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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi introduces, "Trump The Destroyer."

Uri Avnery considers, "The National Riddle."

Glen Ford explores, "'Sanctuary Cities' And Black Community Control Of The Police."

Bill McKibben demands, "Citizens Must Hold Government Accountable on Climate."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Should We Subsidize Higher Pay For Insurance CEOs?"

Glenn Greenwald examines, "Trump's War On Terror Has Quickly Become As Barbaric And Savage As He Promised."

David Suzuki says, "Facts And Evidence Matter In Confronting Climate Crisis."

John Nichols finds, "Neil Gorsuch's Own Testimony Clearly Disqualifies Him."

Chris Hedges observes, "The Warring Kleptocrats."

Greg Palast reports, "TrumpCare Dies, XL Flies And The Secret Winner Is...."

Amy Goodman concludes, "In Trump's America, Your Privacy Is For Sale."

David Swanson shares, "Liberalism's Communications Problem."

Michael Winship remembers, "A Couple Of Things About Jimmy Breslin."

Neil Gorsuch wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "No, Paul, It Wasn't Because Of 'Growing Pains.'"

Ralph Nader sees, "Crash Of Trumpcare Opens Door To Full Medicare For All."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion discovers, "Anxiety Disorders Induced By Trump Presidency Not Covered Under GOP Health Bill" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Trump Declares War On Fresh Air And Water."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Daryl Cagle, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Keith Tucker, Mark Wilson, Victor Juhasz, Tom Williams, Yvonne Hemsey, Mandel Ngan, Nicholas Kamm, Jabin Botsford, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Doug Mills, Claire Rowland, National Nurses United, flickr, Redux, AP, Getty Images, NASA, Donkey Hotey, Romulus Films, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Trumps America, coming to a city near you!

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Trump Declares War On Fresh Air And Water
By Ernest Stewart

"Trump is just a fossil fuel industry stooge with a presidential pen. Thankfully, for all his bluster, the best Trump can do is delay America's inevitable transition to clean energy, but he can't stop it." ~~~ Annie Leonard of Greenpeace USA

"This very expensive global warming bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice" ~~~ Donald J. Trump

"Today's vote means that Americans will never be safe online from having their most personal details stealthily scrutinized and sold to the highest bidder. Donald Trump, by giving away our data to the country's leading phone and cable giants, is further undermining American democracy." ~~~ Jeffrey Chester ~ Executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

"The measure of giving, is to give without measure." ~~~ Anon.

Trump signed an executive order Tuesday afternoon at the Environmental Protection Agency in an obvious move by the President to halt the United States' government's attempts to curb carbon dioxide emissions with the goal of making the rich, richer!

But the executive order, while sweeping, does not do everything the Trump administration thinks. It is unlikely to bring a restoration of the coal industry, is certain to be caught up in court for years, and on its own, doesn't pull the US out of the Paris accords. However, have no doubt that is to come as Trump promised to do so on the campaign trail! Anything that Obama signed is set for demolition by the Junta, anything, except perhaps, the one that gave Obama the ability to murder anyone overseas including American children at his personal whim. I'm guessing that Trump will retain that one!

Fortunately for the environment clean energy employs many more Americans than the fossil fuel industry, and economic forecasts show that the trend will continue, according to a Sierra Club analysis published Monday of the DoE's 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report released earlier this year. The Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said:

"Clean energy jobs, including those from solar, wind, energy efficiency, smart grid technology, and battery storage, vastly outnumber all fossil fuel jobs nationwide from the coal, oil and gas sectors. That includes jobs in power generation, mining, and other forms of fossil fuel extraction.

"Nationwide, clean energy jobs outnumber all fossil fuel jobs by over 2.5 to 1; and they outnumber all jobs in coal and gas by 5 to 1.

"Right now, clean energy jobs already overwhelm dirty fuels in nearly every state across America, and that growth is only going to continue as clean energy keeps getting more affordable and accessible by the day."
Hopefully we can tie these new rules up in court until the next Presidential election, providing that we still have elections in 2020!

In Other News

Global Warming is enough of a nightmare without bringing Donald Trump into the equation, but once you do, you realized that he very well may be the straw that broke the camels back. He's jacked his jaws and showed his ignorance so many times that you start to feel sorry for his spin master, and spokes weasel, Sean Spicer. Here's a few of the Tweetmasters thoughts:

By all means spin away Sean! Ergo without a sane man running this country and most of the world you can plainly see what lies ahead for the world. Trump obviously has jumped aboard fellow traveler and "deep thinker" Jim Inhofe bandwagon! You may recall back in February 2015 when Jim brought a snowball into the Senate and holding it high for all to see said, "In case we have forgotten, because we keep hearing that 2014 was the warmest year on record, I ask the chair, you know what this is? It's a snowball. So it's very, very cold out. Very unseasonable." Unseasonable? He's right, who has ever heard of snow in February? It's gone up a couple of degrees fahrenheit and not quite 2 degrees centigrade and Jim thinks that means no snow in February? Jim is a moron, but what is worse is the people who keep electing him to office. How stupid do you have to be, to do that?

Those 2 measly degrees has started melting the polar ice packs. You can now sail a ship the size of the Battleship Bismarck through the northwest passage like they did last summer and if you have $22,000 to throw away, and that's the cheapest ticket price, you too can sail through the Northwest passage. She's sailing again this year from Anchorage to New York City on August 15!

Global warming is killing off marine life systems to the point that soon a couple billion people who depend on sea life for all their protein may soon go the way of the Dodo bird, Dinosaurs, and compassionate Republicans! Trump will kill many more people through his denial of Global Warming than any bombing campaigns that his tiny little brain can dream up!

And Finally

Well all the Rethuglican members of both the Sin-ate and the Con-gress have voted to allow their bribers at Comcast and the like to sell your browsing information; including your favorite porn sites, not to mention your Social Security numbers and financial and health information, to the highest bidder, who will sell them to advertisers to drive you mad with their ads. In fact they will sell them to anyone who has the price! The vote ran directly along party lines. My two Sin-ators, both Democrats voted against it but my Con-gress man Paul Mitchell, a Rethuglican, voted for it, so I sent him the following note asking for an explanation for his vote of treason.

Hey Paul,

I see you voted to sell my private information to the highest bidder. Well so much for the 4th amendment, huh Paul. I look forward to your explanation for this act of treason. I'm guessing Comcast paid you the traditional 30 pieces of silver for your vote? Since you haven't got the balls to hold any town hall meetings we'll have to wait to confront you when you try to run for reelection. And since your record reflects voting to only enhance the 1% and not the peoples interests, good luck with that! Oh, and thanks, Paul, for writing this week's editorial for me!


Ernest Stewart
Managing Editor
Issues & Alibis magazine

If Paul has the cojones to respond with an explanation I'll certainly let you know what it is. But I won't hold my breath waiting to hear from him, and neither should you!

On the plus side I can buy all of Paul's information, or Paul Ryan's info including all of the above and more. I wonder how will they'll like it when the shoe's on the other foot? There are several liberal organizations that are getting ready to do just that. I wonder where Trump goes when there is no one looking, don't you?

Keepin' On

Seek and ye shall find. This week we heard from Dr. Bob (two doctors down and one to go Dr. Phil) who is also one of the "usual suspects." The "usual suspects" are a group of men and women from around the world who are of a like mind and who are our most fervent supporters. Without whose help we would have gone under like 95% of the rest have over the years and decades.

They support us because we are here ferreting out the truth and bringing it to the light of day 24/7/365! I've always found that you can deal with the truth as bad as it might be; but you must know what it is -- and what it means. We will tell you what it is -- what it means to you and yours is up to you. With all the MSM and most of the Internet owned and operated for the sole benefit of the 1%, the truth in this day and age is very hard to come by, indeed; is it not?

We've been fighting the good fight for you and yours since December 12, 2000. Therefore, I would think it would be to your advantage to help keep us afloat. If you can, won't you please send us what you can, as often as you can; and we'll put it all, to good work.


07-30-1924 ~ 03-23-2017
Thanks for the film!

12-13-1947 ~ 03-26-2017
Thanks for the film!

01-17-1945 ~ 03-28-2017
Thanks for the film!


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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 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.

Trump The Destroyer
In one of the most anticipated congressional hearings in years, James Comey and Mike Rogers took turns saying nothing
By Matt Taibbi

It's like the campaign never ended. It's the same all-Trump, all-the-time madness, only exponentially worse.

Morning, February 24th, National Harbor, Maryland, the Conservative Political Action Conference. Chin up, eyes asquint, Donald Trump floats to the lectern on a sea of applause and adulation. The building is shaking, and as fans howl his name - Trump! Trump! Trump! - he looks pleased and satisfied, like a Roman emperor who has just moved his bowels.

"Great to be back at CPAC," he says. "The place I have really..."

The thought flies into the air and vanishes. Last year at this time, Trump was bailing on a CPAC invite because a rat's nest of National Review types was threatening a walkout to protest him. There was talk of 300 conservatives planning a simultaneous march to the toilet if the formerly pro-choice New Yorker was allowed onstage.

Whether Trump remembers this now, or just loses his train of thought, he goes silent.

"We love you!" a young woman screams, filling the void.

"I love this place!" Trump exclaims, sunnily now. He recalls the tale of his first major political speech, which was delivered to this very conference six years ago. Back then he was introduced to the beat of the O'Jays soul hit "For the Love of Money," and over the course of 13 uncomfortably autoerotic minutes flogged his rEsumE and declared it a myth that a "very successful person" couldn't run for president.

He starts to tell that story, when suddenly he spots something in the audience that knocks him off script.

"Siddown, everybody, come on," he says.

A lot of the people can't sit down because they're in standing-room-only sections. There's confusion, a few nervous laughs. Frowning, Trump plows ahead.

"You know," he says, "the dishonest media, they'll say, 'He didn't get a standing ovation.' You know why?"

Those of us in the dishonest-media section shoot befuddled looks at one another. Not one of us has a clue why.

"You know why? No, you know why?" he goes on. "Because everybody stood and nobody sat. So they will say, 'He never got a standing ovation.' Right?"

This makes no sense, but the crowd roars anyway. Trump leans over and pauses to soak in the love, his trademark red tie hanging like the tongue of a sled dog. Finally he turns and flashes a triumphant thumbs-up. A chant breaks out:

"U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"

Reporters stare at one another in shock. They were mute bystanders seconds ago; now they're the 1980 Soviet hockey team. One turns to a colleague and silently mouths: "U-S-A? What the f..."

Nearby, another press nerd is frowning to himself and counting on his fingers, apparently trying to use visual aids to retrace Trump's reasoning. Was the idea that reporters wouldn't notice a standing ovation unless the crowd eventually sat down?

Helpless shrugs all around.

In a flash, Trump is launching into a furious 15-minute diatribe, bashing the "Clinton News Network" (Trump continually refers to Hillary Clinton as if the campaign were still going on) and describing the press as the "enemy of the people."

Within hours, Trump's aides will bar a group of news outlets from a White House gaggle, in a formal declaration of war against the media. The next morning, a still-raging Trump will tweet out his decision not to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner - no great loss, since the event has never not been a wretched exercise in stale humor and ankle-biting toadyism, but still. How long can he keep up this pace?

Since winning the election, Trump has declared interpersonal war on a breathtaking list of targets: the Australian prime minister, an acting attorney general, seven predominantly Muslim countries, a "so-called" federal judge, Sweden, "Fake Tears" Chuck Schumer, Saturday Night Live, the FBI, the "very un-American" leakers within the intelligence community, and the city of Paris (it's "no longer Paris"). He's side-eyed Mark Cuban, John McCain, millions of protesters, Lindsey Graham, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Cuomo, the University of California at Berkeley, ratings "disaster" Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nancy Pelosi, the "TRAITOR Chelsea Manning," Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Barack Obama and the city of Chicago, among many, many others.

There is no other story in the world, no other show to watch. The first and most notable consequence of Trump's administration is that his ability to generate celebrity has massively increased, his persona now turbocharged by the vast powers of the presidency. Trump has always been a reality star without peer, but now the most powerful man on Earth is prisoner to his talents as an attention-generation machine.

Worse, he is leader of a society incapable of discouraging him. The numbers bear out that we are living through a severely amplified deja vu of last year's media-Trump codependent lunacies. TV-news viewership traditionally plummets after a presidential election, but under Trump, it's soaring. Ratings since November for the major cable news networks are up an astonishing 50 percent in some cases, with CNN expecting to improve on its record 2016 to make a billion dollars - that's billion with a "b" - in profits this year.

Even the long-suffering newspaper business is crawling off its deathbed, with The New York Times adding 132,000 subscribers in the first 18 days after the election. If Trump really hates the press, being the first person in decades to reverse the industry's seemingly inexorable financial decline sure is a funny way of showing it.

On the campaign trail, ballooning celebrity equaled victory. But as the country is finding out, fame and governance have nothing to do with one another. Trump! is bigger than ever. But the Trump presidency is fast withering on the vine in a bizarre, Dorian Gray-style inverse correlation. Which would be a problem for Trump, if he cared.

But does he? During the election, Trump exploded every idea we ever had about how politics is supposed to work. The easiest marks in his con-artist conquest of the system were the people who kept trying to measure him according to conventional standards of candidate behavior. You remember the Beltway priests who said no one could ever win the White House by insulting women, the disabled, veterans, Hispanics, "the blacks," by using a Charlie Chan voice to talk about Asians, etc.

Now he's in office and we're again facing the trap of conventional assumptions. Surely Trump wants to rule? It couldn't be that the presidency is just a puppy Trump never intended to care for, could it?

Toward the end of his CPAC speech, following a fusillade of anti-media tirades that will dominate the headlines for days, Trump, in an offhand voice, casually mentions what a chore the presidency can be.

"I still don't have my Cabinet approved," he sighs.

In truth, Trump does have much of his team approved. In the early days of his administration, while his Democratic opposition was still reeling from November's defeat, Trump managed to stuff the top of his Cabinet with a jaw-dropping collection of perverts, tyrants and imbeciles, the likes of which Washington has never seen.

En route to taking this crucial first beachhead in his invasion of the capital, Trump did what he always does: stoked chaos, created hurricanes of misdirection, ignored rules and dared the system of checks and balances to stop him.

By conventional standards, the system held up fairly well. But this is not a conventional president. He was a new kind of candidate and now is a new kind of leader: one who stumbles like a drunk up Capitol Hill, but manages even in defeat to continually pull the country in his direction, transforming not our laws but our consciousness, one shriveling brain cell at a time.

It seems strange to say about the most overanalyzed person in the world, but Trump arrived in Washington an unknown. His shocking victory had been won almost entirely outside the Beltway, via a Shermanesque barnstorming tour through white-discontent meccas in states like Iowa, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where he devoured popular support by promising wrath and vengeance on the federal government. Trump didn't appeal to K Street for help, didn't beg for mailing lists or the phone numbers of millionaire bundlers, and never wrung his hands waiting for favorable reviews on Meet the Press. He was the first president in modern times to arrive in Washington not owing the local burghers.

What that meant, nobody knew, but it probably wasn't good. Leaders in both parties had reason to panic. Democrats were calling him illegitimate. Leading Republicans had abandoned Trump during the "grab them by the pussy" episode. In a true autocracy, theirs would be the first heads gored on stakes as a warning to the others. Many D.C. bureaucrats had no idea what to expect. They were like shopkeepers awaiting the arrival of a notorious biker gang.

Candidate Trump had lied and prevaricated so fluidly that it was impossible to be sure where he really stood on any issue. Was he "very pro-choice," or did he think women who got abortions deserved "some form of punishment"? Was he an aspiring dictator and revolutionary, or merely a pragmatic charlatan whose run for president was just a publicity stunt that got way out of hand?

The mystery seemed to end once Trump started choosing his team.

Some appointees were less terrifying than others. Former ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson at least pays lip service to climate change and probably has enough smarts to complete one side of a Rubik's Cube. Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin would struggle to make a list of the 30 most loathsome Goldman Sachs veterans. These and a few others were merely worst-case-scenario corporate-influence types, industry foxes sent to man regulatory henhouses.

But the rest were the most fantastic collection of creeps since the "Thriller" video. Many were blunderers and conspiracists whose sole qualification for office appeared to be their open hostility to the missions of the agencies they were tapped to run.

Trump's choice for EPA director, Scott Pruitt, was a climate-change denier who infamously zeroed out the environmental-enforcement division from the Oklahoma attorney general's office. For secretary of labor, Trump picked a fast-food titan who prefers robots to human workers (robots, he said, don't file discrimination suits!).

Trump put a brain surgeon in charge of federal housing, picked a hockey-team owner to be secretary of the Army, and chose as budget director a congressman best known for inspiring a downgrade to America's credit rating by threatening to default on the national debt.

Trump's pick for energy secretary, Rick Perry, reportedly not only admitted that he didn't know what the Department of Energy actually does, but had called for that very agency's elimination as a presidential candidate (and forgot that fact during a debate). Moreover, Trump had brutalized Perry during the campaign as a dimwit among dimwits, whose "smart glasses" affectation didn't fool anyone.

For Trump and his inner circle to name Perry to any Cabinet post at all felt like trolling, like a football team wrapping the mascot in packing tape and mailing him to Canada. But to send someone you're on record calling an idiot to run the nation's nuclear arsenal, that doesn't fit easily in any bucket: mischief, evil, incompetence - it's even a little extreme for nihilism.

Trump's lead adviser, the fast-talking Breitbart Svengali Steve Bannon, would ultimately explain the thinking behind Trump's appointments in front of the CPAC audience. "If you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason," he said. The mysterious figure described that reason as the "deconstruction of the administrative state."

Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, describes the Cabinet picks as part of the "deconstruction of the administrative state."

This seemed to confirm the darkest theory of the Trump administration: a state-smashing revolution disguised as populist political theater. A do-nothing Cabinet could ease back on its discretionary authority to save public lands, enforce workplace protections, uphold emissions standards. It could (and soon would) stop investigating crooked police departments. It could redirect funds meant to study climate change or viral outbreaks.

Continuing a theme that dominated election season, both parties were painfully slow to accept the reality of what they were dealing with.

The early response of the Democratic leadership to Trump's picks was a shocking strategy of partial accommodation and "picking their battles."

"I call it the law of conservation of no's," says Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project, which monitors federal appointments. "The Democrats felt they could only say no to Trump so many times, that they had to hoard their political capital for one or two battles."

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Co. decided to focus their oppositional efforts on a few select targets, particularly Trump's Health and Human Services nominee, Georgia Rep. Tom Price.

An orthopedic surgeon with snow-white hair, sallow cheeks and the voice of a man complaining to a waitress, Price is probably best known for spending the past eight years leading the effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

In a classic example of Beltway-Clintonian triangular thinking, the Democrats felt that Price was their best bet to score a crossover win because of his history of favoring cuts in the popular Medicare and Medicaid programs.

After a paradigm-crushing year in which Trump won the presidency claiming vaccines were a hoax, global warming was a Chinese conspiracy and Ted Cruz's dad killed JFK, Democrats were clinging to a Nineties-era playbook that said forcing Republicans into a corner on Medicare and Social Security was still a no-lose play in American politics.

The focus on Price was another example of Democrats' inability to recognize a changed political landscape. But even before Trump came on the scene, this lack of vision doomed them.

In 2013, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada eliminated the filibuster procedure for presidential nominees. Passage of the so-called Reid Rule was widely hailed by Democrats because it solved the short-term problem of Republican obstruction of Obama.

In reality, Reid just sabotaged the future self-defense capability of the entire Senate. This was one of many examples of Democrats cheering an expansion of executive power that later left them weakened under Trump. Delaware Sen. Chris Coons was one of the first to get religion late last year, once he started to see Trump's loony nominees marching up the Hill.

"I do regret that," Coons told CNN in late November. "[The filibuster] would have been a terrific speed bump."

Still, it's not clear that Democrats would have used the filibuster, even if they had it holstered. At an early-December meeting at North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's Washington home, several prominent Democrats reportedly met over Chinese food and emerged with a crack-suicide-squad strategy for fighting Trump: Talk more about pocketbook issues and maybe take on Price.

One Democrat after another sounded notes of accommodation. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he planned to generally support Trump's picks "unless there's just something scathing coming out that I don't know about." Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii added, "We can't very well be at a fever pitch on everything."

Price sailed through hearings and was confirmed along party lines basically without a struggle, and the Democratic "resistance" looked cooked out of the gate.

Tom Price is sworn in as Health and Human Services secretary.

Another early nominee who skated through was CIA chief Mike Pompeo, a Jesus-humping conspiracist who embraces torture and once called politics "a never-ending struggle until the Rapture."

A spy chief who believes in literal Armageddon apparently wasn't "scathing" enough to be "fevered" about, and 14 Democrats supported his nomination in a whopping 66-32 confirmation.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts then gave voice votes in favor of Trump's choice to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson.

Even if Carson were not an addled mystic who thinks gay rights are a Marxist plot and "hummus" a Palestinian terrorist group, putting a doctor with no economics background in charge of an agency about to take part in one of the most complex financial projects in our history - the reorganization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - seemed like madness.

Carson, through an aide, said as late as November he didn't want to take a Cabinet post because he "has no government experience," saying he didn't want to do anything that could "cripple the presidency."

Mark it down as another first in the Trump era: Politician formally announces his own incompetence in an attempt to prevent his own nomination, gets nominated anyway, and is even supported by members of an opposition party that perhaps unconsciously has begun to grade Trump's insanity on a curve - an early example of how the relentless Trump show bends our perception of reality.

Democratic members who cast early yea votes were besieged when they went back home. Warren was deluged with furious Twitter responses ("Ben Carson is ok?! Wtf is wrong with you!"), while Schumer appeared at a rally in Battery Park in Manhattan, only to be hectored: "Stop voting for his nominees!"

The Women's March also shocked Democratic leadership. Some reports called it the largest protest in our history, with as many as 4.2 million people marching in 600 different cities.

These people didn't want Democrats "picking battles" and "conserving no's" - they wanted them to hurl themselves under tank treads to stop Trump at every turn. But what really made the message sink in for Democrats was a mid-January hearing that provided one of their first up-close encounters with Trump's invasion force.

The turning point comes early on the evening of January 17th, in Room 430 of the Senate's Dirksen Building. At the center of this imposing hearing hall with majestic circular paneling, built in the Fifties to provide the Senate with a dramatic venue fit for the television age, sits the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee's first visitor from Planet Trump.

She is a mute, unassuming woman with straight blond hair, glasses and a quizzical expression, perched at attention like someone awaiting a sermon.

The nomination of Betsy DeVos to be education secretary was surely meant on some level as an insult to the Senate. The daughter of an auto-parts billionaire, DeVos is also married to the heir of the Amway fortune, which makes her something like America's reigning Queen of Suckers. Her family has given as much as $200 million to conservative causes and politicians over the years.

It has to have entered Trump's calculations that a large percentage of senators for this reason would not be able to reject her no matter what she said or did under questioning. It's exactly the sort of cruel theater in which Trump the reality-TV producer once specialized.

DeVos arrives dressed in a blazer of bright purple. (Historians will note this is the same color of the robes worn by Incitatus, the horse Caligula used to troll the Senate.) Over the next three and a half hours, she will prove to be the worst witness since William Jennings Bryan sent himself to the stand in the Scopes Monkey Trial.

A well-known charter-school advocate who had said that "government really sucks" and that public education was a "dead end" - who had neither attended public school nor sent her kids to one - DeVos is at first standoffish but predictable in her answers. But things turn surreal when Minnesota Sen. Al Franken asks her where she stands on the question of proficiency versus growth.

Do we judge schools according to how much their students know, or should we better measure how much students know relative to how much they knew before? It's the education equivalent of asking if a football coach prefers the run or the pass.

DeVos has no idea what Franken is talking about.

"I think, if I'm understanding your question correctly around proficiency, I would also correlate it to competency and mastery," she says, "so that each student is measured according to the advancement that they're making in each subject area."

"Well, that's growth," Franken says. "That's not proficiency."

DeVos stammers a brief response, then freezes. She looks like a duck trying to read a parking meter.

As the hearing progresses, DeVos tires and her Sunday-school smile wilts around the edges. By the time Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut asks if guns should be allowed in schools, she's fed up.

"I think probably there, I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies," she says, in reference to an earlier exchange with Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi.

Murmurs shoot through the rear of the hall. The members are unaware that the hearing is trending on Twitter. The "grizzlies" line, to use an overwrought cliche, broke the Internet.

Committee Chair Sen. Lamar Alexander, a pink-faced Southerner whose own fringe presidential runs in the Nineties in some ways presaged Trump's - the difference being Alexander's populist affectation was a red-flannel shirt instead of conspiratorial xenophobia - had miscalculated in his apparent attempt to hide the hearing by scheduling it at night.

The Republicans also failed to adjust for the new Trump-era media landscape. Twitter that day boiled with hot stories. Trump's NSA communications pick, pearl-earringed Fox News blockhead Monica Crowley, had to step down over plagiarism accusations. Trump was continuing his days-long flame war with Georgia Rep. John Lewis, and blasting his approval ratings as "rigged." Some 51 members of Congress were announcing plans to boycott Trump's inauguration. And so on.

"During the day, seven crazy things were happening," a committee aide explains. "But in the evening, this was it."

When the hearing ended, ranking member Sen. Patty Murray of Washington was amazed to find out that the HELP committee had somehow become the center of the social-media universe.

"I looked down at my phone and saw all of these texts," she says now. "I was like, 'Wow.'"

A video from the hearing would garner 1.2 million hits on YouTube, beyond anything in the committee's history.

The impact of the DeVos implosion was twofold. First, the Democrats realized they could and should fight back. Second, Republicans found the downside of party-line votes. Many received a torrent of abuse from constituents who demanded they vote DeVos out.

"I have heard from thousands, truly, thousands of Alaskans who have shared their concerns about Mrs. DeVos," said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who dealt with protests outside her Alaska office and later estimated that 30,000 constituents called to complain.

Murkowski announced that she would pull her vote for DeVos, as did Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. A senator voting against his or her own party's nominee is the Beltway equivalent of an eclipse or a volcanic lightning strike - rare and frightening to the natives.

True to form, the Democrats - they have been a step behind Trump for a while now - never managed to peel off a third defector to defeat DeVos. But Republicans still suffered the indignity of needing Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie, another thing that had never before happened in the Senate's history.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

The DeVos debacle impacted Trump's choice for labor secretary, Andy Puzder. The CEO of CKE Restaurants, which includes the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. chains, the lecherous and moronic Puzder made DeVos look like Robert Frost.

Earlier that week, it came to light that Puzder's ex-wife had appeared in disguise on The Oprah Winfrey Show back in the Nineties to talk about being abused. Moreover, Puzder greenlit a line of pseudo-pornographic commercials, including one that featured babes in postage-stamp bikinis opening wide to wolf down "three-way burgers." Even his name, Puzder, sounds like an unmentionable sex act.

To be confirmed, Puzder would have to run the same gauntlet of HELP committee senators: Murray, Franken, Murphy, Warren and Bernie Sanders, among others, all of whom had turned their cross-examinations of DeVos into viral hits.

If silly Betsy DeVos crashed Twitter, what would hours of live Q&A with a cleavage-obsessed multimillionaire do?

Before it came to that, four Republicans - Collins, Murkowski, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia - announced they were withholding support for Puzder's bid. Soon after, he pulled out, and Democrats for the first time drew blood against Trump. Puzder later told Fox News that the DeVos hearing "actually is what killed" his nomination.

From that point forward, there was no more "conservation of no's."

"I think before, some people might have been saying, 'Somewhere in his heart [Trump] must love the country. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt," says Murray, stressing she herself never felt this way. "But after DeVos, everyone realized, you can't give him the benefit of the doubt."

Murray adds that DeVos provided what seemed like proof of the Bannon theory of Trump's governance by self-sabotage.

"You sensed it before, but now it's jelling in people's minds," Murray says. "This was a completely different kind of administration. We had to consider that this was a really focused deconstructive effort."

In the chambers of the Senate and on social media, the battle over Trump's nominees felt like a comedy of manners. But out in the real world, there were already people staring at the business end of his presidency, and the costs were very real.

On the evening of January 28th, Munther Alaskry sits on the tarmac in a Turkish Air Lines jet in Istanbul, his wife and two young children by his side. They are on a stopover, headed for Houston. An Iraqi native, Alaskry had served in combat in Iraq as a translator alongside American soldiers dating back to 2003. He'd carried a weapon in the field, wore an American-issued uniform and been hunted by militias in his own country for more than a decade.

He applied for a visa to the U.S. in 2010 and, after nearly seven years of paperwork and interviews with practically every American security agency, was finally granted permission to immigrate in December 2016. "If that is not extreme vetting, I don't know what is," he says.

But before his jet takes off in Istanbul, a woman comes down the aisle and asks his wife for her passport. Alaskry knows instantly the game is up. He and his family are pulled off the plane and flown back to Baghdad at his expense. There is nothing to go back to. He'd sold his car and furniture. He and his wife had quit their jobs. He is also sure to be executed if the wrong people find him. They hide in his father-in-law's house.

"We had no idea what to do," he says. "We had nothing."

Trump's infamous executive order on January 27th barring immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries was initially taken by conservatives as proof that he was a doer, not a talker. "Man of Action Has Press, Democrats and Hollywood in a Dither," The Washington Times gushed.

But the episode ended up being classic Trumpian ineptitude. The order was so poorly thought out that even the meanest judge couldn't ratify it. It originally included a de facto exemption for Christians, making it a glaring violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. A Bush-appointed judge, James Robart, struck it down out of the gate, and Alaskry was shortly after able to get his family to Rochester, New York. He marveled at Americans' inability to distinguish, say, an ISIL fighter from people like himself, to say nothing of his children.

"The veterans, they know," Alaskry says. "But the normal people, they do not know the difference." A president like Trump can have an impact even if he never manages to get a single law passed, simply by unleashing stupidity as a revolutionary force. Of course, no one can draw a direct line from Trump to incidents like the one in Kansas, where one of those "normal people" shot two immigrants from India, killing one, after accosting them about their visa status. Nor can anyone say that the Trump effect caused a Sikh man with American citizenship to be shot outside Seattle by a man yelling, "Go back to your own country!"

If Trump and his supporters don't want to take credit for this exciting new era of not knowing what a Muslim is, but shooting people for being one anyway, that's OK. But Trump's executive orders were the hallmark of his first days in office, as he signed the travel ban, pledged to overturn the Dodd-Frank financial rules and ordered the construction of the so-called "Great Wall of Trump," among other things.

But in most cases these orders only announced the start of long legal battles with highly ambiguous chances for success. Take away the impact they had as symbols of action, and most of what Trump has actually done so far, concretely, is pick a team. He soon enough stopped bothering with that, too.

Trump on Air Force One with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on January 26th. The next day, the president announced the travel ban.

Afternoon, February 16th, the Senate. Up in the gallery above the dais, in the cheap seats near the ceiling where they keep the reporters, rests a copy of Robert Caro's tour de force Master of the Senate. As you sit flipping the pages of the colossal tome, reading decades-old descriptions of the very "drab tan damask walls" next to which you sit, you learn that this body, like a heavy ocean-worthy ship, was designed to withstand the most violent changes in circumstance.

Even two centuries ago, people like Jefferson and Madison understood that Americans were likely to go crazy from time to time, and so infused the Senate with awesome powers to stall and block the "transient impressions into which [people] might be led."

On the floor below, Democrats are playing out the script, furiously arguing against Mick Mulvaney, Trump's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget. Emboldened by their clash with DeVos and the withdrawal of Puzder, they're finally fighting in earnest using traditional legislative weaponry. But they still have no answer for the post-factual revolution raging outside the Capitol that saddled them with a figure like Mulvaney in the first place.

The South Carolina congressman with the cropped hair and the bulldog face is one of the most disliked people on the Hill. Mulvaney orates with the charm of a prison guard and behaves as if smiling on Capitol grounds would violate the Framers' vision of limited government. He fits the Bannonite vision of revolutionary destruction, having for years led a gang of fiscal conspiracy theorists who, based on nothing whatsoever, believe that nothing bad could come from the United States defaulting on its national debt.

"I have yet to meet someone who can articulate the negative consequences [of defaulting]," he said in 2010.

Shortly after saying this, the United States' credit rating was downgraded from AAA to AA+ by Standard and Poor's, thanks in large part to congressional Republicans like Mulvaney threatening default. This episode will cost American taxpayers an astonishing $18.9 billion due to higher interest rates just on American securities issued that year. A similar episode two years later cost the economy another $24 billion, making Mulvaney and his bund of congressional "debt truthers" perhaps the most expensively stupid people ever to be elected to federal office in America.

As the Mulvaney vote nears, one Democratic senator after another stands up in the gallery to call him out. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois notes that Mulvaney once questioned whether the Zika virus caused birth defects, apparently because he didn't want the government spending money on scientific research.

"I'm not making this up," Durbin pleads.

The Republicans yawn. One of the brilliant innovations of the Trump phenomenon has been the turning of expertise into a class issue. Formerly, scientists were political liabilities only insofar as their work clashed with the teachings of TV Bible-thumpers. Now, any person who in any way disputes popular misconceptions - that balancing a budget is just like balancing a checkbook, that two snowfalls in a week prove global warming isn't real, that handguns would have saved Jews from the Holocaust or little kids from the Sandy Hook massacre - is part of an elitist conspiracy to deny the selfhood of the Google-educated American. The Republicans understand this axiom: No politician in the Trump era is going to dive in a foxhole to save scientific research. Scientists, like reporters, Muslims and the French, are out.

Most conservatives who opposed Trump over the past two years on grounds of basic logic now realize that they'll suffer if they take stands against his conspiratorial ideas on immigrants, the budget, "so-called" judges, climate change or anything else. Trump has made being the voice of reason politically dangerous. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, for instance, is already saddled with a Trump-aligned primary challenger and the enmity of Breitbart, which ran a photo of him next to an "I'm With Her" logo.

After Mulvaney squeaks through, the Democrats plunge into desperate tactics to stop the next bugbear, EPA nominee Pruitt. The drawling, devout Oklahoman represents the epitome of the Bannon ethos, failing in committee to name a single environmental regulation he supported.

To try to stop him, Dems invoke one of those senatorial stalling tactics, a rule that allows them to hold off a final vote for 30 hours, provided they keep the floor open through the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington technique of continuous debate. They stay up all night, with one member after another blasting Pruitt as the kind of man who would use a spotted owl as a dashboard ornament. But in the many rhetorical dead spots, they hit the theme of the month: Russia.

At the time, Trump's national security adviser and noted Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Gen. Michael Flynn had just resigned, after revelations that he had unreported contact with the Russian ambassador prior to Trump's inauguration. Within a few weeks, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be rolled up in a similar imbroglio.

Michael Flynn

No matter what you believe on the Russia front, the manner in which the story is being prosecuted is striking. After failing to stop nutcases like Mulvaney using conventional tactics, the Democrats forayed into the unconventional. The scandal so dominates blue-state media that Russia Wars can almost be said to be the Democrats' competing reality franchise. This show even incorporates Trump's sensational political style, cycling lurid accusations with tune-in-next-time promises of future revelations. As damaging as it's been, it's yet another example of Trump's uncanny ability to Trump-ize the world around him.

All of Trump's opponents sooner or later fall victim to the same pattern. He is so voluminously offensive that Christ himself would abandon a positive message to chase his negatives. His election so completely devastated Democratic voters that many cannot think of him except in the context of removing him as soon as possible.

A scenario under which he is impeached somehow for colluding with Vladimir Putin to disrupt last year's election seems like the needed shortcut. Unfortunately, despite a lot of lies about meetings and conversations and other curious behavior, there's no actual proof of conspiracy. The former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said there was "no evidence" of such collusion as of his last day in office.

That has put congressional Democrats in the perilous position of having to litter their Russia speeches with caveats like, "We do not know all the facts" and "More information may well surface." They're often stuck using the conspiracy-theory technique of referring to what they don't know as a way of talking about what they hope to find out. Trump has responded to all this in a predictable manner, leveling wild counter-accusations, saying Obama had been "tapping my phones" and was a "bad (or sick) guy." Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who will either be ambassador to Mars or in a straitjacket by the end of this presidency, followed up by suggesting the government may have used a microwave oven to surveil Trump Tower during the election.

Maybe Trump didn't plan this, and it's just coincidence that where we are now - dueling accusations of criminality, investigations instead of debates, jail promised to the loser - is what politics would look like in a WWE future where government is a for-profit television program. And maybe it's not the Trump effect that has Democrats so completely focused on him instead of talking to their voters, a mistake they also made last election season.

Still, the Russia story is the ultimate in high-stakes politics. If proof emerges that Trump and Putin colluded, it could topple this presidency. But if no such evidence comes out, the gambit could massively backfire, validating Trump's accusations of establishment bias and media overreach.

In the short term, however, there's no question that Russia is bloodying Trump politically. An evening speech during the Pruitt hearings by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar hits the typical notes.

She cleverly references a trip she made to Ukraine with McCain and Graham, both owners of key votes in future legislative battles. She then goes all out rhetorically, hinting at bombshell future revelations: blackmail, betrayal, treason.

"If we are committed to ensuring that Russia's hacking invasions and blackmail do not go unchecked," she says, "we must do everything in our power to uncover the full extent of this interference in our own political system...."

This goes on all night. Democrats stick it out until morning, only to wake up to find that two of their own caucus members from coal country have crossed over to give Pruitt their support.

Their cave-in shows that the power of Trump's base extends even to Democrats. The two senators, Heitkamp of North Dakota and Manchin of West Virginia, both face re-election in 2018 and hail from states where Trump won handily. So much for throwing their bodies under tank treads: The Democrats can't even convince their members to forget about re-election long enough to save the EPA. The ayes have it, 52-46, handing environmental enforcement to a man likely bent on a campaign of inaction, portending perhaps a return now to the good old days of the Cuyahoga River spontaneously catching fire.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

As the month of February nears its end, Trump has won far more than he's lost on the nomination front. But he appears to have been scarred by this process that saw one appointee resign (Flynn), four more withdraw (Puzder, Crowley, would-be Army Secretary Vincent Viola and Navy Secretary pick Philip Bilden), and another, Sessions, caught up in scandal and forced to recuse himself from the Russia probe after possibly perjuring himself during his confirmation. As much of a dumpster fire as it may have seemed from the outside, the rocky nomination process has actually been a honeymoon of sorts for Trump, a period when he only needed a simple majority in a 52-Republican Senate to get his people passed. Going forward, as of now, for actual legislation, the filibuster will be in play, and Trump will need 60 votes to do real damage.

"The 60-vote universe is where he's got a problem," says longtime Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg.

That theory is borne out a few weeks later, when a House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act runs into trouble in the Senate, and no fewer than eight Republicans announce their objections. The Congressional Budget Office complicates the picture by scoring the Republican bill and concluding that it would leave 14 million fewer people insured next year.

This contradicts Trump's "drinks for the house!"-style assertion that a new plan would mean "insurance for everybody." OMB head Mulvaney quickly jumps in to say the CBO is "terrible at counting" and dismisses the score as bad math. Newt Gingrich, whose continued relevance as a go-to talking head is another unfortunate consequence of this presidency, goes further, crying that the CBO should be "abolished" and replaced by "three to five professional firms." In modern American politics, every game is a blown call by the refs.

Just a month or so into Trump's administration, one of the central promises of his campaign - the killing off of the Affordable Care Act - is in trouble. Trump's inability to hold coalitions together, or really do much of anything beyond generate TV ratings, is already showing. But just as it was last year when the punditocracy told him he'd made himself unelectable, Trump's ace in the hole may be that he doesn't care. His history is that when the playing field doesn't work for him, he moves it. The Framers may have designed the government to withstand bouts of popular madness, but there are no checks and balances against the power of celebrity. A president who is both a tyrant and disinterested in governance would have blown their minds.

"At some point, he just stopped appointing people," says an incredulous Hauser, the capital watchdog, at the end of February. "He's only made 30 appointments. That means he's still got over 1,000 empty posts. Nearly 200 ambassador posts are in limbo. He named Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, but not a single judge beyond that - with over 100 empty federal seats to be filled. Nobody knows what the hell is going on."

Sources theorize that Trump's appointments slowed thanks to a combination of factors. Those include a fear of more DeVos-style blowback and an inability to find people capable of passing security clearances (at least six White House staffers reportedly had to be dismissed for this reason).

A darker explanation was offered by a ProPublica story revealing that Trump sent waves of nonpolitical appointees to the agencies in so-called beachhead teams, i.e., people sent in groups under temporary appointments of four to eight months.

These appointees did not have to be confirmed by Congress. Some are freaks and fringe weirdos on a level below even the goofballs in Trump's Cabinet. A fair number carry amorphous "special assistant" titles, making it difficult to know what their duties are.

More unnerving is the presence in the Cabinet-level agencies of a seemingly new position, "senior White House adviser."

Some Hill sources believe these new officials are reporting directly to Steve Bannon, who is fast achieving mythical status as the empire's supreme villain. On the surface, Bannon is just another vicious ex-hippie of the David Horowitz/Michael Savage school, a former Grateful Dead fan who overswung the other way to embrace a Nazistic "culture first" alt-right movement. Everyone from Time magazine (which called him "the great manipulator") to The New York Times (which called him a "de facto president") is rushing to make him into a superempowered henchman of the extreme right, a new Roy Cohn - fitting, since Cohn himself was one of Trump's first mentors. But whether he's Cohn or just a fourth-rate imitator with a fat neck is still unclear.

Rosenberg believes the anemic pace of Senate-track political nominations, coupled with this flood of unconfirmed political hires, may be at least in part a conscious strategy to try to decrease the autonomy of the agencies and increase the control of the White House, in particular the Bannon camp.

Even at Tillerson's introductory speech, Rosenberg points out, a young Trump campaign organizer and former Chris Christie aide named Matthew Mowers is seen standing next to Tillerson.

"He's like a 27-year-old kid," Rosenberg says. "Normally you would never have a young political appointee in the shot with the principal."

This sounds like Kremlinology - the days when we were forced to try to figure out who was on the outs in the Soviet Politburo by seeing who sat next to whom in photos of Red Square parades - and it fits the Soviet flavor of the news leaking out of the agencies. Congressional sources in contact with the State Department report that some "beachhead" appointees wanted to start making immediate drastic cuts, closing consulates abroad willy-nilly, without asking for information or visiting the locations.

The Trump government has been besieged with damaging leaks - everything from internal Homeland Security reports showing little risk from immigrants of "Muslim ban" countries to alleged orders to consider reopening CIA "black sites." D.C. has never seen anything like it: Reporters are able to get damaging information about the goings-on inside agencies just by cold-calling the right numbers.

The administration is so concerned with leakers within the State Department that Tillerson has supposedly banned note-taking at meetings. "The level of paranoia is off the charts," reports a former senior official.

Tillerson himself is said to have postponed some diplomatic business to focus on what is euphemistically described as "fixing" the State Department. Probably this means more weeding out of civil servants, something going on across government.

Most infamously, Attorney General Sessions - fast becoming the poster child for the Trump administration's inability to avoid stepping on its own genitalia - asked 46 U.S. attorneys to resign, including Southern District of New York chief Preet Bharara, who reportedly was specifically asked to stay on just after the election.

Some of these moves sound like Bannon's much-publicized bent toward Leninist thinking: Purge unbelievers, fill the bureaucracies with loyal dunces, concentrate power, eschew governance goals for political ones. But it's hard to say how much unanimity of purpose there could be.

When Sessions got caught up seeming to have lied to the Senate about meeting Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a video surfaced showing a scene in which Trump was reportedly raining expletives on Bannon and others over the Sessions fiasco. If all this chaos is part of a cunning plan to destroy government from within, it sure is cleverly disguised as a bunch of paranoid amateurs flailing around and turning on one another weeks into the job.

One reporter tasked with covering the appointments says the staffing issue comes down to the same question we always have about Trump: Is this a scheme to destroy government, or cluelessness? "It's just so hard to tell," he says, "where this falls on the stupid-to-evil spectrum."

While the chaos of Trump's first months has caused him problems in the Beltway, it seems not to have hurt him a lick with his fans. After the CPAC speech, Trump supporters offer their takes on the nominee battles. The consensus? The Democrats who opposed Trump's picks are a bunch of smartasses who need to lighten up.

University of Delaware student Daniel Worthington says the Democrats' grilling of DeVos really rubbed him the wrong way.

"You come off as douchey, when somebody's like, 'Oh, you don't know the difference between proficiency and growth?'" he says. "I'd be like, 'You're kind of an asshole.'"

When asked if he thinks Puzder should have been confirmed, Worthington nods.

"Yeah, we don't get Carl's Jr. up here," he says. "But I like their commercials."

In February, Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference - last year, he declined to attend over threats of a boycott.

Tuesday, February 28th, a joint session of Congress, the last day of Trump's first full month in office. It's less than a minute into his first major national address, and Trump is already eyeballs-deep in bull.

"Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries," he says, "remind us that we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms." Just hours before, he told a group of state attorneys general that hate crimes against Jews were overblown, that "sometimes it's the reverse, to make people - or to make others - look bad."

Trump moves on to what the press will describe as an "emotional moment." He recognizes Carryn Owens, the widow of a Navy SEAL whose death Trump only hours before had blamed on both the previous administration and his generals. But on TV, Mrs. Owens sobs as Trump says her husband Ryan's name had been "etched into eternity."

The press goes wild. Van Jones of CNN, for years a fervent critic of Trump who notably called Trump's electoral victory a "whitelash," gushes that Trump "became president of the United States" during the Owens episode.

The New York Times, denounced as an "enemy of the American people" just over a week before, raves about the speech. They describe the "optimistic address" as "soothing comfort food" in which Trump "seemed to accept the fetters of formality and tradition that define and dignify the presidency."

The soft-touch treatment seems to make no sense, until one remembers that the pundit class is the cheapest of dates, and while President Trump may be a dolt, the reality-show Trump is as clever a manipulator as American politics has ever seen. Brilliantly, he's turned the presidency into a permanent campaign, one in which an ostensibly hostile news media has once again become accomplice to whatever the Trump phenomenon is, by voraciously feeding at its financial trough

The genius of Trump has always been his knack for transforming everyone in his orbit into a reality-TV character. As a candidate, he goaded Lindsey Graham into putting a cellphone in a blender, inspired pseudo-intellectual Rand Paul to put out a video of himself chain-sawing a tax code in half, and pushed Marco Rubio into making jokes about dong size during a debate. He even managed to get into a public spat with the pope. Whatever your lowest common denominator is, Trump will bring it out and make sport of it.

The same phenomenon is now in play with the whole world. President Trump, following Bannon's lead, describes the press as an "opposition party" out to get him, and before long, they basically are. Trump accuses the Democratic National Committee of rigging the game against Bernie Sanders; new DNC chair Tom Perez, in a tweet that could play in the Borscht Belt, says Trump's weekly address was "translated from the original Russian and everything." Even before Trump trolls Sweden, Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin trolls him, running a photo of herself signing a law while surrounded by women - a parody of the already-infamous photo of Trump signing an anti-abortion executive order while surrounded entirely by men.

And when Rachel Maddow finally gets hold of a tiny slice of Trump's tax returns, instead of soberly reporting it as a small-but-intriguing piece of a larger picture, she hypes it on Twitter like the scoop of the century - exactly as Trump would have done. Social media blasted Maddow as the second coming of Geraldo Rivera opening up Al Capone's vault. Everything connected with Trump becomes tabloidized. The show is unstoppable.

Nearly two years into our relationship with Donald Trump, politician, his core schtick is no longer really a secret. The new president swings wildly between buffoon and strongman acts, creating confusion and disorder. While his enemies scramble to make sense of the outrages of a week before or yesterday or 10 minutes ago, and spend valuable energy wondering whether the man is crazy or stupid or cunning (or perhaps all three things at once), Trump continually presses forward.

We always assumed there was a goal behind it all: cattle cars, race war, autocracy. But those were last century's versions of tyranny. It would make perfect sense if modern America's contribution to the genre were far dumber. Trump in the White House may just be a monkey clutching history's biggest hand grenade. Yes, he's always one step ahead of us, and more dangerous than any smart person, and we can never for a minute take our eyes off him.

But while we keep looking for his hidden agenda, it's our growing addiction to the spectacle of his car-wreck presidency that is the real threat. He is already making idiots and accomplices of us all, bringing out the worst in each of us, making us dumber just by watching. Even if Trump never learns to govern, after four years of this we will forget what civilization ever looked like - and it will be programming, not policy, that will have changed the world.
(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 National Riddle
By Uri Avnery

What is the difference between a corporation and an authority?

You don't know? Join the 8.5 million Israelis who don't know either.

It's a national riddle. The whole country is absorbed by it. The Prime Minister announces that he will "go to the very end" to achieve his end. Which end? I don't know. I am not sure that he knows. Nobody I know knows.

The Prime Minister threatens the worst. If he does not get his way - whatever it is - he will do something absolutely awful: announce new elections. Let the people decide whether they want the authority or the corporation. Whatever they are.

WHAT IS it all about? One thing is certain: it concerns the public media.

Binyamin Netanyahu wants to have them under his control. Completely. Totally. Radio. Television. The social media. The lot.

Seems it is not so easy to get a firm grip on them.

Long before there was Israel and long before there was television, the British Government of Palestine founded the Voice of Jerusalem, a radio station that provided us with the news throughout World War II. When the State of Israel came into being, this radio station changed into the Voice of Israel. The Broadcasting Authority remained. Formally it belongs to the government, but it enjoys considerable autonomy.

Then TV came along, and now there are several networks, one of them a public one. It belongs to the same authority.

Netanyahu is very sensitive. He does not like criticism. Neither does his wife, Sarah'le. The Royal couple wondered how to silence the impertinent voices and hit upon a remedy: abolish the authority and create a corporation. By this simple stratagem, they could get rid of all the old hands (and mouths) they detest.

So it was decided, laws were enacted, a budget was adopted, new personnel were hired.

BUT THEN Netanyahu - or his wife - woke up one night and asked: Hey, what are we doing?

Who will tell all these good corporation people what to broadcast and what not?

The new corporation was modeled on the much admired BBC - the British Broadcasting Corporation. The BBC enjoys a lot of independence. Do we really want a corporation that ignores the wishes of the Prime Minister? Worse, the wishes of his wife?

Of course not. Stop everything!

So here we are today. The old authority has not yet been disbanded, its bloated personnel not yet dismissed. Its various TV and radio stations broadcast every day around the clock. And there is the new broadcasting corporation, full of new employees, slated to go on the air on April 30, just a month and five days away.

Who will be broadcasting on May 1? The authority? The corporation? Both? Neither? Only the Almighty knows. Perhaps not even He.

Who is Netanyahu's adversary in this fight? A quite unlikely enemy: Moshe Kahlon, the Minister of Finance. A mild, unassuming type, with a permanent smile, a former Likud member. The Almighty - the same - has turned this pussycat into a lion. Miracles do happen.

I happened this week to visit a radio studio. Broadcasting people all around me. I asked them, one by one, what the fight was about. They tried their best to explain it to me. In the end, I still had no idea, and I had the strong impression that they didn't either.

THIS WEEK Netanyahu paid a state visit to China, to get away as far as possible. Between these two world powers - China and Israel, the elephant and the mouse - there are good relations.

The Prime Minister was shown around. He was taken to the Great Wall. Photos showed him surrounded by dark-suited men and one red-clad woman, his wife. He was just making a phone call, ignoring the unique landscape.

To whom? Those damn journalists soon found out: the Prime Minister was talking to his underlings in far-away Israel about dissolving the fledgling corporation and strengthening the old authority. His Minister of Finance announced that if that happens, he will bring the government crashing down, making new elections unavoidable if Netanyahu wants to stay in power.

Why? Without Kahlon and his Kulanu party, Netanyahu and his ultra-right coalition have no majority. The opposition, together with Kahlon, will constitute a new majority. In theory it could set up a new government. No need for elections. Simple arithmetic.

Eh... true. But arithmetic is not politics. Such a new coalition would have to include the Arab party, and that is too much both for Lapid and Herzog.

Throughout this whole ridiculous affair, the voice of the opposition was not heard at all. As if the Almighty - still the same - had struck them dumb. As if Yair Lapid, generally a prolific talker, who may lead the largest party in the Knesset after the next elections, was suddenly searching for words. Poor man.

Not quite as poor as Yitzhak Herzog, the leader of the Zionist Camp, a.k.a. the Labor Party. Not a word. Nothing to say - incredible as this may sound for a politician.

Why this sudden silence? Simple: on both sides of the conflict there are journalists. And what politician wants to quarrel with journalists? Who would dare, apart from Binyamin Netanyahu?

WHAT DOES he want? What is the purpose of this entire ruckus?

That is one riddle which is easy to answer: Netanyahu wants sole, direct control of all Israeli media. He wants to be able to tell every single broadcaster what to say and what not to say.

After the last election, he retained in his own hands not only the offices of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, but also the Communication Ministry, quite a junior office - except that it controls all government subsidies for the media. For some technical reason, the Supreme Court compelled him to give up this position and turn it over to one of his yes-men.

Control of all the media is the dream of every democratic ruler. (Dictators don't dream about it, they have it.) Netanyahu already has absolute control over Israel's largest daily newspaper - a paper distributed for free. This is a gift from one of his most ardent admirers - the US Casino Mogul Sheldon Adelson. (I have invented the Hebrew term for such a give-away - something like "gratisette".)

The owner of a real daily paper of almost equal size was overheard offering Netanyahu preferential treatment in return for cutting back the circulation of this private paper.

WHY THE hell does Netanyahu need all these machinations?

His power is based on solid foundations. He has already realized a politician's dream: He has no successor. All possible heirs have been eliminated long ago. Ask any of his detesters whom they see as a possible replacement, and they will fall silent.

Many Israelis - myself included - believe that Netanyahu is leading the state towards an existential disaster. The man has no world view, except the nationalistic fanaticism of his late father, a historian of the Spanish inquisition. As an intellectual, he is a zero.

But he is a talented political practitioner, an expert in day-to-day political machinations, including relations with foreign powers. There seems to be no other practitioner around who could fill his place.

So, for the time being, we are stuck with him, his authority and/or his corporation.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

'Sanctuary Cities' And Black Community Control Of The Police
By Glen Ford

Advocates of Black community control of police need to do some serious examination of the swirl of issues surrounding the fight over "sanctuary cities." Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week upped the ante, threatening to withhold not only future federal funding to cities that refuse to vigorously enforce federal immigration laws, but to claw back Justice Department grants previously awarded to resistant municipalities. Although there is no question that police-oppressed communities have a huge stake in resisting the Trump administration's anti-immigrant juggernaut, the demand for Black community control of police must not be compromised in the shuffle and scuffle between Democrats and Republicans.

At the heart of the issue is the federal role in law enforcement. Traditional "civil rights" forces have long sought to curb police abuse through appeals for federal intervention, including demands for cut-offs in Washington's aid to local departments. Everybody knows the dance by now: community outrage over police terror is channeled into the U.S. Justice Department, which promises investigations and the possibility of federal suits, sometimes culminating in "consent decrees" that imposed limited reforms on the offending department. When the reforms fail to stop the cops from behaving like an occupying army in the Black community - as in Cleveland, which has been subjected to two consent decrees in the 21st century -- repeat the process.

The profoundly conservative civil rights establishment has only one response to systemic white supremacy at the local level: call in the feds, a time-consuming process that is designed to dissipate dissent and diverts attention from the goal of community empowerment. Local police departments have successfully evaded even their base-line responsibility to report the number of civilians they kill every year to the FBI, whose estimate of the national carnage is thought to be off by half. Black Richmond, Virginia, congressman Bobby Scott got a bill passed, in 2000, that would have required the collection of data on fatal encounters with police, with vague provisions for withholding funds for failure to do so. But the law was allowed to quietly die in 2006. In December of 2014, in the wake of the Ferguson rebellion, Scott's bill was reauthorized by Congress, and was joined on the U.S. Senate side by a Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) bill that would provide grants for "tip lines and hot lines" to allow the public to report to the feds on police killings. However, Booker and Boxer did not push for defunding of uncooperative departments.

Defunding cops is a non-starter among most Democrats and virtually all Republicans - a political fact that further neuters the traditional, call-in-the-feds response to police terror. However, starving the criminal injustice system on the local level is a different story. Last year, the Movement for Black Lives launched a nationwide campaign to dramatize the huge imbalance in the amounts spent on local Black community housing, health and education needs, and maintenance of the police state. In this context, defunding the police is a matter of community priorities and empowerment, rather than an appeal for the national government to set things right.

The democratic solution to police oppression lies in the exercise of self-determination through Black community control of the police. When local community representatives control the budgetary, hiring and firing process, appeals to a "higher" authority are neither necessary nor desirable.

Donald Trump's war against immigrants is a fascist-inspired offensive that is inseparable from his plans to forcefully pacify Black America. Back in January, Trump vowed to "send in the feds" to tame Chicago. This week, he met with the head of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, who expressed eagerness to both enforce oppressive immigration laws and to "reduce the gun violence in the city of Chicago" -- through application of more massive police violence.

It should be noted that Trump's threat to cut off funding to "sanctuary cities" is in perfect sync with the immigration enforcement policies of his predecessor, President Obama, who remains the champion deporter in U.S. history. Both chief executives are eager to "send in the feds" - which, under previous administrations, has been the default position of the traditional civil rights forces, as well. Black community control of the police speaks a different language, altogether: Power to the People.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Citizens Must Hold Government Accountable on Climate
By Bill McKibben

A few things that happened this week: one set of researchers announced that February was the planet's fourth-warmest month on record, which is especially bad news since the El Nino that produced last year's record-breaking heat is over and we're supposed to be cooling a little. Another group of scientists published data showing that, for the third year in a row, Arctic ice has set a new record winter low. Still other statisticians showed that, to date, this has been by far the worst wildfire season on record in the United States - two million acres burned against an average of 200,000. In Peru, last fall's record drought has given way to record flooding, with dozens dead and 100,000 homes damaged. In Namibia, the worst flooding in history... I could go on.

Someone should do something. But that someone clearly isn't going to be the federal government. Instead, President Trump's appointees spent the week dismantling 40 years' worth of environmental laws and regulations. In the past few days, we've learned that they plan to ditch Obama-era laws that would increase gas mileage for cars and shut down old coal-fired power plants. A new analysis shows that if such plans are carried out, it will be impossible for the United States to meet the targets it pledged to hit in the Paris climate accords - we'd break our promise by a billion tons of carbon. One way of dealing with those unpleasant truths is to stop paying attention. A spokesman for the White House said last week that the federal government was no longer going to "waste money" on climate research. Money to maintain even existing climate satellites is disappearing. NASA has been told to stop worrying about our home planet and focus on Mars.

So who's going to stand up? The answer, for the moment, is states and cities. On Wednesday, the governors of the West Coast states and the mayors of most of its big cities put out a stirring joint message: "We speak as a region of over 50 million people with a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion. There is no question that to act on climate is to act in our best economic interests. Through expanded climate policies, we have grown jobs and expanded our economies while cleaning our air." They would, the officials promised, keep at it. They added that they hoped other local and regional leaders would "join us in leading and re-affirming our commitment to cut carbon emissions and reverse the damaging impacts to our communities of unfettered pollution."

This is not just a national effort - California Governor Jerry Brown has been helping spearhead the Under2 coalition, joining together "subnational units" from around the planet working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. (Massachusetts is a signatory.) And state officials are doing their best to keep the fossil fuel industry honest, even as Washington effectively ends any real oversight. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, for instance, has bravely joined her New York counterpart, Eric Schneiderman, to investigate Exxon's outsize role in fostering the climate denial now in power in Washington. States and cities may be able to keep some of the clean energy momentum rolling. But they can't do it by themselves, at least, not for long. Reuters recently reported on the growing number of national governments trying to rein in mayors and governors who push "too fast" on climate pollution - from Norway to Australia, conservative governments are now trying to rein in progressive big-city mayors.

Which means that the rest of us need to add our weight to the political balance. Upset by EPA chief Scott Pruitt and his assertion that carbon dioxide isn't driving global warming? Scared by Trump's insistence that climate change is a Chinese hoax? Inspired by the plucky local officials determined to try and keep the fight alive? Then show up in Washington on April 29, for the next great mobilization of the cresting resistance. More than 100,000 people have already RSVP'd for the People's Climate March - it's our chance to say we won't stand silently by as the planet melts.
(c) 2017 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co"founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Are The Rich Why Should We Subsidize Higher Pay For Insurance CEOs?
By Jim Hightower

We're hearing a lot these days about House Speaker Paul Ryan's 123-page legislative plan for Trumpcare, the GOP's so-called "replacement" for Obamacare. In fact, we now learn that it's actually a displacement plan - 24 million Americans who are now insured would no longer get coverage, the premiums paid by senior citizens would be jacked up, and the benefits for practically everyone would be cut.

But Ryan did make sure that one group with special needs will benefit from his legislative wizardry: The CEOs of giant insurance corporations. Understandably, none of the GOP lawmakers who've been loudly crowing about killing Obamacare have mentioned a little, six-line proviso hidden on page 67, discretely titled, "Remuneration from Certain Insurers." In plain English, this gob of gobbledygook offers a tax subsidy that encourages insurance conglomerates to increase the pay of their top executives.

Current tax law says insurers can pay as much as they want to top executives, but they can only deduct $500,000 per executive from their corporate taxes. Under Ryan's ripoff, however, we taxpayers would at least double and possibly quadruple the unconscionable salary subsidies we dole out to these enormously profitable corporations.

The White House and GOP Congress proclaim that their replacement of Obamacare is "The will of the people." Really? How many Americans really think that jacking up the pay of superrich insurance chiefs is a proper use of our tax dollars? And I'd say a big majority of the people would think it immoral to steal lifesaving healthcare benefits from working-class and poor families just to subsidize corporate elites who're already overpaid.

If Republicans actually think their executive pay subsidy is the will of the people, why are they trying so hard to keep it a secret from the people?
(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.

Trump's War On Terror Has Quickly Become As Barbaric And Savage As He Promised
By Glenn Greenwald

From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump's "war on terror" has entailed the seemingly indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people in the name of killing terrorists. In other words, Trump has escalated the 16-year-old core premise of America's foreign policy - that it has the right to bomb any country in the world where people it regards as terrorists are found - and in doing so has fulfilled the warped campaign pledges he repeatedly expressed.

The most recent atrocity was the killing of as many as 200 Iraqi civilians from U.S. airstrikes this week in Mosul. That was preceded a few days earlier by the killing of dozens of Syrian civilians in Raqqa Province when the U.S. targeted a school where people had taken refuge, which itself was preceded the week earlier by the U.S. destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens. And one of Trump's first military actions was what can only be described as a massacre carried out by Navy SEALS in which 30 Yemenis were killed; among the children killed was an 8-year-old American girl (whose 16-year-old American brother was killed by a drone under Obama).

In sum: although precise numbers are difficult to obtain, there seems little question that the number of civilians being killed by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria - already quite high under Obama - has increased precipitously during the first two months of the Trump administration. Data compiled by the site Airwars tells the story: the number of civilians killed in Syria and Iraq began increasing in October under Obama, but has now skyrocketed in March under Trump:

What's particularly notable is that the number of airstrikes actually decreased in March (with a week left), even as civilian deaths rose - strongly suggesting that the U.S. military has become even more reckless about civilian deaths under Trump than they were under Obama:

This escalation of bombing and civilian deaths, combined with the deployment by Trump of 500 ground troops into Syria beyond the troops Obama already deployed there, has received remarkably little media attention. This is in part due to the standard indifference in U.S. discourse to U.S. killing of civilians compared to the language used when its enemies kill people (compare the very muted and euphemistic tones used to report on Trump's escalations in Iraq and Syria to the frequent invocation of genocide and war crimes to denounce Russian killing of Syrian civilians). And part of this lack of media attention is due to the Democrats' ongoing hunt for Russian infiltration of Washington, which leaves little room for other matters.

But what is becoming clear is that Trump is attempting to liberate the U.S. military from the minimal constraints it observed in order to avoid massive civilian casualties. And this should surprise nobody: Trump explicitly and repeatedly vowed to do exactly this during the campaign.

He constantly criticized Obama - who bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries - for being "weak" in battling ISIS and Al Qaeda. Trump regularly boasted that he would free the U.S. military from rules of engagement that he regarded as unduly hobbling them. He vowed to bring back torture and even to murder the family members of suspected terrorists - prompting patriotic commentators to naively insist that the U.S. military would refuse to follow his orders. Trump's war frenzy reached its rhetorical peak of derangement in December, 2015, when he roared at a campaign rally that he would "bomb the shit out of ISIS" and then let its oil fields be taken by Exxon, whose CEO is now his Secretary of State.

Trump can be criticized for many things, but lack of clarity about his intended War on Terror approach is not one of them. All along, Trump's "solution" to terrorism was as clear as it was simple; as I described it in September 2016.

The clarity of Trump's intentions regarding the War on Terror was often obfuscated by anti-Trump pundits due to a combination of confusion about and distortions of foreign policy doctrine. Trump explicitly ran as a "non-interventionist" - denouncing, for instance, U.S. regime change wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria (even though he at some points expressed support for the first two). Many commentators confused "non-interventionism" with "pacifism," leading many of them - to this very day - to ignorantly claim that Trump's escalated War on Terror bombing is in conflict with his advocacy of non-interventionism. It is not.

To the extent that Trump is guided by any sort of coherent ideological framework, he is rooted in the traditions of Charles Lindbergh (whose "America First" motto he took) and the free-trade-hating, anti-immigration, uber-nationalist Pat Buchanan. Both Lindbergh and Buchanan were "non-interventionists": Lindbergh was one of the earliest and loudest opponents of U.S. involvement in World War II, while Buchanan was scathing throughout all of 2002 about the neocon plan to invade Iraq.

Despite being vehement "non-interventionists," neither Lindbergh nor Buchanan were pacifists. Quite the contrary: both believed that when the U.S. was genuinely threatened with attack or attacked, it should use full and unrestrained force against it enemies. What they opposed was not military force in general but rather interventions geared toward a goal other than self-defense, such as changing other countries' governments, protecting foreigners from tyranny or violence, or "humanitarian" wars.

What the Lindbergh/Buchanan "non-interventionism" opposes is not war per se, but a specific type of wars: namely, those fought for reasons other than self-defense or direct U.S. interests (as was true of regime change efforts in Iraq, Libya and Syria). Lindbergh opposed U.S. involvement in World War II on the ground that it was designed to help only the British and the Jews, while Buchanan, on the even of the Iraq invasion, attacked neocons who "seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests" and who "have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity."

The anti-semitism and white nationalistic tradition of Lindbergh, the ideological precursor to Buchanan and then Trump, does not oppose war. It opposes military interventions in the affairs of other countries for reasons other than self-defense - i.e., the risking of American lives and resources for the benefits of "others."

Each time Trump drops another bomb, various pundits and other assorted Trump opponents smugly posit that his doing so is inconsistent with his touted "non-interventionism." This is just ignorance of what these terms mean. By escalating violence against civilians, Trump is, in fact, doing exactly what he promised to do, and exactly what those who described his foreign policy as "non-interventionist" predicted he would do: namely, limitlessly unleashing the U.S. military when the claimed objective was the destruction of "terrorists," while refusing to use the military for other ends such as regime change and humanitarianism. If one were to reduce this mentality to a motto, it could be: fight fewer wars and for narrower reasons, but be more barbaric and criminal in prosecuting the ones that are fought.

Trump's campaign pledges regarding Syria, and now his actions there, illustrate this point very clearly. Trump never advocated a cessation of military force in Syria. As the above video demonstrates, he advocated the opposite: an escalation of military force in Syria and Iraq in the name of fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda. Indeed, Trump's desire to cooperate with Russia in Syria was based on a desire to maximize the potency of bombing there (just as was true of Obama's attempt to forge a bombing partnership with Putin in Syria).

What Trump opposed was the CIA's years-long policy of spending billions of dollars to arm anti-Assad rebels (a policy Hillary Clinton and her key advisors wanted to escalate), on the ground that the U.S. has no interest in removing Assad. That is the fundamental difference between non-interventionism and pacifism which many pundits are either unaware of or are deliberately conflating in order to prove their own vindication about Trump's foreign policy. Nothing Trump has thus far done is remotely inconsistent with the non-interventionism he embraced during the campaign, unless one confuses "non-interventionism" with "opposition to the use of military force."

Trump's reckless killing of civilians in Iraq, Syria and Yemen is many things: barbaric, amoral, and criminal. It is also, ironically, likely to strengthen support for the very groups - ISIS and Al Qaeda - that he claims he wants to defeat, given that nothing drives support for those groups like U.S. slaughter of civilians (perhaps the only competitor in helping these groups is another Trump speciality: driving a wedge between Muslims and the west).

But what Trump's actions are not is a departure from what he said he would do, nor are they inconsistent with the predictions of those who described his foreign policy approach as "non-interventionist." To the contrary, the dark savagery guiding U.S. military conduct in that region is precisely what Trump expressly promised his supporters he would usher in.
(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.

Facts And Evidence Matter In Confronting Climate Crisis
By David Suzuki

We recently highlighted the faulty logic of a pseudoscientific argument against addressing climate change: the proposition that because CO2 is necessary for plants, increasing emissions is good for the planet and the life it supports. Those who read, write or talk regularly about climate change and ecology are familiar with other anti-environmental arguments not coated with a scientific sheen.

A common one is that if you drive a car, buy any plastic goods or even type on a computer keyboard your observation that we need to reduce fossil fuel use is not valid - no matter how much evidence you present. Like the "CO2 is plant food" claim, it's a poor argument, but for different reasons. It's easy to refute the junk science claim with large amounts of available evidence. This one's simply a logical fallacy. The statement that gas-fuelled cars cause pollution is true whether or not the person making it drives a car, just as a claim that automobile emissions are harmless is false, regardless of the claimant's car ownership or driving habits.

As well as being a faulty assertion, pointing out the many uses for fossil fuels in an attempt to reject the need to reduce reliance on them is actually an argument in favour of burning less coal, gas and oil. Fossil fuels are useful for many purposes - from life-saving medical equipment to computer keyboards - so why extract, transport and burn them so rapidly and wastefully? Supplies aren't endless.

Perhaps some people haven't thought things through. Or maybe they don't have strong arguments against the need to protect the air, water, soil and biodiversity that keeps us healthy and alive. With a subject like climate change, it's somewhat understandable. In this "post-truth" era of infinite information, it's difficult to get a good grasp on many subjects, let alone one as complex and massive as global warming. Most people don't have the time or expertise to read through and comprehend the massive volumes of peer-reviewed science on phenomena such as feedback loops, ocean acidification, extreme weather events, species extinction and sea level rise.

Fortunately, some excellent resources provide information for people with varying levels of knowledge and expertise. offers a big-picture approach by examining the peer-reviewed literature. It's "Most Used Climate Myths" section describes false claims and lets users click for "basic," "intermediate" or "advanced" explanations of real evidence.

You can also find accessible science on the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration websites. The American Institute of Physics offers a comprehensive history of climate science, as well as other information.

Media outlets with considerable, credible coverage include The Guardian and National Geographic, and environmentally focused websites such as Grist, EcoWatch and the National Observer. Desmog Blog's timely articles and extensive database shed light on what's behind concerted efforts to downplay or dismiss the seriousness of climate change. Websites for environmental groups like the David Suzuki Foundation, Pembina Institute and others are also good information sources. Just Cool It!, a book coming out April 22 by Foundation senior editor Ian Hanington and me explains climate change and focuses on solutions.

Many other books, websites, publications, films and more offer clear explanations of climate change and what it means for us. The point is that evidence-based information arms people with tools to confront humanity's greatest crisis. It's increasingly clear we can't rely on politicians to get us out of the mess we've created. The current U.S. administration is full of people who reject the overwhelming evidence for human-caused climate change. In Canada, our government has some good climate policies but continues to approve fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

Will good information change the views of those who reject environmental protection? It's hard to know. But for people who care and want to understand, facts are crucial to bringing about much-needed change.

The silver lining of the irrationality that has descended on the U.S. is that it has sparked a growing movement to promote scientific evidence and science-based solutions. The March for Science, taking place in cities throughout the U.S. and beyond on Earth Day, April 22, is one example.

We have scientific evidence and rational arguments on our side. Let's use them to support solutions.
(c) Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on the second
day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation on March 21, 2017.

Neil Gorsuch's Own Testimony Clearly Disqualifies Him
The nominee failed to outline even minimal concerns about the GOP's judicial coup.
By John Nichols

Judge Neil Gorsuch knows full well that he is attempting to take a place on the Supreme Court that should have gone to another jurist, Judge Merrick Garland. Shortly after Donald Trump nominated him, Gorsuch called Garland "out of respect." Later, Gorsuch described Garland to be an "outstanding judge."

Yet, Gorsuch sacrificed his own self respect last week, during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. The nominee refused to answer a simple question about the shameful treatment of Garland, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit judge who President Obama's nominated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the cabal of lawless partisans who corrupted the confirmation process in 2016.

The senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee asked Gorsuch a simple question about the refusal of the Senate to even consider the Garland nomination: "Do you think he was treated fairly by this committee, yes or no?"

"Senator," Gorsuch replied, "as I explained to you before, I can't get involved in politics. There's judicial canons that prevent me from doing that, and I think it would be very imprudent of judges to start commenting on political disputes between themselves, or the various branches."

That was a legalistically-worded, yet shamefully dishonest answer. Instead of making a case for his confirmation, Gorsuch's testimony strengthened the already powerful argument for rejecting this nomination.

Russ Feingold warns against a vote that "will tarnish the legitimacy of our highest court for generations to come."

When Minnesota Senator Al Franken raised the issue, Gorsuch continued the charade, announcing that: "There is a reason why judges don't clap at the State of the Union, and why I can't even attend a political caucus in my home state to register a vote in the equivalent of a primary."

Franken explained that, "I think you're allowed to talk about what happened to the last guy that was nominated in your position. You're allowed to say something without getting involved in politics. You can express an opinion on this." The senator pointed to the legitimate constitutional concerns that had been raised by the failure of the Republican-controlled Senate to even consider the Garland nomination.

But Gorsuch steadfastly refused to respond. "Senator," said Trump's nominee. "I appreciate the invitation, but I know the other side has their views of this, and your side has your views of it. That, by definition, is politics. And Senator, judges have to stay outside of politics." True enough. Sitting judges are expected to stay out of electoral politics. But this is not about attending a caucus or writing a campaign check. This is about respect-or disrespect-for the process by which judges are nominated, how those nominations are reviewed and the standards by which they are confirmed or rejected.

Gorsuch's refusal to acknowledge that corruption diminished him. And it further disqualified a man who-if he truly respected the constitution and the court-would have refused Trump's offer of a tainted nomination.

"Judge Gorsuch himself should understand the precedent his nomination risks setting and not hide behind statements about the need to avoid politics," explains former US Senator Russ Feingold, a three-term veteran of the Senate Judiciary Committee who weighed the nominations of six Supreme Court Justices during his 18 years in the Senate. Of Gorsuch, Feingold says, "He should have refused the nomination. He reportedly called Judge Garland after he was nominated. If he had truly understood what is at stake, he would have called Judge Garland to say he had turned down the nomination in solidarity-not with Judge Garland personally, but with the Supreme Court and the US Constitution that he says he holds in such high regard."

This is not a small matter. This is the essential matter with regard to Gorsuch's nomination to serve on the high court. The issue is not one of ideology or partisan balance. Yes, Gorsuch advanced on a classic Republican trajectory through the ranks of the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign, the Republican National Lawyers' Association and George W. Bush's Department of Justice. Yes, Gorsuch has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit as a rigid conservative. And, yes, reasonable people may oppose the Gorsuch nomination because they believe he will be unable to overcome the political biases of a lifetime.

But even those who might be inclined to approve Gorsuch under difference circumstances cannot accept the illicit manner in which his nomination has been advanced. The politics of obstruction and lying that Republicans-including Donald Trump-employed to block Merrick Garland's nomination corrupted the process. Within hours of Scalia's death, McConnell declared that "this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president." Senate Republicans, with Trump cheering them on, argued that Supreme Court vacancies are simply not to be filled in presidential election years.

That was a lie. A sitting justice on the US Supreme Court, Anthony Kennedy, was confirmed in the presidential election year of 1988. Justice William Brennan Jr. joined the court in a presidential election year (1956), as did Justices Frank Murphy (1940), Benjamin Cardozo (1932) and John Clarke (1916). So, too, was Justice Louis Brandeis, a controversial nominee who was nominated, reviewed and confirmed to a place on the high court in the presidential election year of 1916-on a timeline remarkably similar to what could have happened for Garland. And that's just the record for the century from 1916 to 2016.

By refusing to acknowledge and condemn the chicanery, and the lies, that made him a nominee made himself a part of the lies and corruption. Gorsuch should have recognized the wisdom of former Senator Feingold's observation during the confirmation process that: "We need to stop talking about the Gorsuch nomination as if it is about a single seat on the Supreme Court. This nomination, this hearing, is about a precedent that if allowed to stand will tarnish the legitimacy of our highest court for generations to come."

By putting his own political ambition ahead of a duty to the republic, Gorsuch extended the damage done by Republican partisans in 2016. And created a new danger. "If Republicans get away with the judicial coup they launched last year when they refused to grant Judge Merrick Garland a hearing, such a cynical political ploy could become commonplace," says Feingold. "The GOP will apply it to lower courts. They will refuse to grant a hearing in the year before a midterm, or during the two years of a presidential race. The Supreme Court will become a permanent pawn of the GOP."
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The Warring Kleptocrats
By Chris Hedges

The Trump kleptocrats are political arsonists. They are carting cans of gasoline into government agencies and Congress to burn down any structure or program that promotes the common good and impedes corporate profit.

They ineptly have set themselves on fire over Obamacare, but this misstep will do little to halt the drive to, as Stephen Bannon promises, carry out the "deconstruction of the administrative state." Donald Trump's appointees are busy radically diminishing or dismantling the agencies they were named to lead and the programs they are supposed to administer. That is why they were selected. Rex Tillerson at the State Department, Steven Mnuchin at the Treasury Department, Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, Rick Perry at the Department of Energy, Tom Price at Health and Human Services, Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education are eating away the foundations of democratic institutions like gigantic termites. And there is no force inside government that can stop them.

The sparing of Obamacare last week was a Pyrrhic victory. There are numerous subterfuges that can be employed to cripple or kill that very flawed health care program. These include defunding cost-sharing subsidies for low-income families, allowing premium rates for individual insurance to continue to soar (they have gone up 25 percent this year), cutting compensation to insurers in order to drive more insurance companies out of the program, and refusing to enforce the individual mandate that requires many Americans to purchase health insurance or be fined. The Trump administration's Shermanesque march to the sea has only just begun.

William S. Burroughs in his novel "Naked Lunch" creates predatory creatures he calls "mugwumps." "Mugwumps," Burroughs writes, "have no liver and nourish themselves exclusively on sweets. Thin, purple-blue lips cover a razor-sharp beak of black bone with which they frequently tear each other to shreds in fights over clients. These creatures secrete an addictive fluid though their erect penises which prolongs life by slowing metabolism." Those addicted to this fluid are called "Reptiles."

The addiction to the grotesque, to our own version of mugwumps, has become our national pathology. We are entranced, even as we are repulsed, by the secretion of Trump's mugwump fluids. He brings us down to his level. We are glued to cable news, which usually sees a huge falling off of viewership after a presidential election. Ratings for the Trump-as-president reality show are up 50 percent. CNN, which last year had its most profitable year ever, looks set in 2017 to break even that record and is projecting a billion dollars in profit. The New York Times added some 500,000 subscribers, net, over the past six months. The Washington Post has seen a 75 percent increase in new subscribers over the past year. Even subscriptions to magazines like The New Yorker and The Atlantic are up.

This increase in viewers and readers is provoked not by a sudden desire to be informed, but by Americans' wanting to be continually updated on the reality soap opera that epitomizes the U.S. government. What country will the president insult today? Mexico? Australia? Sweden? Germany? What celebrity or politician will he belittle? Arnold Schwarzenegger? Barack Obama? John McCain? Chuck Schumer? What idiocy will come out of his mouth or from his appointees? Can Kellyanne Conway top her claim that microwave ovens that turned into cameras were used to spy on Donald Trump? Will DeVos say something as stupid as her assertion that guns are needed in schools to protect children from grizzly bears? Will Trump make another assertion such as his insistence that Obama ordered his phone in Trump Tower to be tapped?

It is all entertainment all the time. It is the natural result of a media that long ago gave up journalism to keep us amused. Trump was its creation. And now we get a daily "Gong Show" out of the White House. It is good for Trump. It is good for the profits of the cable news networks. But it keeps us distracted as the kleptocrats transform the country into a banana republic. Our world is lifted from the pages of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel "The Autumn of the Patriarch," in which the "eternal" dictator was feared and mocked in equal measure.

The kleptocrats-and, now, those they con-have no interest in the flowery words of inclusivity, multiculturalism and democracy that a bankrupt liberal class used with great effectiveness for three decades to swindle the public on behalf of corporations. That rhetoric is a spent force. It does not work anymore. Barack Obama tried it when he crisscrossed the country during the presidential campaign telling a betrayed public that Hillary Clinton would finish the job started by his administration.

Political language has been replaced by the language of reality television, professional wrestling and the daytime shows in which couples find out if they cheated on each other. This is the language used by Trump, who views reality and himself through the degraded lens of television and the sickness of celebrity culture. He, like much of the public, lives in the fantasy world of electronic hallucinations.

The battle over health care was all about the most effective way to hand money to corporations. Do we stick with Obamacare, already a gift to the for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical industries, or do we turn to a sham bill of pretend care that gives more tax cuts to the rich? This is what passes for nuanced political debate now. The courtiers in the media give the various sides in this argument ample airtime and space in print, but they lock out critics of corporate power, especially those who promote the rational system of Medicare for all. Health care costs in the United States, where 40 cents of every health care dollar goes to corporations, are double what they are in industrial countries that have a national health service. This censorship on behalf of corporations is the press' steadfast lie of omission. And it is this lie that leaves the media at once distrusted by the public and complicit in Trump's fleecing of America. When we are not being amused by these debates among corporate politicians we listen to retired generals, all making six-figure incomes from the war industry, selling the public on the imperative of endless war and endless arms purchases.

Trump understands the effectiveness of illusions, false promises and lies, an understanding that eludes those in the Freedom Caucus, many of whom want to do away with health care systems that involve government. If the ruling kleptocrats strip everything away at once, it could provoke an angry backlash among the population. Better to use the more subtle mechanisms of theft that worked in Trump's casinos and his fake university. Better to steal with finesse. Better to strip the government on behalf of corporations while promising to make America great again.

The kleptocrats, whatever their differences, are united by one overriding fear. They fear large numbers of people will become wise to their kleptocracy and revolt. They fear the mob. They fear revolution, the only mechanism left that can rid us of these parasites.

There are building mechanisms and paramilitary groups that will protect the kleptocrats when the last bits of the country and the citizens are being "harvested" for corporate profit. They don't want anything to impede the pillage, even when climate change forces people to confront the fact they and their children may soon become extinct. They will steal despite the fact that the ecosystem is collapsing, heat waves and droughts are destroying crop yields, the air and water are becoming toxic and the oceans are being transformed into dead zones. There will be hundreds of millions of desperate climate refugees. Civil society will break down. They won't stop until their own generators have run out of fuel in their gated compounds and their private security forces have deserted them. When the end comes they will greet it with their characteristic blank expression of idiocy and greed. But most of us won't be around to see their epiphany.
(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

TrumpCare Dies, XL Flies And The Secret Winner Is...
By Greg Palast

When RyanCare-TrumpCare finally ended up face-down in the swimming pool, triumphalist Democrats whooped and partied and congratulated themselves on defeating the Trump-Ryan monstrosity.

But deep in their counting house, counting their gold, three brothers cackled with private jubilation.

David and Charles Koch knew the day was theirs.

Joining them in the celebration was Brother Billy, William Koch, who will share in their $21 billion windfall that the President arranged for them only hours before TrumpCare crashed-when Trump announced his State Department had formally approved the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Let's start with that $21 billion.

The XL Keystone Pipeline would take the world's heaviest, filthiest crude from Canada's tar sands, and snake with it all the way down to Texas.

Now here's a question I never hear from our sleep-walking media: Exactly why are we sending oil all the way across the United States to Texas. I mean, doesn't Texas already have a little oil?

In fact, Texas is drowning in oil, choking in it. But the Kochs' Texas refinery can't use much local crude. The Koch Industries Flint Hills refinery on the Texas Gulf Coast was designed specifically to crack only the world's "heaviest" (i.e. filthiest) crude.

Texas crude ain't heavy enough, ain't dirty enough, for the Kochs' Gulf Coast operation, originally designed for imports for the world's major source of heavy crude: Venezuela. The price the Kochs paid for Venezuela's oil was set by its President Hugo Chavez, and now, by Chavez' chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Chavez and Maduro both told me they'd squeeze the Kochs by their tankers. They have.

Enter the Mounties: Canadians sell their super-heavy crude at a $12 to $30 a barrel discount to the Venezuelan price. If the XL Pipeline is complete, the Kochs can suck down Canada's cheap cruddy crude for a minimum savings of $1.27 billion in a single year.

The Kochs pocket billions while we fry: burning the Canadian tar sands reserve will, all by itself, raise the temperature of the entire planet by 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over the life of the XL Keystone Pipeline, the various Koch operations will put at minimum, $21 billion in Koch family pockets. Because we have to add in not only Charles' and David's gains, but Brother Billy's windfall as well.

Brother Billy's Filth Factory

The third, lesser-known Koch is Brother William, now principal of Oxbow Carbon. The name itself gives environmentalists the heebee-jeebies.

To keep the tar sands gunk flowing through the Keystone pipeline, the worst of the tar must be extracted and processed as "petcoke," stuff so filthy and toxic it is illegal to burn in the USA. So Billy Koch sells the compressed filth to China and Mexico. And Billy's bro's have joined the "petcoke" game too. David and Charles' subsidiary, Koch Carbon, already pulls the gunk from the current Keystone pipe where in Detroit it's accumulating in piles bigger than the pyramids. Here's a photo of Koch's coke wafting over Detroit's city parks.

Which explains why the Koch's political front operation, Americans for Prosperity, named approval of the XL Pipeline the number one priority for the Trump presidency.


When TrumpCare breathed its last, the President blamed Democrats for its untimely demise.

A stunned by-stander, Democratic Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, went for it: "We'll take credit for that."

Sorry, Nancy, you can't.

Because it was the Kochs' brownshirts, the self-styled "Freedom Caucus," that, in a bestial assault, crushed a sitting President and their own leader of Congress, Paul Ryan. The thugs' secret weapon: heavy bags of cash, Koch cash.

Kochs front groups, including Americans for Prosperity (the XL promoter, promised unlimited funds to any far-right Congressman who would vote against the bill. The Kochs' Freedom Partners Executive Director told members of the uber-right Congressional Freedom Caucus, "We will stand with lawmakers who keep their promise and oppose this legislation" with a "seven-figure" war chest. In the old days, that was called "bribery." But today it's called, "Koch."

Blow-hard Trump threatened them, but Koch's money protected them.

The Kochs don't want ObamaCare, TrumpCare, nor any care at all for Americans that add to their tax bill. Call it KochDon'tCare.

Billionaires versus Billionaires

But keen observers of TrumpCare would note that it was not really a health care bill, but a tax bill-specifically, a tax cut of some $157 billion that has been charged to the richest Americans to fund ObamaCare through a 3.75% tax on passive investment income-that is, money earned, not by working, but by speculating.

Because behind the public creator of the bill, Speaker Paul Ryan, stood Ryan's number one funder, a billionaire known as The Vulture. The Vulture, aka Paul Singer, makes all his money by nasty methods excoriated even in the Wall Street Journal.

Paul 'The Vulture' Singer, from The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

In Trump's weird psycho-babbling press conference last month, he said, "So I want to thank Paul Singer for being here and for coming up to the office." Reporters scratched their head, not knowing who this "Singer" is nor why Trump brought it up.

Now, you know what that was about.

Singer makes all his money from speculation income. The Ryan-Trump "healthcare" bill was first and foremost a tax cut for Singer, likely worth billions to The Vulture (and more to his cohort including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin).

But to the Kochs, this tax break is nearly worthless. So, behind the curtain, this was a fight of billionaires versus billionaires.

The Kochs, having built up their army of useful idiots-the Koch-funded Tea Party and Freedom Caucus, won this one. (Hey, no hard feelings. The Vulture still dines with the Kochs in Vail and donates to their super-PACs.)

Sure, let's breathe a sigh of relief that, with ObamaCare momentarily saved, we won't have more amputees begging in the subway, meth addicts croaking in New Hampshire and my bank account emptied for my next heart surgery.

It's not Trump's victory that portends fascism-it is the bending of Trump by the hands of the poisonously greedy Brothers Koch that brings the fascist corporatist state one day closer.

And that is nothing to celebrate.
(c) 2014 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

In Trump's America, Your Privacy Is For Sale
By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan

Unless you're reading this column in a good old newspaper, odds are your internet service provider (ISP) knows what you're up to. ISPs are the on-ramp to the internet; it is through these gatekeepers that we all access the internet. They set the price and the speed of your connection, but were legally prevented from sharing or selling details about your personal internet usage without your permission - until now. Through a resolution that narrowly passed both the House and the Senate on partisan lines, internet privacy protections implemented by the Obama administration will be entirely eliminated.

Companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon now can sift through your personal information, your web browsing history, where and when you access the internet and what you do while online, and peddle that private data to whomever is willing to pay. President Donald Trump, while obsessed with the imagined invasion of his own privacy (as indicated by his tweeted charge that President Barack Obama wiretapped him during his campaign), is expected to sign this bill into law, stripping privacy away from hundreds of millions of Americans.

"Americans pay for [internet] service. They don't expect that information to be shared or used for other purposes or sold without their permission," Laura Moy said on the "Democracy Now!" news hour. Moy is the deputy director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center.

"Americans absolutely need internet connectivity in today's modern era," Moy continued. "You need to go online to search for a job. You need to go online to complete your education. You need to go online often to communicate with your health care provider or conduct your banking." All of this communication, all of this internet use, can be conducted from the privacy of your home. But don't think it is going to remain private. Your ISP can vacuum up your searches, your interests, what movies you watch online, your age, weight, Social Security number, medical conditions, financial troubles ... if you start searching online for a bankruptcy lawyer or for treatment for addiction, your ISP will add that to your profile.

"We want people to use the internet, to view it as a safe space to communicate with others, to express their political viewpoints, to carry out these vitally important everyday activities, and to do so without fear that the information that they share with their internet service provider will be used to harm them in some way," Laura Moy concluded. That was the hope.

The internet privacy rules that are being eliminated fill 219 pages, and were worked on at the Federal Communications Commission for over a year, supported by over 275,000 comments from citizens and advocacy organizations. They were published in the Federal Register last December. The effort to eliminate them was championed by Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who chairs the subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees the FCC. As reported in Vocativ, Blackburn, during her 14 years in Congress, has received at least $693,000 in campaign contributions from companies and individuals from AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other industry members that stand to profit from the rules change.

Blackburn's willing partner in the repeal of the rules is the FCC's new commissioner, Ajit Pai, who used to serve as associate general counsel for Verizon. He was one of the two Republicans on the five-seat FCC during Obama's second term, and was promoted to FCC chair by President Donald Trump. According to the Los Angeles Times, Pai gave a speech last December in which he promised to "take a weed wacker" to another hard-won progressive victory, net neutrality. Immediately after the House voted to repeal the privacy rules, Free Press, the national media policy advocacy and activist organization, stated, "The broadband-privacy fight is the Trump administration's first attack on the open internet. And now that it has a win on its hands, it'll be pushing for another."

It is absolutely shocking that Donald Trump, in the midst of his accusations that his own privacy was invaded by illegal wiretaps, is signing into law permission to invade, sell, trade and monetize the most private, intimate details of every internet-connected American. This law is the ultimate hack: allowing corporations to take all of our information and sell it for profit.

In Donald Trump's America, the information isn't stolen by hackers in the dark of night. It is taken with the government's blessing. Unless people organize and fight back, the promises of the open internet will fade away.
(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 Quotable Quote...

"In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners,
it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners."

~~~ Albert Camus ~~~

Liberalism's Communications Problem
By David Swanson

Liberals in the United States are relatively educated, yet extremely inarticulate when it comes to Trump, his budget proposal, or the U.S. military.

In a typical email, sent out the message this week that nobody should confirm a Supreme Court nominee until it's determined that Trump is a "legitimate president." Until then, the U.S. military should go on slaughtering families for him? And once he's "legitimate" then a horrible fascist Supreme Court nominee should be approved? And what would it take for Trump to become "legitimate." According to the email, it would take proving that Trump didn't collaborate with Putin to rig the U.S. election. According to the linked video, it would take that plus seeing Trump's tax returns, plus proving that Trump is not violating the foreign emoluments clause. All three demands are given a xenophobic slant.

Of course Trump is blatantly violating the foreign and the stronger domestic emoluments clauses. That's not a question to be investigated or doubted. But there has been zero evidence made public by anyone that he and Putin "rigged" his election. However, examining what Robert Reich in the video linked above, and others, mean by "rigged" points to one of numerous reasons that considering the election "legitimate" would be ridiculous. What they mean is that there exists the slimmest possibility that Trump sent Putin and Putin sent WikiLeaks the emails that added extra evidence to the transparent sabotaging by the Democratic Party of its own strongest candidate. Under those known circumstances, the election is already knowable as illegitimate. Add to that Trump's losing the popular vote, Trump's openly intimidating and threatening voters, Trump's court battles against counting paper ballots where they existed, the absence of verifiable ballots in many places, the exclusion of voters by Republican Secretaries of State stripping them from the rolls, the exclusion of voters with ID requirements, the nomination of Trump by the corporate media through disproportionate coverage, the open and never-denied system of bribery used to fund all the campaigns, etc. Suggesting that explaining away a xenophobic fantasy would make such an election legitimate is disgusting.

The idea that Trump could be a legitimate president if he had been fairly and properly elected is equally outrageous. He's murdering people in large numbers in numerous countries. He's creating so-called laws through executive orders. These include unconstitutional acts of discrimination. He is opposed by the vast majority of the public. He is protected in Congress by the Democrats' weakness and inability to communicate honestly, but also by an election system rigged in many of the ways noted above, plus gerrymandering in the extreme.

As I have been pointing out, the liberal line on Trump's budget proposal is dangerously dishonest. Trump doesn't propose cutting anything at all. He proposes moving money from everything else to the military. Denouncing supposed "cuts" while avoiding mention of the military stirs up the "small government" advocates in favor of the supposedly smaller budget. It also licenses an infinite military. The current proposal plus an expected supplemental puts the military at 60% to 65% of discretionary spending. Every indication is that it could reach 100% before liberals would mention it, at which point they would cease mentioning the federal budget at all.

As Dave Lindorff notes, even when a liberal economist like Dean Baker claims to be explaining the budget and correcting misunderstandings, he just states what a small percentage of the budget various good but relatively tiny programs are, without ever mentioning the existence of the U.S. military. The reader is left to assume that every big government program is just 1% or 2% of the budget because, of course, there are hundreds of big government programs. The idea that the military costs money, much less the majority of the money, never enters awareness.

Saturday evening I attended a panel discussion that was part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, attended by hundreds of people in the old Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia. The director of the festival opened by denouncing Trump's supposed cuts to the arts, never hinting that Trump's proposal is actually to move the money to the military. She also declared a welcome to all immigrants -- which had nothing to do with the event at hand. One of the authors during the discussion brought up "alternative facts." This was clearly a forum in which it was not verboten to mention horrible crises that are upon us or to badmouth a U.S. president. And yet, nobody would ever mention where the money was moving or what would be done with it.

In fact, one of the books under discussion was related to work that had been funded by the U.S. military. More such work might be funded under Trump's budget than under the current budget. And many more people might die as a result. That uncomfortable situation was totally avoided. That African American women were able to work on rockets after World War II was discussed -- and the whole event was quite intelligent and positive and fascinating -- without ever mentioning the leading rocket makers and former utilizers of slave labor who came through Operation Paperclip, without even mentioning all the people and villages blown up over the years by the rockets. When a woman asked a question about the good work of other women mathematicians who helped create nukes at Los Alamos, only positive responses were heard. Sounds like another great book to be written, commented the moderator.

What 2017 U.S. liberalism fails to grasp, I think, is that -- while racism and misogyny are indeed outrageous -- other outrages do exist. The people Trump is murdering by the hundreds are mostly dark-skinned women, children, and the elderly. I spoke on a panel on Thursday on which one of the other speakers described a mass-murder operation in Yemen thusly: "We lost a naval officer." When did morality die? Nobody was lost. A participant in a mass-slaughter of families was killed in action. That's horrific. But so are all the deaths he helped cause, and all the deaths that will result from the cycle of violence to follow. And "we" suffer all of those deaths, not just the ones in U.S. uniforms.

If inventing nuclear bombs is noble because women were involved, if Trump's funding for "more usable" nukes is unworthy of comment because pretending he's shrinking the budget is the best way to fail and Democrats are addicted to failure, if wars no longer outrage, I can only draw this conclusion, which ought to thrill every liberal soul: Hillary Clinton has won after all.
(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.

Jimmy Breslin in New York City on May 13, 1983.

A Couple Of Things About Jimmy Breslin
The brash, profane and brilliant newspaper columnist knew a lot about life - and Donald Trump
Michael Winship

Last Wednesday, I sat down to write a piece about the late Jimmy Breslin, the newspaper columnist whose blunt yet eloquent and crafted prose captured New York and its environs as no one has since Damon Runyon.

Jimmy died a little more than a week ago and I wanted to say a few words to note - as so many others have - how he was an inspiration to anyone who on a regular basis has to put some thoughts together in a column for publication, often straining until tiny beads of blood pop out on their foreheads.

But there were distractions. As I started to write, news came from London of the lone wolf terrorist who barreled his SUV into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, then dashed to Parliament and stabbed to death a policeman. Five died, including the attacker, and more than 50 were injured.

Then there was California Republican Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, dashing to the White House to give to Donald Trump new info he'd received, allegedly on the surveillance of Trump associates who may have been colluding with Russia to mess with the election. None of this was shared with his fellow committee members.

I think I know what Breslin would have thought of the toadying Nunes and I know for sure what Breslin thought about Trump, because he wrote about him on at least three occasions.

The last was on June 7, 1990. Breslin was describing how easily Trump played the press for suckers, simply by returning their phone calls and bragging his way onto the front page. He was able to con financial types, too, getting them to sink more money into his grandiose real estate ventures. Breslin wrote,

"All Trump has to do is stick to the rules on which he was raised by his father in the County of Queens:

"Never use your own money. Steal a good idea and say it's your own. Do anything to get publicity. Remember that everybody can be bought."

As you can see, more than 25 years ago, he had Trump down cold. In fact, another great journalist, Pete Hamill, told the New York Daily News that Breslin saw Trump as the kind of guy who's "all mouth and couldn't fight his way out of an empty lot."

In another piece, Breslin described Trump as toastmaster at a celebration of greed. This was a column about the full-page ad Trump took out in the New York newspapers in 1989, demanding the death penalty for the Central Park Five, teenagers wrongly accused of the rape and attack of a woman jogger.

That last piece of his suggests to me that had Breslin lived to give us a column last Wednesday he would not have been as distracted as I was. He would not have been writing about the London attack or weaselly congressman Nunes. Instead, he would have tracked down the family and friends of Timothy Caughman, the 66-year-old African-African man who was stabbed to death on a Manhattan street late last Monday night, allegedly by a sword-wielding, self-proclaimed white supremacist named James Harris Jackson.

Reports indicate that Jackson intended his hate crime against Caughman as a test run for a mass murder of black men in Times Square. He's from Maryland but thought he'd get more attention by doing his worst in the media capital of the world. He turned himself in before committing more mayhem.

Some described his victim Caughman as a man rummaging though the trash for bottles and cans. But Breslin would have gone deeper, learned from acquaintances that Caughman had attended college, worked with young people, collected autographs and took selfies with celebrities; that he was cherished by the people who knew him.

It's possible Breslin would have cited New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, son of Breslin's friend Mario, who said, "We must continue to deny that the ideas behind this cowardly crime have any place in democratic society." And he probably would have pointed out that while President Trump was quick to condemn the deaths in London at the hands of a British-born Muslim, he has yet to issue a peep or a tweet about the death of Timothy Caughman at the hands of a homegrown American racist.

It would have made Breslin really mad. "Rage is the only quality," he said, "which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers." I was very young when I first became aware of Jimmy Breslin. It was in the days just after the death of President John F. Kennedy. One of the local newspapers in my area picked up the columns Breslin was writing about the assassination for the New York Herald Tribune.

There was the now-famous piece about Clifton Pollard, the $3.01-an-hour gravedigger who used a backhoe to dig Kennedy's grave at Arlington Cemetery. That Pollard story was mentioned in almost every Breslin obit, but the column I especially remember was "A Death in Emergency Room One." Much of it was about Dr. Malcolm Perry, the Dallas surgeon summoned to do what he could:

"The president, Perry thought. He's much bigger than I thought he was.

"He noticed the tall, dark-haired girl in the plum dress that had her husband's blood all over the front of the skirt. She was standing out of the way, over against the gray tile wall. Her face was tearless and it was set, and it was to stay that way because Jacqueline Kennedy, with a terrible discipline, was not going to take her eyes from her husband's face.

"Then Malcolm Perry stepped up to the aluminum hospital cart and took charge of the hopeless job of trying to keep the 35th president of the United States from death."
I read a paperback collection of Breslin's Herald Tribune columns and then his first book, Can't Anybody Here Play this Game? - an account of the New York Mets' disastrous first season. They lost 120 games, still a major league baseball record. The title was a quote from Mets manager Casey Stengel, who also said, "Been in this game 100 years, but I see new ways to lose 'em I never knew existed before."

And yet New Yorkers loved the hapless Mets. Breslin wrote:

"This is a team for the cab driver who gets held up and the guy who loses out on a promotion because he didn't maneuver himself to lunch with the boss enough. It is the team for every guy who has to get out of bed in the morning and go to work for short money on a job he does not like. And it is the team for every woman who looks up ten years later and sees her husband eating dinner in a T-shirt and wonders how the hell she ever let this guy talk her into getting married. The Yankees? Who does well enough to root for them, Laurance Rockefeller?"
I wanted to write like Breslin, cracking tough and wise, just as I wanted to write like Pete Hamill and Gay Talese, Hunter Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Molly Ivins and Chicago's Mike Royko. After I moved to Manhattan, our paths crossed from time to time. Once I shot a television segment with Jimmy in the old Daily News city room. He talked about Sinclair Lewis' novel Babbitt and how its portrayal of conformity and jingoism made it a perfect book for the Reagan years. On top of everything else, he was a very well-read fellow.

But our oddest encounter was in 1976, when I briefly held a job as Jimmy Breslin's bodyguard. I am not making this up.

He was receiving an honorary degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and delivering the commencement address. A friend of mine who worked there called and asked me to accompany Breslin on the short plane ride to Worcester. In those days, Jimmy had a reputation for two-fisted drinking and I was charged by my friend with the task of getting Breslin to graduation sober.

It turned out to be just about the easiest job I ever had. Jimmy and I met up at LaGuardia Airport and the first words out of his mouth were, "I've got the worst effing hangover in my life." The thought of a drink repulsed him.

So we safely arrived in Worcester. But the friend who had hired me thought it would be a swell idea to take Breslin to a working-class bar and have him interact with the locals. And not only that, my somewhat obtuse friend had invited the NBC affiliate to come shoot the proceedings for the 11 o'clock news.

This joint was hardcore, with picnic tables and folding chairs inside and sawdust on the wooden floor, a hangout for serious blue-collar imbibers. They valued their alcohol but even more their privacy because the second those bright TV lights went on in that dark saloon, patrons scattered, howling profane variations on, "What if my boss/wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend, etc., sees me!?"

Jimmy handled the difficult situation with aplomb and that night in his hotel room, hangover be damned, wrote a hell of a commencement speech. Two of the other degree recipients were Mother Teresa and federal judge Arthur Garrity, who two years before had ordered mandatory busing to desegregate Boston's public schools. There was violence and Garrity received death threats. The college was honoring the jurist's brave and difficult decision and in his speech, Breslin did, too:

"As we are here this morning, men in power meet in Washington to discuss ways of getting around Arthur Garrity's decisions. Is there, these men ask, some way to use polite meaningless words as a method of avoiding moral obligations? To Arthur Garrity the answer is clear. The answer is no."
Ceremony over and hangover forgotten, Breslin headed for the hotel bar, the rest of us in tow. At the graduation, he had run into a pal from his old neighborhood, a military officer of high rank, and by the end of that boozy afternoon, the two were on the phone long distance to Queens, shouting to a character who frequently popped up in Breslin's columns, Fat Thomas the bookie.

It was quite a day. Somewhere I still have a copy of the Worcester newspaper from that afternoon with Breslin's commencement speech featured as the lead story. Jimmy autographed the front page.

He stopped drinking a decade or so later - "Whiskey betrays you when you need it most," he said - but kept pouring out the prose, brilliant and rude and irascible, looking out for the underdog, calling out the bad guys; always to the point and a perpetual pain in the neck, usually for the right reasons.

Of his vast range of experience, good and bad, Jimmy Breslin said, "I was about 67 people in my life." Lucky for the rest of us, all of them could write.
(c) 2017 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers' Journal and is senior writer of

The Dead Letter Office...

Neil gives the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Volksgerichtshof Gorsuch,

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 being farther right than any other Junta member and will push the Supreme Court even farther to the right than it currently is, 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 05-27-2017. We salute you Herr Gorsuch, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

No, Paul, It Wasn't Because Of 'Growing Pains'
By Robert Reich

House Speaker Paul Ryan, in his press conference following the demise of his bill to replace Obamacare, blamed Republicans who had failed to grasp that the GOP was now a "governing party."

"We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do," said Ryan. "You just had to be against it. Now, in three months' time, we tried to go to a governing party where we actually had to get 216 people to agree with each other on how we do things."

It was, he said, "the growing pains of government."


Apparently Ryan doesn't grasp that he put forward a terrible bill to begin with. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it would have resulted in 24 million Americans losing health coverage over the next decade, hardly make a dent in the federal debt, and transfer over $600 billion to the wealthiest members of American society.

The so-called "Freedom Caucus" of House Republicans, who refused to go along with the bill, wanted it even worse. Essentially, their goal (and that of their fat-cat patrons) was to repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at all.

Ryan is correct about one thing. Congress is in the hands of Republicans who for years have only said "no." They have become expert at stopping whatever a president wants to do but they don't have a clue how to initiate policy.

Most of the current Republican House members have not shared responsibility for governing the nation. They have never even passed a budget into law.

But their real problem isn't the "growing pains" of being out of power. In reality, the Republicans who are now control the House - as well as the Senate - don't like government. They're temperamentally and ideologically oriented to opposing it, not leading it.

Their chronic incapacity to govern didn't reveal itself as long as a Democrat was in the White House. They let President Obama try to govern, and pretended that their opposition was based on a different philosophy governing.

Now that they have a Republican president, they can no longer hide. They have no philosophy of governing at all.

Sadly for them - and for the rest of the country, and the world - the person they supported in the election of 2016 and who is now president is an unhinged narcissistic child who tweets absurd lies and holds rallies to prop up his fragile ego.

His conflicts of financial interest are legion. His entire presidency is under a "gray cloud" of suspicion for colluding with Russian agents to win office.

Here's a man who's advised by his daughter, his son-in-law, and an oddball who once ran a white supremacist fake-news outlet.

His Cabinet is an assortment of billionaires, CEOs, veterans of Wall Street, and ideologues, none of whom has any idea about how to govern and most of whom don't believe in the laws their departments are in charge of implementing anyway.

Meanwhile, he has downgraded or eviscerated groups of professionals responsible for giving presidents professional advice on foreign policy, foreign intelligence, economics, science, and domestic policy.

He gets most of what he learns from television.

So we have a congress with no capacity to govern, and a president who's incapable of governing.

Which leaves the most powerful nation in the world rudderless.

The country on whom much of the rest of the world relies for organizing and mobilizing responses to the major challenges facing humankind is leaderless.

It is of course possible that Republicans in congress will learn to take responsibility for governing. It is possible that Donald Trump will learn to lead. It is possible that pigs will learn to fly.

But such things seem doubtful. Instead, America and the rest of the world must hold our collective breath, hoping that the next elections - the midterms of 2018 and then the presidential election of 2020 - set things right. And hoping that in the meantime nothing irrevocably awful occurs.
(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

Registered nurses joined actions in over 40 U.S. cities on Jan. 15, 2017 to demand that the incoming Trump
administration and Congress protect and expand millions of Americans' access to healthcare, not cut it.

Crash Of Trumpcare Opens Door To Full Medicare For All
By Ralph Nader

You can thank House Speaker Ryan and President Trump for pushing their cruel health insurance boondoggle. This debacle has created a big opening to put Single Payer or full Medicare for all prominently front and center. Single Payer means everybody in, nobody out, with free choice of physician and hospital.

The Single Payer system that has been in place in Canada for Decades comes in at half the cost per capita, compared to what the U.S. spends now. All Canadians are covered at a cost of about $4500 per capita while in the U.S. the cost is over $9000 per capita, with nearly 30 million people without coverage and many millions more underinsured.

"Time to call your Senators and Representatives."

Seventy-three members of the House of Representatives have co-signed Congressman Conyers's bill, HR 676, which is similar to the Canadian system. These lawmakers like HR 676 because it has no copays, nasty deductibles or massive inscrutable computerized billing fraud, while giving people free choice and far lower administrative costs.

Often Canadians never even see a bill for major operations or procedures. Dr. Stephanie Wohlander, who has taught at Harvard Medical School, estimated recently that a Single Payer system in the U.S. would potentially save as much as $500 billion, just in administrative costs, out of the nearly $3.5 trillion in health care expenditures this year.

Already federal, state and local governments pay for about half of this gigantic sum through Medicare, Medicaid, the Pentagon, VA, and insuring their public employees. But the system is complexly corrupted by the greed, oft-documented waste, and over-selling of the immensely-profitable, bureaucratic insurance and drug industry.

To those self-described conservatives out there, consider that major conservative philosophers such as Friedrich Hayek, a leader of the Austrian School of Economics, so revered by Ron Paul, supported "a comprehensive system of social insurance" to protect the people from "the common hazards of life," including illness. He wanted a publically funded system for everyone, not just Medicare and Medicaid patients, with a private delivery of medical/health services. That is what HR 676 would establish (ask your member of Congress for a copy or find the full text here. (Conservatives may wish to read for greater elaboration of this conservative basis, my book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)

Maybe some of this conservative tradition is beginning to seep into the minds of the corporatist editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal. Seeing the writing on the wall, so to speak, a recent editorial, before the Ryan/Trump crash, concluded with these remarkable words:

"The Healthcare Market is at a crossroads. Either it heads in a more market-based direction step by step or it moves toward single payer step by step. If Republicans blow this chance and default to Democrats, they might as well endorse single-payer because that is where the politics will end up."

Maybe such commentary, repeated by another of the Journals columnists, will prod more Democrats to come out of the closet and openly push for a Single Payer system. At a recent lively town meeting in San Francisco, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blurted at her younger protesters: "I've been for single-payer before you were born."

Presumably retired President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will do the same, since they too were for "Full Medicare for All" before they became politically subservient to corporate politics.

Even without any media, and any major party calling for it, a Pew poll had 59% of the public for Full Medicare for All, including 30% of Republicans, 60% of independents and 80% of Democrats. Ever since President Harry S. Truman proposed to Congress universal health insurance legislation in the nineteen forties, public opinion, left and right, has been supportive.

We've compiled twenty-one ways in which life is better in Canada than in the U.S. because of the Single Payer health insurance system. Canadians, for example, don't have to worry about pay or die prices, don't take or decline jobs based on health insurance considerations, nor are they driven into bankruptcy or deep debt, they experience no anxiety over being denied payment or struck with reams of confusing, trap-door computerized bills and fine print.

People in Canada do not die (estimated at 35,000 fatalities a year in the U.S.) because they cannot go for diagnoses or treatment in time.

Canadians can choose their doctors and hospitals without being trapped, like many in the U.S., into small, narrow service networks.

In Canada the administration of the system is simple. You get a health care card when you are born. You swipe it when you visit a physician or hospital.

All universal health insurance systems in all western countries have their problems; but Americans are extraordinarily jammed with worry, anxiety and fear over how or if their care is going to be covered or paid, not to mention all the perverse incentives for waste, gouging and profiteering.

Time to call your Senators and Representatives. There are only 535 of them and you count in the tens of millions!

For the full 21 Ways, see the article here.

For more information on health care in the U.S., what's being done to combat vicious commercial assaults on our country's most vulnerable people, and to find out how you can help fight back, visit
(c) 2017 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is Unstoppable, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Report: Anxiety Disorders Induced By Trump Presidency Not Covered Under GOP Health Bill
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Explaining that the legislation would create major gaps in treatment for tens of millions of people, a new report released Thursday by the American Public Health Association found that anxiety disorders induced by Donald Trump's presidency will not be covered under the new GOP healthcare bill.

"Under the proposed American Health Care Act, those experiencing anxiety over the impact of the Trump administration on the economy, civil rights, or the environment, or just suffering from generalized distress over the future of the nation, will have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for any therapies required to cope," said policy analyst Jason Coates, adding that not even the groups who will need treatment most, such as immigrants, women, and the poor, would be covered.

"Even as President Trump continues to enact more of his controversial agenda and make antagonizing public statements, millions will remain vulnerable to the resulting mental health issues. And if left untreated over an entire four-year term, they could develop into more serious conditions that will end up costing taxpayers much more in the long run." The report also acknowledged, however, that Trump-related anxiety would result in billions of dollars in savings for elder care due to the shortened lifespan of many seniors.
(c) 2017 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 11 (c) 03/31/2017

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