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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi explains, "Why the Russia Story Is A Minefield For Democrats And The Media."

Uri Avnery recalls, "The Cannons Of Napoleon."

Glen Ford examines, "Corporate Media Counting Cadence To Fascism."

Bernie Sanders asks, "What Should We Do If the President Is a Liar?"

Jim Hightower exposes, "Trump's Hokey 'Mandate.'"

Glenn Greenwald finds, "Democrats Now Demonize The Same Russia Policies That Obama Long Championed."

David Suzuki concludes, "Greatness Comes From Moving Forward, Not Backward."

John Nichols wonders, "Demand That Trump Appointees And Allies Answer The Question: Will You Defend Freedom Of The Press?"

Chris Hedges discovers, "Donald Trump's Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites."

Normon Solomon says, "Let's Give the CIA the Credit It Deserves."

Jane Stillwater warns, "Gorsuch: Choosing Between God & Trump Is Gonna Be Hard."

David Swanson confesses, "I Confess To Meeting With The Russian Ambassador In Charlottesville."

Amy Goodman explores, "A Day Without A Woman: The Women's Global Strike and the Growing Movement Against Donald Trump."

Ben Carson wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich gives, "Three Possible Reasons for Donald Trump's Latest Obama Rant."

Sam Biddle reveals, "Wikileaks Dump Shows CIA Could Turn Smart TVs Into Listening Devices."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump Orders All White House Phones Covered In Tin Foil." but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Buck, Buck, Buck...!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Tony Auth, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Brian McFadden, Mr. Fish, David Ingram, Aude Guerrucci, Andres Leighton, Dado Ruvic, Drew Angerer, A Jones, Reuters, AP, Getty, Flickr, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Buck, Buck, Buck...!
By Ernest Stewart

"A quick lesson learned is that a representative is very vulnerable to negative press. And all of this can be used in a general election. This is a long game of chess." ~~~ Costa Kokkinos

The truth is, as most of us know, that global warming is real and humans are major contributors, mainly because we wastefully burn fossil fuels. ~~~ David Suzuki

"I'm not that concerned about it, (Tax cuts for the wealthy in new health care bill) because we said we were going to repeal all the Obamacare taxes, this is one of the Obamacare taxes." ~~~ Con-gressman Paul Ryan

"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog." ~~~ Jack London

Did you notice that lately Republican Con-gressmen from Maine to California were suddenly harder to find than hen's teeth? What with their plans to steal your Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security who can blame them for hiding out? As large angry crowds of American citizens gathered at Town Hall meetings demanding answers; more often than not, all that was there to greet them and answer their questions was a cardboard cut out of their Con-gressmen. Needless to say this enraged many of the people!

Of course, a lot of the Con-gressmen were on "important" junket trips to far away places from India to Tahiti, everyone of them on "important" fact-finding missions, giving up their vacations to explore possibilities from casino lounges to whore houses all on your dime, spreading American money whereever they went. However, for some reason, Americans were no longer buying their bullshit and were feverishly looking for them. For example, the folks in California's 8th district placed their Con-gressman Paul Cook's face on milk bottles:

My own Con-gressman Paul Mitchell who was just elected to office, and yet, somehow didn't want to face his electors after they found out what he was really all about. Of course, I didn't vote for Paul as I was hip to his shenanigans but since he is my Con-gressman, (Like it or not, and I don't) I wrote Paul this note:

Hey Paul,

No town hall meet and greet for a new con-gressman? I was wanting to ask you about my social security, medicare and medicaid and how you plan on stealing it from me but you chickened out. I dare you to reach out and grab that third rail Paul. Any thoughts to share with my many Michigan readers? Oh, and thanks for writing this week's editorial for me!


Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues and Alibis magazine

So far Paul hasn't sent his reply, as I requested, but if he should I will share it with you!

Oh my, I just heard back from one of my Con-gressmen's spokes-weasels and he assured me they're only destroying Medicaid and Social Security in order to save it, and they're working on the big tax cuts for the trillionaires, and everything is ok, and I should just roll over and go back to sleep. As Gods in his heaven and all's right with the world. We are sooooo screwed, America!

In Other News

The folks over in Minnesota got a rush of sorts on Monday as at least two tornados touched down setting a new record for the earliest tornados in the state. These storms were part of at least 30 other tornado that struck from Missouri to Minnesota. I'm not surprised as February set new high temperature records through out the midwest. Here in Michigan we just missed out by 1/4 of a degree F in last month being the warmest February on record. While across the river, Sarnia, Ontario had their warmest February on record. A first for us today, was hurricane force winds gusting to 75 mph on a clear sunny day; currently 750,000 electrical customers are without electrical power. Yeah, I know, March comes in like a lion, but still!

Meanwhile, over in foggy bottom the Trump Junta all swear by almighty Trump that global warming isn't real and is actually a Chinese plot to destroy our industry (what little that hasn't been shipped over seas) by not allowing our 1% masters to pollute to their hearts content.

Remember, that since 2000 15 out of the last 16 years were the warmest years on record, not only in the U.S., but through out the world. Now with the destruction of the EPA and the roll back of it's clean air and water rules, what little progress that we've made in the last 47 years, since the first Earth Day, is soon to go literally, up in smoke. Most of you don't remember what the cities were like, how you could tell where you were in America by the color of the smog overhead. Nor do you remember when the rivers would catch on fire and burn for hours on end and I fear this is where we are heading. Only this time global warming will make it so much worse!

And Finally

I see where Ryan's "Trump Care" bill has left the committees and is winding it's way; like a sidewinder Rattlesnake, towards the House floor where it is set to murder tens of millions of Americans, mostly the working poor and the elderly. Oh, did I mention there's a big tax break for the billionaires in it too?

Got to get rid of Obamacare, even if it kills us all, well, not us, says Ryan, we of the ruling class get "Solid Goldcare" which you suckers pay for, but it's certainly not for the likes of you. Oh, and try not to bitch and moan to much while you're dying! Oh and for all those programs like Medicare and Social Security, we're taking those too!

In case you missed it the 1% have been at war with us for centuries. Now with Global Warming we're running out of time, things to eat, and such, because there is 7 + billion of us, and they'd like to thin out the herd a bit, say about 7 billion of us. All they need is a few hundred million to be their personal slaves, doctors and such and the rest of us are going bye-bye! That should stop Global Warming in it's tracks when the excess population is gone, eh?

You see, they took Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal seriously! And beyond killing us of by lack of health insurance, there is the GMO modified food. Food that is in the long run poisonous, but cheap, so that it is the only food poor folks could afford to eat. Then hide the contents of these poisons from the consumers. Then you might take over the FDA and USDA to make sure no one can stop the plans. Then they could deny science, take over the EPA and start polluting everyones air and water, and since Corporate America says, that access to clean water is not a right, they could charge us for fresh air and water. Just those simple combinations should kill a few billions, and sicken the rest while they sit in their Ivory Towers with plenty of organic food, fresh air, health care and the like, while the rest of humanity, except for their slaves, slowly fades away. Does that sound about right to you, America? It does to me!

Keepin' On

Old Mother Hubbard and I have one thing in common, bare cupboards, or in my case an empty post office box. We can only go on with your help. So far we've only heard from two members of our, "Usual Suspects" a group of dedicated men and women who've made it possible for us to continue for all these years!

As I'm sure you know by now, we are a non-profit; boy, are we ever a non-profit, and have had to come before you, from time to time, with cap in hand to make up the difference of what the advertising pays and what we need to break even; and we have to break even to keep on bringing you the real stories -- the truth, week after week after year after year after decade after... well, you get the point, huh?

Ergo, if our otherwise-free service is a help in determining what to do about our latest disaster and how that might affect the ones you hold dearest, then please take a stroll over to our donations page and send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep fighting the good fight for you and yours!


01-07-1945 ~ 03-05-2017
Thanks for the laughs!

05-03-1932 ~ 03-06-2017
Thanks for the film!

03-12-1954 ~ 03-06-2017
Thanks for the music!


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

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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2017 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on January 28th, 2017 with Michael Flynn Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

Why the Russia Story Is A Minefield For Democrats And The Media
Russia scandals have bloodied the Trump administration. But it carries dangers for those reporting it
By Matt Taibbi

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared on Meet the Press this past weekend to discuss the Trump-Russia scandal. Chuck Todd asked: Were there improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?

JAMES CLAPPER: We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, "our," that's N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that...

CHUCK TODD: I understand that. But does it exist?

JAMES CLAPPER: Not to my knowledge.

Todd pressed him to elaborate.

CHUCK TODD: If [evidence of collusion] existed, it would have been in this report?

JAMES CLAPPER: This could have unfolded or become available in the time since I left the government.

This is the former Director of National Intelligence telling all of us that as of 12:01 a.m. on January 20th, when he left government, the intelligence agencies had no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump's campaign and the government of Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Virtually all of the explosive breaking news stories on the Trump-Russia front dating back months contain some version of this same disclaimer.

There is a lot of smoke in the Russia story. The most damning item is General Michael Flynn having improper discussions with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak prior to taking office. There is the much-discussed Republican platform change with regard to American assistance to Ukranian rebels, and the unreported contacts between officials like Jeff Sessions (and even Trump himself now) with Kislyak.

Moreover, the case that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee now appears fairly solid. Even Donald Trump thinks so. This of course makes it harder to dismiss stories like the one in which former Trump adviser Roger Stone appeared to know that Wikileaks was about to release the hacked emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta.

But the manner in which these stories are being reported is becoming a story in its own right. Russia has become an obsession, cultural shorthand for a vast range of suspicions about Donald Trump.

The notion that the president is either an agent or a useful idiot of the Russian state is so freely accepted in some quarters that Beck Bennett's shirtless representation of Putin palling with Alec Baldwin's Trump is already a no-questions-asked yuks routine for the urban smart set.

And yet, this is an extraordinarily complex tale that derives much of its power from suppositions and assumptions.

If there's any truth to the notion that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian state to disrupt the electoral process, then yes, what we're seeing now are the early outlines of a Watergate-style scandal that could topple a presidency.

But it could also be true that both the Democratic Party and many leading media outlets are making a dangerous gamble, betting their professional and political capital on the promise of future disclosures that may not come.

We have to remember that the unpopularity of the press was a key to Trump's election. Journalists helped solve the billionaire's accessibility problem by being a more hated group than the arrogant rich. Trump has people believing he shares a common enemy with them: the news media. When we do badly, he does well.

Trump calls us "enemies of the people" who purvey "fake news." Together with what vile ex-CNN turncoat Lou Dobbs calls the "global corporatists" who own the major media companies, we are said to comprise the "opposition party."

We can't afford to bolster these accusations of establishment bias and overreach by using the techniques of conspiracy theorists to push this Russia story. Unfortunately, that is happening.

One could list the more ridiculous examples, like the Washington Post's infamous "PropOrNot" story identifying hundreds of alternative media sites as fellow travellers aiding Russia, or the Post's faceplant over a report about a hacked utility in Vermont.

There was the "Russian cybercrime arrests" story that multiple outlets incorrectly suggested was linked to last year's election, or the bizarre series of stories about Russia-linked murders around the world that are supposedly connected to this tale. (Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept noted the similarity between these latter tales and early anti-Clinton paranoia).

All of this noise matters. The pop culture realm is filled with bits like the SNL "Santa Putin" routine, the New Yorker's Cyrillic cover and the promiscuous use of terms like "Siberian Candidate." Even the new DNC chief, Tom Perez, got in the act with a tweet about a Trump's weekly address:

Add all this to fringe-Internet reports about mysterious murders, and soon audiences come to every Russia story with pre-stoked expectations. Those expectations are what allow a paper to turn what may be a page nine story into a front-page sensation.

Setting all of that aside, look at the techniques involved within the more "legitimate" reports. Many are framed in terms of what they might mean, should other information surface.

There are inevitably uses of phrases like "so far," "to date" and "as yet." These make visible the outline of a future story that isn't currently reportable, further heightening expectations.

Take the Times story about Trump surrogates having "repeated contacts" with Russian intelligence officials (an assertion that can mean anything, incidentally - as a reporter in Russia I had contact with Russian intelligence officials, as did most of my colleagues and friends in business, and there was nothing newsworthy about those interactions).

That story not only didn't explain whether the contacts were knowing or unknowing, it also brought up a host of other "dots" in the Russia narrative for the reader to connect. For instance, the Times mentioned the bizarre (and unverified) dossier prepared by Christopher Steele. Whether the Steele material was in any way connected to the contacts to which the Times referred was unclear, but the paper plowed ahead, writing (emphasis mine):

"The dossier contained a raft of allegations ... unsubstantiated claims that the Russians had embarrassing videos that could be used to blackmail Mr. Trump. ... The F.B.I. has spent several months investigating the leads in the dossier, but has yet to confirm any of its most explosive claims..."

These constructions are an end run around the paper's own reporting standards. The Times by itself could never have run that "explosive" Steele dossier, or mentioned the "embarrassing videos" - because the dossier material can't be confirmed.

But since it's all out there in the ether now, thanks to Buzzfeed, it apparently can safely be mentioned. Worse, the Times recounted all this in connection with the other story about alleged contacts with Russian intelligence, adding to the appearance of gravity and salaciousness.

Similarly, Democrats in congress have been littering their Russia speeches with caveats like, "We do not know all the facts," and, "More information may well surface." They repeatedly refer to what they don't know as a way of talking about what they hope to find out.

Members demand that Trump release his tax returns, for instance, so that Democrats can "clarify the specific financial interests that he has in Russia" - as if it is a given that he has such interests, or that such interests will be meaningful.

But what if there is nothing else to find?

Reporters should always be nervous when intelligence sources sell them stories. Spooks don't normally need the press. Their usual audiences are other agency heads, and the executive. They can bring about action just by convincing other people within the government to take it.

In the extant case, whether the investigation involved a potential Logan Act violation, or election fraud, or whatever, the CIA, FBI, and NSA had the ability to act both before and after Donald Trump was elected. But they didn't, and we know why, because James Clapper just told us - they didn't have evidence to go on.

Thus we are now witnessing the extremely unusual development of intelligence sources that normally wouldn't tell a reporter the time of day litigating a matter of supreme importance in the media. What does this mean?

Hypothesize for a moment that the "scandal" here is real, but in a limited sense: Trump's surrogates have not colluded with Russians, but have had "contacts," and recognize their political liability, and lie about them. Investigators then leak the true details of these contacts, leaving the wild speculations to the media and the Internet. Trump is enough of a pig and a menace that it's easy to imagine doing this and not feeling terribly sorry that your leaks have been over-interpreted.

If that's the case, there are big dangers for the press. If we engage in Times-style gilding of every lily the leakers throw our way, and in doing so build up a fever of expectations for a bombshell reveal, but there turns out to be no conspiracy - Trump will be pre-inoculated against all criticism for the foreseeable future.

The press has to cover this subject. But it can't do it with glibness and excitement, laughing along to SNL routines, before it knows for sure what it's dealing with. Reporters should be scared to their marrow by this story. This is a high-wire act and it is a very long way down. We might want to leave the jokes and the nicknames be, until we get to the other side - wherever that is.
(c) 2017 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire. .

The Cannons Of Napoleon
By Uri Avnery

NAPOLEON CAME to a German town and was not welcomed with the traditional artillery salute.

Furious, he summoned the mayor and demanded an explanation.

The German produced a long scroll of paper and said: "I have a list of 99 reasons. Reason No. 1: we have no cannon."

"That's enough'" Napoleon interrupted him, "You can go home!"

I WAS reminded of this story some two weeks ago, when I read Yitzhak Herzog's 10-point peace plan.

Herzog, the leader of the Labor Party, is an honest and intelligent person. All the bad things written about him when it seemed that he was crawling towards Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition have been refuted by the recent disclosure about the Aqaba peace initiative.

The rulers of Egypt, Jordan and Israel, so it appeared, had met in secret and asked Herzog to make peace possible by joining Netanyahu's coalition. Herzog was hoodwinked by Netanyahu and agreed. He kept silent under the storm of contemptuous reactions. That shows that he is both decent and responsible.

No doubt, he could be a good prime minister for Ireland, where his grandfather had been the Chief Rabbi, or even in Switzerland. But not in Israel.

Israel now needs a strong leader, with lots of charisma and a profound understanding of the historic conflict. Not a Herzog.

COMING BACK to Napoleon.

Two weeks ago Herzog proudly published his Peace Plan, consisting of 10 points.

Point No. 1 is an ritual repetition of the two-states principle. It is point No.2 that is the crux of the matter. It says that the negotiations for peace will start 10 years from now.

That's where Napoleon would have said "That's enough. Go home!"

The idea that peace negotiations can be postponed for 10 years is preposterous. A people under a brutal occupation will not sit still for ten years. During this time, the plan obliges the Palestinians (Point 6) to act against "terrorism and sedition." No mention of Israeli violence and "sedition."

After 10 years, "on condition that during these years there will be no violence in the area," peace negotiations will start.

In our area, 10 years are an eternity. Several wars are raging in the area right now. As the occupation goes on, an intifada may break out in Palestine any moment.

During these 10 years, Jewish settlement in the occupied territories will go on merrily. True, only in the "settlement blocs". These imaginary blocs have never been defined, and Herzog does not define them either. No maps of these blocs exist. There is no agreement about the number of these blocs, and most certainly not about their borders.

For an Arab, "settlement blocs" are just a device to continue building settlements while pretending not to. As an Arab has said: "We negotiate about a pizza, and in the meantime you eat the pizza."

There are claims that all the territory east of Jerusalem belongs to a settlement bloc and should be annexed to Israel right now. This would almost cut the future State of Palestine into two, with only a few kilometers of desert near Jericho to connect them.

AH, JERUSALEM! It does not exist in Herzog's plan. That may seem curious - but it is not. It means that the Herzog plan does not envision any change in the status of "United Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel."

Here Napoleon comes in again. A plan that does not include a solution for Jerusalem is a town without cannons.

Anybody who has even the slightest idea of Arab and Muslim sensibilities knows that no Arab or Muslim in the world will agree to make peace if it leaves East Jerusalem and the Holy Sanctuary in non-Muslim hands. There can be several solutions for Jerusalem - partition, joint sovereignty and more - but a plan that does not propose any solution is worthless. It shows an abysmal ignorance of the Arab world.

What else does not appear in the plan? The refugees, of course.

In the 1948 war, more than half the Palestinian people fled from their homes or were driven out. (In a recent article, I have tried to describe what actually happened.) Many of these refugees and their descendants now live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Many others live in the neighboring Arab states and all over the world.

No Arab can sign a peace agreement that does not provide at least a token solution.

By now it is more or less silently agreed that there must be a "just and agreed" solution, which would envision, I suppose, a return of a limited number, paying generous compensation to finance the settlement of all others outside Israel.

But for many Israelis, even letting one single refugee return constitutes a mortal danger to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic" state.

Not mentioning the problem at all - except as a nebulous "core issue" - is, well, silly.

THERE IS another issue that is not mentioned.

The plan demands unity among the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as a condition for peace. Fine. But does that concern us?

It sure does.

In the Oslo agreement, Israel undertook to open four "safe passages" between the West Bank and Gaza, a distance of about 40 kilometers, through Israeli territory. It left open the character of these passages - extra-territorial roads, a railway line or whatever. In fact, no passage was ever opened, though road signs were set up and later removed. This was and is a flagrant breach of the agreement.

The inevitable result (see: Pakistan) is the breakup into two entities: the West Bank under the PLO and the Gaza Strip under Hamas. The Israeli government seems quite happy with this situation.

Reunification demands the opening of the passages. No word about this in the Herzog plan.

Altogether, the plan looks like a Swiss cheese - more holes than substance.

I HAVE in my life taken part in the formulation of a great many Peace Plans. In September 1958 my friends and I published the "Hebrew Manifesto", a document of 82 points, including a comprehensive peace plan. So I might claim to be a kind of expert on plan-making (as, alas, distinguished from peace-making).

The Herzog plan has nothing to do with peace-making. It is not intended to win Arab hearts. It is a ramshackle verbal construct designed to appeal to Jewish Israeli voters.

All intelligent Israelis realize by now that we are facing a fateful choice: either two states, or an apartheid state, or a single Arab-majority state. Most Israelis want none of these.

Anyone who wants to lead Israel must come up with a Solution. So this is Herzog's Solution. It is designed solely for Jewish-Israeli eyes. Arabs need not apply.

As such, is it no better or worse than many other Peace Plans.

Just another exercise in futility.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Corporate Media Counting Cadence To Fascism
By Glen Ford

The ruling class/War Party/corporate media campaign for regime change in Washington has moments of pure silliness, with grown men claiming that U.S. presidents don't have the power to wiretap people. Someone should have informed Dr. Martin Luther King. But, if self-described "progressives" can believe that the CIA is a benign, democratic institution, they can believe anything. "The destabilization of the U.S. bourgeois state is a project, not of the Kremlin, but of multinational and finance capital headquartered in the U.S."

When Donald Trump charged that President Obama wiretapped the Republican campaign in the weeks after the November election, the bulk of corporate media chose to treat the allegation as another example of Trump's "alternative facts." They trotted out folks like Ben Rhodes, a former deputy National Security Advisor to Obama, who dismissed the charge as ridiculous. "No President can order a wiretap," Rhodes huffed.

This may be technically true, but it's an objective lie. Presidents can cause anybody to be spied upon, simply by indicating a desire to see it happen. In 1963, the Kennedy brothers -- formally acting through Bobby Kennedy's office as Attorney General -- gave FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover permission to tap Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's phones and bug his home and offices. Hoover's goal, according to a 2008 CNN "Black in America" report, was to "neutralize King as an effective Negro leader." The Bureau didn't find evidence that King was under "communist influence," but did discover "embarrassing details about King's sex life," which the FBI used to encourage King to kill himself. When he declined to take his own life, someone else did the job.

Technically, neither Robert nor John Kennedy ordered the FBI to spy on MLK. But that's immaterial; Hoover had reason to believe that the Kennedy brothers wanted King bugged. Hoover offered his clandestine services to the White House, and "went fishing" for any dirt he could get. By the end of 1969, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and scores of other Black Panthers had joined Dr. King in martyrs' graves, and many more were consigned to social death in an American gulag that would expand more than ten-fold over the next four decades -- proof that those of us who used to greet each other innumerable times a day with "Power to the people - Death to the fascist pigs!" were correct in our analysis of the forces at work.

Today, the covert capabilities of the National Security State have grown beyond J. Edgar Hoover's (and the Kennedy brothers') wildest dreams. Not just Americans, but every human being on Earth with an electronic device is being spied upon by the United States -- which is absolutely logical, given the imperial claim to "exceptional" (supra-legal) prerogatives over its global dominion. Back in 2013, when asked by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden if the NSA collected "any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans," James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, replied, under oath: "No sir, It does not."

Clapper kept his job, despite having committed perjury on prime time television -- proof, in the court of common sense, that his boss, President Obama, was both fully aware and approved of the NSA's surveillance of Americans and homo sapiens in general. For the same reasons, Hoover kept his job under Kennedy's successors, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, until his death in 1972.

An essential aspect of what people call the "deep" state is its continuity despite formal (or nominal) changes of regime. We might call this the "real" state, whose continuity and impunity is derived from its masters: the capitalist ruling class.

That class, and the system it has created, is in general crisis, the result of a cascade of contradictions it can no longer "export," having spread its structural disease of infirmity across the globe. A consensus has emerged among international capital that there is no escape from the crisis except to quickly complete the task of global conquest, and to accelerate the financialization of all aspects of life, including in the "home" countries of imperialism. The rulers believe -- with objective justification - that they are in a race against the clock, and that Russia's resistance to the massive imperial offensive begun in 2011 could cause the clock to run out, and the ultimate death of their class.

Their fears were compounded by the wholly unexpected capture of one wing of the electoral duopoly by the billionaire real estate developer, Donald Trump, who is personally rooted in a political current of domestic capital that is fixated on using the state to inflate land values and related assets. In a profoundly racist society such as the United States, the manipulation of land values is inextricably tied to race: it requires the ability to control and remove less desirable populations from real estate that is to be "developed," and to enlist whites in a general "uplift" project ("Make America Great Again") whose subtext is always racial.

Trump's foreign policy ("America First") bears a strong resemblance to post-Emancipation southern Democrats, who generally opposed U.S. imperial annexation of non-white territories (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines) for fear that native populations would inevitably find their way into the United States, polluting the gene pool and causing social disruption. (During slavery, these same southern Democrats pressed for annexation of Cuba and sought an expanded slave-holding southern "empire" in the Americas.) Trump's opposition to "regime change" and "nation building" -- like the "anti-imperialism" of turn of the 20th century southern racists -- is not pro-peace but rather, opposed to undue contact with the "lesser races." It is quite consistent with his anti-immigration position.

Regardless of his policy's racist roots, Trump's oft-stated opposition to regime change and his desire for a lessening of tensions with (white-led) Russia caused panic in the larger ruling class, dominated by finance and international capital, which had consolidated itself as the "War Party" in Hillary Clinton campaign "Big Tent."

Trump's opposition to "free trade" does not represent a contradiction to his foreign hotel and resort dealings, which do not amount to serious intervention in the economies of the host countries, and are largely branding agreements. He was simply smart enough to take possession of an issue that appealed directly to his target voters: outsourcing of jobs. A glance at his cabinet shows Trump has no problem at all with the global movement of capital.

But the consolidated ruling class has a problem with Trump, and have set their covert operations dogs on a sitting president of the United States. Essentially, they have decided to sacrifice the credibility and legitimacy of the bourgeois state in order to effectuate regime change in Washington -- or, at least, to neuter the Trump presidency until the next election. What is amazing about this crisis, is that the ruling class, itself, is undermining the institutions that have served the rich so well since the birth of the Republic. The destabilization of the U.S. bourgeois state is a project, not of the Kremlin, but of multinational and finance capital headquartered in the U.S.

When the Lords of Capital conclude that they cannot rule in the old ways, we can be certain that the crisis is profound. The institutional Humpty Dumptys of bourgeois electoral rule -- the grandeur of the White House, the credibility of the press, the security of voting systems, the mystic of the secret services - can never be restored; not after the mob defenestration of a president. The bourgeoisie have leaped into the abyss, like Wile E. Coyote.

The corporate media have no political life of their own, representing only the views of the conglomerates that own them. But, most of their writers and reporters share the social sensibilities of upper income folks that we used to call "liberal," or even "left-liberal." In order for the next level of fascism to smoothly take root, it must have at least the initial assent of this strata. The fake progressive is personified by James Wolcott, whose recent article in Vanity Fair slimes the "alt-left" -- publications like Counterpunch, Jacobin, and even Dr. Cornel West, the public intellectual -- as having some kind of "kinship" with the "alt-right," since both "alts" criticize Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Wolcott, whose prose reads like bad breath, is glad that the spooks have come out of the shadows to prepare the gallows for the billionaire from Queens. "If the Deep State can rid us of the blighted presidency of Donald Trump," Wolcott writes, "all I can say is 'Go, State, go.'"

To which I say, "Power to the People -- Death to the Fascist Pigs."
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

"What should a United States senator, or any citizen, do if the president is a liar?" asks Bernie Sanders.

What Should We Do If the President Is a Liar?
By Bernie Sanders

We face a very serious political problem in this country, and that problem is manifested in a post written yesterday by Amber Phillips of The Washington Post. In her piece, Phillips criticizes me for lowering the state of our political discourse, because I accused the president of being a "liar."

What should a United States senator, or any citizen, do if the president is a liar? Does ignoring this reality benefit the American people? Do we make a bad situation worse by disrespecting the president of the United States? Or do we have an obligation to say that he is a liar to protect America's standing in the world and people's trust in our institutions?

I happen to strongly believe in civil political discourse. The vast majority of people in Congress who hold views different than mine are not liars. It is critical we have strong, fact-based debates on the important issues facing our country and that we respect people who come to different conclusions. In a democracy people will always have honestly held different points of view.

But how does one respond to a president who has complete disregard for reality and who makes assertions heard by billions of people around the world that have no basis in fact?

In her post, Phillips reprints five tweets that I sent out yesterday as examples of "the sorry state of political discourse right now."

Here they are:

President Trump cannot continue to lie, lie, lie. It diminishes the office of the president and our standing in the world. - Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 6, 2017

One of my great concerns is that there undoubtedly will be major crises facing the United States and the global community during Trump's tenure as president. If Trump lies over and over again what kind of credibility will he, or the United States, have when we need to bring countries around the world together to respond to those crises? How many people in our country and other countries will think that Trump is just lying one more time?

Trump said 3-5 million people voted illegally and that his victory "was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan." Both lies. - Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 6, 2017

Trump said three to five million people voted illegally in the last election. This is a preposterous and dangerous allegation which intentionally opens the floodgates for an increase in voter suppression efforts. Amber Phillips herself previously wrote, "There is just no evidence of voter fraud. Why launch an investigation into something that nearly everyone in U.S. politics - save one notable exception - doesn't believe warrants an investigation?"

Trump claimed that his victory "was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan." Anyone with access to Google could see that this is factually incorrect. George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all had bigger electoral margins of victory than Trump.

Trump said "it looked like a million and a half people" at his inauguration. Not even close. - Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 6, 2017

And then there are the trivial lies. Trump stated "it looked like a million and a half people" at his inauguration. Who cares? But none of the people who are trained to estimate crowd size believe that one and a half million people attended his inauguration.

And Trump was lying long before he was president when he tried to delegitimize our first black president with the "birther" conspiracy. - Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 6, 2017

More importantly, Trump helped lead a baseless and dangerous attack against the legitimacy of Barack Obama's presidency by suggesting over and over again that Obama was not born in the United States and therefore not eligible to become president. This was not a disagreement with Obama over policy. It was a deliberate and dishonest effort to appeal to racist sentiment in this country and deny the right of our first African-American president to serve.

The United States will not be respected or taken seriously around the world if @realDonaldTrump continues to shamelessly lie. - Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 6, 2017

Lastly, my tweet which states that the United States will not be respected or taken seriously around the world if Trump continues to shamelessly lie is self-evident. We are the wealthiest, most powerful nation on earth. If we have a president who is not taken seriously by people throughout the world because of his continuous lies, our international standing will clearly suffer.

I find it interesting that Ms. Phillips did not take issue with my facts. Her complaint appears to be that it is improper for a United States senator to state the obvious. And that is that we have a president who either lies intentionally or, even more frighteningly, does not know the difference between lies and truth.

What do you think?

It is easy to know how we respond to a president with whom we disagree on many, many issues. I disagree with Trump's support for repealing the Affordable Care Act. I disagree with Trump's plan to give huge tax breaks to billionaires. I disagree with Trump's appointment of an anti-environmental EPA administrator. I disagree with Trump's appointments of major Wall Street executives to key economic positions and his plans to loosen regulations on Wall Street designed to protect consumers. And on and on and on! These strong policy disagreements are a normal part of the political process. He has his views. I have mine.

But how do we deal with a president who makes statements that reverberate around our country and the world that are not based on fact or evidence? What is the appropriate way to respond to that? And if the media and political leaders fail to call lies what they are, are they then guilty of misleading the public?

What are your views on this extremely important issue? I look forward to your comments.
(c) 2017 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders or @BernieSanders

Trump's Hokey 'Mandate'
By Jim Hightower

Trump & Company claim to have a sweeping mandate from voters - but wait:

Almost half of the electorate chose not to vote last November. Only 25% of voters eligible actually cast their ballots for Trump; 26% chose Clinton. 60% of those who did vote for Trump said they don't trust him.
Some "mandate."

Here's another fact: Those of us fighting for populist justice are stronger than we've been in decades. But how can that be, since Trump is in the White House? Because the vast majority of people agree with the ideals and ideas of progressive populism, not with Trumpism. Even most of his supporters were not voting for what they're getting - a plutocratic/autocratic agenda that'll steamroll the working class and poor.

Trump was not elected on issues, but on anger. A lot of Trump voters simply heard him speaking one truth repeatedly: The system is rigged by and for the elites. That's true - so the riggees, furious at being flattened by the corporate and political powers, saw Trump as a big bois d'arc stick they could grab to thump the whole smug establishment upside its collective head.

However, far from alleviating their anger and despair, Trump is already betraying them, as revealed by the actual proposals he's made and the people he's brought inside the White House. Remember his promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington? Instead, he's filled it with a new slew of creepy-crawly swamp creatures - like Jeff Sessions, Steve Mnuchin, Rex Tillerson, Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos - and a mess of Wall Street insiders. These are career-long corporate hacks, not working class champions!

Progressives not only need to resist the plutocratic agenda of these fraudsters, but also to put forth our true people's agenda and start rallying voters around it. Now!
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Democrats Now Demonize The Same Russia Policies That Obama Long Championed
By Glenn Greenwald

One of the most bizarre aspects of the all-consuming Russia frenzy is the Democrats' fixation on changes to the RNC platform concerning U.S. arming of Ukraine. The controversy began in July when the Washington Post reported that "the Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces."

Ever since then, Democrats have used this language change as evidence that Trump and his key advisers have sinister connections to Russians and corruptly do their bidding at the expense of American interests. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke for many in his party when he lambasted the RNC change in a July letter to the New York Times, castigating it as "dangerous thinking" that shows Trump is controlled, or at least manipulated, by the Kremlin. Democrats resurrected this line of attack this weekend when Trump advisers acknowledged that campaign officials were behind the platform change.

This attempt to equate Trump's opposition to arming Ukraine with some sort of treasonous allegiance to Putin masks a rather critical fact: namely, that the refusal to arm Ukraine with lethal weapons was one of Barack Obama's most steadfastly held policies. The original Post article that reported the RNC platform change noted this explicitly:

Of course, Trump is not the only politician to oppose sending lethal weapons to Ukraine. President Obama decided not to authorize it, despite recommendations to do so from his top Europe officials in the State Department and the military.
Early media reports about this controversy from outlets such as NPR also noted the irony at the heart of this debate: namely, that arming Ukraine was the long-time desire of hawks in the GOP such as John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, but the Obama White House categorically resisted those pressures:
Republicans in Congress have approved providing arms to the Ukrainian government but the White House has resisted, saying that it would only encourage more bloodshed.

It's a rare Obama administration policy that the Trump campaign seems to agree with.

Indeed, the GOP ultimately joined with the hawkish wing of the Democratic Party to demand that Obama provide Ukraine with lethal weapons to fight Russia, but Obama steadfastly refused. As the New York Times reported in March, 2015, "President Obama is coming under increasing pressure from both parties and more officials inside his own government to send arms to the country. But he remains unconvinced that they would help." When Obama kept refusing, leaders of the two parties threatened to enact legislation forcing Obama to arm Ukraine.

The general Russia approach that Democrats now routinely depict as treasonous - avoiding confrontation with and even accommodating Russian interests, not just in Ukraine but also in Syria - was one of the defining traits of Obama's foreign policy. This fact shouldn't be overstated: Obama engaged in provocative acts such as moves to further expand NATO, non-lethal aid to Ukraine, and deploying "missile defense" weaponry in Romania. But he rejected most calls to confront Russia. That is one of the primary reasons the "foreign policy elite" - which, recall, Obama came into office denouncing and vowing to repudiate - was so dissatisfied with his presidency.

A new, long article by Politico foreign affairs correspondent Susan Glasser - on the war being waged against Trump by Washington's "foreign policy elite" - makes this point very potently. Say what you will about Politico, but one thing they are very adept at doing is giving voice to cowardly Washington insiders by accommodating their cowardice and thus routinely granting them anonymity to express themselves. As journalistically dubious as it is to shield the world's most powerful people with anonymity, this practice sometimes ends up revealing what careerist denizens of Washington power really think but are too scared to say. Glasser's article, which largely consists of conveying the views of anonymous high-level Obama officials, contains this remarkable passage:

In other words, Democrats are now waging war on, and are depicting as treasonous, one of Barack Obama's central and most steadfastly held foreign policy positions, one that he clung to despite attacks from leading members of both parties as well as the DC National Security Community. That's not Noam Chomsky drawing that comparison; it's an Obama appointee.

The destructive bipartisan Foreign Policy Community was furious with Obama for not confronting Russia more, and is now furious with Trump for the same reason (though they certainly loath and fear Trump for other reasons, including the threat they believe he poses to U.S. imperial management through a combination of ineptitude, instability, toxic PR, naked rather than prettified savagery, and ideology; Glasser writes: "'Everything I've worked for for two decades is being destroyed,' a senior Republican told me").

All of this demonstrates how fundamental a shift has taken place as a result of the Democrats' election-related fixation on The Grave Russian Threat. To see how severe the shift is, just look at this new polling data from CNN this morning that shows Republicans and Democrats doing a complete reversal on Russia in the span of eight months:

The Democrats' obsession with Russia has not just led them to want investigations into allegations of hacking and (thus far evidence-free) suspicions of Trump campaign collusion - investigations which everyone should want. It's done far more than that: it's turned them into increasingly maniacal and militaristic hawks - dangerous ones - when it comes to confronting the only nation with a larger nuclear stockpile than the U.S., an arsenal accompanied by a sense of fear, if not outright encirclement, from NATO expansion. Put another way, establishment Democrats - with a largely political impetus but now as a matter of conviction - have completely abandoned Obama's accommodationist approach to Russia and have fully embraced the belligerent, hawkish mentality of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Bill Kristol, the CIA and Evan McMullin. It should thus come as no surprise that a bill proposed by supreme warmonger Lindsey Graham to bar Trump from removing sanctions against Russia has more Democratic co-sponsors than Republican ones.

This is why it's so notable that Democrats, in the name of "resistance," have aligned with neocons, CIA operatives and former Bush officials: not because coalitions should be avoided with the ideologically impure, but because it reveals much about the political and policy mindset they've adopted in the name of stopping Trump. They're not "resisting" Trump from the left or with populist appeals - by, for instance, devoting themselves to protection of Wall Street and environmental regulations under attack, or supporting the revocation of jobs-killing free trade agreements, or demanding that Yemini civilians not be massacred.

Instead, they're attacking him on the grounds of insufficient nationalism, militarism, and aggression: equating a desire to avoid confrontation with Moscow as a form of treason (just like they did when they were the leading Cold Warriors). This is why they're finding such common cause with the nation's most bloodthirsty militarists - not because it's an alliance of convenience but rather one of shared convictions (indeed, long before Trump, neocons were planning a re-alignment with Democrats under a Clinton presidency). And the most ironic - and over-looked - aspect of this whole volatile spectacle is how much Democrats have to repudiate and demonize one of Obama's core foreign policy legacies while pretending that they're not doing that.
(c) 2017 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Greatness Comes From Moving Forward, Not Backward
By David Suzuki

The battle lines are drawn - in some cases literally. On one side are those reaping massive profits from fossil fuels, determined to extract and sell as much as possible before the market dries up. On the other are those who see the amazing potential of energy conservation, renewable energy and other innovations to reduce pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, ecosystem destruction and exploitation of valuable non-renewable resources.

Despite international initiatives like the 2015 Paris Agreement, based on decades of research and evidence from around the world about human-caused global warming, those who would risk human health and survival for short-term profits from a destructive sunset industry appear to have the upper hand - for now. The election of a U.S. president and vice-president who deny the very existence of anthropogenic climate change and who have appointed likeminded people and industry executives to key positions illustrates how entrenched those committed to outdated, albeit still profitable, energy sources and technologies are.

Literal battles are heating up, such as at Standing Rock in the U.S., where the Sioux and their allies have been fighting to protect water resources and sacred sites from the 1,886-kilometre Dakota Access pipeline, which would transport crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in Illinois, under lakes and rivers, barely skirting Sioux territory.

Ideological battles are also heating up. Fossil fuel interests have long spent buckets of money to spread false and misleading information to downplay or deny the seriousness of climate change, aided by politicians, armies of online trolls and shady organizations and "think tanks." The new U.S. administration has emboldened them further.

Unfortunately, those who believe we should continue to burn polluting, climate-altering, non-renewable fuels are bolstered by an abundance of resources: lots of money, secretly funded climate science-denial organizations, complacent media outlets and unethical politicians. Those of us who care about a safer, healthier future have our work cut out.

We also have a lot going for us. Despite the U.S. president's promises, no one is going back to mining and burning massive amounts of coal. Making America - or any place - great doesn't mean embracing 18th century technology in the 21st. That would be worse than if President Theodore Roosevelt had kicked the Ford Motor Company to the curb to keep the horse-and-buggy industry going!

Whatever greatness America can claim has largely been the result of government and society embracing science, technology and great ideas, from putting people on the moon to conserving some of the world's most spectacular pristine places in its national parks system. Many of today's political representatives and their fossil fuel cronies don't seem to get that. But others do. Some, like Tesla's Elon Musk, are developing clean power and storage technologies that are rendering fossil fuels obsolete.

Technological advances have made wind and solar cost-competitive, and the sector is growing rapidly. The U.S. Energy Department says the solar power industry alone employed almost twice as many people in electric power generation in 2016 as coal, oil and gas combined - 43 per cent compared to 22 per cent for fossil fuels. Meanwhile, coal-fired plants have dropped from supplying half the U.S.'s energy in 2008 to 30 per cent in 2016. Consumer electricity costs have also dropped significantly over the past year. Other countries and jurisdictions, including some U.S. states, are rapidly shifting from fossil fuels to clean energy, creating good jobs and economic opportunities.

Meanwhile, tensions around dwindling fossil fuel reserves - from Standing Rock to the Middle East - are increasing. People demanding change are coming together in massive marches and protests worldwide. Any administration that continues to support destructive energy-generating methods developed hundreds of years ago when consequences weren't well understood, populations were smaller and conditions were different, will get left behind as the rest of the world prospers from new ideas and technologies.

It's hard to fathom that so many people, especially in positions of power, can't see the many benefits of science and technological progress. It wouldn't be a battle if everyone accepted that clean air, fresh water, healthy agricultural soils and diverse ecosystems are critical to human health and survival.

There's still time to get humanity on track, but in the face of powerful opponents who reject science and changes that improve people's lives, there's no time for complacency.
(c) Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Nikki Haley testifies at her Senate confirmation hearing on January 18, 2017.

Demand That Trump Appointees And Allies Answer The Question: Will You Defend Freedom Of The Press?
By John Nichols

Donald Trump's nominee to serve as US ambassador to the United Nations had an easy ride through the confirmation process, as Democratic senators generally joined Republican senators in abandoning their constitutionally mandated duty to thoroughly review the nomination of Nikki Haley. But there was one essential-and instructive-exchange when Haley appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine steered the discussion toward the role of a free press in any democracy-but especially in this democratic republic.

"Authoritarian nations around the world are cracking down on freedom of the press. And that is a freedom that is part of the 1947 UN Declaration on Human Rights," explained the 2016 Democratic nominee for vice president, who, unlike many members of the Trump team, actually has substantial experience dealing with international issues. Noting that "even nations that are allies, for example Turkey and Egypt where we have significant alliances, have seen real declines in press freedom," Kaine asked, "What can be done through the UN to promote a free press around the world?"

Haley replied admirably. "Well, you know," she said. "I think the United States has always promoted freedom of the press. And while those of us that have been in elected office may not always like it, it is the way it's supposed to be. The press has a job to do and we should allow them to do it. And so I think, again, that goes in with American values that we should talk about that. And that's something that I'd be happy to express."

Kaine carried the discussion forward: "So you agree that efforts to restrict the press would be a clear violation of not just the UN Charter but American values."

"Absolutely," said Haley.

Then the senator expanded upon his point, and things got complicated.

"And that would include blacklisting members of the press corps whose coverage you don't like, ridiculing individual journalists who are-" he said.

Haley, catching the obvious reference to President Trump's constant conflict with the press, interrupted Kaine and asked, "Are you trying to imply something?"

Kaine pressed her on the matter, which has gotten so serious that Reporters Without Borders headlined a recent report "Trump's attacks on the media send dangerous message to world's press freedom predators."

Referring to the blacklists and personal attacks on journalists, the senator said, "That's sort of a violation of our leadership role in trying to promote a free press, wouldn't you agree?"

Haley did not quite say that she agreed. But she grudgingly admitted, "We do always want to encourage free press."

What Kaine did was important.

He found a way to move the discussion about freedom of the press away from the constant chatter about Trump's latest tweet, or White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's latest abuse of the basic premises of his position, or White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's promotion of "alternative facts," to a deeper discussion of what the United States stands for now that Trump and the Trumpkins are in charge. And of whether those who occupy positions of public trust in these time are ready and willing to defend freedom of the press.

That discussion necessarily requires explicit and detailed answers from Trump's appointees and from Trump's allies in the Congress, especially House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

Questions about press freedom should be raised by members of Congress when they meet with Trump cabinet picks and inner-circle appointee. And questions about press freedom should be raised by citizens with every Republican member of the US House and the US Senate who still holds an actual town hall meeting.

The United States must, as Kaine suggests, "play a leadership role in trying to promote a free press"-abroad and at home. That's a basic American premise. And it is not enough to criticize Trump's excesses and abuses. It is necessary to ask whether his appointees and allies will respect - and defend - the First Amendment to the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Donald Trump's Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites
By Chris Hedges

The liberal elites-from Hollywood and the Democratic Party to The New York Times and CNN-a group that bears significant responsibility for the death of our democracy, now hold themselves up as the saviors of the republic. They have embarked, despite their own corruption and their complicity in neoliberalism and the crimes of empire, on a self-righteous moral crusade to topple Donald Trump. It is quite a show. They attack Trump's "lies," denounce executive orders such as his travel ban as un-American and blame Trump's election on Russia or FBI Director James Comey rather than the failed neoliberal policies they themselves advanced.

Where was this moral outrage when our privacy was taken from us by the security and surveillance state, the criminals on Wall Street were bailed out, we were stripped of our civil liberties and 2.3 million men and women were packed into our prisons, most of them poor people of color? Why did they not thunder with indignation as money replaced the vote and elected officials and corporate lobbyists instituted our system of legalized bribery? Where were the impassioned critiques of the absurd idea of allowing a nation to be governed by the dictates of corporations, banks and hedge fund managers? Why did they cater to the foibles and utterings of fellow elites, all the while blacklisting critics of the corporate state and ignoring the misery of the poor and the working class? Where was their moral righteousness when the United States committed war crimes in the Middle East and our militarized police carried out murderous rampages? What the liberal elites do now is not moral. It is self-exaltation disguised as piety. It is part of the carnival act.

The liberal class refuses to acknowledge that it sold the Democratic Party to corporate bidders; collaborated in the evisceration of our civil liberties; helped destroy programs such as welfare, orchestrate the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, wage endless war, debase our public institutions including the press and build the world's largest prison system.

"The truth is hard to find. The truth is hard to know. The truth is more important than ever," reads a television ad for The New York Times. What the paper fails to add is that the hardest place to find the truth about the forces affecting the life of the average American and the truth about empire is in The New York Times itself. News organizations, from the Times to the tawdry forms of entertainment masquerading as news on television, have rendered most people and their concerns invisible. Liberal institutions, especially the press, function, as the journalist and author Matt Taibbi says, as "the guardians" of the neoliberal and imperial orthodoxy.

It is the job of the guardians of orthodoxy to plaster over the brutal reality and cruelty of neoliberalism and empire with a patina of civility or entertainment. They pay homage to a nonexistent democracy and nonexistent American virtues. The elites, who live in enclaves of privilege in cities such as New York, Washington and San Francisco, scold an enraged population. They tell those they dismiss as inferiors to calm down, be reasonable and patient and trust in the goodness of the old ruling class and the American system. African-Americans have heard this kind of cant preached by the white ruling class for a couple of centuries.

Because the system works for the elites, and because the elites interact only with other elites, they are mystified about the revolt rising up from the decayed cities they fly over in the middle of the country. They think they can stuff this inexplicable rage back in the box. They continue to offer up absurd solutions to deindustrialization and despair, such as Thomas Friedman's endorsement of "a culture of entrepreneurship" and "an ethic of pluralism." These kinds of bromides are advertising jingles. They bear no more connection to reality than Trump promising to make America great again.

I walked into the Harvard Club in New York City after midnight on election night. The well-heeled New York elites stood, their mouths agape, looking up at the television screens in the oak-paneled bar while wearing their Clinton campaign straw hats. They could not speak. They were in shock. The system they funded to prevent anyone from outside their circle, Republican or Democrat, from achieving the presidency had inexplicably collapsed.

Taibbi, when I interviewed him in New York, said political power in our corporate state is controlled by "a tripartite system." "You have to have the assent of the press, the donor class, and one of the two [major] political parties to get in," said Taibbi, author of "Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus." "It's an exclusive club. It's like a membership system. They all have to agree and confer their blessing on the candidate. Trump somehow managed to get past all three of those obstacles. And he did it essentially by putting all of them on trial. He put the press on trial and villainized them with the public. I think it was a brilliant masterstroke that nobody saw coming. But it wouldn't have been possible if their unpopularity hadn't been building for years and years and years."

"It's a kind of Stockholm syndrome," he said of the press. "The reporters, candidates, and candidates' aides are all thrown together. They're stuck in the same environment with each other day after day, month after month. After a while, they start to unconsciously adopt each other's values. Then they start to live in the same neighborhoods. They go to the same parties. Then it becomes a year-after-year kind of thing. Then after that, they're the same people. It's a total perversion of what's supposed to happen. We're [the press] supposed to be on the outside, not identifying with these people. But now, it's a club. Journalists enjoy the experience of being close to power."

At first the press, especially the television press, could not get enough of Trump. He received 23 times the coverage of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spoke about things that do not make for great television-inequality and corporate corruption. Trump brought in the advertising dollars. 2016 was CNN's most profitable year. Then, alarmed at Trump's ascendancy, the press set out to destroy him. The press applied its Darth Vader Force choke. It did not work. They tried it again and again. The Force had deserted them.

"When a candidate makes a mistake and steps in it-[2004 presidential hopeful] Howard Dean is the classic example, the scream-then they [TV news shows] replay it every hour, 100 times a day," Taibbi said. "The critical part is that Dean was already in violation leading up to that moment. He was not the right person because he was anti-war. He got his donations from the wrong people. He makes the mistake. The press pig-piles on the person just instinctively. All this negative attention. The candidate freaks out and apologizes. He disappears for a while. He tries to soldier on. The next thing you know, there's a Page 16 story: Candidate exits the race. It's a script. But it didn't work with Trump."

The press, like the Democratic Party, is an appendage of the consumer society. These institutions are not about politics or news. They are about imparting an experience. They create political personalities, marketed as celebrities, to make us feel good about candidates. These manufactured emotions, the product of the dark arts of the public relations industry, determine how we vote. Issues and policies are irrelevant. It is marketing and entertainment. Trump is a skillful marketer of his fictitious self.

"When you work in that environment long enough you unconsciously become an agent for whatever that commercial strategy is," Taibbi said of the press in our corporate-run political theater.

"What we call right-wing and liberal media in this country are really just two different strategies of the same kind of nihilistic lizard-brain sensationalism," Taibbi wrote in "Insane Clown President." "The ideal CNN story is a baby down a well, while the ideal Fox story is probably a baby thrown down a well by a Muslim terrorist or an ACORN activist. Both companies offer the same service, it's just that the Fox version is a little kinkier."

The pseudo-events on television displace reality. This is how a reality star becomes president. Sixty million people think Trump's manufactured persona-the predominate tycoon-on "The Apprentice" is real. Our perception of the truth is determined by what appears on the screen. If an event is never broadcast, it somehow never happened. The electronic image is the word of God. The corporate state controls most of what is seen and heard on television, what ideas and events can be discussed in the mainstream media and what orthodoxies, including neoliberalism and the war industry, must never be questioned. We suffer an intellectual tyranny as pervasive as that imposed by fascism and communism. Trump, who is as gullible as the most habitual television viewer, exemplifies our cultural and political death. He is no more "authentic" than Hillary Clinton. But he appears on our screens as more authentic because he is more deeply embedded in the medium that controls our thoughts. He is what is vomited up from the perverted zeitgeist of a nation entranced and dominated by electronic hallucinations.

"People have this idea that Trump has no connection with the 'common man,' but he does," Taibbi said. "He has exactly the same media habits that ordinary people have. He believes the stuff that he reads on the internet and watches on television implicitly and unquestioningly. That is what gives him that connection with people. He thinks like they do. He has the same habits they have. A classic example is the thing with the so-called 3 million illegal ... voters. He reads that, probably in an Infowars story, it's policy like two minutes later. He doesn't go through the process of asking himself if it's untrue. He's a perfect consumer in that respect. That's what makes him so dangerous."

"[George W.] Bush was child's play compared to what we're dealing with now," Taibbi said. "Bush was a puppet. He was a vehicle for a very familiar form of right-wing capitalist politics. This Trump thing is totally different. Trump really is the actual engine behind this phenomenon during the entire campaign. There were no people behind the man, I don't think. The presidential campaign has no relation to the issue of whether or not you can govern effectively. The campaign is a television show. The values that decide whether a person becomes a candidate or can't become a candidate are more or less arbitrary. It has a lot to do with the commercial value of the candidate. You can't have an unentertaining candidate because the press needs to make money. They will unconsciously gravitate towards someone who does what Trump does, which is get [website] hits and eyeballs and ratings."

Trump's popularity increased the more the establishment condemned him. This would have sent a profound and disturbing message to anyone not as clueless as our liberal elites. They did not get it. They thought they could trot out Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Hollywood celebrities and get the rubes to fall for their routine one more time. They thought the country would again obey.

The liberal class, by embracing neoliberalism and refusing to challenge the imperial wars, empowered the economic and political structures that destroyed our democracy and gave rise to Trump. Multiculturalism, when it means, to use the words of Cornel West, nothing more than having a president who is a "black mascot for Wall Street," betrays the disenfranchised and endows the ruling elites with a false progressivism, a false humanism and a false inclusiveness.

Hillary and Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and the current Democratic Party leadership designed and built the massive system of imprisonment, essentially ended welfare, expanded our wars and pushed through NAFTA. They destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor and working-class families and are responsible for the mounds of corpses in the Middle East. Yet these liberal elites speak as if they are champions of racial and economic justice. They appear in choreographed pseudo-events to demonstrate a faux compassion. Now they have been exposed as fakes.

A genuine populism, one defined and often articulated by Bernie Sanders, could sweep the Democratic Party back into power. Regulating Wall Street, publicly financing campaigns, forgiving student debt, demanding universal health care, bailing out homeowners victimized by the banks, ending the wars in the Middle East, instituting a jobs program to repair our decaying infrastructure, dismantling the prison system, restoring the rule of law on the streets of our cities, making college education free and protecting programs such as Social Security would see election victory after election victory.

But this will never happen within the Democratic Party. It refuses to prohibit corporate money. The party elites know that if corporate money disappears, so do they. The party's hierarchy, pressured by Obama and the Clintons, elevated Tom Perez over Keith Ellison-whom a major donor to the party, Haim Saban, condemns as an "anti-Semite" because of Ellison's criticism of the Israeli government-to head the Democratic National Committee. They will press forward repeating the same silly slogans and trying to use the now ineffective Force choke on their political enemies. They may have lost control of the Congress and the White House and hold only 16 governorships and majorities in only 31 of the states' 99 legislative chambers, but they are incapable of offering any meaningful alternative to neoliberalism and empire. They are devoid of a vision. They can only moralize. They will continue to atrophy and enable the consolidation of an American fascism.

Fyodor Dostoevsky excoriated Russia's bankrupt liberal class at the end of the 19th century. Russian liberals mouthed values they did not defend. Their stated ideals bore no relationship to their actions. They were filled with a suffocating narcissism.

In "Notes From Underground," Dostoevsky lampooned the defeated dreamers of the liberal class, those who preached goodness but lived in moral squalor. These defeated dreamers denounced the social and cultural depravity they had largely created. They had an open disdain for the uneducated, the poor, the working class, the lesser breeds beneath them. And in the end they ushered in a moral nihilism to empower a dangerous class of demagogues, killers and fools.

"I never even managed to become anything: neither wicked nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect," the Underground Man wrote. "And now I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and utterly futile consolation that it is even impossible for an intelligent man seriously to become anything, and only fools become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent man of the nineteenth century must be and is morally obliged to be primarily a characterless being; and a man of character, an active figure-primarily a limited being."
(c) 2017 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with
binary code and a Central Inteligence Agency (CIA) emblem, in this picture
illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina October 29, 2014.

Let's Give the CIA the Credit It Deserves
By Norman Solomon

For months now, our country has endured the tacit denigration of American ingenuity. Countless statements-from elected officials, activist groups, journalists and many others-have ignored our nation's superb blend of dazzling high-tech capacities and statecraft mendacities.

Fortunately, this week the news about release of illuminating CIA documents by WikiLeaks has begun to give adequate credit where due. And not a moment too soon. For way too long, Russia has been credited with prodigious hacking and undermining of democracy in the United States.

Many Americans have overlooked the U.S. government's fantastic hacking achievements. This is most unfair and disrespectful to the dedicated men and women of intelligence services like the CIA and NSA. Far from the limelight, they've been working diligently to undermine democracy not just overseas but also here at home.

Today, the massive new trove of CIA documents can help to put things in perspective. Maybe now people will grasp that our nation's undermining of democracy is home-grown and self-actualized. It's an insult to the ingenious capacities of the United States of America to think that we can't do it ourselves.

Contrary to all the public relations work that U.S. intelligence agencies have generously done for them, the Russians don't even rank as peripheral to the obstacles and prospects for American democracy. Rest assured, throughout the long history of the United States, we haven't needed foreigners to get the job done.

In our current era, can Vladimir Putin take any credit for purging huge numbers of African Americans, Latinos and other minority citizens from the voter rolls? Of course not.

Did Putin create and maintain the barriers that prevented many low-income people from voting on November 8? Only in his dreams.

Can the Kremlin hold a candle to the corporate-owned cable TV channels that gave Donald Trump umpteen free hours of uninterrupted air time for speeches at his campaign rallies? Absolutely not.

Could any Russian operation claim more than a tiny sliver of impact compared to the handiwork of FBI Director James Comey as he boosted Donald Trump's prospects with a pair of gratuitous announcements about a gratuitously re-opened probe of Hillary Clinton's emails during the last days of the 2016 campaign? No way.

Is Putin anything but a miniscule lightweight in any efforts to manipulate the U.S. electorate compared to "dark money" American billionaires like the Koch brothers? Give us a break.

And how about the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? The Kremlin can only marvel at the way that the CIA, the NSA and the bipartisan leadership in Washington have shredded the Fourth Amendment while claiming to uphold it.

To sum up: The CIA's efforts to tout Russia add up to jaw-dropping false modesty! The humility of "deep state" leaders in Langley is truly awesome.

Let's get a grip. Overwhelmingly, the achievements of thwarting democracy in America have been do-it-yourself operations. It's about time that we give adequate credit to the forces perpetuating this country's self-inflicted wounds to American democracy.

To loosely paraphrase the beloved comic-strip character Pogo, when the subject is grievous damage to democracy at home, "We have met the ingenuity and it is U.S." But we're having a terrible time recognizing ourselves.
(c) 2017 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Neil gives the Corpo-rat salute

Gorsuch: Choosing Between God & Trump Is Gonna Be Hard
By Jane Stillwater

The Berkeley-Albany Bar Association has done it again! At its latest monthly lunchtime meeting, BABA served us up the perfect guest speaker -- and the perfect rubber chicken as well. What more can you possibly ask for. Our speaker clearly laid it out to us, just exactly what President Trump's new Supreme Court nominee is up to. "Neil Gorsuch is a positivist," the guest speaker said.

"But what the freak is a positivist?" you might ask. Our speaker was about to tell us -- and in more detail than we ever would want to know if we in any way plan to look forward to the next decade with hope. T.M.I.

"Positivism is an outdated English legal philosophy, tracing its roots back to John Austin, who thought that law was just a command of the sovereign. There was no connection between law and morality, as Austin would have it; law should be value-free. The sovereign ordered something and the courts enforced it." Period. "Positivism imagines that the law represents an order that must be carried out."

And then our speaker went on to tell us more about Gorsuch specifically. Apparently, not much compassion or morality or consideration of expert opinions or even the law itself is involved in Gorsuch's thought processes. It's more like if whoever Gorsuch considers to be the top dog tells him to jump, Gorsuch will just say, "How high?" And currently, that top dog appears to be The Donald.

But apparently there is one exception to Gorsuch's blind allegiance to Trump. According to the speaker at BABA, "There is, in Judge Gorsuch's reported decisions, a tendency to blur the constitutional lines between church and state." So. What if God tells him to do something and Trump says not to do it. Who will Gorsuch choose to be his OG? God or Trump?

And, also, what would happen if God contacts Grosuch on His hotline from heaven -- and Gorsuch gets a bad connection or misinterprets the call? What if God sez, "I am pro-life," and Gorsuch doesn't even realize that what God is saying has nothing to do with abortions. God is simply stating that He is for the rights of women, freedom for all, a fair living wage for the meek and that He is also anti-war -- but Gorsuch has simply gotten confused.

Or suppose God thinks that most American "wars" are crimes against humanity, that giving welfare to corporations (but not to the poor) is an Abomination and that the Clintons, the Bushes, Obama and Trump are all going to Hell for killing millions in the Middle East. Will Gorsuch then dutifully show up at the Pearly Gates and plead President Trump's case regarding why the Prez shouldn't be joining that huge bunch of panderers to Wall Street and War Street who are already in Hell?

But no matter what the real story actually is, apparently Gorsuch truly believes that his hotline to God is well-connected. But what if Gorsuch is actually right and not just some crank hearing voices in his tinfoil hat? In that case, anyone who actually knows what God is thinking is gonna be a really handy person to have on the Supreme Court, right? Until, of course, the day arrives when Gorsuch has to chose between God and Trump.

Or, even worse, what if Gorsuch chooses God over Trump and then discovers that Nietzsche was right?
(c) 2017 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Quotable Quote...

"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State."
~~~ Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister

I Confess To Meeting With The Russian Ambassador In Charlottesville
By David Swanson

It was August 2014. Our secret and nefarious meeting had to be disguised as a public event.

So, the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, spoke at the University of Virginia, in an event organized by the Center for Politics, which no doubt has video of the proceedings and was of course in on the conspiracy. Kislyak was once ambassador to Belgium and to NATO. He served an 8-course Russian dinner for select guests prior to the public forum in an underground lair deep inside Observatory Hill.

Kislyak spoke to a packed auditorium at UVA and took, I think, well over an hour of questions. He spoke frankly, and the questions he was asked by students, professors, and other participants were polite and for the most part far more intelligent than he would have been asked on, for example, Meet the Press.

He told the audience that Russia had known there were no WMDs in Iraq, and had known that attacking Iraq would bring "great difficulties" to that country. "And look what is happening today," he said. He made the same comment about Libya. He spoke of the U.S. and Russia working together to successfully remove chemical weapons from the Syrian government. But he warned against attacking Syria now.

There will be no new Cold War, Kislyak said, but there is now a greater divide in some ways than during the Cold War. Back then, he said, the U.S. Congress sent delegations over to meet with legislators, and the Supreme Court likewise. Now there is no contact. It's easy in the U.S. to be anti-Russian, he said, and hard to defend Russia. He complained about U.S. economic sanctions against Russia intended to "suffocate" Russian agriculture.

Asked about "annexing" Crimea, Kislyak rejected that characterization, pointed to the armed overthrow of the Ukrainian government, and insisted that Kiev must stop bombing its own people and instead talk about federalism within Ukraine.

There were remarkably few questions put to the ambassador that seemed informed by U.S. television "news." One was from a politics professor who insisted that Kislyak assign blame to Russia over Ukraine. Kislyak didn't.

I always sit in the back, thinking I might leave, but Kislyak was only taking questions from the front. So I moved up and was finally called on for the last question of the evening. For an hour and a half, Kislyak had addressed war and peace and Russian-U.S. relations, but he'd never blamed the U.S. for anything in Ukraine any more than Russia. No one had uttered the word "NATO."

So I pointed out the then upcoming NATO protests. I recalled the history of Russia being told that NATO would not expand eastward. I asked Kislyak whether NATO ought to be disbanded.

The ambassador said that he had been the first Russian to "present his credentials" to NATO, and that he had "overestimated" NATO's ability to work with Russia. He'd been disappointed by NATO actions in Serbia, he said, and Libya, by the expansion eastward, by NATO pressure on Ukraine and Poland, and by the pretense that Russia might be about to attack Poland.

"We were promised," Kislyak said, "that NATO would not expand eastward at all upon the reunification of Germany. And now look." NATO has declared that Ukraine and Georgia will join NATO, Kislyak pointed out, and NATO says this even while a majority of the people in Ukraine say they're opposed.

The ambassador used the word "disappointed" a few times.

"We'll have to take measures to assure our defense," he said, "but we would have preferred to build on a situation with decreased presence and decreased readiness."

Wouldn't we all.

I mean, all of us who aren't interested in risking World War III as long as it can gin up a pretense that Hillary Clinton lost because of Russian evil.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

A Day Without A Woman: The Women's Global Strike and the Growing Movement Against Donald Trump
Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan

The Statue of Liberty went dark Tuesday, the day after President Donald Trump signed his revised executive order, dubbed the "Muslim ban 2.0," excluding all refugees and people from six majority-Muslim countries. The darkening also foreshadowed the next day, Wednesday, International Women's Day, which was organized as a strike this year: "A Day Without a Woman." Lady Liberty, who for more than 130 years has proclaimed to the world "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," had disappeared, at least for a few hours, from the New York skyline.

International Women's Day has been celebrated on March 8 for more than a century, but this year's global day of action was marked with an added sense of urgency. A man who was caught on tape bragging about committing sexual assault is now the president of the United States. ("I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it ... Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything," Trump said in 2005 to former NBC host Billy Bush, on an "Access Hollywood" recording that was released last October. Billy Bush would lose his job over the scandal; Trump would get elected president just weeks later.)

The day after Trump's inauguration, more than 4 million people protested from coast to coast, perhaps the largest political protest in U.S. history. The Women's March on Washington alone was three times the size of his inauguration crowd the day before, a fact that clearly enraged the president.

Two days later, Trump would sign an executive order imposing a "global gag rule," which bans U.S. foreign aid to any nongovernmental organization that provides abortion or even talks about it as an option. Trump also is pressuring lawmakers to pass the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The law would strip funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides a broad array of health-care services to more than 2.5 million Americans annually. Only 3 percent of its services are abortion-related, and no federal funding goes to provide abortions.

With events in over 50 countries, this year's women's strike is the largest in recent history. "March 8th will be the beginning of a new international feminist movement that organizes resistance not just against Trump and his misogynist policies," the organizers' website states, "but also against the conditions that produced Trump, namely the decades long economic inequality, racial and sexual violence, and imperial wars abroad."

Just this week, a leaked document revealed that the Department of Homeland Security is considering a proposal to separate refugee mothers from their children if they are apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a video promoting the global action, people declare their reasons for participating:

"I'm striking on March 8th because I believe women should be free to make the decisions regarding their own bodies ... I'm striking on March 8th for equal pay and equal opportunity, because women's work makes all other work possible and because it's about time we start valuing women's labor ... I'm striking on March 8th because when I go out, I want to feel free, not brave ... because women matter."

As dawn broke over Washington, D.C., on International Women's Day, Donald Trump tweeted: "I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy." This from the man who has been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by at least 15 women, half of them just during his recent campaign.

The women of the world and their male allies are judging Trump not on his words but on his deeds. They are engaged, they are enraged, and they are organizing across issues. Among the signs at the rallies on International Women's Day was one that read "No Gag, No Ban, No Wall." Another read "A woman's place is in the revolution." Trump is doing damage, daily, to pillars of progressive achievement for which people have fought, gone to prison, even died for, for over a century. But the resistance is growing, offering hope in a time of darkness.
(c) 2017 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now,!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co"author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

The Dead Letter Office...

Ben gives the corpo-rat salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Deputy Fuhrer Carson,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your pledge to destroy the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 03-15-2017. We salute you Herr Carson, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Three Possible Reasons for Donald Trump's Latest Obama Rant
By Robert Reich

Early Saturday morning, March 4, the 45th president of the United States alleged in a series of tweets that former president Barack Obama orchestrated a "Nixon/Watergate" plot to tap Trump's phones at his Trump Tower headquarters last fall in the run-up to the election. Trump concluded that the former president is a "Bad (or sick) guy!"

Trump cited no evidence for his accusation.

Folks, we've got a huge problem on our hands. Either:

1. Trump is more nuts than we suspected - a true delusional paranoid who shouldn't be anywhere near the nuclear codes that could obliterate the planet, or near anything else that could determine the fate of America or the world.

2. Or Trump's outburst was triggered by commentary in the "alt-right" publication, Breitbart News, on Friday, which reported an assertion made Thursday night by right-wing talk-radio host Mark Levin suggesting Obama and his administration used "police state" tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team's dealings with Russian operatives.

But if this was the case, we've got a president willing to put the prestige and power of his office behind baseless claims emanating from well-known right-wing purveyors of lies. That means Trump still shouldn't be anywhere near the nuclear codes that could obliterate the planet or anywhere else he could do damage.

3. The third possibility is that Trump is correct, and the Obama administration did in fact tap his phones. But if this was the case, before the tap could occur it's highly likely Trump committed a very serious crime, including treason.

No president can order a wiretap on his own. For federal agents to obtain a wiretap on Trump, or anyone else, the Justice Department would first have had to convince a federal judge that it had gathered sufficient evidence of probable cause to believe Trump had committed a serious crime or was an agent of a foreign power, depending on whether it was a criminal or foreign intelligence wiretap. In which case we have someone in the White House who shouldn't be making decisions that could endanger America or the world.

What other explanation could there be for Trump's Saturday rant? He's been known to use tweets to divert attention from news stories he doesn't want the public and the media to focus on. So was Trump seeking to divert public attention from the Jeff Sessions imbroglio and the increasing number of Trump associates found to have been in contact with Russian agents before and after the election?

That seems unlikely because Trump's trumped-up charge of wiretapping isn't really a distraction at all. Even if you accept Trump's version of events, why would the Obama administration have been collecting information on Trump if not because of Trump's purported Russian connections? Trump's accusation thereby focuses even more attention on the possibility he conspired with the Russians to win the election.

Or is Trump trying to build a case that the entire Russian story is a plot concocted by the Obama Administration, along with the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency, and the mainstream press, to bring Trump down?

In this case, he's either paranoid (back to problem #1), or he really is trying to hide a nefarious collaboration that in fact occurred (back to problem #3).

So there you have it. Whatever the reason for Trump's rant, America is in deep trouble. We have a president who is either a dangerous paranoid, or is making judgments based on right-wing crackpots, or has in all likelihood committed treason.

Each of these possible reasons is as terrifying as the other.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

Wikileaks Dump Shows CIA Could Turn Smart TVs Into Listening Devices
By Sam Biddle

It's difficult to buy a new TV that doesn't come with a suite of (generally mediocre) "smart" software, giving your home theater some of the functions typically found in phones and tablets. But bringing these extra features into your living room means bringing a microphone, too - a fact the CIA is exploiting, according to a new trove of documents released today by Wikileaks.

According to documents inside the cache, a CIA program named "Weeping Angel" provided the agency's hackers with access to Samsung Smart TVs, allowing a television's built-in voice control microphone to be remotely enabled while keeping the appearance that the TV itself was switched off, called "Fake-Off mode." Although the display would be switched off, and LED indicator lights would be suppressed, the hardware inside the television would continue to operate, unbeknownst to the owner. The method, co-developed with British intelligence, required implanting a given TV with malware-it's unclear if this attack could be executed remotely, but the documentation includes reference to in-person infection via a tainted USB drive. Once the malware was inside the TV, it could relay recorded audio data to a third party (presumably a server controlled by the CIA) through the included network connection.

Wikileaks said its cache included more than 8,000 documents originating from within the CIA and came via a source, who the group did not identify, who was concerned that the agency's "hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers," and who wanted to "initiate a public debate" about the proliferation of cyberweapons. Wikileaks said the documents also showed extensive hacking of smartphones, including Apple's iPhones; a large library of allegedly serious computer attacks that were not reported to tech companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft; malware from hacker groups and other nation-states, including, Wikileaks said, Russia, that could be used to hide the agency's involvement in cyberattacks; and the growth of a substantial hacking division within the CIA, known as the Center for Cyber Intelligence, bringing the agency further into the sort of cyberwarfare traditionally practiced by its rival the National Security Agency.

The smart TV breach is just the latest example of a security problem emerging from the so-called "Internet of Things," the increasingly large catalog of consumer products that include (or require) an internet connection for contrived "smart" functionality. Last year, the Guardian reported that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate that breaching smart devices was a priority for American spies: "In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials."

Security and cryptography researcher Kenneth White told The Intercept that smart TVs are "historically a pretty easy target" and "a pretty great attack platform," given that TVs are typically located in a living room or bedroom. White added that "there is zero chance the [CIA has] only targeted Samsung. It's just too easy to mod other embedded OSes" found in the smart TVs sold by every other manufacturer.

This new Wikileaks dump contains no apparent information about who exactly was targeted by Weeping Angel, or when. It's also unclear how many models of Samsung TVs were vulnerable to Weeping Angel - the CIA documents published by Wikileaks only mention one model, the F8000 (albeit a very popular and well-reviewed model: Engadget described it as "the best smart TV system you'll find anywhere.") After privacy concerns about Samsung's TV voice recognition feature spread in 2015, the company released an FAQ meant to soothe worried consumers. Addressing the question of "How do I know it's listening or not?," Samsung assured users that "If the TV's voice recognition feature is turned on for a command, an icon of a microphone will appear on the screen," but "if no icon appears on the screen, the voice recognition feature is off."

This assurance about displayed icons is of course worth nothing if the CIA has hijacked the TV. What Samsung seems to have taken for granted was that the company, and its customers, could fully control the operation of its televisions. As the CIA's Fake-Off exploit shows, the company's assurances to consumers that a TV's voice recognition controls would operate in a transparent manner do not hold true once spies and (potentially other hackers) get involved.

Samsung did not immediately return a request for comment. A CIA spokesperson replied "We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents."
(c) 2017 Sam Biddle is a reporter based in Brooklyn, focusing on malfeasance and misused power in technology. While working at Gizmodo and Gawker, he covered stories ranging from vast corporate data breaches and celebrity hackers to trafficked webcam models and Facebook privacy. As the editor of Valleywag, he provided a critical, adversarial view of the startup economy and Silicon Valley culture. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vice, and The Awl.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Tony Auth ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Trump Orders All White House Phones Covered In Tin Foil
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-In a frenzy of early-morning activity on Saturday, President Donald J. Trump ordered aides to immediately cover every phone in the White House with tin foil, White House sources confirmed.

According to the sources, Trump contacted staffers Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer at approximately 6 A.M. and instructed them to purchase enough tin foil to cover every phone in the building.

The President, still wearing his bathrobe after what was reportedly a sleepless night, personally supervised the tin-foil installation, sources said.

"Wrap it tighter," he was heard bellowing at Conway.

After the installation was complete, Trump ordered the Secret Service to check every room in the White House for signs of former President Barack Obama.
(c) 2017 Andy Borowitz

The Gross National Debt

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 09 (c) 03/10/2017

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"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."