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In This Edition

Dahr Jamail warns, "Thanks To Climate Disruption, Earth Is Already Losing Critical Biosphere Component."

Uri Avnery examines, "Pour Out Your Wrath."

Glen Ford gives, "MLK: A Snap Shot In Time."

Cornell West reminds us, "Martin Luther King Jr Was a Radical. We Must Not Sterilize His Legacy ."

Jim Hightower asks, "How Low Can The Barons Of High Finance Go?"

John Nichols explores, "The Real Problem With Sinclair."

James Donahue wonders, "Can Polarized Americans Trust Their Own Eyes?"

Pepe Escobar finds, "MBS Feted In The US Despite War Atrocities In Yemen."

Heather Digby Parton introduces, "Trump's Muse."

Ralph Nader says, "Stopping War Pusher John Bolton, Trump's Choice for National 'Insecurity' Advisor."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "The Supreme Court Voted To Stiff The American Worker, Again."

Bill Lueders joins us with, "Wisconsin Votes A Blue Streak."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "Beyond Parkland: A Risen Generation Is Challenging The Nation."

Sinclair Broadcast Group's new CEO, Christopher Ripley wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich uncovers, "April Fools."

Chris Hedges with a must read, "The Oligarchs' 'Guaranteed Basic Income' Scam."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst "explores, The Rites Of Spring," but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, There's A Blue Tide Rising!

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Randall Enos, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Weekly World News, Carlos Barria, Andrew Harrer, Mandel Ngan, William Lovelace, Bandar al-Jaloud, Khaled Abdullah, Matt McClain, The Washington Post, NASA, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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There's A Blue Tide Rising!
By Ernest Stewart

"Bottom line is that President Trump is energizing the Democratic Party." ~~~ Nathan Gonzales ~ editor and publisher of Inside Elections

"Venus is hot because it has 200,000 times as much carbon dioxide in its atmosphere as Earth does. Once you know that, you understand that if we add more to Earth's atmosphere, it's going to happen here." ~~~ Jeffrey Bennett ~ astrophysicist

"Trade wars are easy to win," at least that's what the president told us when he announced tariffs on steel and aluminum a couple weeks ago. But as we have witnessed over the last few days of market action, the ancillary effects of a 'trade war' can leave serious collateral damage. ~~~ Jack Bouroudjian

"...tiptoe into your parents' bedrooms and remove those funny green pieces of paper with pictures of U.S. Presidents from their pants and pocketbooks. Then put them in an envelope and mail them to me, and I'll send you a postcard from Puerto Rico!" ~~~ Soupy Sales

Thanks to Trumps shenanigans the Republicans are starting to lose House and Senate seats and it's beginning to look like they may loose the House and some states governor's seats in not the blue, but the red states.

For example, voters in Wisconsin on Tuesday rejected the Rethuglicans candidate for their state supreme court as voters chose liberal Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet over Michael Screnock who ran a little to the right of Darth Vader! They also rejected a Republicans scheme for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the office of state treasurer. Maybe there is some hope for once liberal Wisconsin after all?

Meanwhile, a way down yonder in Tennessee Rethuglican candidate Rep. Marsh Blackburn is trailing former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen by double digits for Bob Corker's old U.S. Senate seat!

You may recall that heavily favorite religious loonie-toon and child molester Roy Moore, Trump's candidate to take over Jeff Sessions old Senate seat, lost to Democrat Doug Jones down in red state Alabama without any DNC help.

US House seats in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin also turned blue this year. In fact some 37 seats turned from red to blue in both state and federal elections so far in 2018. Most pundits think the Democrats will pick up the US House this fall which should put an end to Trumps shenanigans through 2020. We can but hope!

In Other News

I see where just limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius will not prevent destructive and deadly climate impacts, as once hoped, dozens of experts concluded in a score of scientific studies released Monday. "A world that heats up by 2C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) -- long regarded as the temperature ceiling for a climate-safe planet -- could see mass displacement due to rising seas, a drop in per capita income, regional shortages of food and fresh water, and the loss of animal and plant species at an accelerated speed."

Poor and emerging countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America will get hit hardest, according to the studies in the British Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions.

"We are detecting large changes in climate impacts for a 2C world, and so should take steps to avoid this," said lead editor Dann Mitchell, a professor at the University of Bristol. The 197-nation Paris climate treaty, inked in 2015, vows to halt warming at "well under" 2C compared to mid-19th century levels, and "pursue efforts" to cap the rise at 1.5C. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said climate change was "the most systemic threat to humankind." Someone should tell the Donald, shouldn't they?

It's been said the best that humanity can do at this point is to limit temperature rise to 3 degrees Celsius, and since Trumps doing his best to raise it up even higher to make a buck out of poisoning the atmosphere we are certainly doomed!

According to Gallup's annual poll analyzing American views on climate change showed that overall concern is not much different from last year. Approximately 54 percent of Americans do not believe global warming will cause major problems within their lifetimes. Those 250 years of brain-washing America is begging to pay off!

Still, 43 percent of Americans said they worry about global warming a "great deal" and 20 percent said they worry a "fair amount."

When looking at political divides, the difference in the level of concern is striking. Among Democrats, 73 percent believe the effects of global warming have already begun and 87 percent believe global warming is caused by human activities. Republicans are far more skeptical, with only 41 percent believing the effects have started and 40 percent saying humans have caused global warming.

Since last year, such skepticism among Republicans has increased, with 69 percent saying they think the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated, compared with 66 percent last year. On the other hand, only 4 percent of Democrats see the threat as exaggerated, a significant decrease from 10 percent in 2017. So long as our Imbecile-in-Chief has control of both the Senate and the House, you better look out America!

And Finally

Trump tweeted Wednesday that the U.S. is not in a trade war with China "We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.," Trump said.

Trump said the U.S. cannot let its trade deficit with China continue. The tweet came hours after China unveiled plans for new tariffs on 106 U.S. products. Stock futures sank, with the Dow Jones industrial average set for a 500-point decline. The president doubled-down on his view of the trade deficit in a later tweet, saying the current situation means the U.S. "can't lose."
Methinks taking $50,000,000,000 out of the economy will certainly destroy our already shaky economy and Wall Street agrees posting 350-point decline once the smoke had cleared.

China's Ministry of Commerce said the charges are designed to target up to $50 billion in U.S. products annually. The 25 percent levy on U.S. imports includes products such as soybeans, cars and whiskey, Beijing said.

China's ambassador to the United States explained on Tuesday evening why his country was striking back against U.S. trade measures.

"We certainly don't want to have any trade war with anybody, but people have to understand who started all this," Ambassador Cui Tiankai said.

Speaking ahead of the official announcement, Tiankai said China would resort to the World Trade Organization dispute settlement mechanism.

Cui's comments come after Trump's White House on Tuesday unveiled a list Chinese imports the administration proposes to target as part of a crackdown on what Trump deems unfair trade practices.

In an interview on Wednesday morning, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is one of the main players in Trump's trade strategy, said "China's new tariffs aren't a threat to the U.S.." Wilbur you may recall, is a couple beers short of a 6-pack! The Demoncrats had better take the House and Senate back come November or we'll be a 3rd world nation by 2020!

Keepin' On

They say be careful what you wish for, so I am, and I got it, a nice check from a first-time contributor; beyond that, she's a newbie to the magazine, too; it's Carolyn, from my old stomping grounds around Asheville, North Carolina. Thank you so much for your help, Carolyn. With Carolyn's help we're just $1300 short of paying off our second group of bills.

We got to talking about dead Presidents in group the other day; and I said my favorite was the only President of the United States, who was never the President of the United States. I'm talking about my favorite revolutionary, old, Ben Jamin' Franklin. If I could just get a bunch of you to send me all the pictures of old Ben that you might be carrying in your wallet or purse or in your husband's or wife's wallet or purse or your mommy or daddy's wallet or purse and send them to me, we'd be just that much closer to paying off our bills for the year!

Seriously, if you think what we do for you week after week, year and after year, decade after decade, should be supported and encouraged, then please go to the donation's page and follow the simple directions; and thanks! Remember, we do all of this for you and yours, so you can know what the truth is, so you can figure out what to do about it! Is the truth important to you, America? It's very important to us!


12-16-1943 ~ 04-01-2018
Thanks for the film!


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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) 2018 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.

Thanks To Climate Disruption, Earth Is Already Losing Critical Biosphere Components
Dahr Jamail

Two weeks ago, I gave a keynote presentation about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) at a large sustainability conference in Chico, California. During the question-and-answer session following my talk, a student asked me what I thought the world would look like by 2050. His question stopped me in my tracks. I had to pause and take a deep breath, to prepare myself emotionally for what I had to tell him.

Here is the gist of what I said: Based on years of research for my forthcoming book, The End of Ice, along with my work compiling these monthly climate disruption dispatches for four years now, I know that by 2050, we will be inhabiting a dramatically different planet. I believe we will already have tens -- if not hundreds -- of millions of climate refugees from sea-level rise and conflicts born of lack of food and water. What we currently call extreme weather events (massive floods, droughts, hurricanes) will have long since become the norm. In the US, growing food in the Midwest and the central valley of California will be extremely difficult, if not largely impossible, due to shifting weather patterns of rainfall and drought. Some swaths of the world, including the Gulf states in the Middle East and parts of the US Southwest, will be largely uninhabitable due to simply being too hot. Greenland and the Antarctic will both be experiencing dramatically advanced melting, and most of the glaciers in the contiguous 48 US states will have long since ceased to exist. And given that we are officially already amidst the Sixth Mass Extinction Event of the planet, which humans triggered, the biological annihilation that comes with this is happening apace.

This portrait might seem far-fetched to some. But to understand that this is our future, all we need to do is look at what is already happening around the planet.

In early March, Arctic sea ice hit record lows for that time of year. Along with stunningly warm temperatures for the region (which scientists called "crazy, crazy stuff"), researchers there are continuing to scratch their heads about the dramatic ACD-fueled changes besetting the Arctic.

The biosphere is convulsing.

Unchecked ACD -- which appears likely to continue, since governments (particularly that of the United States) are not preparing to undertake the kinds of drastic mitigation measures that might have any impact -- will dramatically degrade global fish catch over the coming centuries, and may well reduce total oceanic plant life for a millennium, according to a recent study. The study also noted that these changes cannot be reversed until the climate cools.

The amount of warming humans have already caused on Earth is, according to a recent study, likely already enough to melt more than one-third of all the world's glaciers outside of Antarctica and Greenland, regardless of ongoing efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions. The study analyzed the lag between global temperature increases and the retreat of glaciers and found a relatively slow response of glaciers to planetary warming. Researchers noted that it will take until 2100, at least, to see any benefits from serious mitigation efforts over the next decades -- assuming those efforts actually happen. One of the scientists involved in the study told Carbon Brief that this glacier loss is already "baked in" to the system and has been overlooked, which essentially means "we really are on course to obliterate many of these mountain landscapes."

Meanwhile, a recently published World Wildlife Fund report has predicted catastrophic losses in the world's forests: As much as 60 percent of the plants and half of all the animals are predicted to disappear by 2100. if temperatures rise by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5 degreesC). The scientific consensus states that a 1.5degrees C rise is a given; in fact, some prominent scientists believe an increase of 3.2 degrees C by 2100 is most likely, given current national commitments. If emissions remain unchanged, which is the current actual trajectory, a 4.5 degrees C rise is the forecast. It is worth noting that oil giants BP and Shell are planning on 5 degrees C of planetary warming by 2050.

Taking all this information in is necessary if we are to see the world clearly and live our lives accordingly.


The World Bank recently warned that if dramatic intervention doesn't occur on the ACD front, 140 million people across three regions (sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America) of the Earth will become refugees between now and 2050.

An example of one of the factors driving such mass movement of people can be found in California, where a recent report citing nearly 90 different studies found that warming temperatures could alter where key crops grow across that state. Bearing in mind that California produces roughly two-thirds of all the produce in the US, the report notes that ACD could decrease the yield of some of the crops grown in California by as much as 40 percent by 2050.

In Vermont, warming temperatures, particularly during the winter, are causing extreme weather events and unpredictable rainfall, which experts recently warned was making forests across that state particularly vulnerable to ACD. Boreal forests and moose populations will be the hardest hit, warned the study.

The world's northernmost regions have not escaped extreme weather. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, known as the Doomsday Vault, was created to protect the world's seeds in the event of cataclysmic ACD impacts or nuclear war, whichever comes first. Disturbingly, it is now in need of an upgrade, thanks to ACD. Norway, which built and maintains the vault, is having to invest $13 million to upgrade the vault to make room for more seeds and make it more resilient, given a recent flooding event there. Last year, flooding at the entrance of the vault prompted the Norwegian government to begin looking into the upgrade, which is now going to move forward.

Bad news also abounds for Earth's animal species. A recently published study in the journal Nature Climate Change showed that Antarctica's king penguins could be extinct by 2100, due primarily to ACD impacts and overfishing.

In Florida, research revealed recently that nearly all the sea turtles being born there are female, due to higher temperatures. Obviously, if this trend continues, which it almost assuredly will, there will be no more sea turtles in Florida.

Meanwhile over in Europe, the authors of a recent report out of France's National Museum of Natural History and the National Centre for Scientific Research showed a "catastrophic" decline in France's bird populations. The trend signals the possibility of Europe's farmland turning into desert, a situation that would ultimately threaten all human beings. The scientists warned of a wider crisis of biodiversity -- or lack thereof -- across that continent, with ACD impacts and pesticides to blame. This comes on the heels of concerning news of a 76 percent decline in the abundance of flying insects in Germany over the last 27 years.


As is often the case in the spring, the watery realms of the planet are where the ACD impacts are most evident.

Widespread ongoing winter drought across the US, from Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri to the Dakotas, Texas and California, have many farmers worried about this year being a repeat of 2012, the worst drought in the US since the Dust Bowl. At present, the winter drought is worse than it was in 2012.

The problem extends beyond those states. In Colorado, at the time of this writing, snow would need to fall at 200 percent of the state's average through the end of April for its snowpack to catch up to normal. Water managers there are keeping a leery eye on reservoirs as summer looms on the horizon.

Colorado is not an anomaly. Snowpack across the Western US has been dramatically lower than it was a century ago. A recent study showed the average snowpack in the west has dropped by nearly one-third since 1915. That is equivalent to the decrease we'd see from permanently draining Nevada's Lake Mead, the single largest man-made reservoir in the US.

Changing weather patterns and warmer year-round temperatures have scientists in Western Canada -- a place you wouldn't think needs to worry about water issues -- worried about running out of water in the future. For example, in 2017 there was a record amount of snowfall in one region, but even all that snow was still not enough to prevent a drought on the southern part of the prairies below it. The changing climate there also means the snowpack is melting faster and earlier than usual, which means that water is moving through river basins faster and leaving them dry before the end of summer.

On the other side of the world, New Zealand is experiencing similar concerns. Its alps have become incredibly barren, as a recent aerial survey shows how the loss of snow there is now being called "extreme."

A recently released UN report on the state of the world's water warned that more than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due largely to ACD and increasing demand.

Furthermore, extreme weather events like major floods and extreme rainfall events have surged more than 50 percent this decade alone, and are now happening four times more often than they were in just 1980, according to a recent paper.

Meanwhile, seas continue to rise. A recent NOAA report warned that sea level rise will rapidly worsen flooding that is already happening in coastal communities around the US. The report warned that some cities will see flooding on a daily basis by 2100.

Adding to this, another recent study showed that lakes on the Greenland Ice Sheet are now forming further inland, meaning they are now potentially threatening to speed up ice flow once they drain to the glacial floor.

In Antarctica the news is no better. The absence of sea ice near that continent over the past six weeks (as of the time of this writing) has deeply concerned scientists conducting research there.

In addition to paying attention to large, continental changes, it's important to take note of ACD-driven shifts on the level of microorganisms. A recent report showed that excessive rates of carbon dioxide (CO2) affect the health of critical microorganisms in the oceans, which could potentially undermine the base of vital marine food chains. This is happening largely due to ocean acidification, a result of ACD.


Given the low snowpack levels across much of the Western US, this summer is already expected to be another above-average wildfire season for much of that part of the country. Since snowpack functions as a water source through much of the summer, when warmer temperatures cause it to melt off faster than normal, drier conditions ensue.

Meanwhile in Australia, more than 70 homes and buildings have been destroyed in a fast-moving bushfire in New South Wales, while separate fires destroyed 18 properties in Victoria. Local authorities there described the fires as the worst of Australia's summer season thus far.

As is always the case with extreme weather events, none of these fires can be solely attributed to ACD. However, climate disruption's impacts are a key contributing factor to how often they occur, as well as to their intensity.


In Australia, a new study reveals that the country's record-setting 2012 heat wave was responsible for the destruction of roughly 1,000 square kilometers of seagrass meadows. which had acted as a repository for CO2. When the meadows were destroyed, the disaster released as much as 9 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, nearby New Zealand experienced its hottest summer on record last year. It definitively broke with normal temperatures, clocking in at a shocking 2.1 degrees C above the past 35-year average temperature.

Back in the US, USGS data has revealed how spring has arrived much earlier than normal for much of the country, a clear indicator of how ACD is continuing to shift overall climate patterns.

In the Arctic, in fact, spring is beginning an average of 16 days earlier now than it did just one decade ago. A study in the journal Scientific Reports noted an increase in the number of warm temperature records in the spring, along with changes to the timing of bird migrations, flowers blooming and other seasonal indicators.

What makes this even more disconcerting is the fact that scientists have found a direct and strong link between warmer Arctic temperatures and abnormally high snowfall amounts and frigid temperatures further south of that region. So, for example, the severe weather that has been impacting the northeastern US this spring, is linked directly to the ACD-related warm wave happening across the Arctic region.

Lastly in this section, but perhaps most importantly, thawing Arctic permafrost is now likely to release more methane than previously expected. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, as it is 100 times stronger over a 10-year time scale. The new study found that waterlogged wetland soils will produce considerably more methane than previously predicted.

Denial and Reality

There is never a dull moment in the Trump administration's land of ACD-denial.

A recent and excellent article published at The Conversation outlined the four primary methods used by this administration to deny or hide the reality of ACD. These methods are, according to the article: making documents more difficult to find on government websites, burying web pages, altering language, and silencing the science. Truthout's Mike Ludwig also detailed how ACD, as a threat to the US, has literally "gone missing" under Trump.

Climate Disruption Dispatches

Meanwhile, the cabinet continues to be filled with ACD deniers. One of the more recent additions has been hardline climate denier Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, who along with having longstanding close ties to the Koch brothers, in 2013 said during a C-SPAN interview: "There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There's some who think we're warming, there's some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment." A Trump administration official even went so far recently as to say that USGS scientists went "outside their wheelhouse" by writing that ACD has "dramatically reduced" glaciers in Montana. One of the scientists who bore this attack responded, "This is what we do.... It is our wheelhouse."

Trump administration US Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, who thinks wearing thick-framed glasses makes him appear more intelligent, recently said that international efforts to reduce fossil fuel use were "immoral."

Meanwhile, EPA head Scott Pruitt, already an avid ACD denier, recently disputed evolution.

On the reality front, thousands of scientists from the 22 Commonwealth countries have urged that stronger government action on ACD needs to be taken if there is hope to keep planetary warming lower than 2degreesC.

Underscoring that urgency, global demand for energy increased by 2.1 percent in 2017 -- more than twice the previous year's rate, according to the International Energy Agency. According to the same agency, energy-related CO2 emissions also increased by 1.4 percent during 2017, reaching a historic high of 32.5 gigatons.

Despite glaring warning signs from around the planet, governments around the world are not taking dramatic measures to mitigate ACD impacts. In fact, the US government continues to refuse to even acknowledge that those impacts exist. The world's most powerful forces are taking a business-as-usual approach, as we are hurtled deeper into the Sixth Mass Extinction event.
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Pour Out Your Wrath
By Uri Avnery

I was about to write an article about Pesach eve' when I remembered that I wrote exactly the same article six years ago. So I am sending the old article again - I just have nothing to add.

I AM writing this on Friday night, the eve of Passover. At this moment, all over the world, millions of Jews are gathered around the family table, observing the Seder, reading aloud from the same book: the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

The impact of this book on Jewish life is immense. Every Jew takes part in this ceremony from earliest childhood, and plays an active part in the ritual. Wherever a Jewish man or woman goes in later life, they will take with them a memory of the warmth and togetherness of the family, the magical atmosphere - and the overt and subliminal message conveyed by the text.

Whoever invented the Seder ("order") ritual, many centuries ago, was a genius. All human senses are involved: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. It includes eating a ritualized meal, drinking four glasses of wine, touching various symbolic objects, playing a game with the children (searching for a hidden piece of Matzo). It ends with singing several religious songs together. The accumulated effect is magical.

More than any other Jewish text, the Haggadah forms the Jewish conscious - or, rather, unconscious - mind today, as in the past, influencing our collective behavior and Israeli national policy.

There are many different ways to view this book.

LITERATURE: As a literary work, the Haggadah is rather inferior. The text is devoid of beauty, full of repetitions, platitudes and banalities.

This may cause wonderment. The Hebrew Bible - the Bible in Hebrew - is a work of unique beauty. In many places, its beauty is intoxicating.

The peaks of Western culture - Homer, Shakespeare, Goethe, Tolstoy - are not its equal. Even the later Jewish religious texts - Mishnah, Talmud and so forth - while not so uplifting, contain passages of literary merit. The Haggadah has none. It is a text devised purely for indoctrination.

HISTORY: It's not. Though it claims to tell history, the Haggadah has nothing to do with real history.

There can no longer be the slightest doubt that the Exodus never happened. Neither the Exodus, nor the wandering in the desert, nor the conquest of Canaan.

The Egyptians were obsessive chroniclers. Many tens of thousands of tablets have already been deciphered. It would have been impossible for an event like the exodus to pass without being reported at length. Not if 600,000 people left, as the Bible tells it, or 60,000, or even 6000. Especially if during the flight a whole Egyptian army contingent, including war chariots, was drowned.

The same goes for the Conquest. Because of acute security concerns, after being invaded once from there, the Egyptians employed a host of spies, - travelers, merchants and others - to follow closely the events in neighboring Canaan, in every single one of its towns and at all times. An invasion of Canaan, even a minor one, would have been reported. Except for the periodic incursions of Bedouin tribes, nothing was recorded.

Moreover, the Egyptian towns mentioned in the Bible did not exist at the time the event is supposed to have happened. They did exist, however, when the Bible was written, in the first or second century BC.

There is no need to point out that in a hundred years of frantic archaeological searching by devout Christians and Zionist zealots, not a shred of concrete evidence for the conquest of Canaan has been found (nor that the Kingdoms of Saul, David or Solomon ever existed).

But is this really important? Not a bit of it!

The Passover story does not derive its immense power from any claim to be history. It is a myth that grips the human imagination, a myth that is the basis of a great religion, a myth that directs the behavior of people to this very day. Without the Exodus story, there would probably be no State of Israel today - and certainly not in Palestine.

THE GLORY: One can read the Exodus story as a shining example of all that is good and inspiring in the annals of humanity.

Here is the story of a small and powerless people that rises up against a brutal tyranny, throws off its chains and gains a new homeland, creating a revolutionary new moral code on the way.

Seen in this way, the Exodus is a victory of the human spirit, an inspiration for all downtrodden peoples. And indeed, it has served this purpose many times in the past. The Pilgrim Fathers, the founders of the American nation, were inspired by it, and so were many rebels throughout history.

THE OTHER SIDE: When one reads the Biblical text attentively, without religious blinkers, some aspects gives us food for other thoughts.

Let's take the Ten Plagues. Why were the entire Egyptian people punished for the misdeeds of one tyrant, Pharaoh? Why did God, like a divine Security Council, levy on them cruel sanctions, polluting their water with blood, destroying their livelihood with hail and locusts? And, even more gruesome, how could a merciful God send his angels to murder every single Egyptian firstborn child?

On leaving Egypt, the Israelites were encouraged to steal their neighbors' property. It is rather curious that the Biblical story-teller, who was certainly deeply religious, did not omit this detail. And this just a few weeks before the Ten Commandments were handed down to the Israelites by God personally, including "Thou Shalt Not Steal."

No one ever seems to have given much thought to the ethical side of the conquest of Canaan. God promised the Children of Israel a land which was the home of other peoples. He told them to kill these peoples, expressly commanding them to commit genocide. For some reason, He singled out the people of Amalek, ordering the Israelites to eradicate them altogether. Later, the glorious King Saul was dethroned by His prophet because he showed mercy and did not murder his Amalekite prisoners-of-war, men, women and children.

Of course, these texts were written by people living in times long past, when the ethics of individuals and nations were different, as were the rules of war. But the Haggadah is recited - today as before - uncritically, without any reflection on these horrible aspects.

Especially in religious schools in Israel today, the commandment to commit genocide against the non-Jewish population of Palestine is taken by many teachers and pupils quite literally.

INDOCTRINATION: This is the real point of these reflections.

There are two sentences in the Haggadah that always had - and still have - a profound impact on the present.

One is the central idea on which almost all Jews base their historical outlook: "In every generation they rise against us to destroy us."

This does not apply to a specific time or to a specific place. It is regarded as an eternal truth that applies to all places, all times. "They" is the entire outside world, all non-Jews everywhere.

Children hear this on Seder evening on their father's knee, long before they are able to read and write, and from then on they hear or recite it every year for decades. It expresses the total conscious or unconscious conviction of almost all Jews, whether in Los Angeles, California, or in Lod, Israel. It certainly directs the policy of the State of Israel.

The second sentence, which complements the first, is a cry to God: "Pour out your wrath upon the nations that do not know you...for they have devoured Jacob and desolated his home...Pour out your wrath on them! May your blazing anger overtake them! Exterminate them from under the heavens of the Lord!...

The word "nations" in this text has a double meaning. The Hebrew word is "goyim", an ancient Hebrew term for "peoples". Even the ancient Children of Israel were called a "Holy Goy". But over the centuries, the word has taken on another meaning, and is understood to refer to all non-Jewish individuals, in a very derogatory way. (As in the Yiddish song "Oy, Oy, Oy, / Drunk is the Goy.)"

In many translations, the word "exterminate" is changed into "pursue".

To understand this text properly, one has to remember that it was written as a cry from the heart of a defenseless, persecuted people who had no means to take revenge on their torturers. To raise their spirits on the joyful Seder evening, they had to put their trust in God, crying out to Him that he should take revenge in their stead.

During the Seder ritual, the door is always left open. Officially, that is to allow the Prophet Elias to enter, if he should miraculously rise from the dead. In reality it was to allow the Goyim to look in, so as to disprove the anti-Semitic libel that Jews baked their unleavened Pesach bread with the blood of kidnapped Christian children. THE LESSON: In the Diaspora, this craving for revenge was both understandable and ineffective. But the founding of the State of Israel has changed the situation completely. In Israel, Jews are far from being defenseless. We don't have to rely on God to take revenge for the evils done unto us, past or present, real or imagined. We can pour out our wrath ourselves, on our neighbors, the Palestinians and other Arabs, on our minorities, on our victims.

That is the real danger of the Haggadah, as I see it. It was written by and for helpless Jews living in perpetual danger. It raised their spirits once a year, when they felt safe for a moment, protected by their God, surrounded by their families.

Taken out of this context and applied to a new, completely different situation, it can set us on an evil course. Telling ourselves that everybody is out to destroy us, yesterday and most certainly tomorrow, we consider the grandiloquent bombast of an Iranian bigmouth as a living proof of the validity of the old maxim. They are out to kill us, so we must - according to another ancient Jewish injunction - kill them first.

So, on this Seder evening, let our feelings be guided by the noble, inspiring part of the Haggadah, the part about the slaves who rose up against tyranny and took their fate in their own hands - and not the part about pouring out our wrath.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

MLK: A Snap Shot In Time
By Glen Ford

The line of preachers stretched 100 yards to the door of Columbus, Georgia's radio station WOKS, where the pastors had each been allotted a few minutes to testify to their deep commitment to the ideals espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shot down in Memphis three days earlier. Nearly every Black minister in town was there, waiting his turn to lie. Although they would sound like an amen corner for "the Movement" on this mournful Sunday morning, the assembled clergymen had, in fact, acted as the front line of resistance to King's gospel of nonviolent confrontation with the white powers-that-be.

Both before and after the tumultuous Birmingham campaign of 1963, Dr. King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had hoped to bring the movement to Columbus, the second-largest city in Georgia, 100 miles due south of Atlanta. The protocols of Black Baptist behaviour, however, required that ministers first receive an invitation from a local congregation before setting up shop in someone else's city. All 100 of Columbus' Black churches shut their doors on Dr. King, rejecting any outside interference in their long accommodation with white supremacy.

The same solid phalanx of Jim Crowed preachers kept King out of Georgia's other large cities: Macon, Augusta, and Savannah. Indeed, Dr. King's early southern campaign itinerary was shaped primarily by the places he was locked out of -- ultimately, almost everywhere except small backwaters like Albany, Georgia and St. Augustine Florida.

The myth of the "Black Church" as the central player in the huge social transformations of the 1960s begins with the false testimonials that poured from pulpits and Black radio microphones on that Sunday, April 7th, 1968 -- and have soiled the historical record ever since. Accommodation with Power -- not transformation or liberation -- was the watchword of the Black church, then as now. King and his SCLC were a rogue faction of dissident Baptists in a sea of petty capitalist hustlers in clerical collars whose mission was to reconcile Black people to life under apartheid.

I watched with disgust as the Uncle Tom preachers composed their mini-sermons for the radio microphone. An 18 year-old paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, I had been on field exercises with my unit the week before, providing security for the commanding general's headquarters. Under a big tent, company commanders and their executive officers spent that Wednesday, April 3, pouring over maps of Washington, DC, in the event we had to occupy the city. When King was killed on the evening of the next day, the division hastily packed its gear and moved back to barracks to prepare for deployment to burning cities. The general, however, somehow forgot to restrict all 12,000 of us to base. Some of us took advantage of the oversight, and went home for the weekend.

When I and hundreds of other paratroopers straggled back to Fort Bragg early Monday morning, April 8, the rest of my unit was sitting on an airfield near Baltimore, as the brass tried to decide whether we should be deployed in that city or nearby Washington. Both were burning, along with over 100 other cities. We wound up in the nation's capital.

The year before, Newark, New Jersey, had been occupied by nearly lily-white units of the National Guard, sent there to quell a four-day rebellion in which 26 Blacks were killed. The Guardsmen behaved like an Army of White Vengeance, joining the racist cops in savaging Black people and shooting up businesses displaying "Black-owned" and "Soul Brother" signs on the Springfield Avenue thoroughfare. However, the 82nd Airborne Division was a different social organism, entirely; our ranks were 60 percent Black, and we had been transformed. All of us (at least in my company) were aware of what had happened in Newark. As far as the Black troops were concerned, our division had only one mission in Washington, DC: to make sure the white soldiers -- especially the mostly white military police -- did no harm to the Black population. And they did not dare. Not one Black citizen of Washington was hurt by a soldier of the 82nd Airborne division -- or, to my knowledge, even verbally abused -- during the occupation.

Our officers took note, and were clearly disturbed by our protective postures. The same Black ghetto army that was rebelling in Vietnam, was showing that it would not be a party to abuse of Black people at home. It was the beginning of the end of the draft.

Dr. King's April 4, 1967, anti-war speech at New York's Riverside Church likely began the countdown to his assassination. A year later, as the fires of Black rage at King's murder burned in the nation's capital, it was dawning on the top brass that the entire institutional structure of the U.S. Armed Forces had to be scrapped. Not only was the genocidal U.S. imperial project in Vietnam doomed, but there must never again be allowed to arise a critical mass of Black ghetto soldiers to dominate the ranks of combat units -- men that fought pitched gun battles with military police outfits in Da Nang and other posts, burned down the military stockades at Long Bihn and Da Nang, and fragged (blew up with grenades) countless officers and sargeants. (See "Fear of a 'Black Street Army,'" The Black Commentator, July 3 2003, and "No Draft No Peace: Rangel and Conyers Are Right" July 9, 2003, The Black Commentator.) The Pentagon is the biggest booster of the all-volunteer Army, which allows it to socially engineer its globe-straddling foreign legions, now heavily weighted with whites from "Nowhereville, USA." The 80,000 strong Joint Special Operations Command -- the cutting edge of the imperial war machine, almost as large as the entire French army – is overwhelmingly white.

"We don't want a draft," said President Obama's Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter. "We don't want people chosen for us. We want to pick people. That's what the all-volunteer force is all about. That's why the all-volunteer force is so excellent."

Excellent for imperialism. Although Blacks still make up about a fifth of the U.S. military, they are now clustered in support units, rather than combat line positions. My old paratroop division, the 82nd Airborne, is now the whitest unit in the Army -- the better to project the power of white capital to all corners of the world.

The week that began with the murder of fervently anti-war Dr. Martin Luther King is but a snapshot in time. Yet there is no reason to believe that Dr. King would have abandoned his pro-peace (and "democratic socialist") principles if he were alive today, at age 89. King was a student of Gandhi and Marx long before he led his first demonstration.

The same social forces prevail as during MLK's time. The Democrats are still a wing of the Greater War Party, nowadays screaming louder than the Republicans for confrontation with nuclear Russia. The Black Misleadership Class was already emerging in much its current, self-serving form when King was alive. The first Black big city mayor, Cleveland's Carl Stokes, elected in 1967, appointed Black Air Force general Daniel "Chappie" James Public Safety Director. The General promptly issued "dum-dum" hollow point bullets to the cops. Maynard Jackson, elected mayor of King's beloved Atlanta in 1973, fired the mostly Black sanitation workforce carrying signs proclaiming, as in Memphis 1968, "I Am a Man." And, Republicans are still the White Man's Party, the identity they were busily crafting in 1968, through President Nixon's "Southern Strategy."

Why would MLK "mellow," when the villains are arrayed in much the same way as before -- the only difference being that a Black man, Barack Obama, has joined the U.S. pantheon of super-predator, million-plus killers.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968) and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a civil rights march from Selma, Alabama,
to the state capital in Montgomery. On the left (holding bottle) is American diplomat Ralph Bunche (1904 - 1971).

Martin Luther King Jr Was a Radical. We Must Not Sterilize His Legacy
If King were alive today, his words would threaten most of those who now sing his praises
By Cornel West

The major threat of Martin Luther King Jr to us is a spiritual and moral one. King's courageous and compassionate example shatters the dominant neoliberal soul-craft of smartness, money and bombs. His grand fight against poverty, militarism, materialism and racism undercuts the superficial lip service and pretentious posturing of so-called progressives as well as the candid contempt and proud prejudices of genuine reactionaries. King was neither perfect nor pure in his prophetic witness - but he was the real thing in sharp contrast to the market-driven semblances and simulacra of our day.

In this brief celebratory moment of King's life and death we should be highly suspicious of those who sing his praises yet refuse to pay the cost of embodying King's strong indictment of the US empire, capitalism and racism in their own lives.

We now expect the depressing spectacle every January of King's "fans" giving us the sanitized versions of his life. We now come to the 50th anniversary of his assassination, and we once again are met with sterilized versions of his legacy. A radical man deeply hated and held in contempt is recast as if he was a universally loved moderate.

These neoliberal revisionists thrive on the spectacle of their smartness and the visibility of their mainstream status - yet rarely, if ever, have they said a mumbling word about what would have concerned King, such as US drone strikes, house raids, and torture sites, or raised their voices about escalating inequality, poverty or Wall Street domination under neoliberal administrations - be the president white or black.

The police killing of Stephon Clark in Sacramento may stir them but the imperial massacres in Yemen, Libya or Gaza leave them cold. Why? Because so many of King's "fans" are afraid. Yet one of King's favorite sayings was "I would rather be dead than afraid." Why are they afraid? Because they fear for their careers in and acceptance by the neoliberal establishment. Yet King said angrily: "What you're saying may get you a foundation grant, but it won't get you into the Kingdom of Truth."

The neoliberal soul craft of our day shuns integrity, honesty and courage, and rewards venality, hypocrisy and cowardice. To be successful is to forge a non-threatening image, sustain one's brand, expand one's pecuniary network - and maintain a distance from critiques of Wall Street, neoliberal leaders and especially the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and peoples.

Martin Luther King Jr turned away from popularity in his quest for spiritual and moral greatness - a greatness measured by what he was willing to give up and sacrifice due to his deep love of everyday people, especially vulnerable and precious black people. Neoliberal soul craft avoids risk and evades the cost of prophetic witness, even as it poses as "progressive".

The killing of Martin Luther King Jr was the ultimate result of the fusion of ugly white supremacist elites in the US government and citizenry and cowardly liberal careerists who feared King's radical moves against empire, capitalism and white supremacy. If King were alive today, his words and witness against drone strikes, invasions, occupations, police murders, caste in Asia, Roma oppression in Europe, as well as capitalist wealth inequality and poverty, would threaten most of those who now sing his praises. As he rightly predicted: "I am nevertheless greatly saddened ... that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling."

If we really want to know King in all of his fallible prophetic witness, we must shed any neoliberal soul craft and take seriously - in our words and deeds - his critiques and resistances to US empire, capitalism and xenophobia. Needless to say, his relentless condemnation of Trump's escalating neo-fascist rule would be unequivocal - but not to be viewed as an excuse to downplay some of the repressive continuities of the two Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.

In fact, in a low moment, when the American nightmare crushed his dream, King noted: "I don't have any faith in the whites in power responding in the right way ... they'll treat us like they did our Japanese brothers and sisters in World War II. They'll throw us into concentration camps. The Wallaces and the Birchites will take over. The sick people and the fascists will be strengthened. They'll cordon off the ghetto and issue passes for us to get in and out."

These words may sound like those of Malcolm X, but they are those of Martin Luther King Jr - with undeniable relevance to the neo-fascist stirrings in our day.

King's last sermon was entitled Why America May Go to Hell. His personal loneliness and political isolation loomed large. J Edgar Hoover said he was "the most dangerous man in America." President Johnson called him "a nigger preacher." Fellow Christian ministers, white and black, closed their pulpits to him. Young revolutionaries dismissed and tried to humiliate him with walkouts, booing and heckling. Life magazine - echoing Time magazine, the New York Times, and the Washington Post (all bastions of the liberal establishment) - trashed King's anti-war stance as "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi."

And the leading black journalist of the day, Carl Rowan, wrote in the Reader's Digest that King's "exaggerated appraisal of his own self-importance" and the communist influence on his thinking made King "persona non-grata to Lyndon Johnson" and "has alienated many of the Negro's friends and armed the Negro's foes."

One of the last and true friends of King, the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel prophetically said: "The whole future of America will depend upon the impact and influence of Dr King." When King was murdered something died in many of us. The bullets sucked some of the free and democratic spirit out of the US experiment. The next day over 100 American cities and towns were in flames - the fire this time had arrived again!

Today, 50 years later the US imperial meltdown deepens. And King's radical legacy remains primarily among the awakening youth and militant citizens who choose to be extremists of love, justice, courage and freedom, even if our chances to win are that of a snowball in hell! This kind of unstoppable King-like extremism is a threat to every status quo!
(c) 2018 Cornel West is an American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, public intellectual, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

NEW YORK CITY - JANUARY 01: The landmark Charging Bull.

How Low Can The Barons Of High Finance Go?
Bankers do not have a legal right to profit.
By Jim Hightower

Question: What do you get when you combine ignorance, ideological know-nothingism, imperiousness and incompetence? Answer: Betsy DeVos.

She is Donald Trump's multi-billionaire Education Secretary who hates the very idea of public education and loves the plutocratic idea of corporate rule over Democracy. DeVos presently holds first place in the contest for worst member of Donald Trump's cabinet (a little like winning the title of ugliest toad in the swamp). Her claim to be first among the worst has been buttressed by her bizarre eagerness to shill for one of the ugliest parts of the financial services industry: the Wall Street-backed corporations that lure people into high-interest, financially-ruinous student loans to attend rip-off for-profit colleges.

All across the country, 5 million students -- largely single moms, veterans and other low-income people targeted by this nefarious network of colleges, lenders and collection agencies -- have defaulted on their student loan debt and have had their credit ratings and job improvement prospects destroyed by the profiteering private education system that DeVos carelessly promotes. Her latest favor for them is an insidious new policy she issued unilaterally asserting that her agency can pre-empt any state laws designed to stop the blatant lies and abuses of these loan-servicing corporations. Her bureaucratic claim is that such a state effort to protect student borrowers "undermines uniform administration" of student loans. In her shriveled world laissez-fairy values, you see, program efficiency trumps such basic human values as economic fairness and social justice. Heavens to Betsy, what's wrong with this lady? Just in fiscal terms, our nation's student loan debt has ballooned to $1.4 trillion, threatening to blow another big hole in our democracy. We need an education secretary who's smart enough work with state officials, students and responsible lenders, rather than conspiring and cavorting in her department's back rooms with fast-buck educational exploiters.

DeVos is bad, but the bankers she serves are even worse. "Greed is good," proclaimed Gordon Gekko, the lead character in a 1987 film lampooning the low ethics of Wall Street's barons of high finance.

You might think that, surely, this Hollywood portrayal of big banker mentality is a gross exaggeration, but check out an egregious example of Gekko-level greed being pushed by today's finance industry. Big banks like Capital One, Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo -- through their lobbying front, the Financial Services Roundtable -- have been going all out to kill a sensible labor department rule meant to protect people's retirement accounts from the self-serving guile of financial manipulators. The rule simply requires firms that manage these accounts to put our money in investments expected to produce the best returns for us, rather than in investments that pay the highest interest fees to them.

It's hardly harsh to require these massive financial institutions to treat us common customers with basic honesty, applying a fiduciary duty that amounts to a Golden Rule for bankers. But, oh, the howls of outrage exploded from the Wall Street baronies, their lobbyists swarmed into Washington and scores of lawyers rushed into courts. To defend their right to be dishonest, the greed-fueled bankers resorted to more dishonesty claiming that the fiduciary rule would hurt "smaller investors."

Huh? Well, they prevaricated; only by misdirecting small retirement savers into high-fee investments can we make enough profit to give "affordable financial advice" to workaday folks. Again, huh? These banks are wallowing in unconscionable levels of profits, but only the affordable advice they want to offer to us is blatantly bad advice, funneling our retirement stash into deals that benefit them at our expense.

Bankers claiming that they have a legal right to profit by deceiving and cheating their own customers is a level of gluttony so gross that it would even gag Gordon Gekko. To fight their absurd claim, connect with Consumer Federation of America.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Donald Trump seen on TV screens during the first presidential
debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on September 26, 2016.

The Real Problem With Sinclair
They have a right to their conservative opinions. But media consolidation and one-size-fits-all content damages the discourse in communities nationwide.
By John Nichols

The corporation that has been at the forefront of consolidating ownership of local television stations across the country, Sinclair Broadcast Group, has been promoting an initiative that has the company's newscasters present what are referred to as "anchor delivered journalistic responsibility [messages]." The broadcast pronouncements from the corporation-which has established a long track record of aligning itself with right-wing political interests, and more recently with the Trump administration-echo the president's ranting about national media outlets' circulating "fake news stories." That's caused plenty of controversy, and rightly so. But the burgeoning debate needs to focus more attention on the issues that explain why Sinclair has grown so influential-those of media consolidation and conglomeration, the homogenization of content and the death of localism-as well as Sinclair's scheming to grow even more influential.

Last month, news anchors at local Sinclair stations across the country were told how to dress and how to comport themselves as they delivered a scripted messages attacking national journalists and news networks with an Orwellian claim: "Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control 'exactly what people think.'...This is extremely dangerous to a democracy."

When media analysts called out Sinclair executives for telling anchors to mouth this doublespeak-CNN's Brian Stelter referred to the Sinclair initiative as "a promotional campaign that sounds like pro-Trump propaganda"-the president delivered an enthusiastic defense of his echo-chamber network.

"So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased," Trump tweeted. "Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke."

The mistake that many pundits and partisans will make is to imagine that the controversy regarding Sinclair has to do with conservatism versus liberalism, or Democrats versus Republicans. The problem is not so much with local stations' taking positions on issues of consequence-as stations across the country have since the dawn of the modern media age taken stands on political matters, sometimes with "editorials" that are labeled as such, sometimes with comments from anchors. The real problem is with the amplification of that messaging by a media conglomerate that is now the largest owner and operator of local television stations nationwide-173 at last count-and that is angling to acquire many more stations.

Local television stations remain highly influential because their heavily promoted news programs-with their mix of headlines, sports reports, and lots and lots of weather coverage-still tend to earn high ratings. Those ratings mean that stations, even in small markets, are highly profitable. As such, locally owned and operated stations have the potential to survive and thrive, with solid news departments and deep connections to the communities and regions that they serve.

Unfortunately, as the Federal Communications Commission has relaxed its oversight of broadcast-media consolidation, the rules and processes that once encouraged local ownership and service to communities have been undermined. Sinclair has taken advantage of every opening to expand its reach, buying up more and more stations and taking more and more money out of local markets across the country. This has cut into competition, as well as the diversity of ownership of local media outlets.

It has also cut into the diversity of ideas and opinions that are expressed on local stations. Sinclair has frequently been accused of homogenizing content-by encouraging not just one-size-fits-all editorializing but one-size-fits-all news programming-in ways that break the link between local broadcasters and the communities those broadcasters are supposed to serve. It's an awful cycle that diminishes quality and ultimately weakens trust in media outlets that, in many cases, built their following across many generations. Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, one of the few experts on media issues in Congress, refers to what Sinclair has been doing as "the corporate gaslighting of millions of Americans."

That's the right word for it. With their consolidation of ownership, and the dumbing down of newscasts, Sinclair's very conservative and very bottom-line-oriented owners are undermining local television stations in communities nationwide, providing less content and more doublespeak from the corporate headquarters in Maryland. As the watchdog group Free Press notes: "[Sinclair] overrides the objections of local journalists and forces its stations to run daily conservative commentaries and biased stories on the local news-including features from the 'Terrorism Alert Desk,' which depicts all Muslims as terrorists."

This is ugly stuff in and of itself. But what makes it even uglier is the fact that it comes from a company that constantly puts profiteering ahead of the public interest, and that is playing to the powerful interests that can enhance and extend that profiteering.

Sinclair wants to dramatically expand its empire by buying major stations owned by Tribune Media. The $3.9 billion Sinclair-Tribune deal is all about the consolidation of ownership-and influence-that federal regulators are supposed to guard against. But Trump's FCC chair, Ajit Pai, stands accused of warping the approval process in Sinclair's favor.

Pai's machinations have been so concerning that the agency's top internal watchdog launched an investigation into whether the chairman pushed to change media ownership rules to benefit the Sinclair-Tribune merger deal.

"Everything about the Sinclair-Tribune deal is offensive. Here we have a Trump appointee who's dumping all consumer safeguards to enable Sinclair to reach more than 70 percent of the country with its racist views and Republican talking points," argues Free Press. "If that weren't enough, this deal is straight up against the law. It would violate a congressional mandate that says that one company can't reach more than 39 percent of households nationwide."

For more than a year, Markey and a group of media-savvy senators-Maria Cantwell of Washington, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Cory Booker of New Jersey-have been raising concerns about Sinclair's proposal, and about the FCC chair's approach to it. "We are concerned about the level of media concentration this merger creates, and its impact on the public interest," the senators wrote in a June 2017, letter asking for Senate hearings on the deal. "In light of these concerns, we believe that Senate hearings would provide critical transparency for the many American consumers who will be impacted by the deal and greater accountability from the companies who must demonstrate that the deal serves the public interest."

House Democrats have also called for hearings. The current controversy over the propagandistic pronouncements on Sinclair stations invites congressional scrutiny. But Republican leaders have checked out when it comes to holding Trump and his appointees to account. So this is a moment that requires a public outcry on behalf of diverse and competitive, community-focused and service-oriented local news. That outcry must, as a beginning, demand that Pai recuse himself from deliberations regarding the Sinclair-Tribune deal.

Free Press, a group that I've been involved with since its founding, is pushing for just that. So, too, is Common Cause, which warns: "Our democracy functions best when we have a strong, diverse, and independent local journalism. But runaway media consolidation threatens that, and takes power out of communities and puts it in the hands of a few corporate executives."
(c) 2018 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.

Can Polarized Americans Trust Their Own Eyes?
By James Donahue

Our nation is caught up in what may be its worst test of endurance yet; the radical financial take-over by big corporate bosses while the professional clown in Washington keeps all eyes focused on him. Never a day passes that the Trump isn't announcing some new and even more controversial policy decision than the last.

Recently Trump was calling for capital punishment for drug dealers, for increased interest on outstanding student loan debt, is opening all offshore waters to allow for oil and gas well drilling, and is calling for a "space fleet" of military conquest of space. He has cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and sent home key staff at a time when that agency is needed more than ever in its history. He is turning over large sections of the nation's treasured parks to the mercy of oil, gas, lumber and mining interests. This and other terrible news is flashing before our eyes with such speed that most Americans are becoming immune to the shock; not knowing where to start in defense of the personal values that are being snatched from under our noses.

Columnist Chris Hedges, in a recent commentary about the media's role in this ongoing national blight wrote:

"The press, giddy with its newfound sense of mission and purpose, is carrying out a moral crusade against Donald Trump. The airwaves and print have shed their traditional claims of 'impartiality' and 'objectivity.' They fulminate against Trump, charging-falsely-that he was elected because of Russian interference and calling him a liar, ignorant and incompetent. They give airtime to his bitterest critics and bizarre associates, such as Omarasa Manigault-Newman, a onetime star of "The Apprentice" and now a fired White House aide, and Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who says she had a sexual relationship with Trump. It is great entertainment. It is great for ratings. It is great for profits. But it is not moral, and it is not journalism."
Indeed, but with so much daily chaos . . . including the daily firings of key White House staff . . . the placement of controversial characters with shaded history in their place . . . and Trump's radical insults on foreign allies . . . where do journalists turn for genuine news stories? The circus is so loud and colorful that attempts by professional research journalists to get "the real story" are squashed in the rush for the top story of the hour.

Hedges writes: "The most astute critics of empire, including Andrew Bacevich, are banished, as are critics of corporate power, including Ralph Nader and Chomsky. Those who decry the waste within the military, such as MIT Professor Emeritus Ted Postol, who has exposed the useless $13 billion anti-ballistic missile program, are unheard. Advocates of universal health care, such as Dr. Margaret Flowers, are locked out of national health care debates. There is a long list of the censored. The acceptable range of opinion is so narrow it is almost nonexistent."

It is obvious the dying print empire and public television networks, are also bought, owned and controlled by big corporate bosses who influence the direction of the cameras and lights when alleged "news" events are happening. True journalism is not dead, but the men and women who believe in it are now driven into private and financially struggling Internet news blogs like this one. And we find ourselves turning to editorial commentary because we are finding an outlet here to vent our daily frustrations.

As experienced journalists we share a great fear; that our demise will lead to extreme control of a misinformed citizenry. When this happens villains like the ones now ravaging the halls of state and federal government will drive our nation into permanent oligarchy. Our cries from the sidelines will be silenced forever.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

US President Donald Trump (right) holds a defence sales chart with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince
Mohammad bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington DC.

MBS Feted In The US Despite War Atrocities In Yemen
The US tour of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a triumph of multi-million-dollar post-truth public relations
By Pepe Escobar

The current US tour of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, is a triumph of multi-million-dollar post-truth public relations.

The fact that MBS also happens to be destroying Yemen is just a minor glitch. Smooth PR is always able to secure the maxim that not all dictators, Arab or otherwise, are equal; after all "our" bastards can get away with everything.

MBS's PR orb sucks up everything, from a softball 60 Minutes interview to schmoozing with a galaxy of high-profile figures such as Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, close pal Jared Kushner, James Mattis, Barack Obama, John Kerry, David Petraeus, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Tim Cook, and the CEOs of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Amazon, Uber and the Walt Disney Company.

MBS might as well be enshrined as the geopolitical Bono - and he doesn't even need to sing "One Love."

All that is supported by a glossy 97-page hagiography by the media group AMI, which publishes 'The National Enquirer' and 'US Weekly', hitting all the crucial talking points ("our closest Middle East ally destroying terrorism"; "transforming the world"; "the most influential Arab leader"; "improving lives of his people and hopes for peace").

MBS was welcomed by both Harvard and MIT. He was lauded for his unprecedented - at least in Arabia - wisdom to build the world's biggest solar power plant, a project expected to create up to 100,000 jobs and save billions of dollars.

He was reverentially allowed a free pass on virtually any subject - from refusing to admit the global march of Wahhabism as a key source of terrorism to his alleged promotion of "religious tolerance." Of course, Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei, is, by comparison, in the Crown Prince's own words, "a Hitler."

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, shakes hands with US Secretary
of Defence James Mattis at the Pentagon in Washington DC on March 22, 2018.

MBS at least admitted that the House of Saud's building of mosques and madrasas all across the lands of Islam was a key Cold War gambit, when "allies" - as in Washington - were fighting the Soviet Union no holds barred.

He said the House of Saud had "lost track" of what happened - as if the jihad in Afghanistan and the Kalashnikov culture that enveloped Pakistan were paranormal phenomena. Now, "we have to get it all back."

Nonsense. The House of Saud's only policy towards Salafi jihadism - all forms of which are a direct offspring of the Wahhabi matrix - has always been that it's better to have clusters of jihadis roaming abroad than having to fight them inside Saudi borders.

MBS also said that jihadist funding now comes largely from Saudi-based "foundations" rather than Riyadh. As if the self-elevated Crown Prince - who reached his position via a decree laboriously extorted from his mentally ill father - could not get rid of these "foundations" in a flash.

Moreover, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia remains a model of religious intolerance - which is a serious, direct contradiction of the precepts of Islam. Christians, Hindus, Shi'ites (a significant 15% of the overall population), Sufis and even any non-Wahhabi Sunnis feel they're being constantly repressed and/or persecuted.

Killing Yemen

And then there's MBS as the Butcher of Yemen.

The House of Saud launched a devastating bombing campaign against the Houthis three years ago, with MBS playing the role of brand new, inexperienced Defense Minister.

The bombing is indiscriminate - it does not spare civilian infrastructure, from bridges to apartment buildings in Sana'a, as well as schools and hospitals. The House of Saud-established air, sea and land blockade also cuts off much-needed supplies of food and medicine.

The numbers are appalling. At least 22.2 million Yemenis of all ages - out of a total population of 27.5 million - need serious humanitarian assistance, and that includes 11.3 million children on the verge of starvation.

Girls face barriers to entering both primary and secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and western Asia.

The House of Saud and their "allies" such as the UAE have hit Yemen with over 15,000 airstrikes, using weapons manufactured by the US and the UK, and bombing raids on Yemeni cities with F-16s and F-18s.

At least 5,000 children have been killed; 53,000 civilians have been wounded; 1.9 million children cannot go to school; at least a million cholera cases have been recorded, and another outbreak is imminent.

MBS's spin is that the Houthis are agents from Iran, which is more nonsense. To start with, their brand of Shi'ism is quite different. Last year in Tehran I got confirmation about diplomatic and some financial support to the Houthis, but not military; after all, Yemen is considered a much lower priority by the Iranian leadership compared to Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

The Houthis are a de facto purely Yemeni, independent political and military movement, and are not remote-controlled from Tehran.

What happens on the ground is a collaboration between the House of Saud and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). As much as US intel insists drones hitting Yemen are essential in the fight against AQAP, on the ground we increasingly have soldiers working for Riyadh incorporated into AQAP to fight the Houthis. It makes total sense because Wahhabism is the matrix that generated al-Qaeda - and fighting Shi'ites of whatever persuasion is a "holy" mission. And then there's Xi Jinping

The fact that MBS is the current darling of the West speaks volumes about the West's "moral values", not to mention the wonders of purely cosmetic "reforms" sold by a torrent of spin.

Cutting through the fog, there are only three factors that really matter as far as the House of Saud is concerned:

What happens with the Aramco IPO. New York, London and Hong Kong remain in fierce contention. All eyes are focused on what China's role in the game will be.

Whether OPEC and Russia will clinch a deal on a 20-year oil production cap.

When China will tell the House of Saud to switch to the petro-yuan.

The days are gone when Kissinger, after the 1973 oil shock, worked out how to recycle the House of Saud's petrodollars towards the West, including lucrative weapons contracts such as those perpetuating the war on Yemen.

The long-term drive to use the petro-yuan not only will lead to less and less buying of US Treasury bonds; it will also coincide with less demand for crude oil as a commodity to the benefit of solar and wind power.

MBS is racing against the clock. For the moment, he wins his PR war in the US even as he miserably loses his war on Yemen. But all bets are off on how he handles Wahhabi intolerance, Riyadh's dependence on oil and, most of all, Moscow and Beijing.
(c) 2018 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

Trump's Muse
By Heather Digby Parton

Anyone who's been observing American politics for any length of time will be familiar with the right-wing charge that the media has a liberal bias that makes it impossible for conservatives to get a fair shake. This has been around for decades, going back to speechwriter William Safire's famous screed against the "nattering nabobs of negativism" (written for Richard Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew) and backed up by studies showing that most journalists tend to vote Democratic, while ignoring the fact that most media companies are owned or run by wealthy conservatives. There are library shelves full of books on this subject on both sides of the argument.

As should be obvious, this is actually a clever political strategy deployed by cynical GOP operatives. Back in the 1990s, a powerful Republican official named of Rich Bond spilled the beans: This was really an effort to bully the press into trying to appease conservatives, thereby creating a rightward slant by default. He told journalists: There is some strategy to it. I'm a coach of kids' basketball and Little League teams. If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is "work the refs" [meaning the media]. Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack next time.

According to Eric Alterman, author of "What Liberal Media," Bill Kristol, of current Never Trump fame, once admitted this, saying, "The liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures." (Nonetheless, Kristol started beating the same drum again after George W. Bush was elected.)
This strategy led to the creation of Fox News, which adopted the fatuous slogan "fair and balanced" when it was anything but. Authors and right wing gadflies like Ann Coulter and Bernard Goldberg made a lot of money selling the stale old trope to conservatives. It certainly kept the press in line, if only by pressing them to be excessively harsh on Democrats, often creating a false equivalency in the process. At times this phenomenon took on a life of its own, as it did during the 2000 campaign coverage of Al Gore and again in 2016 with Hillary Clinton.

This belief in liberal bias is such an article of faith on the right that to deny it is to deny that the sun came up in the morning. To point out that Fox News has become a Donald Trump propaganda network, with a hotline directly to the Oval Office, is perversely seen as proof of it.

As I wrote on Monday, Fox has become Trump's de facto kitchen cabinet and unofficial communications office, creating a tight feedback loop between the far right and the White House. The president reportedly dines with Sean Hannity and former Fox executive Bill Shine on a regular basis. He consults with Jeanine Pirro and various "Fox & Friends" hosts. Also Monday, the Daily Beast's Maxwel Tani and Asawin Suebsaeng reported on Trump's extremely close relationship with Fox Business host Lou Dobbs. This goes even beyond Hannity- or Laura Ingraham-level sycophancy:

What sets Dobbs apart is the degree to which the president views him as a political and populism godfather, the #MAGA Socrates to Trump's Plato.
It's true. He was Trump before Trump was Trump.

Dobbs was with CNN for 30 years before he jumped over to Fox as one of the first cable news stars. He was always obviously a conservative and openly hostile to liberals, but he didn't toe the usual Republican party line. Over time Dobbs evolved into a hard right wing populist with everything that implies, including white nationalism, xenophobia and selective outrage directed at certain industries and trade policies. Starting around 2007, he became obsessed with illegal immigration and then morphed into a full-blown culture warrior and birther conspiracist after Barack Obama was elected.

Back in 2010 Steve Bannon had even tried to persuade Dobbs to run for president and he seriously considered it. But at the time he was seeing serious success with his rebooted Fox Business show, after having studied the bombastic styles of Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, so he decided to stick with his TV career. Donald Trump's decision-making process was remarkably similar.

These days, aside from his usual impassioned nativism, Dobbs is obsessed with the "deep state" and believes it's "time to declare war" on the FBI and the Justice Department to "clear out the rot." In his supposed view, those federal agencies "have broken the public trust by destroying evidence, defying oversight and actively trying to bring down the Trump presidency." His obsequious fawning over the president is more over-the-top than a teenage fangirl backstage at a Harry Styles concert. It's embarrassing.

According to Tani and Suebsaeng, Trump sees Dobbs as more than just a fan and an adviser:

Dobbs doesn't get to just interview and socialize with the president; he is involved in some of the administration's more sensitive discussions. During the first year of the Trump era, the president has patched in Dobbs via speakerphone to multiple meetings in the Oval Office so that he could offer his two cents, according to three sources familiar with these conversations. Trump will ask Dobbs for his opinion before and after his senior aides or Cabinet members have spoken. Occasionally, he will cut off an official so the Fox Business host can jump in ...

"He cherishes Lou," a senior White House official told The Daily Beast. And the feeling is, evidently, quite mutual.

That's because it's like looking in the mirror. Alleged journalist Lou Dobbs and alleged president Donald Trump are reflections of each other, right down to the odd hair color, the war against immigrants and the deep state, and the fake news supposedly concocted on behalf of the American people. The liberal media doesn't know what hit it.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Will Republicans, who refused to confirm Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the
United Nations in 2005, assume some responsibility for opposing this sociopath?

Stopping War Pusher John Bolton, Trump's Choice for National 'Insecurity' Advisor
For Bolton, the Constitution, federal law, the Geneva Conventions, and other international laws are pieces of paper to be thrown away with unctuous contempt.
By Ralph Nader

John Bolton's career of pushing for bombing countries like Iran and North Korea, and his having played an active role in the Bush/Cheney regime's criminal war of aggression that destroyed Iraq, makes him a clear and present danger to our country and world peace. He is about to become Donald Trump's personal national security advisor with a staff of 400 right next to the White House. He must be stopped!

This outlaw - the shame of Yale Law School-should have been cast away as a pariah if not prosecuted and imprisoned. A bully to his subordinates in the government and known as "kiss-ass" to his superiors, Bolton is aggressive, relentless, and consistently wrong, when not prevaricatory.

Under Secretary of State Colin Powell, during the imperial Bush/Cheney presidency, Bolton told the media that Fidel Castro was developing chemical and biological weapons. False. Secretary Powell, who believes Bolton is impetuous and dangerous, overrode his in-house liar and corrected the record. While in Cuba with a group, I heard Fidel Castro say he feared Bolton's words were a precursor to a U.S. attack until Bolton's remarks were dismissed by his superiors.

There is a remarkable liberal/conservative dislike and fright about Bolton having Trump's ear daily. Especially since Trump is susceptible to adopting the positions of the last person who reaches him. The added danger is that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has privately told people that he, like many who have experienced Bolton in government, cannot work with him. So does that mean that Trump will have to choose between the restraining hand of General Mattis and the recklessness of the draft-avoiding torture advocate John Bolton?

Will Republicans, who refused to confirm Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2005, assume some responsibility for opposing this sociopath? They could easily pass a joint resolution of Congress demanding withdrawal of the appointment by Trump.

There are many vigorous critics of Bolton's career and subsequent belligerent stances ; Just last month Bolton wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal demanding the bombing of North Korea. His juvenile, lethal positions avoid considering the consequences, responses, backlash and danger to our country's own safety. He likes to bet on the world-a Dr. Strangelove on steroids.

A lengthy New York Times editorial (March 23, 2018) declares, "Yes, John Bolton Really is that Dangerous." It begins: "there are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton to lead the country into war." Especially since Trump - mired in domestic scandals, investigations, and personal lawsuits-may wish to wag the dog and start wider, distracting, armed hostilities abroad.

The American Conservative magazine is stirring that segment of the political spectrum with Gareth Porter's article, "The Untold Story of John Bolton's Campaign for War with Iran." Trump didn't like General McMaster's (Trump's outgoing National Security Advisor) counsel that the U.S. remain in the Iran nuclear accord and not isolate itself from other major country signatories who say Iran is complying with its terms.

Then there is Bolton's bigotry against Arabs and Muslims and his alliance with Pamela Geller-the notorious Islamophobe. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has elaborated on Bolton's outrageous falsehoods against Arabs and Muslims (the "other anti-semitism" in the words of James Zogby in 1994 at a conference in Israel).

How does such a deep hatred in the White House connect to Trump's repeated declaration that he allegedly seeks a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians?

Republican constitutional law analyst, Bruce Fein, presents a strong case that the powerful position of national security advisor to the President must be confirmed by the Senate. In which case, Bolton would be gone.

Fein argues:

The Appointments Clause of the Constitution militates against the National Security Advisor aberration. It makes Senate confirmation of "officers of the United States" the rule. But Congress may by statute create exceptions for "inferior officers." But it has not done so for the Advisor-even assuming the office qualifies as "inferior."
The other obstacles to Bolton's assuming his position is that it will take the FBI many weeks to decide whether he can receive a top security clearance. At age 69, Bolton has a long trail of entanglements and intrigues in and out of government, not to mention his tantrums-some involving female public servants.

Fein recounts Bolton's "unmasking the names of Americans whose conversation has been intercepted by the National Security Agency under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)." He still defends the catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq (for more information see Madea Benjamin's "10 Reasons to Fear John Bolton"). How does such a madman like Bolton keep coming back? Two reasons stand out. First, the more aggressive parts of the military-industrial complex, bolstered by the neocons, see him as a useful tool-for bigger military budgets and empire. Second, he is a staunch collaborator with the Israel lobby's support of Israel's militaristic, increasingly autocratic regime that regularly works against a two-state solution (The majority of American Jews support a two-state solution). If President Trump gives Bolton a waiver while he works without a security clearance, as he has done, under wide condemnation, for his family and a few others already, the political firestorm may be enough, with other factors, to cause Trump to have Bolton bolt the White House with only his Trump-irritating walrus mustache intact.

In the immediate meantime, members of congress and aroused citizens must use their influence to block or evict John Bolton from our White House.
(c) 2018 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 Supreme Court Voted To Stiff The American Worker, Again
It's always 5-4, and it's never in workers' favor.
By Charles P. Pierce

One of the most consistent things about the current Supreme Court is the solid 5-4 majority for going the wrong way on issues of labor and management. There was another one of those Monday, a 5-4 decision in the case of Encino Motorcars, Inc. v. Navarro.

At issue was the right of "service advisors" at an auto sales company, whose job it is to identify problems with a customer's car and then sell that customer the solution. They were regularly worked over 40 hours a week and they went to court to try and get overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

(The FLSA specifically exempts "engaging in servicing automobiles" from the overtime pay regulations.)

In reversing a lower court decision in favor of Encino, the Ninth Circuit argued that, since the "service advisors" did not themselves do the work of servicing the automobiles, they were not included in the FLSA exemption and, thus, were entitled to overtime pay. Encino appealed to the Supreme Court and, two years ago, the Court sent the case back to the Ninth, which held for Navarro again. That was the decision that was reversed on Monday by the Nine Wise Souls in D.C.

(Note: the change in FLSA regulations in this regard occurred in 2011 under the Obama Administration, which is probably why this administration* declined to defend it. Back in January, Ms. Justice Elena Kagan found this situation curious.) Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, concluded:

Service advisors are integral to the servicing process. They "mee[t] customers; liste[n] to their concerns about their cars; sugges[t] repair and maintenance services; sel[l] new accessories or replacement parts; recor[d] service orders; follo[w] up with customers as the services are performed (for instance, if new problems are discovered); and explai[n] the repair and maintenance work when customers return for their vehicles." Encino I, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 2). If you ask the average customer who services his car, the primary, and perhaps only, person he is likely to identify is his service advisor. Let us be clear. The service advisor is the guy who greets you when you show up for new brake pads, tells you what brake pads are available for your particular vehicle, and then shows you where the vending machines are while you wait. According to Mr. Justice Thomas, who may have never owned a car, you'd think that guy behind the desk is going to be the guy who goes under your hood. This has not been my experience.
Nor, apparently, has it been the experience of Ms. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. In her dissent, she pointed out:
Service advisors, such as respondents, neither sell automobiles nor service (i.e., repair or maintain) vehicles. Rather, they "meet and greet [car] owners"; "solicit and sugges[t]" repair services "to remedy the [owner's] complaints"; "solicit and suggest . . . supplemental [vehicle] service[s]"; and provide owners with cost estimates. App. 55. Because service advisors neither sell nor repair automobiles, they should remain outside the exemption and within the Act's coverage.
I suspect that "service advisor" was created as a title specifically to stiff more employees on overtime. Of course, I am very cynical that way. And a labor regulation promulgated by President Obama? These days, that's a popsicle in a blast furnace.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
~~~ James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry 4 August 1822

Rebecca Dallet (r) won election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court,
easily defeating her conservative opponent for the open seat, Michael Screnock.

Wisconsin Votes A Blue Streak
By Bill Lueders

Wisconsin voters on Tuesday sent a stinging rebuke to the state Republican Party, rejecting its hand-picked candidate for state Supreme Court as well as an effort to eliminate a key watchdog position.

By a margin of 56-44, an unusually high spring turnout of one million voters elected liberal Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet over conservative Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock. The election shifts the court's ideological balance, leaving conservatives with just a 4-3 edge instead of a 5-2 domination.

Wisconsin voters also rejected, by a 61-39 percent margin, a constitutional amendment supported by Republicans to eliminate the office of state treasurer. Both developments suggest that Wisconsin may have been jarred back into being a blue state after playing a pivotal role in delivering the presidency to Donald Trump.

"People are engaged, they are hungry for change," Dallet told supporters at an election night victory party in Milwaukee. Dallet had championed her determination to stand up for Wisconsin values, including those she said were being "attacked" by Trump.

"There was just great motivation on the part of people who were not comfortable with the status quo," says Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. "It demonstrates a strong pull in the direction that Wisconsin could be headed in the fall election."

The state's Republican governor, Scott Walker, grumpily tweeted: "Tonight's results show we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI. The Far Left is driven by anger & hatred -- we must counter it with optimism & organization. Let's share our positive story with voters & win in November."

Screnock ran for office following a playbook that has worked well for conservative state Supreme Court candidates in the past. He camouflaged his own political leanings while accusing his opponent of being a judicial activist, then he waited for outside special interests to pour oodles of money into the race on his behalf.

Republican operatives ran Screnock's campaign, and fully 40 percent of the $1 million he raised for his own coffers in the officially nonpartisan race came from the state Republican Party. He was endorsed by the National Rifle Association and backed by the business lobby Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which reportedly spent $1.6 million on ads painting Dallet as someone who protects child rapists. (She's actually one of the harshest sentencers in the state.)

One attack ad, aired endlessly by the business group, identified a grandfather as a molester who supposedly got off lightly in Judge Dallet's court because of her fondness for child rapists. Not mentioned was that she imposed the sentence recommended by the prosecution. The family of the victims, who were effectively identified when the grandfather was named, pleaded with the group to stop running the ad. It refused to do so, and Screnock uttered not a peep of protest.

"WMC set a new low, violating the privacy of children who were the victims of sexual abuse. And then they refused to take down their despicable ad when the victims' family publicly pleaded with them to stop," says Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. "The voters have spoken, overwhelmingly rejecting these tactics."

Screnock was appointed to the bench in 2015 by Walker, after having served eight years as a private attorney, during which he defended the governor's anti-union law against legal challenge and legislative Republicans redrawing of voter boundaries to their own advantage. The U.S. Supreme Court is now weighing whether the extreme gerrymandering that took place in Wisconsin violated the Constitution.

The proposed constitution amendment on the state treasurer's office, which voters shot down on Tuesday, had already passed two consecutive sessions of the state's GOP-controlled legislature, with bipartisan support. Only voter ratification was needed to eliminate the office, which has existed since before Wisconsin became a state. The office has in recent years been shorn of much of its duties, but defenders have argued that it still serves an essential oversight role and could, with committed leadership, recover some of its lost strength. (The office's current occupant, a Republican, argued for its elimination.)

Earlier this month, Walker and legislative leaders abandoned plans to leave two state legislative seats vacant through the end of year, after three judges ruled in separate decisions that this violated state law.

"We know of no law that allows us to disregard the [statute]," declared appeals court Judge Paul Reilly. "Representative government and the election of our representatives are never 'unnecessary,' never a 'waste of taxpayer resources,' and the calling of the special elections are, as the governor acknowledges, his 'obligation.' "

Walker's transparent purpose in seeking to block the elections was that he feared Democrats would win. In a special election in January that made national news, Democrat Peggy Schachtner won in a district that had previously been considered safely Republican.

After the judges ruled against Walker, legislative Republicans planned to hold an extraordinary session to rewrite the law that the governor was breaking, and thus still keep the elections from happening. But this plan was abandoned under pressure.

"I think they realized that that would not go over well with the voting population," says Heck of Common Cause. "And Walker wisely just said, 'I've got to bite the bullet.' "

Heck thinks the special elections, now planned for June, will be highly competitive and that voters' enhanced motivation will probably last into the fall, when Walker himself faces re-election.
(c) 2018 Bill Lueders is managing editor of The Progressive.

Naomi Wadler, 11, of Alexandria, Virginia, is hugged by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student,
Jaclyn Corin, near the conclusion of March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Washington, DC.

Beyond Parkland: A Risen Generation Is Challenging The Nation
By Wiliam Rivers Pitt

Why do you stand? they were asked, and
Why do you walk?

Because of the children, they said,
and because of the heart, and
because of the bread.

Because the cause is
the heart's beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.

Daniel Berrigan ~ "Some"

I have never been more frightened in my life. I have never been more hopeful in my life. The former I owe to the times. The latter I owe to the student activists who marched on 3/24, and to all the survivors of shooting after shooting who joined them, their memories crowded with the dead as they roared. Only an age so thoroughly repugnant could galvanize a response so perfectly righteous.

What happened last weekend -- in Washington DC, in cities around the country and the world, and in my own tiny town square surrounded by neighbors with my daughter's little hand in mine -- changed me forever. I have never seen the like, nor has anyone else living. The March For Our Lives was the grandchild of the civil rights movement, the child of every Vietnam and Iraq War protest, sister and brother to every march and every raised fist that came before, and it stood proudly with them all. It did not strut or preen. It owned.

The paving stones in Washington, DC are still whispering to each other: What was that? Days later, I'm not sure everyone fully comprehends what took place on Saturday. I'm not sure I do, not yet.

It is about gun violence in schools, of course, and the wide availability of war weapons within our society. I attended the local 3/24 protest with my daughter, who is of an age with the Sandy Hook victims when they were cut down. Volunteers had set up a table filled with pre-made signs people were free to take. My daughter picked a sign and held it up for me to see, a wide smile peeking from behind windblown hair. It read, "AM I NEXT?" in jet black ink. Part of my heart died on the spot, and it was just a sign. She's still here. So many children aren't.

School shootings and war weapons: These two despicable phenomena are what brought us to this mighty crossroads. There is so much more, though, and speaker after speaker at the march in Washington hammered that point home until the windows rattled. The long-ignored calamity of gun violence in communities of color -- including the violence of policing -- was the centerpiece of the most striking commentaries of the day. Tall among them was the thunder laid down by 11-year-old Naomi Wadler:

I am here today to represent Courtlin Arrington. I am here today to represent Hadiya Pendleton. I am here today to represent Taiyania Thompson, who, at just 16, was shot dead in her home here in Washington, DC. I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don't make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don't lead on the evening news. I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.

So I am here today to honor the words of Toni Morrison: "If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it." I urge everyone here and everyone who hears my voice to join me in telling the stories that aren't told, to honor the girls, the women of color who are murdered at disproportionate rates in this nation. I urge each of you to help me write the narrative for this world and understand, so that these girls and women are never forgotten. Thank you.

I would follow Naomi Wadler into fire. Her presence was incredibly powerful, and she demanded far more from us than thoughts and prayers. She wants genuine systemic change, she wants it now, and the responding roar of the assemblage rang out as witness and warning.

Reinforcing the challenge laid down by Wadler was 17-year-old youth leader and activist Edna Lizbeth Chavez. Her sorrow was fathomless, her demands straightforward:

Policymakers, listen up. Arming teachers will not work! More security in our schools does not work! Zero-tolerance policies do not work! They make us feel like criminals. We should feel empowered and supported in our schools. Instead of funding these policies, fund mentorship programs, mental health resources, paid internship and job opportunities. My brother, like many others, would have benefited from this. So let's make it happen. It's important to work with people that are impacted by these issues -- the people you represent.

We need to focus on changing the conditions that foster violence and trauma. And that's how we will transform our communities and uplift our voices. This has not, and shall not, stop us. It has only empowered us. Mi nombre, my name, is Edna Lizbeth Chavez. Remember my name. Remember these faces. Remember us and how we're making a change. La lucha sigue.

Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez read the names of the students who died in her school before stopping the world with six eternal minutes of silence to honor them, her furious tears incandescent on her cheeks as she stood, and stood, and stood. "Six minutes and about 20 seconds," she said. "In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us." Journalist David Corn called it the "loudest silence in the history of US social protest."

In an editorial published the Monday after the march, Gonzalez wrote, "We Stoneman Douglas students may have woken up only recently from our sheltered lives to fight this fight, but we stand in solidarity with those who have struggled before us, and we will fight alongside them moving forward to enact change and make life survivable for all young people. People who have been fighting for this for too long, others who were never comfortable enough to openly talk about their experiences with gun violence, or still others who were never listened to when opening up about their experiences with gun violence or were afraid to speak out -- these are the people we are fighting with and for."

Donald Trump's name was barely mentioned on Saturday, a fact that must have painfully dented his eggshell ego, but all he represents was cast down and denounced just the same. Thanks to Mr. Trump and those who serve him, fascism and overt racism have become fashionable again. What took place in Washington this weekend was, among other things, a giant middle finger aimed directly at the white nationalism of the age. Here is a generation of young people reaching out to each other, and to us all, from the funeral shroud.

This largest generation in US history is coming into its voting rights day by passing day, a fact that should strike mortal fear into the hearts of those who enjoy things as they are. Bought-off fools with muddy wits are trying to shout down these new activists, to little effect, and those with a financial stake in the violent status quo are leaving visible puddles of desperation in their wake. For the first time in a very long time, the country is stoutly on the side of the protesters, and the protesters have no intention of letting the grass grow under their feet.

Beyond all that is one unbending truth: Every time a school carries out an "Active Shooter Drill," another activist is born. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps, someone once said. Time always wins.

I have been attending protest rallies with grim regularity for a long time now. My experience of 3/24 was not nearly as dynamic as what was experienced in the capital or in the other larger protests around the country -- just a few hundred people standing together in unity at the rag end of a long New England winter... but one of them was my daughter, clapping and cheering and shouting, "Everyone should be safe!" She was part of something big, she knew it, and she was proud. When she saw the footage of the larger marches on the news that night, she turned to me and said, "That was us, Daddy!" It sure was, I told her. "Let's do it again!" Count on it, kid.

We stand before the confluence of history. Generations of violence, racism, greed and indifference have conspired to make diamonds forged by the crushing weight of failure and fear. These student activists are now in the headlines because of gun violence in schools and the availability of war weapons, but they seek much more. In their whole lives, many have never known one minute of peace. They are determined that this will change. They are hard, they are strong, they are the ones they've been waiting for, and like springtime, they are finally here.

La lucha sigue. The struggle continues.
(c) 2018 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

The Dead Letter Office...

Chris shows how much he can take on the "tower of power!"

Heil Trump,

Dear Vorstandsvorsitzender Ripley,

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 plans to take over all the TV stations in America and make them tell fascist lies, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 04-28-2018. We salute you Herr Ripley Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

April Fools
By Robert Reich

Con Mannity here. Shrink deficits! States' rights! Stand up to Russia! Free Markets! I'm a conservative from the old school, with a capital "Con." And I love Donald Trump because he's sticking to the time-tested conservative beliefs I've been pushing on this show for years.

For Example, if there's one thing we conservatives believe its that we've got to shrink the deficit.

[News bulletin: Trump and Republican tax cut will explode the deficit]

Huh? [agitated] Actually, a lot of people don't understand this, but I tell people all the time... if the real conservative goal is to cut the deficit, then sometimes, maybe the best way to do that is to expand the deficit - so there's more to cut! Just think about that. ...

Old school conservatives like me have other principles, too, that Trump is championing. States' Rights! We conservatives hate having big government in Washington telling the states what to do.

[News bulletin: Trump and Sessions attacking California law legalizing pot]

Ok, I'm cool! [More agitated] When something bad is going down, like hippies smoking grass, that's more important than states rights. I hate hippies, don't you? And hate is a basic Republican principle. ...

Back to Basics! You can't trust Russia. Which is why Republicans came out against Obama's New Start treaty with Moscow, and complained that Obama wasn't doing enough to deter Russia in Ukraine. We have to get those bad-guy Ruskies and teach em' whose boss!

[News bulletin: Russia helped Trump win election.]

What? Russia helped Trump? [Wildly agitated] I mean, one thing I know, Trump's the boss, so Russia helping him get elected is teaching 'em who's boss.

Finally and not the least - basic conservative principle - free trade! Government, bad! Free markets, good!

[News bulletin: Trump starts trade war.]

Okay, we're back. [He's now upside down] It appears that everything is upside down. But that's okay. As long as we stay I'm still a conservative. I'm still Con Mannity, and this is still Rox News.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The Oligarchs' 'Guaranteed Basic Income' Scam
By Chris Hedges

A number of the reigning oligarchs-among them Mark Zuckerberg (net worth $64.1 billion), Elon Musk (net worth $20.8 billion), Richard Branson (net worth $5.1 billion) and Stewart Butterfield (net worth $1.6 billion)-are calling for a guaranteed basic income. It looks progressive. They couch their proposals in the moral language of caring for the destitute and the less fortunate. But behind this is the stark awareness, especially in Silicon Valley, that the world these oligarchs have helped create is so lopsided that future consumers, plagued by job insecurity, substandard wages, automation and crippling debt peonage, will be unable to pay for the products and services offered by the big corporations.

The oligarchs do not propose structural change. They do not want businesses and the marketplace regulated. They do not support labor unions. They will not pay a living wage to their bonded labor in the developing world or the American workers in their warehouses and shipping centers or driving their delivery vehicles. They have no intention of establishing free college education, universal government health or adequate pensions. They seek, rather, a mechanism to continue to exploit desperate workers earning subsistence wages and whom they can hire and fire at will. The hellish factories and sweatshops in China and the developing world where workers earn less than a dollar an hour will continue to churn out the oligarchs' products and swell their obscene wealth. America will continue to be transformed into a deindustrialized wasteland. The architects of our neofeudalism call on the government to pay a guaranteed basic income so they can continue to feed upon us like swarms of longnose lancetfish, which devour others in their own species.

"Increasing the minimum wage or creating a basic income will amount to naught if hedge funds buy up foreclosed houses and pharmaceutical patents and raise prices (in some cases astronomically) to line their own pockets out of the increased effective demand exercised by the population," David Harvey writes in "Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason." "Increasing college tuitions, usurious interest rates on credit cards, all sorts of hidden charges on telephone bills and medical insurance could steal away the benefits. A population might be better served by strict regulatory intervention to control these living expenses, to limit the vast amount of wealth appropriation occurring at the point of realisation. It is not surprising to find there is strong sentiment among the venture capitalists of Silicon Valley to also support basic minimum income proposals. They know their technologies are putting people out of work by the millions and that those millions will not form a market for their products if they have no income."

The call for a guaranteed basic income is a classic example of Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci's understanding that when capitalists have surplus capital and labor they use mass culture and ideology, in this case neoliberalism, to reconfigure the habits of a society to absorb the surpluses.

In the wake of World War II, for example, the capitalists' problem was solved by heavy investments in the military and war industry, ideologically justified by Red baiting and the Cold War, and by massive infrastructure projects, including the building of highways, bridges and houses, to move people out of cities into suburbs, where consumption rose. The social engineering projects were done in the name of national security and progress. And they made the oligarchs of that day richer.

"The development of a whole new suburban lifestyle (acclaimed in popular TV sitcoms like The Brady Bunch and I love Lucy which celebrated a certain kind of 'daily life of peoples') along with all sorts of propaganda for the 'American Dream' of individualized homeownership stood at the centre of a huge campaign to construct new wants, needs and desires, a totally new lifestyle, in the population at large," Harvey says in his book. "Well-paid jobs were required to support the effective demand. Labour and capital came to an uneasy compromise at the urging of the state apparatus in which a white working class made economic gains, even as minorities were left out."

This phase of capitalism ended once industry moved overseas and wages stagnated or declined. The well-paying unionized jobs disappeared. Jobs became menial and inadequately compensated. Poverty expanded. The oligarchs began to mine government social services, including education, health care, the military, intelligence gathering, prisons and utilities such as electricity and water, for profit. As a publication of the San Francisco Federal Reserve reportedly noted, the country-and by extension the oligarchs-could no longer get out of crises "by building houses and filling them with things." The United States shifted in the 1970s from what the historian Charles Maier called an "empire of production" to "an empire of consumption." In short, we began to borrow to maintain a lifestyle and an empire we could no longer afford.

Profit in the "empire of consumption" is extracted not by producing products but by privatizing and pushing up the costs of the basic services we need to survive and allowing banks and hedge funds to impose punishing debt peonage on the public and gamble on tech, student debt and housing bubbles. The old ideology of the New Deal, of government orchestrating huge social engineering projects under the Public Works Administration or in the War on Poverty, was replaced by a new ideology to justify another form of predatory capitalism.

In Harvey's book "A Brief History of Neoliberalism" he defines neoliberalism as "a project to achieve the restoration of class power" in the wake of the economic crisis of the 1970s and what the political scientist Samuel Huntington said was America's "excess of democracy" in the 1960s and the 1970s. It achieved its aim.

Neoliberalism, Harvey wrote, is "a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade."

American oligarchs discredited the populist movements of the 1960s and 1970s that had played a vital role in forcing government to carry out programs for the common good and restricting corporate pillage. They demonized government, which as John Ralston Saul writes, "is the only organized mechanism that makes possible that level of shared disinterest known as the public good." Suddenly-as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, two of the principal political proponents of neoliberalism, insisted-government was the problem. The neoliberal propaganda campaign successfully indoctrinated large segments of the population to call for their own enslavement.

The ideology of neoliberalism never made sense. It was a con. No society can effectively govern itself by basing its decisions and policies on the dictates of the marketplace. The marketplace became God. Everything and everyone was sacrificed on its altar in the name of progress. Social inequality soared. Amid the destruction, the proponents of neoliberalism preached the arrival of a new Eden once we got through the pain and disruption. The ideology of neoliberalism was utopian, if we use the word "utopia" as Thomas More intended-the Greek words for "no" and "place." "To live within ideology, with utopian expectations, is to live in no place, to live in limbo," Saul writes in "The Unconscious Civilization." "To live nowhere. To live in a void where the illusion of reality is usually created by highly sophisticated rational constructs."

Corporations used their wealth and power to make this ideology the reigning doctrine. They established well-funded centers of propaganda such as The Heritage Foundation, took over university economic departments and amplified the voices of their courtiers in the media. Those who questioned the doctrine were cast out like medieval heretics, their careers blocked and their voices muted or silenced. The contradictions, lies and destruction within neoliberal ideology were ignored by those who dominated the national discourse, leading to mounting frustration and rage among a populace that had been abandoned and betrayed.

The propagandists for neoliberalism blamed the other-Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, gays, feminists, liberals, intellectuals and, of course, government-for the downward spiral. Politicians who served the interests of the corporate oligarchs told dispossessed white workers their suffering was caused by the ascendancy of these marginalized groups and a cultural assault on their national identity and values, not corporate pillage. It was only a matter of time before this lie spawned the xenophobic, racist hate speech that dominates American political life and led to the rise of imbecilic and dangerous demagogues such as Donald Trump.

"Each of Globalization's strengths has somehow turned out to have an opposing meaning," Saul writes in "The Collapse of Globalization and the Reinvention of the World." "The lowering of national residency requirements for corporations has morphed into a tool for massive tax evasion. The idea of a global economic system mysteriously made local poverty seem unreal, even normal. The decline of the middle class-the very basis of democracy-seemed to be just one of those things that happen, unfortunate but inevitable. That the working class and lower middle class, even parts of the middle class, could only survive with more than one job per person seemed to be the expected punishment for not keeping up. The contrast between unprecedented bonuses for mere managers at the top and the four-job family below them seemed inevitable in a globalized world. For two decades an elite consensus insisted that unsustainable third-world debts could not be put aside in a sort of bad debt reserve without betraying Globalism's essential principles and moral obligations, which included unwavering respect for the sanctity of international contracts. It took the same people about two weeks to abandon sanctity and propose bad debt banks for their own far larger debts in 2009."

The oligarchs mask their cruelty and greed with an empty moralism. They claim to champion women's rights, diversity and inclusivity, as long as women and people of color serve the corporate neoliberal project. An example of this moralism occurred last Tuesday when NPR's Ari Shapiro interviewed Lyft co-founder and President John Zimmer and former Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett, a member of the company's board, about diversity and gender equality in the workplace. Shapiro asked about Lyft offering free rides to those marching against gun violence and donating to the ACLU.

"We serve our drivers, we serve our passengers, and we serve the employees that work for us," Zimmer said in the interview. "And when it comes to [resisting gun] violence, when it comes to equality, those are things that we're going to stand up for."

America's "gig economy," as I wrote last week in my column, is a new form of serfdom. Corporations such as Lyft use lobbyists and campaign donations to free themselves from regulatory control. They force poorly paid temporary workers, who lack benefits, to work 16 hours a day in a race to the bottom. This neoliberal economic model destroys regulated taxi and livery services, forcing drivers who were once able to make a decent income into poverty, bankruptcy, foreclosures, evictions and occasionally suicide. By fighting gender, sexual and racial inequality in the workplace rather than economic inequality, by denouncing mass shootings rather than out-of-control police violence and mass incarceration, these corporations hide their complicity in societal disintegration. Their empty moralism and faux compassion is an updated version of the publicity stunt that John D. Rockefeller, whose personal fortune was $900 million in 1913, or $189.6 billion in today's terms, used when he handed out shiny new dimes to strangers.

Neoliberalism heralds a return to the worst days of unregulated capitalism, after the Industrial Revolution when workers were denied a living wage and decent, safe working conditions. Oligarchs have not changed. They are out for themselves. They do not see government as an institution to defend and promote the rights and needs of citizens. They see it as an impediment to unrestricted exploitation and profit. Human beings, to oligarchs, are commodities. They are used to increase wealth and then discarded. Oligarchs don't propose programs such as a guaranteed basic income unless they intend to profit from it. This is how they are wired. Don't be fooled by the grins and oily promises of these human versions of the Cheshire Cat. The object is to spread confusion while they increase levels of exploitation.

"Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, 'What road do I take?' " Lewis Carroll wrote. "The cat asked, 'Where do you want to go?' 'I don't know,' Alice answered. 'Then,' said the cat, 'it really doesn't matter, does it?' "

The longer the elites keep us in darkness with their ideological tricks and empty moralism, the longer we refuse to mobilize to break their grip on power, the worse it will get.
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Randall Enos ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The Rites Of Spring
By Will Durst

Easter is a most peculiar holiday, which is saying something, considering so many other religious festivities litter our calendar. For instance, it's the only one with pink and lavender decorations. Also, no other holy day shares such an obsession with hardboiled eggs, chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and plastic grass. And it boasts a singular connection to bonnets.

Another odd aspect is Easter's ability to travel, falling on the Sunday after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox. Meaning it can roll from March 22 to April 25. It's sort-of like your weird Aunt Hazel who visits every year about this time, but can't commit to a date until she nails down the cheapest bus ticket.

The celebration goes back, back, back to olden timey days when our pagan ancestors paid homage to a goddess named Esther who was prone to dance to honor the season of fertility and had a proclivity for hanging out with bunnies, which sort of explains the egg connection. The egg being a symbol of fecundity with the promise of abundance. Be fruitful and multiply. Bringing us back to the bunnies. Chocolate seems to have been a recent addition. And not an altogether bad one.

Besides being the anti-Halloween, Easter is the oldest of Christian celebrations, and possibly based on the Jewish holiday of Passover. It's a very serious enterprise interweaving death and rebirth but for many of us, the spring festival harkens another Resurrection. The mark of a different new beginning. When Christ comes out of his cave, sees his shadow and baseball season starts.

It happens every spring. Forget about your robins and cherry blossoms and those spongy yellow marshmallow peeps that taste like how day-glo sponges look, it's the first crack of the bat in a regular season game that's the true harbinger that a season of plenty is nigh.

Winter doesn't officially expire until that moment each roster's ace hurls a three-inch diameter clean white sphere with 108 red double stitches 60 feet and six inches in anger. The longer days and warmer temperatures are just a byproduct of the Boys of Summer getting an early start.

Because when folks throw out the phrase, "wait till next year," this is the moment they were talking about, when our souls and rosters have been refreshed and every parishioner and patron awakes anew with a theoretical chance to go the distance and win it all. To joyously hoist a heavenly trophy and spray champagne into each other's eyes in a thoughtless waste of perfectly good sparkling wine.

It's a marathon quest to survive a brutal 162 game season and best all the other teams to reign as World Series champions. Although that anointment continues to be suspect with 29 of the 30 teams hailing from the USA, and the remaining one Canadian, which many consider, American Lite.

But from now until halfway between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice, we will make our pilgrimages to those cathedrals of worship and ritually feast on the warm canines and quaff exorbitantly expensive beer and raise our voices to sing that most holy of hymns, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Because this is that magical time, when the slate has been wiped clean and hope springs eternal.

Play ball. And don a bonnet.
(c) 2018 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former Pizza Hut assistant manager. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, "Durst Case Scenario," please visit:

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 13 (c) 04/06/2018

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