evening before, mere feet from the bomb shelter where guests took cover during the Vietnam War, Mr. Kim had resisted what Mr. Trump presented as a grand bargain: North Korea would trade all its nuclear weapons, material and facilities for an end to the American-led sanctions squeezing its economy.

An American official later described this as "a proposal to go big," a bet by Mr. Trump that his force of personality, and view of himself as a consummate dealmaker, would succeed where three previous presidents had failed.

But Mr. Trump's offer was essentially the same deal that the United States has pushed - and the North has rejected - for a quarter century. Intelligence agencies had warned him, publicly, Mr. Kim would not be willing to give up the arsenal completely. North Korea itself had said repeatedly that it would only move gradually.

Several of Mr. Trump's own aides, led by national security adviser John R. Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, thought the chances of a grand bargain for total nuclear disarmament were virtually zero. Some questioned whether the summit meeting should go forward.

Mr. Trump disagreed. He had taken to showing what he called Mr. Kim's "beautiful letters" to visitors to the Oval Office, as evidence he had built a rapport with one of the world's most brutal dictators. While some in the White House worried Mr. Trump was being played, the president seemed entranced - even declaring "we fell in love."

As Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim parted company, nearly a year of optimism and flattery was left poolside at the Metropole, steps from a meeting room with two empty chairs and flags that had been carefully prepared for a "signing ceremony."

Mr. Trump and senior diplomats say they hope negotiations will continue, though nothing has been scheduled. Mr. Kim has promised not to resume weapons testing, and the Pentagon continues to hold off on large-scale military exercises with South Korea. In interviews with a half-dozen participants, it is clear Mr. Trump's failed gambit was the culmination of two years of threats, hubris and misjudgment on both sides. Mr. Trump entered office convinced he could intimidate the man he liked to call "Little Rocket Man" with tough talk and sanctions, then abruptly took the opposite tack, overruling his aides and personalizing the diplomacy.

Mr. Kim also miscalculated. He bet Mr. Trump might accept a more modest offer that American negotiators in Hanoi had already dismissed: The North would dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear complex, three square miles of aging facilities at the heart of the nuclear program, for an end to the sanctions most harmful to its economy, those enacted since 2016.

It is unclear whether Mr. Trump was tempted to take that deal, which could have turned headlines away from the damaging testimony of his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, in Washington.

I'm sure he wanted to. But Pompeo wisely manipulated Trump by pointing out that he would obviously look like a loser if he did, and Trump actually heard him. My sense is that Trump is setting Pompeo up to blame for the failure. He's all about blame.
But Mr. Pompeo, who knew the details of the North Korean program intimately from his days as C.I.A. director, opposed it. The president was told that if he settled for Yongbyon alone, he might appear to have been duped by the young leader of a country renowned for hiding pieces of its nuclear program in tunnels around the country.

Mr. Pompeo said later that Mr. Kim's offer "still leaves missiles, still leaves warheads and weapons systems" - and a senior State Department official argued that sanctions relief would fund the production of more weapons.

It also would have let the North continue to produce uranium, a key ingredient for nuclear weapons, at a hidden enrichment center near the capital, Pyongyang - one of several suspected nuclear sites beyond Yongbyon that the United States has been monitoring from afar for nearly a decade.

"I think that they were surprised that we knew," Mr. Trump said.

In the end, the president took a brief walk with Mr. Kim around the hotel's pool, shook his hand and then canceled lunch in a glassed pavilion.

"This kind of opportunity may never come again," Ri Yong-ho, North Korea's foreign minister, told reporters later that night.

For a president who often complains that his predecessors only let the North Korea problem fester, the 8,000-mile trek from Washington to Hanoi was a crash course in why those past presidents failed.

And here we thought he was the very stable genius who knew how to negotiate better than any human in history.

Truthfully, we are lucky it didn't go far worse.

(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.

SevenGen gathering participantsParticipants at the SevenGen gathering in Calgary came
to learn about opportunities in Canada's energy transition from an Indigenous youth perspective.

Renewable Energy Brings Renewal To Indigenous Communities
By David Suzuki

Energy is inextricably linked to a range of community issues, from health to housing. That was one message that emerged from a four-day gathering in Calgary of more than 200 young Indigenous leaders from every province and territory, organized by Disa Crow Chief of the Siksika Nation and Cory Beaver of the Stoney Nakoda Nation.

Participants came to the SevenGen gathering in January to learn about opportunities in Canada's energy transition from an Indigenous youth perspective. Beaver and Crow Chief are keen to engage young people in Indigenous-led energy solutions and find them ongoing mentorship opportunities.

SevenGen's website explains, "As youth of the seventh generation, we feel a renewed responsibility to protect our environment, as water protectors and guardians of all creation. Through SevenGen, we hope to strengthen relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from diverse backgrounds, share knowledge across cultures, and ensure that the wellbeing of land, water, and all the life within it remains at the forefront of discussions about energy."

For non-Indigenous participants, the notion that many issues we often consider separately are interconnected was striking. Ideas around energy were closely entwined with language, food self-sufficiency and improved housing, health and well-being. All were grounded in a perspective that emphasizes a deep connection to the land and a responsibility to it and the life it holds.

As Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike grapple with the energy, climate and social challenges facing our communities, we must understand the importance of diversity. If we continue to elevate only voices of those who have traditionally held power, we won't likely discover meaningful solutions to the problems we collectively face. Listening to people with different world views is essential to finding new ways forward.

Indigenous leaders aren't waiting to be invited to the table. Judith Sayers of the Hupacasath Nation, Gordon Planes of T'Souke Nation and others talked about work their communities are already doing to shift to greater self-reliance through community renewable energy and efficiency projects. These provide clean energy, training, jobs and economic development opportunities.

Lumos Energy president Chris Henderson noted that 20 per cent of Canada's renewable energy projects are Indigenous efforts. He says community-led renewable energy projects not only bolster energy democracy - allowing communities to produce energy rather than depending on large corporations or utilities - but are also seen by some as part of the way toward decolonization.

"We are the future leaders for our nations, and getting more Indigenous people involved in renewable energy projects will not only benefit our own communities but Canada as a country," Crow Chief explained.

David Suzuki Foundation fellow Melina Laboucan-Massimo spoke about her community's experience with toxic oilsands pollution that severely affected air and water quality. This experience fed her determination to see her community benefit from renewable energy.

In "Let them drown: the violence of othering in a warming world," Naomi Klein points out that fossil fuel extraction has always required sacrifice zones, and that the poorest communities and people of colour have always been most likely to feel the brunt of industrial impacts.

Unlike renewable energy, which can be distributed, fossil fuel extraction occurs in specific places. It's no accident that people who have lived on these territories for millennia have been viewed as "others" by those who wish to profit from extraction.

Crow Chief said that, at 21, she's been to more funerals than graduation ceremonies or weddings. Many in the audience nodded in agreement. "I refuse to do nothing and dwell in hopelessness," she said.

"Our elders always tell us to do things in a good way - to think in a good way, to act in a good way," said Steven Crowchild, from the Tsuut'ina Nation. It's easy to lose sight of the value of being a good person, of being a good ancestor. He, like many other young leaders, draws strength from his culture and community.

We should all think more about how to be good. As Crow Chief said, "I want to remind you all to be honest and brave when going about your days, wherever it is you come from. I want you to know that you are always supported and a part of something bigger when using your voices to spread kindness and strength."

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

Donald Trump Names "Fox And Friends" As One Of His Favorite Broadcasts

Jane Mayer's Fox News Report Is Damning. It's Also Truly, Madly, Deeply Weird.
A reminder that we're talking about the government of the United States of America here.
By Charles P. Pierce

The ever-essential Jane Mayer is back in The New Yorker, this time with a deep spelunking into the relationship between the White House and the Fox News Channel operation. Of course, there is a case to be made that FNC was born a propaganda channel and never has been anything but a propaganda channel, an amplifier for radical conservatism and a safe space for pundits and viewers who think Chuck Todd is Eugene Debs. But the level of detail from Mayer's reporting illustrates that all of the operation's worst aspects have been magnified by its association with the current president*.

Pete Hegseth and Lou Dobbs, hosts on Fox Business, have each been patched into Oval Office meetings, by speakerphone, to offer policy advice. Sean Hannity has told colleagues that he speaks to the President virtually every night, after his show ends, at 10 p.m. According to the Washington Post, White House advisers have taken to calling Hannity the Shadow Chief of Staff. A Republican political expert who has a paid contract with Fox News told me that Hannity has essentially become a "West Wing adviser," attributing this development, in part, to the "utter breakdown of any normal decision-making in the White House." The expert added, "The place has gone off the rails. There is no ordinary policy-development system." As a result, he said, Fox's on-air personalities "are filling the vacuum."
We pause here to remind people that what we're talking about here is the government of the United States which, theoretically anyway, belongs to all of us, and is supposed to serve the interests of the entire nation, not a universe of angry white shut-ins marinating in their own blood-dimmed fantasies.

Fox News personality Sean Hannity at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH, July 18, 2016.

That FNC did a catch-and-kill stunt on the Stormy Daniels story comes as no surprise, and the attempt to monkey-wrench the AT&T merger may well have been criminal. (I do wish that Mayer, in discussing Sean Hannity's flogging the phony Clinton Cash-Uranium One "scandal," had mentioned that The New York Times was in on the scam, too.) Later on in Mayer's report, however, things get truly, madly, deeply weird.
To the astonishment of colleagues, the Fox co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle often prepared for "The Five" by relying on information provided to her by an avid fan: a viewer from Georgia named David Townsend, who had no affiliation either with Fox News or with journalism. She'd share the day's planned topics with Townsend, and then he'd e-mail her suggested content. A former colleague of Guilfoyle's says, "It was a joke among the production assistants-they were, like, ‘Wait till you hear this!' She actually got research from him! It was the subject of hilarity."

Kimberly Guilfoyle, Bob Beckel, Eric Bolling, Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld sit on the panel of Fox News Channel's 'The Five', January 17, 2017.
Townsend is a frequent contributor to the fringe social-media site Gab, which Wired has called a "haven for the far right." (He has promoted the idea that "physically weak men" are "more likely to be socialists," and has argued that it is not anti-Semitic to observe that "the most powerful political moneybags in American politics are Zionists.") The server company that hosts Gab removed it from the Internet temporarily after it was revealed to have posted hate-filled rants by Robert Bowers, the gunman who killed eleven people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, last October.

When I asked Townsend about his e-mails to Guilfoyle, he said, "Mind your own business. I'm just a Fox fan. I'm a keyboard warrior. I'm a nobody." He said, "I've sent stuff to various people at Fox for years, and I don't get a penny for it," and added, "I don't know what tree you're barking up but you better be careful."

Reliable sources aren't what they used to be.

(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-

"Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear."
~~~ William E. Gladstone

Unleashed Graphic Designers - Art Over Function
Ralph Nader

Many readers object to illegible print in contemporary print newspapers and magazines. In today's print news, legible print is on a collision course with flights of fancy by graphic artists.

Admittedly, this is the golden age for graphic artists to show their creativity. Editors have convinced themselves that with readers' shorter attention spans and the younger generation's aversion to spending time with print publications, the graphic artists must be unleashed. Never mind what the ophthalmologists or the optometrists may think. Space, color, and type size are the domain of liberated gung-ho artists.

There is one additional problem with low expectations for print newsreaders: Even though print readership is shrinking, there will be even fewer readers of print if they physically cannot read the printed word.

I have tried, to no avail, to speak with graphic design editors of some leading newspapers about three pronounced trends that are obscuring content. First is the use of background colors that seriously blur the visibility of the text on the page. Second is print size, which is often so small and light that even readers with good eyesight would need the assistance of a magnifying glass. Third is that graphic designers have been given far too much space to replace content already squeezed by space limitations.

Function should not follow art. Readers should not have to squint to make out the text on the page. Some readers might even abandon an article because of its illegible text! One wonders why editors have ceded control of the readability of their publications to graphic designers. Editors cannot escape responsibility by saying that the graphic designers know best.

I am not taking to task the artists who combine attention-getting graphics with conveyance of substantive content. A good graphic provides emotional readiness for the words that follow.

However, in the February 17, 2019 Sunday edition of the New York Times, the page one article of the Sunday Review Section was titled, "Time to Panic," about global climate disruption by David Wallace-Wells. He is the author of the forthcoming book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. The editors wanted to strike fear in readers to jolt their attentiveness to such peril, through a lurid two giant fingers with a human eye in between. A dubious attempt. Taking up the entire first page of the precious Sunday Review section (except for a hefty slice of an ad for the Broadway play "To Kill a Mockingbird"), smattered by three paragraphs of small, white and almost unreadable text on a dark pink background, is counterproductive. Less graphic license and clearer type would have had art following function.

Many graphic artists seem to have lost their sense of proportion - unless that is, the editors are pushing them to bleed out more and more valuable space with their increasingly extravagant designs. It is bad enough that print publications have been shrinking due to diminished ad revenue. It is time for better editorial judgment and artistic restraint.

Unfortunately, there is no sign of such prudence. In that same Sunday edition of the Times, over eighty percent of page one of the Business Section was devoted entirely to a graphic of a presumed taxpayer smothered by flying sheets of the federal tax return - it rendered the page devoid of content. At the bottom of this front page, there was a listing of five articles under the title "Your Taxes 2019." I can only imagine Times reporters gnashing their teeth about having their prose jettisoned from being featured on this valuable page of the Business Section. That wasn't all. The artists ran amok on the inside pages with their pointless artistry taking up over half of the next three pages of this section.

Think of all the additional articles on other pressing business topics that never reached readers. Gretchen Morgenson's prize-winning weekly column exposing corporate wrongdoing used to be on page one of the Business Section. She is now at the Wall Street Journal.

This is happening in, arguably, the most serious newspaper in America - one that tries to adjust its print editions to an Internet age that, it believes, threatens the very existence of print's superiority for conversation, impact and longevity for readers, scholars, and posterity alike.

I first came across run-a-muck graphic design at the turn of the century in Wired Magazine. Technology has dramatically reduced the cost of multi-colored printing. I could scarcely believe the unreadability and the hop-scotch snippets presented in obscure colors, and small print nestled in-degrading visuals. At the time, I just shrugged it off and did not renew my subscription due to invincible unreadability.

Now, however, the imperialism of graphic designers knows few boundaries. Many graphic designers don't like to explain themselves or be questioned by readers. After all, to them readers have little understanding of the nuances of the visual arts and, besides, maybe they should see their optometrists.

Well, nearly a year ago, I wrote to Dr. Keith Carter, president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Dr. Christopher J. Quinn, president of the American Optometric Association, asking for their reactions (enclosing some examples of designer excess). I urged them to issue a public report suggesting guidelines with pertinent illustrations. After all, they are professionals who should be looking out for their clients' visual comfort. Who would know more?

Dr. Carter responded, sympathizing with my observations but throwing up his hands in modest despair about not being able to do anything about the plight of readers. I never heard from anybody at the Optometric Association.

Of all the preventable conditions coursing across this tormented Earth, this is one we should be able to remedy. It is time to restore some level of visual sanity. Don't editors think print readers are an endangered species? One would think!

(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).

Breaking Up Together: Is Venezuela The New Honduras?
Which one will really keep us safe?
By Jane Stillwater

Here in Berkeley, you can meet all kinds of people -- people from all over the world. I even know someone who is visiting here from Venezuela. "Yo tengo miedo," she told me yesterday. "I am afraid." Afraid of what? "I am afraid of all those thousands of refugees coming up here to America from Honduras!"

Yeah, but.... "They really aren't people you should be afraid of," I reassured her. "They are only trying to find a safe life for their children. Don't worry about them."

"It's not them that I'm worried about," she replied. "It's America that scares me. The American militaria y CIA went down to Honduras and mercilessly broke that country apart like it was a pinata. They broke it. And then Hondurans had no choice but to scatter like ants. And now the Gringos are about to break Venezuela too." I was starting to see her point.

"And if that happens, yo tengo miedo that thousands and thousands of Venezuelans will be forced to become refugees to here as well! With their babies taken away. Dying in Border Patrol prisons! Leaving my country shattered and broken just like Honduras!"

What could I say? What could I do? Food always helps! So I took her up to Telegraph Avenue and bought her a burrito at Sinaloa Tacos and then we went to the movies. Saw Green Book. "Venezuela is safe." I reassured her. "The Honduras nightmare will never happen there. Venezuelans will not allow America to use their country like a freaking pinata too. There will be no flood of refugee caravans coming up here from Venezuela."

My friend just laughed. Laughter through tears.

(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 Shyster Anwalt Helms,

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 attempt to sue for the estate of a pea, 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 Helms, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

A Bold New Idea To Boost Wages
By Robert Reich

The challenges are well known: Working Americans are struggling to keep up with the increasing cost of living. Unemployment is low, but wages of most Americans have remained flat. More than three-quarters of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. Most can't afford a $500 emergency.

There's a simple and bold solution that would cost about as much as the Trump tax cut. But instead of helping corporations and the rich, it would help millions of working and middle-class Americans by putting money directly in their pockets.

I'm talking about expanding something called the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. And although it's been around for decades, it can be the basis of a revolutionary change in the lives of millions of people.

As it now stands, the EITC gives thousands of dollars to the working poor, with the amount of money they receive gradually decreasing as their earnings rise until they reach a cap, which is now a little over $50,000.

It works so well because it directly boosts the incomes of people who need it the most. Cash gives people freedom and dignity- the power to decide, for example, whether to have their car repaired or buy new shoes for their kids or save for a rainy day.

When working people have money to spend, they spend most of it in the communities they live in. This, in turn, causes businesses to hire more people to meet the demand. It's a virtuous cycle that lessens poverty, makes the tax code fairer, and boosts the overall economy.

A bold new idea would be to expand this successful program in 4 simple ways:

First: Raise the maximum amount that very poor Americans receive from the Earned Income Tax Credit by several thousand dollars. This would dramatically reduce poverty in all families with someone who works full time.

Right now, a job at a $15 minimum wage plus Medicaid and food stamps still doesn't meet basic needs in much of America. Raising the Earned Income Tax Credit would ensure that every family with a full-time worker is out of poverty.

Second: Extend the Earned Income Tax Credit into the middle class, so even families earning the median family income – which was just about $76,000 in 2017 – will benefit. This would be a huge help to working-class families, many of whom are now one paycheck away from poverty.

Third: Expand the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit to two groups of Americans who are working hard, but not necessarily collecting paychecks: people (most of whom are women) who are caring for a child or for a senior in their family, and low-income students.

Fourth: Let people receive this money each month rather than in a lump-sum once a year at tax time, so it helps with monthly expenses – rent, food, education – or can be saved to build a financial cushion.

Presto. We create a kind of cost-of-living refund to lift the incomes of a third of Americans, the people who need it most, and we also include the working class and lower middle class.

At the same time, we begin to rewrite the tax code in favor of ordinary Americans, instead of large corporations and the wealthy.

Eighty-three percent of the benefits of the Trump tax cuts will go to the top 1 percent of Americans by 2027. Expanding and modernizing the Earned Income Tax Credit can help put things back in balance.>{} It's simple. It's fair. It's necessary. It's big and bold. Enlarge and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.

(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

Giving The Bomb To Saudi Arabia's Dr. Strangelove
By Chris Hedges

The most dangerous foreign policy decision of the Trump administration-and I know this is saying a lot-is its decision to share sensitive nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia and authorize U.S. companies to build nuclear reactors in that country. I spent seven years in the Middle East. I covered the despotic, repressive kingdom as the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. And I, along with most other Arabists in the United States, have little doubt that giving a nuclear capability to Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the ruthless and amoral Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would see it embark on a nuclear weapons program and eventually share weaponized technology with Saudi allies and proxies that include an array of radical jihadists and mortal enemies of America. A nuclearized Saudi Arabia is a grave existential threat to the Middle East and ultimately the United States.

The drive to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia is led by the half-wit son-in-law of the president, Jared Kushner, who met Tuesday with Salman in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to discuss "ways to improve the condition of the entire region through economic investment," according to the White House. Prominently involved in that economic program are corporations such as IP3 International, a consortium of U.S. companies led by several retired generals and admirals and others who stand to make millions from the deal.

The Saudi government, which is soliciting bids for the nuclear reactors, reportedly spent more than $450,000 over a one-month period to lobby the Trump administration to approve its purchase of the equipment and services from U.S. sources. Westinghouse Electric Co. and other American companies are preparing to construct the facilities, which would allow Saudi Arabia to enrich and reprocess uranium. The secretive effort to give Saudi Arabia a nuclear capability is not only colossally stupid, but has been done without being reviewed by Congress, as required by law, and violates the Atomic Energy Act.

Salman, whose psychopathic traits remind me of Saddam Hussein, is widely believed to have ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. He has imprisoned dissidents, brutally ousted rivals, seized over $100 billion in extortion money from kidnapped and tortured members of the royal family and instilled a level of fear and terror inside the kingdom, always a repressive society, unrivaled in its modern history.

Donald Trump and Kushner, by shamelessly defending Salman, even in the face of CIA declarations that the agency has "high confidence" the prince ordered the killing and dismemberment of the Washington Post journalist, are accessories to murder. Not surprisingly, the White House ignored a deadline this month that the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations set for making a report on Khashoggi's assassination. Kushner, whom the Saudi leader reportedly claimed to have "in his pocket," did not appear to have raised the Khashoggi murder in last week's meeting, the first face-to-face encounter he has had with Salman since the assassination.

Salman has not ruled out weaponizing any nuclear facilities. He stated in 2018: "Without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible." He has also refused to accept any restrictions on enriching uranium and processing plutonium.

Nuclear weapons can be made from uranium or plutonium. The uranium-235 isotope is used in nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs. However, it is less than 1 percent of the naturally occurring element and must be increased-the process is called enrichment-to about 5 percent to work in nuclear reactors. To make nuclear bombs it must be enriched to about 90 percent. Enrichment is carried out by using high-speed centrifuges. This means that the machines that produce nuclear reactor fuel for civilian use can also be used to produce nuclear bombs. It is for this reason that nuclear material in civilian enrichment facilities in nations that do not have nuclear weapons, or have promised not to produce nuclear weapons, such as Iran, is closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

An enrichment plant used to fuel one nuclear reactor has the potential to produce 20 nuclear bombs a year by using some 300 centrifuges to enrich uranium-235 to the 90 percent level. A nuclear bomb requires about 55 pounds of highly enriched uranium. The more high-speed centrifuges a country has, the faster weapons-grade uranium can be produced.

Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insist there is a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program, despite all intelligence reports, including Israeli intelligence reports, to the contrary. So, given their unique version of reality, the time to start a weapons program in Saudi Arabia is now. Israel has a nuclear arsenal with hundreds of weapons.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, has issued an interim staff report giving testimonies of multiple whistleblowers who warn about the impending transfer of nuclear technology. It lays out in chronological detail the secretive and blatantly illegal efforts by the Trump White House to facilitate Saudi Arabia's purchase and construction of the nuclear reactors.

The efforts by Saudis and Americans began before Trump took office. Saudi officials, including Khalid Al-Falih, the minister of energy, met with Kushner in New York before the inauguration. The Saudi delegation held out the promise of spending $50 billion on American defense contracts over four years.

IP3 executives Gen. Keith Alexander, Gen. Jack Keane, Bud McFarlane and Rear Adm. Michael Hewitt, as well as the chief executives of six other companies-Exelon, Toshiba America Energy Systems, Bechtel, Centrus Energy, GE Energy Infrastructure and Siemens USA-sent a letter to Salman three weeks before the Trump inauguration that presented a plan to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. They called it "the Iron Bridge Program," the report states, and characterized it as "a 21st Century Marshall Plan for the Middle East."

Michael Flynn, then the incoming national security adviser and one of the former business partners in the venture, sent a text to Alex Copson of ACU Strategic Partners on Inauguration Day assuring him that the nuclear project was "good to go" and suggested that Copson contact his colleagues to "let them know to put things in place," the report reads.

On Jan. 27, 2017, a week after the inauguration, Derek Harvey, who from January to July 2017 was the senior director for Middle East and North African affairs at the National Security Council, met at the White House with a group of IP3 leaders whom he had invited.

"Immediately after the meeting, Mr. Harvey directed the NSC staff to add information about IP3's 'plan for 40 nuclear power plants' to the briefing package for President Trump's [planned phone] call with King Salman [the prince's father and the prime minister of Saudi Arabia]," the report reads. "Mr. Harvey also stated that General Flynn wanted President Trump to raise the 'plan for 40 nuclear power plants' with King Salman and that this was the 'energy plan' that had been developed and approved by General Flynn during the presidential transition."

When the NSC staff informed Harvey that the transference of nuclear technology to a foreign country had to comply with the Atomic Energy Act, he dismissed the complaint, saying, in the words of the report, that "the decision to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia had already been made during the presidential transition and that General Flynn wanted President Trump to raise 'the nuclear power plants' with King Salman."

On Jan. 28, 2017, the report reads, "General Flynn and Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland received two documents in their official White House email accounts in a message entitled, 'Launching the Marshall Plan for the Middle East' from Mr. McFarlane, a co-founder and Director of IP3 and a former national security advisor to President Reagan who pleaded guilty to participating in the Iran-Contra cover-up in 1988."

The documents included a draft cover memorandum from Flynn to Trump and a draft memorandum "for the President to sign" directing agency heads to lend support to Thomas Barrack-who managed Trump's inaugural committee and raised funds for Trump and whose investment firm, Colony NorthStar, would profit from the nuclear deal-for the implementation of the IP3 plan.

"The second document was formatted as a Cabinet Memorandum from the President to the Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury, and Energy; the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," the report reads. "It stated that President Trump had assigned Mr. Barrack as a special representative to oversee implementation of the Middle East Marshall Plan: 'I have assigned a special representative, Tom Barrack, to lead this important initiative and I am requesting him to engage each of you over the next 30 days to gain your input and support for our Middle East Marshal [sic] Plan.' "

On March 14, 2017, Trump, along with Kushner, met with Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office. They discussed "a new United States-Saudi program . . . in energy, industry, infrastructure, and technology worth potentially more than $200 billion in direct and indirect investments within the next four years."

Frances Townsend, a director on IP3's board, a national security analyst for CBS and a homeland security adviser under President George W. Bush, "contacted White House Homeland Security Advisor Thomas Bossert about the Middle East Marshall Plan" on March 28, 2017, the report reads.

"Ms. Townsend subsequently sent NSC staff several documents: (1) an overview of the Middle East Marshall Plan that appeared to be produced by IP3; (2) a document entitled 'The Trump Middle East Marshall Plan (White Paper by Tom Barrack)' dated March 10, 2017; (3) the letter that IP3 leaders Mr. McFarlane, General Keane, Rear Admiral Hewitt, and General Alexander addressed to Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 17, 2017; and (4) the January 1, 2017, letter to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed by IP3 leaders General Alexander, General Keane, Bud McFarlane, and Rear Admiral Hewitt, as well as the chief executives of six companies: Exelon Corporation, Toshiba Energy, Bechtel Corporation, Centrus, GE Power, and Siemens USA."

Barrack's white paper read: "The President will appoint a special representative for the Trump Middle East Marshall Plan with the diplomatic rank of ambassador or special advisor [to] the President." It also stated, the report reads, that the special envoy should "coordinate and work hand-in-hand" with government officials, including Kushner.

"The white paper stated that the President should implement the Middle East Marshall Plan through an executive order," the report reads. "It described the Special Envoy as building 'long-line relationships with U.S. private sector leaders acting as their expediter in clearing the traditional regional and regulatory hurdles to their participation' and 'trusted relationships with top leaders of GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq.' "

The House committee staff report says most of the whistleblowers who spoke to the committee were able to document developments only during the early months of the administration. There have been few recent leaks from inside the White House on the nuclear deal. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Kushner and IP3 executives are currently overseeing the project.

"In January 2018, Brookfield Business Partners, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, announced its plans to acquire Westinghouse Electric for $4.6 billion," the report notes. "Westinghouse Electric is the bankrupt nuclear services company that is part of IP3's proposed consortium to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, and which stands to benefit from the Middle East Marshall Plan. In August 2018, Brookfield Asset Management purchased a partnership stake in 666 Fifth Avenue, a building owned by Jared Kushner's family company."

"On February 27, 2018, Goldman Sachs announced that former Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell, who had helped manage Jared Kushner's relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and plan President Trump's 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia, would be joining the Goldman Sachs' sovereign wealth group," the report reads. "Goldman Sachs wrote in an internal memorandum that 'Dina will focus on enhancing the firm's relationships with sovereign clients around the world.' Ms. Powell reportedly 'is especially close to Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and the country's ruling family.' "

"In March 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman undertook a 'last-minute visit to New York,' where he housed his entourage at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan for five days, a stay that reportedly 'was enough to boost the hotel's revenue' by 13 percent 'for the entire quarter,' " the report reads.

On Feb. 12, 2019, Trump met in the White House with several private nuclear power developers. The meeting, the report states, was "initiated by IP3 International."

"The meeting was reported to include discussions about U.S. efforts 'to secure agreements to share U.S. nuclear technology with Middle East nations, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia,' " the report reads.

There is little time left to halt the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. Iran, a mortal enemy of Saudi Arabia, will have no choice but to begin a nuclear weapons program if the Saudis build nuclear reactors. The thought of nuclear weapons being in the hands of Salman, an updated version of Saddam Hussein, and ultimately in the hands of nonstate radical jihadists who are supported and funded by powerful elements within Saudi Arabia, is terrifying.

(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
~~~ J.D. Crowe ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Offended Mark Meadows Reminds Colleagues He Never Once Complained About Capitol's Integrated Drinking Fountains
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Defending himself against recent charges of racism, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) angrily reminded his colleagues Thursday that he had never once publicly complained about the Capitol's integrated drinking fountains.

"It's completely outrageous that my fellow members of Congress would slander me with charges of bigotry when I have shared a water fountain with African-Americans for over a decade without ever even batting an eye," said the Freedom Caucus chair, citing his long history of racial tolerance that included letting black members of Congress use the same entrance into the Capitol building and waiting patiently in line behind them in the cafeteria without demanding to be served first.

"Shame on Democrats for launching these false and nakedly political attacks against me when they know full well that I have never called the police on my black colleagues for talking to a white woman, or tried to deprive them of voting in committee. If anything, the real racists are those with the temerity to accuse me of racism"

Meadows added that his sterling record of concern for the betterment of the black community was evident from his history of comments suggesting they go back to Africa.

(c) 2019 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 09 (c) 03/08/2019

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