Children's Moral Power Can Challenge Corporate Power On Climate Crisis
By Ralph Nader
The famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once said to me that children have a distinct moral authority to change some of their parents' habits or opinions. She gave use of seat belts and smoking cigarettes as examples.
Indeed, most of us know instances when sons and daughters have looked into the eyes of their fathers and mothers and urged them to wear their seatbelts or stop smoking. They say in their own plaintive way that they want mommy and daddy around for them. Many mothers and fathers have had such experiences.
Many parents and corporate executives are doing slow motion dances round global climate disruptions, despite the brutally visual and scientific evidence of our climate crisis. The rising tide of worldwide protests in recent months by young students cutting classes to shake up their elders should be a wakeup call and a sign of more activism on the horizon. Earth Day on April 22nd should give them another visible platform.
Last year the Global Youth Climate Strike manifested itself in Sweden, where it was started by a then fifteen year old teenager, Greta Thunberg. Every Friday she stood in silent protest outside the historic Swedish Parliament in Stockholm.
On March 15, an estimated 150,000 European students left school to protest. In Sweden, Germany, France, Britain, and other countries, these youngsters admonished adults, who have the power to urgently diminish greenhouse gases by cutting the use of coal, oil, and gas, and expanding the use of renewables and energy conservation.
In India, demonstrations were about the suffocating air pollution. In South Africa, protestors spoke about the worsening droughts.
At a rally in Washington, DC, eight year old Havana Chapman-Edwards told protestors at the U.S. Capitol: "Today we are telling the truth and we do not take no for an answer," according to the New York Times.
Protestors already see the truth in the South Pacific's rising sea levels and the Arctic Circle's melting ice.
These youngsters can argue their case with facts and figures, with stories of record-setting fires, floods, tornados, and hurricanes and species extinctions. But they are viscerally feeling the impact of climate crisis and fearing for their lives before reaching middle age.
As University of Maryland Professor Dana Fisher told the Times, children are afraid of the tumultuous world they will inherit. Their elders are not protecting them.
Greta, the emerging spokesperson for this escalating youth agitation put it wisely: "There is a crisis in front of us that we will have to live with for all our lives, our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations." The movement has much more room to grow, but we are depending on them developing a strong, organized voice, while retaining their individual spontaneity.
Not surprisingly, climate deniers took to social media to falsely declare that environmental groups were using the students. In fact, this outburst was quite commendably a result of students taking what they've learned seriously.
In England, students are insisting their government declare a state of emergency to highlight the severity of the threat. They want more material on global warming in their national school curriculum.
Some teachers and principals in the U.K. don't like students missing classes and are trying to block or penalize those who do. But many school leaders are approving such brief intermissions to help save the planet. Sixteen year old Bonnie Morely decried the politicians for being "asleep at the wheel. We have to wake them up and I think thousands of kids on the streets will do just that."
How about millions of them! Their numbers are growing, with some demonstrations reaching tens of thousands. In France, over 2 million students signed petitions. Some politicians are chiding them about the costs of their demands, as if energy pollution and toxic waste are not costly to people, as if the costs of violent weather patterns aren't costing huge sums of money and lives already.
In Brussels, Belgium, 18 year old Liam pointed to "a growing momentum," but he told a Times reporter maybe it should become more disruptive to attain more attention. "Maybe we should change the timing of the protests to rush hour."
The youngsters understand the problem and want solutions now to counter the current omnicidal lethargy. Although some companies get it-such as the sterling Patagonia and Interface corporations in the U.S.-most large companies either are resisting, engaging in "greenwashing" lip service, or taking the smallest of steps for public relations purposes.
The people of our tormented Planet must pull together as if there was an impending invasion from Mars. Fortunately, the urgent pathways to be pursued are full of favorable economic efficiencies and good jobs. Think of solar energy installations, weatherizing homes and other buildings, modern public transportation, grants to speed up climate chaos mitigation, and economies moving to net or even negative carbon impact. The known remedial technology is far ahead of its mandated applications by sluggish legislators and their myopic corporate paymasters.
Children can and do communicate with each other often and freely around their community, country, and globe. The faster trivial text messages are replaced by texts calling for a relentless call to action, the better. Students taking to the streets and taking on legislators will advance the fight for a safer planet and a more just society.
Stay tuned! This is only the beginning of the world's children raising adults to a maturity that faces the awful, onrushing realities.
(c) 2019 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).
Terri Sewell, The Worst Of The Black Caucus, Subverts $15 Wage Bill
By Glen Ford
Selma, Alabama, has produced the most reactionary Black Congressperson in modern times, part of the Democratic Party's increasing servitude to corporate interests.
Rep.Terri Sewell, who has wallowed at the bottom of the barrel of the Congressional Black Caucus ever since she won election to her Alabama Black Belt seat in 2010, is stooping to new lows. Sewell this month introduced a bill crafted to nullify Sen. Bernie Sanders' and Rep. Bobby Scott's legislation to boost the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2024. The Sanders/Scott Raise the Wage Act would also ensure that the federal minimum wage will rise further as median pay increases. Terri Sewell's new counter-legislation, dubbed the Phase-in $15 Wage Act, would neuter the Sanders bill in most of the country, staggering wage increases by region so that more than 40 percent of the workforce would still be making $10.50 an hour or less by 2024, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, The EPI's Heidi Shierholzsays Sewell's bill "locks in an economics of inequality."
As per usual when serving the interests of capital, Sewell and her co-sponsors say they are concerned about small businesses that can't afford to pay $15 an hour. "The cost of living in Selma, Alabama is very different than New York City," said Sewell, claiming her bill gives communities "the flexibility to grow their economy" while still giving minimum wage workers a raise. But the end result of her legislation's complex regional pay raise schedules would be to thwart achievement of $15 an hour almost everywhere except those localities that have already passed such laws on their own.Sewell's contention that places like her home town don't need $15 an hour don't hold water, either. According to the EPI's Family Budget Calculator, a single adult with no children already needs to earn $34,579 -- about $18 an hour -- to live in the area.
Half of 13 Democrats that co-sponsored Sewell's retrograde measure are freshmen that entered Congress in the 2018 Democratic "wave" - meaning most of these surfers are anything but "progressive." One of them is Lucy McBath, the Black suburban Atlanta mother whose teenage son was killed by a white man for playing music too loudly. She sided with Sewell to scuttle the $15 minimum. The "new class" that emerged from the 2016 congressional cycle was even worse, producing five new Black congresspersons, all of them warmongering corporate mutants (Al Lawson, FL; A. Donald McEachin, VA; Dwight Evans, PA; Lisa Blunt Rochester, DE; Anthony Brown, MD). But Terri Sewell is the queen of down-home Black corporate sleaze, having succeeded Black Georgian David Scott as the "Worst Black Member of Congress,"according to BAR's Congressional Black Monitor of September, 2015.
Sewell inherited her reactionary politics - and corporate funding - from her predecessor in the congressional seat, Artur Davis, a founding member of the historical first wave of reactionary Black federal lawmakers, birthed in the bowels of invading right-wing capital in 2002. Davis, a shady Birmingham prosecutor, was propelled to victory over relatively progressive Rep. Earl Hilliard in a tsunami of corporate cash, torrents of which also swept Rep. Cynthia McKinney from office in Georgia that same year and almost put 31-year-old Cory Booker in the mayor's seat in Newark, New Jersey in his first shot at the job. (Booker's multi-millionaire backers would send him to City Hall four years later.)
It was corporate capital's maiden voyage into local Black Democratic politics, a trial run to determine if corporate money could work the same grotesque political mutations in post-"movement" ghetto politics as it does in the rest of the U.S. polity. Lots of pro-Israel money was also in the mix, as Hilliard told The Black Commentator in July, 2002:
Hilliard: I just found out this past week, that there were people who were sent to Alabama that were on the payroll of corporations who were doing all the necessary ground work and preparations and...when they put the money in, the money came like, WOW! It came almost at one time, over a period of about 30 days. Sometime between the report that we got, which I believe was the report of the last of April, and the election, which was June 4, they raised about $700,000 - $800,000.
And between May 1 and June 20, he raised $1,098,000. This is pure cash, reportable cash. Even now, he still has money coming in.
But, it doesn't show the total amount, because there is no way you can calculate the services that he got. But I estimate that he got $2,000,000 worth of press, or more, from the Jewish press as well as the Republican press.
There's no question that it was well planned and, to be honest with you, well executed.
BC: Did the contributions to your opponent take you by surprise?
Oh yeah, it really did. This is the same guy that I ran against two years ago, and we were on, basically, equal footing. I had no real money and he had no real money. He said the same thing about me then, and I said basically the same thing about him.
BC: So nothing had changed, except the money?
Except money. And when he came with money, he came with negative ads. The ads were basically about my Middle East stands. I had voted not to send people to prison for life without parole, and he twisted that to say that I voted to let pedophiles out of jail.
BC: Who are these corporations?
Not just corporations, but organizations like AIPAC [American Israel Political Affairs Committee]. Mostly Republican operatives and Jewish operatives that were sent by different organizations and groups and corporations. None of this is in writing anywhere that I have been able to pick up. But I've talked to people who met these people, who talked to them, who dealt with them.
The only thing I know for sure, that I saw in black and white, is $1,098,000 that [Davis] reported. You can't take money from corporations, so that came from Jews and Republicans. There's no question where that money came from. Admittedly, it came from Jews and Republicans.
BC: The pro-Israel contributors made no secret of their support for your opponent. Was it their intention to make a public display of wealth?
Oh, definitely -- the seed of fear. It sends a message to every member of congress.
BC: What is the message?
Vote for Israel or face possible defeat.
Let me tell you when I first realized I had a problem. Several people called me and told me that my opponent was on national TV, MSNBC, CNN, and to turn to CNN and I could pick it up every hour. I said, No, man, that guy doesn't have that kind of money. So I turned to CNN. AIPAC was introducing him. They had had a fundraiser last night for him in Washington, he was on his way to New York for a fundraiser. Within two or three days the paper reported that, at the fundraiser in New York, there were about 300 people there, he raised $272,000. When I got that news, I had about $22,000.
Almost immediately, the next ads started, and they didn't stop. They increased in intensity.
I didn't have the money, so I just bought radio time. But what I did anticipate... I had done a poll, I was 24 points ahead [the same percentage as his 2000 victory over Davis] , so I figured I could ride the storm out. There was a third guy in the race. He was polling about 2 or 3 percent. He went to 11 percent. What the people tell me was, the ads got so negative against me, they didn't want to vote for [Davis] and they didn't want to vote for me, so they voted for that third guy, who ended up getting about 11,000 votes, which translated to about 11 percent.
It was rough. The ads never stopped. They were well prepared. I have to give it to them.
Derelicts of the House
In the Congressional Black Caucus, Artur Davis bonded with Atlanta's newly elected David Scott, the bankers' best friend; Harold Ford, Jr., who was on his way to becoming George Bush's favorite Black Congressman; and Denise Majette, the former Republican turned Democrat who would spend one hapless term in Cynthia McKinney's seat before fading back into obscurity. For the first time in history, the Black Caucus had a coherent, definable rightwing bloc. The capitalist electoral experiment of 2002 was the first of many great successes in turning the Black wing of Democratic Party into a fine-tuned corporate tool.
By 2005, the Black Caucus was voting with the corporate telecoms in greater proportion than the Democratic Caucus as a whole. The transformation from a mostly "leftish" Black Caucus to a reliably corporate body had taken only two congressional election cycles. (See BAR "Black Caucus Caves to Corporate Power," 15 June 2006.)
The Congressional Black Caucus Monitor defined seven members as "derelict" - the worst of the bunch. As The Black Commentator reported on September 22, 2005: "The worst malefactors, including the aforementioned Harold Ford (D-TN) and David Scott (D-GA), are Sanford Bishop (D-GA), at 25 percent, Albert Wynn (D-MD), at 30 percent, Artur Davis (D-AL), 40 percent, Gregory Meeks (D-NY), 45 percent, and William Jefferson (D-LA), at 55 percent."
Artur Davis emerged as perhaps the most dangerous of the CBC right-wingers when he was "picked by Obama's alter ego and future White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, as co-chair of the southern region of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in 2005," as reported by BAR. That put him in a position to find, mentor and fund clones of himself for Congress, spreading the corporate cancer. The power-proximity went to his head, and exploded. After a disastrous run for governor of Alabama in which he shunned the support and advice of Black Democrats, Davis went Republican in 2012 - and soon slipped into oblivion. But his seat had been filled by fellow bottom-feeder Terri Sewell, who tied longtime troglodyte Sanford Bishop, of Georgia, with a score of 20 out of a possible 100 on the CBC Report Card, meaning she only votes correctly one out of five times on key measures. Even the formerly "worst" CBCer David Scott does better, at 30 percent -- as did Artur Davis, in years past.
The arrival on Capitol Hill of a handful of leftish young Democrats, including Ilhan Omar in the Black Caucus, does not amount to a sea change in the political complexion of the Democratic Party. Rather, these leftish lawmakers are far outnumbered by the right-wingers in the Democratic classes of 2016 and 2018, including the six freshmen that voted with Terri Sowell to neuter the $15 an hour minimum wage. Even by bourgeois political standards, "progressives" make up only a handful of the Black Caucus.
The Democratic Party is the main agent for ruling class political control of the Black community. It has infested and suborned virtually all of Black America's civic associations, rendering them useless to any self-determinationist project. In the Congressional Black Caucus, which as an institution abandoned Cynthia McKinney after she became a target of Big Capital and the Israel lobby, "progressivism" has withered to the smallest rump. Only three serving members of the Caucus voted both to halt the Pentagon's 1033 program to militarize local police, in 2014, and against elevating police to the status of a protected class, in 2018. They are: Barbara Lee (CA), Bobby Scott (VA) and Maxine Waters (CA).
And one of them went Russiagate crazy.
(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com
A Corporate Coup: Coming To A Theater Near You
By David Swanson
A new film, Corporate Coup, (trailer at link https://vimeo.com/292721963 ) is premiering in the coming days in Washington, D.C., (April 26-27 at Filmfest DC) and Toronto (April 29, 30, and May 3 at Hot Docs Festival).
The film is vague about when the corporate takeover of the U.S. government began, probably because it actually predates the U.S. government and wasn't entirely new in the 1970s or the 1980s but did see, at that time, a major acceleration that in some ways was a leap backward and in other ways a leap into something unseen before.
The film contains insightful comments from people like John Ralston Saul, who makes a case that the winner of World War II was Mussolini, that his military was defeated but his ideology triumphant. Certainly corporatism, the rule by wealthy business interests, was never met by complete opposition in the U.S. or any other government, including the Russian. One might add that the militarism and global imperialism that we are urged to associate with Nazism has triumphed as well.
Corporate Coup D'Etat shows us sacrifice zones, areas of the United States devastated economically by shutdown businesses. One might group them with areas destroyed environmentally. A Pennsylvania town with a closed-down blast furnace and a Pennsylvania town with a coal fire still burning just underground after catching decades ago both have the same empty houses. One might group these zones with the many large zones of the earth outside the United States that have been sacrificed. In fact, it will soon become apparent to most people that the entire planet falls into the same category.
What's most interesting about this film is all the interviews of people who voted for Obama and then Trump, or voted for Democrats for decades and then Trump, or voted for Bernie Sanders and then Trump. Some of them explain that they saw Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the worst two choices ever, and they chose the one who was new and different. That may strike some people as irrational. Even if it doesn't, the continued loyalty these poor people express for Donald Trump may seem willfully delusional.
But imagine that you live in a place where half the buildings are empty, that you have no savings and no health coverage, that your choices of schools for your kids are the crappy public school down the street and . . . that's it, that your job involves no improvement, no raises, no benefits, no voice or control or possibility of a union, no options of switching to any other job, and the distinct possibility that you may be out of work altogether at any moment. Imagine further that you've been told that all you can do is vote for a president or sit around bitching, that you have no knowledge of activism or civic engagement and very little time or energy for it if you did. Imagine that even the experts in movies like this one that you yourself now play a bit role in (presumably unpaid) describe numerous actions that Congress has taken in the past two years as having been taken by Trump, because it simply goes without saying that presidents make laws and presidents make budgets.
You've concluded that politicians are all slimy, that voting is not very different from doing nothing at all, and that you have a choice between an evil you know and an evil you don't, or an evil you know as a disastrous public official of long standing (why is my brain flashing to images of Joe Biden walking onto a stage?) and an evil that's been presented as likeable on idiotic television programs of long standing?
Your conclusion is not particularly irrational. In Corporate Coup D'Etat we see journalist Lee Fang interview members of Congress, and - with very few exceptions - to call them slimy would be an insult to slime.
I think it may be easier for many people to write about Trump Democrats than to talk to them or even to watch them talking on video. It's certainly easier to fantasize that they've all seen the light and repented than it is to watch them, over and over, stating clearly and articulately that they have done no such thing.
To the extent that they deny the evidence of Trump's malicious mendaciousness and stay loyal to their leader or party, they are no different from most Republicans or Democrats. One can blame them for it, but it's like blaming theists for believing in God. (It's stupid, it's harmful, but it's so widespread that if you don't find a way to interact with them respectfully, you're going to be pretty darn lonely.)
To the extent that Trump voters, or non-voters, might recognize what a walking disaster he is, that wouldn't mean they'd rationally be obliged to reject him in favor of a different variety of walking disaster like Joe Biden. Even if offered the notably superior choice of Bernie Sanders, many of them could be too fed up; it could be too late to reach them. But certainly a Democratic Party that chooses not to impeach Trump and not to try offering a decent candidate who legitimately gives a shit about people and is willing to try to help them should be banned from looking down its nose at anybody. In terms of stupidity, it will take the prize.
(c) 2019 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
President Donald Trump speaks attends a roundtable on the economy and tax reform at Nuss Trucking and Equipment on April 15, 2019, in Burnsville, Minnesota.
No More Excuses. Donald Trump Must Be Impeached
By William Rivers Pitt
Over the course of more than 400 scalding pages, the Mueller report details the parallel and often cooperative course traveled by Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and the sophisticated Russian operation devoted to his victory. Mueller's report also lays out the myriad ways Trump obstructed justice through his ham-fisted attempts to either take over the investigation or obliterate it entirely.
There is but one conclusion to reach after reading this exhaustively prepared report: Donald Trump must be impeached. There is no more time for vacillation, and no room for doubt.
The report is divided into two distinct hemispheres: Volume I deals with the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election and the question of Trump campaign participation in that attack, and Volume II deals with the manner in which Donald Trump actively obstructed the investigation into Russian election meddling.
Many of the report's details have been in the public sphere for months and even years. Having it all in one place, however, gives the document the depth and gravity of gruesome history. There are also plenty of new and alarming surprises. It is atomically detailed and deeply sourced, ultimately conservative in its conclusions regarding the law but profoundly damning nonetheless.
Donald Trump was right to fear its release, and after reading it, I believe those fears are only just beginning.
The Redactions and a Brobdingnagian Caveat
Like many, I expected the worst regarding what Attorney General William Barr would do with his redaction pen. It is difficult to determine how damaging the redactions are. Simply put, they happened, and until congressional Democrats win a court fight to get the full report, or until someone leaks it, this is what we're stuck with. While the report was not as "lightly redacted" as The Washington Post let on, it was not the slab of black ink I was afraid it would be.
Many of the redactions fall into the category of "Harm to Ongoing Matter," which I'm at peace with; Mueller has referred some 14 matters to outside agencies for further investigation, and we certainly don't want to mess with those. "Grand Jury" and "Investigative Technique" redactions are widely prevalent and occasionally overwhelming; pages 15-59 of Volume I look like a truck ran over them, and page 30 of that section appears to be a picture of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. There's no there, there.
The deeply worrisome "Personal Privacy" redactions are few and far between, yet some are highly suspicious. Even in the table of contents where the names of those investigated for obstruction are listed, a big, fat "Personal Privacy" redaction line obscures what I am confident is the name "Donald Trump." The bulk of Volume II, which deals with obstruction of justice, is largely untouched.
Beyond the redactions, there is this bit of trouble squatting at the bottom of page 10 in Volume I:
[T]he Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated -including some associated with the Trump Campaign -deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records. In such cases, the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with other known facts.
It is difficult to read "Yeah, but" without expecting the next sentence to read, "Everything after this might only be half the story." You could charge a regiment of Roman cavalry through the hole that statement creates. A careful reading of the entire report, particularly the section on obstruction of justice in Volume II, leaves the definite impression that this caveat was not included in some oh-by-the-way fashion. Mueller and his people knew they were dealing with a pack of practiced liars, and wanted us to know that they knew. Now we know, but yeah, we knew that already.
Accordingly, while this report embodies factual and legal determinations that the Office believes to be accurate and complete to the greatest extent possible, given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report. (Emphasis added.)
"Collusion" Isn't an Actual Thing
The opening sentence of the first operative paragraph in the introduction to Volume I makes no bones about it: "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion." The body of Volume I proceeds in excruciating and often deeply disturbing detail to explain how the St. Petersburg, Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) conducted an incredibly effective and well-informed assault upon online political discussion in the United States, and through that effort attacked and undermined the legitimacy of the election itself.
The IRA did its damage by exploiting racial tensions over police violence against people of color (using social media accounts named "Black Matters" and "Don't Shoot Us"), immigration ("Stop All Invaders," "Secured Borders), religion ("United Muslims of America"), LGBTQ+ issues ("LGBT United"), dislike for then-candidate Hillary Clinton ("HillaryClintonForPrison2016") and other areas of social and political friction. According to the report, the IRA's efforts on Facebook alone may have reached as many as 126 million people.
Simultaneously with the IRA's efforts, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Army (GRU) pulled off what may go down as the most impactful computer hack in history. GRU agents vacuumed up thousands of Clinton campaign emails, including many from campaign chairman John Podesta, and funneled them into the public sphere through cutouts like WikiLeaks.
The most impactful WikiLeaks document dump of these Clinton campaign emails came hours after the release of the infamous TMZ recording of Trump bragging about his serial sexual assaults on women. The report strongly suggests that senior players within the campaign, including Trump's adviser and ally Roger Stone and perhaps even Trump himself, knew the WikiLeaks dump was coming. In fact, Russian hackers went after Clinton's emails five hours after Trump specifically asked for Russia's help in getting hold of them.
The Russian action against the 2016 election went far beyond fake Twitter accounts and hacked emails. "By the summer of 2016,"reads the report, "GRU officers sought access to state and local computer networks by exploiting known software vulnerabilities on websites of state and local governmental entities."
"In August 2016, GRU officers targeted employees of [REDACTED]," continues the report, "a voting technology company that developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls, and installed malware on the company network."
It was beyond Mueller's purview to investigate whether these efforts were successful, but make no mistake: Russian agents did not simply want to sow discord. They were looking to flip votes in favor of Donald Trump.
Despite the glaring instances of the Trump campaign and Russian agents working toward the same goal, the Mueller report clearly states that the activities of the campaign did not rise to their standard for what would constitute criminal activity. "Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome," reads the report, "and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."
Trump and his allies made much of the last 23 words of that sentence, but the investigation and subsequent report set a high bar for what amounted to criminal activity. The Trump campaign itself, for example, did not engineer the IRA's social media disinformation campaign, nor did they themselves hack into the Clinton campaign's computers. According to Mueller, that means no crimes were committed.
Page 2 of Volume I, however, dryly notes that collusion "is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law." Despite Trump's interminable claims of "no collusion," the report makes it abundantly clear that, in the matter of the 2016 election, the Trump campaign left hand knew full well what the Russian right hand was up to, and often cheered it on in broad daylight ("Russia, if you're listening," etc.)
In its totality, Volume I paints a frightening picture of exactly how deftly Russian agents were able to upend a presidential election. The report slaps aside the entire concept of "collusion" as any sort of legal metric, but falls just short of stating that it was the president in the drawing room with the candlestick.
In the end, it will come as little surprise that most of the reason the Trump campaign's efforts to gain Russian assistance failed to rise to the level of criminal conspiracy was because they weren't clever enough to pull it off. There was no conspiracy because they screwed it up, but they damn sure tried.
It is also of vital note that everyone should read the first 60 pages of the Mueller report while fully aware of the fact that Trump stoutly refused to acknowledge the existence of Russian interference with the 2016 election for years, and has done virtually nothing to ensure such interference is thwarted in 2020.
The Russian operation against the 2016 election was a masterpiece, and certainly helped swing the election in Trump's favor. His refusal to admit that it happened, and his failure to try and keep it from happening again, is one of the main reasons why this investigation was undertaken in the first place.
Oodles and Oodles of Obstruction
Volume II of the Mueller report is nothing less than a categorical astonishment. A majority of the evidence regarding Trump's serial obstructions of justice has been in the public sphere for a while now, but because of the avalanche of scandal that has become our daily gruel, much of it has fallen down the memory hole.
"If the American public or members of Congress were learning these things for the first time," writes Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman for The New York Times, "the political fallout would normally be devastating." I've been saying it for years and will say it again: None of this is normal. Perhaps the greatest service Robert Mueller and his team performed for the country was to put it all in one place, organized and explained with lethal precision.
Mueller and his team deliberately refused to flatly assert that Trump obstructed justice by interfering with the investigation, because Mueller did not believe doing so fell under the rubric of his constitutional authority. "With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution," reads the report, "we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice." (Emphasis added)
Despite this caveat, the report does not tiptoe around the fact that Trump obstructed justice in the matter of the Russia investigation with dreary regularity. His obstruction kicked into high gear after he learned that he was the subject of an obstruction investigation after he fired FBI Director James Comey - itself an act of obstruction -but thwarting the investigation was his objective from the moment Mueller was appointed.
Where to begin?
Trump obstructed justice when he ordered White House counsel Donald McGahn II, to fire Robert Mueller, which he refused to do; McGahn threatened to resign if Trump persisted, and Trump ultimately relented. "The evidence indicates that news of the obstruction investigation prompted the President to call McGahn and seek to have the Special Counsel removed," reads the report. In other words, Trump's prior obstruction motivated his attempt to remove Mueller, which was another act of obstruction. Later, Trump obstructed justice by ordering McGahn to lie and say Trump never gave him the order to fire Mueller. Again, McGahn refused.
Trump obstructed justice when he attempted to convince then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal so he could take over the Russia investigation. "There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President's conduct toward Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a way that would restrict its scope," reads the report. "A reasonable inference from those statements and the President's actions is that the President believed that an unrecused Attorney General would play a protective role and could shield the President from the ongoing Russia investigation." Sessions refused.
If you are sensing a pattern here, you're in good company; Robert Mueller saw it as well. "The president's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful," reads the report, "but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests." Had those persons carried out even a portion of the requests they refused, we would all be having a very different conversation.
These are but a few of the instances of obstruction delineated in the Mueller report, and that's not even where the real thunder resides. Beginning on page 156 of Volume II and continuing to the conclusion, under the heading "Overarching Factual Issues," the Mueller report thoroughly dismantles the argument that a sitting president is immune from prosecution for obstruction, and can be subject to such prosecution even if no underlying crime is established.
If you read only one portion of the report, I strongly advise you to make that portion pages 156-181 of the second volume. "Obstruction of justice can be motivated by a desire to protect non-criminal personal interests," reads the report, "to protect against investigations where underlying criminal liability falls into a gray area, or to avoid personal embarrassment." Any of that sound familiar?
"The injury to the integrity of the justice system is the same," continues the report, "regardless of whether a person committed an underlying wrong."
The final sentence of the Mueller report reads, "And the protection of the criminal justice system from corrupt acts by any person -including the President -accords with the fundamental principle of our government that 'no person in this country is so high that he is above the law.'"
Donald Trump obstructed justice, period. Beat that with a stick.
Bits and Pieces
What an astonishing mass of mendacity is William Barr. He presents himself as some kind of amiable spectacled dormouse with tenure at a small New England college, but his Thursday morning press conference performance on the eve of the report's release gave even Trump a run for his money when it comes to the high art of unfettered bullshitting. Barr's reputation is destroyed, and rightly so; this wasn't the first time he has attempted an end run around the truth.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fares little better. The report details several occasions when she lied with deliberate intent about Trump's actions pertaining to the investigation. "Slip of the tongue" and "heat of the moment," my cracked arse.
Mr. Trump has friends in low places. According to a Politico report, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) was briefed along with other members of congressional leadership about the status of the Russia investigation in March 2017, specifically regarding who the principal subjects of the investigation were. Burr apparently fed those revelations to the White House counsel's office. The spectacular absence of ethics or integrity evinced by most everyone in Trump's orbit suffuses the report from beginning to end.
The End of the Beginning
"Only a terminal cynic, wrote Hunter S. Thompson about the Watergate tapes, "can listen for any length of time to the real stuff without feeling a compulsion to do something like drive down to the White House and throw a bag of live rats over the fence."
That pretty much sums it up from my side of the desk.
There is but one conclusion to be drawn: Trump has committed serial impeachable offenses, Robert Mueller has explained them down to the last molecule, and at long last the time has come for Congress to act and remove him from the office he has disgraced and despoiled.
There are no longer any excuses for inaction or deflection. Until now, the only things that have spared Trump from the consequences of his misconduct are the fact that time and again his staffers deliberately failed to follow his illegal orders, and the fact that Mueller left it to Congress to call what he did obstruction of justice.
That is what the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives must do now, regardless of the Republican status of the Senate. Begin the process, call the hearings, and let the chips fall where they may.
But will they? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has dusted off her "Impeachment is off the table" routine, while Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) told CNN after the report's release, "Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point." This craven stance won't sit well with a number of House Democrats, especially the committee chairs with subpoena power and the scent of blood in their nostrils.
Turn them loose. We are down to brass tacks with this thing, and inaction could very well shatter the Democratic caucus. The solution is not to go tharn and freeze like the rabbits of Watership Down. That's how you get run over, right on that yellow line in the middle of the road.
Please, read it yourself. Here is a searchable version of the report to assist you in the endeavor. Read it all and then ask yourself: What should come next? What must come next? The answer to that question is as plain as the nose on your face, unredacted and uncompromising. Let the good fight begin.
(c) 2019 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.
Protesters against Trump gather in front of the White House in 2018.
AOC, Ilhan Omar, And Rashida Tlaib Make The Necessary Call For An Impeachment Inquiry
After reviewing the Mueller report, the congresswomen recognized a demand for congressional action.
By John Nichols
When it was becoming clear that Richard Nixon would need to be held to account for the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Watergate era-including his many obstructions of justice-the youngest and newest members of Congress stepped up. Texas Democrat Barbara Jordan, a voting-rights advocate who had been elected to the House in 1972 at the age of 36, joined the Judiciary Committee and in 1974 challenged her colleagues to recognize that "If the impeachment provision in the Constitution of the United States will not reach the offenses charged here, then perhaps that 18th-century Constitution should be abandoned to a 20th-century paper shredder!"
New York Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman, a 31-year-old advocate for women's rights who upset a Democratic incumbent in a 1972 primary, joined the same committee and delivered the message (as she later recalled) that "Presidents cannot block, tamper with, and destroy the machinery of justice that is aimed at them. If they do, it is at their peril. They face impeachment, removal from office, even imprisonment."
While many senior members of the House, encumbered by the learned caution that so frequently weakens the will of the Congress, were slow to recognize the need to act, these newly elected House members refused to compromise their oaths of office. They had sworn to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," and they intended to "bear true faith and allegiance" to that commitment.
This is one of the many reasons it matters to refresh the membership of the Congress. Experience is valuable. But so, too, is an exuberant embrace of the duty to check and balance executives who abuse their power.
So it was exciting, and hopeful, when New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar responded boldly to the release of the redacted Mueller report that Brennan Center for Justice president Michael Waldman describes as "basically an impeachment referral to the Congress."
Ocasio-Cortez and Omar took the referral and made the necessary call for an impeachment inquiry.
This was not a radical response. As Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor and 2020 presidential contender concluded after reviewing the evidence that special counsel Robert Mueller's team collected, "The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States."
Unfortunately, House Democratic leaders remain resistant to the constitutional cure to a constitutional crisis.
This is what makes the statements from Ocasio-Cortez and Omar so consequential. The newest members of the House have chosen to fill the leadership void with an appropriate answer to the Mueller report.
The special counsel and his team presented a detailed accounting of obstructions of justice by President Trump-many of which parallel those of Nixon, some of which exceed them. They then explained that "The conclusion that Congress may apply obstruction laws to the President's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law."
Ocasio-Cortez's knowing response was an announcement that "Mueller's report is clear in pointing to Congress' responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President. It is our job as outlined in Article 1, Sec 2, Clause 5 of the US Constitution. As such, I'll be signing onto Rashida Tlaib's impeachment resolution."
Tlaib, a first-term Democrat from Michigan, has been a clear-eyed and consistent advocate for an impeachment inquiry. "We all swore to protect our nation, and that begins with making sure that no one, including the President of the United States, is acting above the law," Tlaib explained in a March letter urging colleagues to sign on to a resolution "recommending that the House Committee on Judiciary begin hearings, take depositions, and issue subpoenas to answer this question that is fundamental to the rule of law and the preservation of our democracy."
With encouragement from Free Speech for People and other groups that have advocated for impeachment, and support from Texas Congressman Al Green, a stalwart backer of executive accountability, Tlaib introduced her resolution on March 27. Now, with AOC's backing, it's gotten a boost in attention, with headlines from Fox News to Teen Vogue.
Tlaib advanced the cause on Thursday, with a tweet that declared, "Everything outlined in the #MuellerReport is further proof of what I've been saying for a long time: it's #TimetoImpeach. The first step? The House Judiciary Committee launching an investigation into whether Trump committed impeachable offenses."
Congresswoman Omar responded with an embrace of Tlaib's message:
Impeachment is part of our constitutional responsibility. We have an obligation to investigate whether the President committed impeachable offenses, including:
Tlaib, Omar, and Ocasio-Cortez understand that they have many duties as members of the House. "Many know I take no pleasure in discussions of impeachment. I didn't campaign on it, and rarely discuss it unprompted. We all prefer working on our priorities: pushing Medicare for All, tackling student loans [and working for] a Green New Deal," explains AOC. "But the report squarely puts this on our doorstep."
- Obstruction of justice
- Violating the Emoluments Clause
- Abuse of power
This demand is outlined in the Constitution-and that, as Elizabeth Holtzman reminds us, it can be highly effective when members of the Congress have the courage to propose a constitutional remedy:
As a junior congresswoman, the youngest ever elected at that time, I served on the House Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach President Richard Nixon for the high crimes and misdemeanors he committed in connection with the Watergate cover-up and other matters. Thorough, fair, and above all bipartisan, the committee acted on solid evidence presented in televised hearings that riveted the nation, handing us the blueprint for how impeachment can be successfully pursued today. In our 225 years of constitutional democracy, the Nixon impeachment process has proven to be the only presidential effort that worked. Though Nixon resigned-the only president ever to do so-two weeks after the committee's impeachment vote, he did so to avoid the certainty of being impeached and removed from office. We became a better nation for having held the president accountable.
(c) 2019 John Nichols John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.
Jesus Wore Shoes - What Did They Look Like?
By James Donahue
Among the many little clips in my "tickler" file was a report of the discovery of a 2,000-year-old leather shoe found by archaeologists at an ancient quarry in the UK.
The shoe, estimated to be about a size 10 in men's foot ware, was dug out of a hollowed tree trunk at the site. It was said to be so well preserved that stitch and lace holes are still visible in the leather.
The archaeological team was digging in a Bronze Age work site, dating from 1460 to 1290 BC when the discovery was made. The artifacts uncovered consisted of mounds of burnt stone and two wooden troughs. Nearby were two timber-built wells. One of the wells was constructed by timbers over a spring using a hollowed tree trunk set in the ground for its support. It was in this ancient tree trunk that the shoe was found.
If the age estimates are correct, this was a shoe that was manufactured by a leather craftsman at about the time or possibly long before Jesus and his disciples were walking the roads in and around Jerusalem and making their mark in history.
And that gives us an understanding of the kind of shoes men wore in that period. They looked somewhat like the shoes we wear now. And this may be a surprise if you think about it.
Hollywood films and other illustrations usually depict Jesus walking around in simple sandals, as they do American Indians walking either barefoot or in moccasins.
Historians would have us believe that humans in that time did not live as well as we do in this modern age, and that the development of such things as stylish clothing, coats, hats and foot-ware are more of a contemporary thing. Thus we visualize the people of Rome walking around in wrapped sheets, or togas and sandals.
So if the people of that era had the ability to weave cloth for togas, they also could fashion that cloth into various fitting clothes, and use natural dyes from the earth to give them color. And if they could cut leather for sandal bottoms, they could utilize leather to make shoes, and probably did.
The discovery of a shoe from that period that has leather parts stitched together, and eyelets for laces thus becomes a shocking revelation. We suddenly realize that comfortable leather shoes may have been available to humans for a very long time. In fact, if he spent his life walking from town to town, Jesus probably depended on good shoes to help him make his way.
People in the UK and other parts of Northern Europe not only contended with rough stony terrain to walk on, but they also had to get around in snow and ice during the winter months. Thus it is logical to assume that the art of making good shoes and boots was known to their craftsmen from the day their ancestors migrated north and decided to make their home in the area.
And there has been another discovery somewhat associated with the 2,000-year-old UK shoe. It seems that a student in human anatomy has noticed an interesting difference in the bones of the little toes of older humans living in Eurasia some 26,000 and 30,000 years ago.
It seems that the bone structure of the toes are not as strongly built as those of the ancestors, while leg bones remained large and strong, said Erik Tinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis.
Tinkaus believes the change in bone structure indicates that these people were wearing shoes with arch supports.
When people walk in their bare feet, or on flat sandals, Trinkaus said, the smaller toes flex for traction and this keeps the toe bones strong. Supportive footwear lessens the pressure on the small toes, so they tend to be undeveloped.
Trinkaus believes humans in the northern climates were even putting insulation on their feet as early as 500,000 years ago.
Thus we can imagine Jesus wearing some cool insulated leather shoes with great arch supports as he tromped the byways of his homeland, pissing off the radical Pharisees and Saducees in the Jewish temples.
(c) 2019 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.
Mueller's work should mark the beginning of the end of his presidency. Yet that denouement probably
won't happen before the 2020 election -not with politically calculating cowards running both parties in Congress.
Trump Thought Mueller Would Be 'the End of My Presidency.' It Should Be
Rather than working to prevent foreign election interference from happening again, the new president labored to prevent a true investigation into what happened.
By Will Bunch
Buried on Page 290 of the long-awaited Mueller report into Russia's 2016 election interference and questions of collusion and cover-up surrounding President Donald Trump was one of those rare peeks behind the curtain of our insane presidency -exactly why the 440-page report was so highly anticipated for so long.
On May 17, 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to break the news to Trump that his abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey -who was leading the probe into his election -meant there'd now be a special counsel investigation.
Trump "slumped back in his chair, according to notes by a Sessions aide, and said, 'Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm fucked.' "
Now, 23 months later, we finally have most of special counsel Robert Mueller's report in our hands -but only after an obsequious and fundamentally dishonest spin campaign from Sessions' replacement as attorney general, William Barr.
It turns out that Trump's instincts in 2017 were very, very good. Mueller's work should mark the beginning of the end of his presidency. Yet that denouement probably won't happen before the 2020 election -not with politically calculating cowards running both parties in Congress.
But consider the bizarre handling of the Mueller report by Barr, who slowly released the truth like a series of Russian nesting dolls. The AG who once pooh-poohed the Mueller probe then summarized the still-secret report not once but twice to put the president's bogus "total exoneration" stamp on it, lied about why Mueller didn't seek criminal charges on obstruction, and then held on to a redacted report for weeks to finally release it just hours before everyday Americans raced home to their Easter hams or Passover Seders where Team Trump was praying you'd forget all about it.
"It's clear AG Barr is acting as Trump's personal attorney, not America's," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter after America's top prosecutor staged a bizarre news conference 90 minutes before the report's release to propel a relentless spin machine one final time -rationalizing the president's now well-documented attempts at obstruction.
In poker, Barr's strange and arguably unethical conduct would be called "a tell." All the president's men were very afraid of an unvarnished, un-spun Mueller report. They should have been. There were no new criminal charges, but one massive moral indictment.
"The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion," according to the opening lines of the Mueller report. Rather than recoil from an attack on U.S. democracy, Mueller found, Team Trump "expected it would benefit." Their campaign didn't commit the heist, in other words, but they were happy to scoop up all the dollar bills that fell out of the back of the armored truck.
Rather than working to prevent foreign election interference from happening again, the new president labored to prevent a true investigation into what happened. Only the determination of former White House counsel Don McGahn, we now know, to prevent the constitutional crisis of "another 'Saturday Night Massacre' " prevented Trump from firing Mueller just as he fired Comey. Probe targets were promised they'd "be taken care of" -some of the 10 incidents of seeming obstruction that Mueller carefully examined.
Many of Trump's worst ideas about obstruction didn't happen, according to the report, only because aides have a frequent habit of not carrying out direct orders from their president. That's supposed to make us feel better about the state of American democracy?
The Mueller report also offered new insight into how lying is deeply embedded in our government. For example, when the special counsel's office asked White House press secretary Sarah Sanders why she claimed Comey didn't have support from rank-and-file FBI agents, she admitted her words weren't particularly founded on anything. That's par for the course in a White House where our golfing president is said to have lied to us more than 9,000 times.
But despite the dismaying revelations about a president's dishonesty and his complete lack of respect for democratic norms, this week's real bombshell was the complete politicization of the U.S. Justice Department, on the level of some tinhorn dictator's banana republic. CNN analyst Laura Coates said the president has finally found his Roy Cohn -a reference to the notorious fixer who mentored Trump in New York's scene during the '70s and '80s.
If Congress and the American people want to stop this country's steady drift into authoritarianism for another 21 months, the only true remedy is impeachment. Indeed, Barr's cover-up of a cover-up may have been intended to run out the clock on impeachment -and it may be working.
The No. 2 House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer, told CNN: "Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment."
Very frankly, I think we're sending a terrible message to future presidents -including sinister ones who'll hire aides that actually do carry out their orders -if Trump's clear-cut abuses of power are allowed to go unpunished. But now Bob Mueller has kicked any final verdict on whether America is still a democracy to a Congress more comfortable with focus groups than enforcing the rule of law. In the unforgettable words of the 45th president of the United States, we're (bleeped).
(c) 2019 Will Bunch is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and author of its popular blog Attytood.
Another Strongman To Love
By Heather Digby Parton
I don't know what to think about this. It seems very strange. I mean, why would Trump even care about Libya or follow the story of what's happening there in the midst of all his current drama? Who's whispering in his ear?
The New York Times reports:
President Trump on Friday abruptly reversed American policy toward Libya, issuing a statement publicly endorsing an aspiring strongman in his battle to depose the United Nations-backed government.
I get that he likes strongmen. But I would bet money someone manipulated him into doing this. Who?
The would-be strongman, Khalifa Hifter, launched a surprise attack on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, more than two weeks ago. Relief agencies said Thursday that more than 200 people had been killed in the battle, and in recent days Mr. Hifter's forces have started shelling civilian neighborhoods.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement a few days after Mr. Hifter's militia began its attack that "the administration at the highest levels" had made clear that "we oppose the military offensive" and "urge the immediate halt to these military operations." Most Western governments and the United Nations have also condemned the attack and demanded a retreat.
Mr. Trump, however, told Mr. Hifter almost the opposite, the White House said Friday.
Analysts said Mr. Trump's endorsement would embolden Mr. Hifter and hamper United Nations efforts to call for a cease-fire. It could also increase the likelihood that his regional sponsors like Egypt or the United Arab Emirates might intervene on his behalf, as each has in the past in Libya.
The policy reversal came as a surprise in part because Mr. Hifter's forces also appear to be losing ground. His promises of a quick victory have proved false, and his forces appear outmaneuvered by those aligned against them. Most analysts say that he has little hope of exerting his authority over all of Libya any time soon, so his continued campaign may only prolong the country's instability.
In the meantime, the battle for Tripoli has now diverted the attention of most of the Libyan militias that had been engaged in combating the fighters of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, said Frederic Wehrey, an expert on Libya at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
"It is nuts," Mr. Wehrey said of Mr. Trump's statement. "Even judging by the hard-nosed American goals of stabilizing the flow of oil and combating terrorism, this is completely shocking."
Mr. Trump's endorsement is the clearest evidence yet of his preference for authoritarianism as the best response to the problems of the Middle East, a sharp departure from the professions of support for democracy by previous American presidents of both parties.
Although this is not the first time Mr. Trump has praised an Arab strongman, his expression of support for Mr. Hifter appears to be the first time that Mr. Trump has embraced an aspiring authoritarian who is not yet in power and may never get there.
A former general under Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and also a former C.I.A. client, Mr. Hifter had been living in exile in the United States but returned to Libya during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. He first declared his intention to seize power in 2014, when Libya's nascent transitional government was struggling to establish its authority over freewheeling militias around the country.
Mr. Hifter vowed to rid Libya of Islamists of all kinds, and he quickly attracted support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. All three had aligned themselves in a regionwide campaign to crush the Muslim Brotherhood-style political movements that had appeared poised to ride Arab Spring elections to power.
Mr. Hifter has never shown a willingness to accept any civilian authority. But "he fits to a T the kind of leader Trump likes to support," said Andrew Miller, deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy.
(c) 2019 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.
Throughout Canada, industrial activities continue to degrade caribou habitat in the absence of sufficient protection regimes.
When Does Plant And Animal Species Loss Become A Societal Crisis?
By David Suzuki
It's heartening, in the midst of the human-caused sixth mass extinction, to find good wildlife recovery news. As plant and animal species disappear faster than they have for millions of years, Russia's Siberian, or Amur, tigers are making a comeback. After falling to a low of just a few dozen in the mid-20th century, the tigers now number around 500, with close to 100 cubs - thanks to conservation measures that include habitat restoration and an illegal hunting crackdown.
It shows the value of sound policies and regulations to protect wildlife. But as an article in the journal Marine Policy states, "Evidence of an environmental conservation problem is often not considered sufficient by government to warrant a change in the way human activities are managed until the problem becomes a societal crisis." The article highlights the devastating deaths of North Atlantic right whales because of regulatory foot-dragging. Although the dire situation finally triggered protection measures for whales and their habitat, some worry it's too little, too late.
The authors recommend proactive, precautionary measures to protect at-risk species. These are rare in Canada. Even when species are pushed to the brink, governments continue to stall.
That's true for boreal woodland caribou - 37 of Canada's 51 boreal caribou herds have been deemed unlikely to survive under current forest-management practices. In 2012, after a federal science advisory panel examined how much caribou range must be kept undisturbed for the animals to survive, the federal government gave provinces and territories five years to develop range plans that afforded caribou a minimum 60 per cent chance of survival. None did.
Not one province or territory with boreal caribou has implemented the risk-based threshold management approach. Throughout Canada, industrial activities continue to degrade caribou habitat in the absence of sufficient protection regimes. In the past year, two of B.C.'s caribou populations died out.
To mask impacts from the lack of conservation efforts, provinces such as B.C. and Alberta are using half measures like predator control and permanent penning to keep remaining caribou populations alive.
With governments touting what they'll do in the future while perpetually dragging their feet, the David Suzuki Foundation has had to resort to legal recourse - as it did in 2010 on behalf of the right whale, using scientific evidence to show it needed a broader habitat definition.
The Foundation has also worked for 15 years to protect and recover southern resident killer whales, or Salish Sea orcas, near Vancouver. We've gone to court four times to get government to define critical habitat, complete recovery plans and issue an emergency order to protect the whales. We even joined a U.S. case to protect them from underwater noise from naval exercises.
We won all cases except the one to force government to order immediate on-the-water changes to human behaviour. That case became moot when federal fisheries and environment ministers recommended emergency protections only to have cabinet turn them down. At least we were able to get a multi-stakeholder advisory process to decide what changes to human activities will be made to help the whales. There's hope, but also concern that time is running out.
Earlier this year, the Foundation partnered with two conservation organizations and two First Nations to ensure the federal environment and climate change minister fulfils her legal responsibility to protect five boreal caribou herds in Alberta. There's often room for sustainable economic development and species abundance, but sometimes tough decisions have to be made, and politicians will look to the public to gauge the extent to which we consider wildlife loss a crisis.
Many wildlife populations in Canada are in peril. Is this regarded as a societal crisis? If not - if faced with leaving a vastly diminished world for future generations and losing species like orca and caribou is not seen as an urgent matter - why not? What will it take to make wildlife crises our own? Is there a tipping point at which Canadians will create the political momentum for society to pivot from wildlife decline to supporting much overdue conservation actions? If so, have we not reached it?
With its iconic tigers, Russia has shown what can be accomplished with robust habitat and species conservation measures that prioritize at-risk wildlife. It's a lesson Canada needs to learn.
(c) 2019 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.
Democrats Must Save The Republic, Not The Republican Party
Donald Trump is the inevitable product of movement conservatism and the Republican Party that's hosted it for 40 years. Never Trumpers need to clean their own house.
By Charles P. Pierce
So, the Republican Party elders had all weekend to digest what a Republican special counsel had to say about the conduct in office of a Republican President* of the United States without a Republican attorney general running interference for a Republican administration*. As you might have expected, many of them are Very Concerned. The most hilarious of them, as expected, was Susan Collins of Maine. From The Hill:
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller's report gives an "unflattering portrayal" of President Trump, including an effort to oust the former FBI director from his special counsel role. "He was not only very upset by the special counsel's investigations, but tried several times through intermediaries to end it, and it is an unflattering portrayal of the President,"" Collins told Maine Public Radio.
Straight fire, that one.
Susan Collins strides bravely into the breach.
And then there's John Kasich, who is terribly distressed about the whole situation and would like us to know that he told us so. Again, The Hill:
Kasich, who is mulling launching a Republican presidential primary challenge to Trump in 2020, tweeted that Trump's behavior in the Mueller report "is more than disappointing." "It's unacceptable & not behavior we should expect from our president. It's worse than I've seen in my career observing & working with presidents or public officials," he wrote.
I have a suggestion.
John Kasich is saying much and doing little.
That there are not at least five Republican candidates challenging El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago not only is a fine metric for judging the deep internal rot in that political party, but also a good measure of the limits of the Never Trumpers as allies in an election year. Let us stipulate the following two points: 1) It is the responsibility of the Democratic Party to do everything in its power to protect the institutions of our republic, and 2) it is distinctly not the Democratic Party's responsibility to save the Republican Party from itself, and from the political monster it has created over the past 40 years. For four decades, the party has flattered, and begged, and truckled to the very forces of which it is now terrified. Save yourselves, gang.
But that isn't happening because, for all their brave talk, the Never Trumpers want to keep the political power that base gave them while distancing themselves from its obvious and inevitable product. So, instead of gathering forces behind a primary challenge, many of the Never Trumpers seem to be content with advising the Democratic Party on who it should nominate and what policies it should pursue. This, I believe, in preparation for a campaign to blame the Democratic nominee if the country determines that it wants to live six more years in the current gale-force dungwind.
Let us be clear: if the country re-elects this president*, it's because modern movement conservatism prepared the ground for it and used the Republican Party to do it. It hangs on all of them like a historical deadweight. They should disenthrall themselves from the policies and tactics that hung it from their necks before presuming to beg the other political party save them from their own monster.
Which brings us to former Ohio Governor John Kasich, who's spent most of the winter walking the parapets of the Elsinore green room. He's been deploring hard, has Kasich, most recently on CNN. But he hasn't done anything besides that-and his endless pondering has frozen the field for other possible candidates, most of whom lack the stones to run anyway, but all of whom would like extra credit for at least thinking about it. (Hi, Larry Hogan!)
Seth Moulton is the latest Democratic contender.
Meanwhile, of course, every Democratic politician except zombie Martin Van Buren has jumped in. Monday was Seth Moulton Day, and the Massachusetts congressman virtually sewed up the Seth Moulton vote almost instantly. The Seth Moulton vote is not to be confused with the Tim Ryan vote or the Pete Buttigieg vote, although I suspect some retired factory worker in Mishawaka is going to be very confused by the end of the summer especially if, as expected, Joe Biden leaps in this week, more than likely falling over his own feet in the process.
It's already getting a bit...spirited...on the Democratic side. Republicans are just going to have to roll with it. Or they can help re-elect a Republican president*. Loyalty counts, after all.
(c) 2019 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.
The Quotable Quote-
"The preachers and lecturers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves. Why, a free-spoken man, of sound lungs, cannot draw a long breath without causing your rotten institutions to come toppling down by the vacuum he makes. Your church is a baby-house made of blocks, and so of the state.
...The church, the state, the school, the magazine, think they are liberal and free! It is the freedom of a prison-yard." ~~~ Henry David Thoreau
Post-Its & Pizza
My visit to our Congressional office buildings in DC
By Jane Stillwater
How the freak did I end up totally lost and stranded in the sub-sub-basement of the Rayburn office building in Washington DC last week? Long story. I was actually trying to find the offices of Congressional Representatives Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar so I could shake their hands and tell them how wonderful they were -- but got seriously distracted by the temptation of gluten-free pizza on offer in the congressional cafeteria instead. Unlimited toppings! Yummers!
While waiting for my order to finish baking, I asked several pizza-eating Congressional aides for directions regarding how to get to AOC's and Omar's offices, and one of them told me to take an elevator down to the connecting tunnels that run beneath the Rayburn, Cannon and Longworth buildings -- but I must have pushed the wrong button because I ended up lost in some dark spooky narrow sub-sub-basement hallway littered with unwanted office furniture and black garbage bags. But that was okay because I still had my pizza-to-go so I wouldn't starve before someone found me months later.
Seeing that I was buried in the bowels of Congress already, it seemed appropriate to start contemplating the actual underground nature of our government and its tenancy to bury inconvenient facts and hide corruption (as well as unwanted furniture) out of sight of us taxpayers -- stuff like how lobbyists run Congress, how the Pentagon "misplaced" 21 trillion bucks but wasn't even investigated and how Zionists and Saudis are the real powers behind the throne in America these days.
But then a middle-aged bureaucrat in a grey flannel suit wandered by and showed me the light -- down four corridors, up three staircases, through two doors marked "employees only" and onto an elevator going to the second floor of Longworth. Or was it Cannon?
In any case, I found Rep. Omar's office first and shook her aide's hand, shook her other aide's hand and also signed the guestbook. "Keep up the good work!" Top government officials who happily commit genocide for fun and profit need to get a reality check every so often, but that clearly hasn't happened in DC since before the Korean and Vietnam "wars," back in the dark ages when America really was truly "great" -- at mass murder. But Omar is definitely calling their bluff now. No wonder the powers-that-be hate her.
Then I visited AOC's office too. What a delight! One entire wall in front of her office was covered with post-it notes saying, "We love you, AOC!" or words to that effect. Lots of stars and hearts too. And inside her office was another entire wall with hundreds of post-it notes saying basically the same thing.
"Can I sign a post-it note too?" I asked.
"Sorry, we've run out." So I signed the guest book instead. Yay! I also love Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez! We need far more ex-waitresses like her in Congress. And also a lot of former bus-drivers and teachers and farmers and all other kinds of salt-of-the-earth types as well.
Then, feeling a bit like that guy in Dante's Inferno, I descended back down into the Congressional tunnels and trudged off to the Library of Congress to explore its amazing resources (and restrooms). Gotta love touring Washington DC.
(c) 2019 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!
Tax Day: A Thrill... Or A Chill?
By Jim Hightower
How thrilling was tax day for you?
I refer, of course, to the thrill of getting that big juicy reduction in your taxes, thanks to the $1.5 trillion tax cut that Donald Trump and the Republicans passed. Remember? They promised it would deliver a 7-course dinner for everyone! Middle-class Americans should be grateful to the GOP, said Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, because "you have more money in your pocket."
Uh... actually, Mitch, no. While the richest one-tenth of one percent of taxpayers wallowed in more than $100,000 each from your skewed giveaway, the great majority of us have now learned that our 7-course dinner is a possum and a 6-pack! At most. Indeed, an April poll by the Wall Street Journal reveals that only 17 percent of Americans can detect that they got any tax cut at all.
In fact, the Republican tax bill was a cynical bait-and-switch job from the start. They did make a small, highly-publicized cut in the middle-class' tax rate, but - hocus-pocus - they quietly disappeared that benefit by eliminating or reducing various tax deductions that those families had been entitled to.
Also, by cutting about a trillion dollars from the tax payments owed by the richest corporations and people, they clearly were going to nuclearize the federal deficit. So, to overcome that political hurdle, they resorted to the hoariest rhetorical trick of demagogic political scoundrels: The BIG LIE, which Trump & Company repeated loudly and constantly. The giveaway, intoned a smirking McConnell to the media, will not gut government revenues, but will be a "revenue-producer." Of course, it was not, instead skyrocketing our country's deficit, which is now projected to surpass a trillion dollars next year.
That wasn't a thrill that people felt on tax day - it was a financial chill.
(c) 2019 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.
The Dead Letter Office-
Larry's mug shot
Dear Unruhestifter Hopkins,
Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Donald J. Trump, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.
Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your illegal roundup of asylum seekers on the New Mexican border, 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 05-18-2019. We salute you Herr Hopkins, Sieg Heil!
Vice Fuhrer Pence
U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during an event recognizing the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride in the East Room of the White House, April 18, 2019,
the same day the Department of Justice released special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on Russian election interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Mueller Report Makes It Official: Trump A Morally Despicable Human Being
Even though Mueller apparently doesn't believe a sitting president can be indicted, he provides a devastating indictment of Trump's character
By Robert Reich
Democrats in Congress and talking heads on television will be consumed in the coming weeks by whether the evidence in the Mueller report, especially of obstruction of justice, merits impeachment.
In addition, the question of "wink-wink" cooperation with Russia still looms. Mueller's quote of Trump, when first learning a special counsel had been appointed-"Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked"-has already become a national tagline. Why, Americans wonder, would Trump be "fucked" if he hadn't done something so awful as to cause its revelation to "fuck" him?
We'll also have Mueller's own testimony before Congress, and Congress's own investigations of Trump.
But let's be real. Trump will not be removed by impeachment. No president has been. With a Republican Senate controlled by the most irresponsible political hack ever to be majority leader, the chances are nil.
Which means Trump will have to be removed the old-fashioned way - by voters in an election 19 months away.
The practical question, then, is whether the Mueller report and all that surrounds it will affect that election.
Most Americans already hold a low opinion of Trump. He's the only president in Gallup polling history never to have earned the support of majority for single day of his term.
Yet Mueller's report probably won't move any of the 40 percent who have held tight to Trump regardless.
So how to reach the 11 percent or 12 percent who may decide the outcome?
Reveal his moral loathsomeness.
Democrats and progressives tend to shy away from morality, given how rightwing evangelicals have used it against abortion, contraceptives and equal marriage rights.
But that's to ignore Americans' deep sense of right and wrong. Character counts, and presidential character counts most of all.
Even though Mueller apparently doesn't believe a sitting president can be indicted, he provides a devastating indictment of Trump's character.
Trump is revealed as a chronic liar. He claimed he never asked for loyalty from FBI director James Comey. Mueller finds he did. Trump claimed he never asked Comey to let the "Michael Flynn matter go". Mueller finds he did. Trump claimed he never pushed the White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. Mueller finds he did. Trump even lied about inviting Comey to dinner, claiming falsely, in public, that Comey requested it.
Trump treats his subordinates horribly. He hides things from them. He lies to them. He yells at them. He instructs them to lie. He orders them to carry out illegal acts.
He's a thug. He regrets his lawyers are not as good at protecting him as was his early mentor Roy Cohn - a mob lawyer. When reports surface about the now infamous Trump Tower meeting of June 2016, Trump directs the cover-up.
Trump is unprincipled. The few people in the White House and the cabinet who stand up to him, according to Mueller-threatening to resign rather than carry out his illegal orders-are now gone. They resigned or were fired.
In other words, Mueller makes it official: Trump is morally bankrupt.
We still don't have the full story of Trump's tax evasion and his business dealings with Russian financiers. But we know he has lied to business associates, stiffed contractors, cheated on his wife by having sex with a porn star, paid the porn star hush money, and boosted his wealth while in office with foreign cash.
It continues. In recent weeks he willfully endangered the life of a member of Congress by disseminating a propaganda video, similar to those historically used by extremist political groups, tying her to the 9/11 tragedy because she is a Muslim American speaking up for Muslim Americans. She has received death threats, including one by a supporter of Trump who was arrested.
He has also attacked the deceased senator John McCain, whom he falsely accused of leaking the Steele dossier and finishing last in his class at Annapolis. Then Trump retweeted a note from a supporter saying "millions of Americans truly LOVE President Trump, not McCain". Americans know McCain was tortured in a prison camp for five years, in service to this country.
How many of Trump's followers or those who might otherwise be tempted to vote for him in 2020 will recoil from this moral squalor?
Donald Trump is the living embodiment of the seven deadly sins-pride, greed, lust, gluttony, wrath, envy and sloth-and he is the precise obverse of the seven virtues as enunciated by Pope Gregory in 590 AD: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility.
Legal debates about obstruction of justice are fine. But no voter in 2020 should be allowed to overlook this basic reality: Donald Trump is a morally despicable human being.
(c) 2019 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is www.robertreich.org.
Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I -VT) attends the National Action Network's annual convention on April 5, 2019 in New York City.
Bernie Sanders And The Science Of Smears
The media's focus on personality is designed to shift attention away from dangerous ideas
By Matt Taibbi
The satirist Ambrose Bierce, author of the Devil's Dictionary, once defined radicalism as "the conservatism of tomorrow injected into the affairs of today."
What Bierce wittily captured - that today's radicals are tomorrow's normies - means that at any given moment, the current political establishment will be fighting off the inevitable.
The Brahmins of today don't battle with ideas, because as Bierce pointed out, their belief systems are usually regressive and unpopular, only they don't know it yet. The battle is almost always waged instead over personality, because while certain "radical" ideas may be unstoppable, individual politicians are easily villainized, delaying change - a little.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made headlines this week by taking on the Center for American Progress, long known as a messaging arm of the mainstream Democratic Party. Sanders wrote a letter criticizing the CAP board for playing a "destructive role" in the "critical mission to defeat Donald Trump," a critique seemingly crafted in response to recent efforts by ThinkProgress, a news site founded by CAP, to paint Sanders as a hypocrite for being a millionaire author.
The Sanders letter to CAP formalized the rift between the Democratic establishment and the labor-based movement of millions Sanders represents. That we're talking about a petty PR battle and not the hardcore disagreement about policy and (especially) campaign funding sources that created this divide is Exhibit A proving the old propaganda method is still working.
The practice of painting dissident challenges as selfish, hypocritical acts - as opposed to the selfless altruism of corporate-funded candidates - has been going on forever. Long before Sanders was framed as a thin-skinned, cranky narcissist who's "all about himself," Dennis Kucinich went through the same thing.
Kucinich was/is living proof of the Bierce aphorism. When he announced his run for president in October of 2003, the Ohio congressman "stood up against corporate interests," promised to revoke NAFTA, endorsed decriminalization of marijuana, called for universal health care and trumpeted "amnesty and legalization for illegal immigrants."
He was the only candidate promising to withdraw troops from Iraq, and in those jingoistic years after 9/11, he not only brought an imam on stage for his launch, he took a shot at Columbus Day. From the New York Times account:
"The Cleveland event had a tailored multicultural appeal, starting out with prayers from a rabbi, an imam and a Baptist preacher. The speakers were racially diverse, and Mr. Kucinich took a moment to acknowledge the American Indian communities on Columbus Day."
Many of these ideas are now blue-state orthodoxy. "Universal health care" is an official goal of the Democratic Party, even if the party doesn't mean it in the same way Kucinich did. He was right about Iraq - he was the only one right about Iraq in that field - and significant parts of the electorate are beginning to suspect he was right about NAFTA, the legalization of marijuana and a bunch of other things.
Kucinich may even have been ahead of the curve on Columbus Day: four states and 50 cities now celebrate "Indigenous Peoples' Day" instead.
But back in the 2000s, when Kucinich still had a small voice in national politics, he was routinely denounced as something worse than a radical: a kook, nut and egomaniac. I covered both of the Kucinich runs for the presidency and saw how frustrated he became over time as his ideas were ignored and his campaigns were denounced as indulgences.
What little coverage he got tended to be stuffed below the fold, and focused on him as a "lower-tier" eccentric, a vegan who dabbled in ventriloquism, wore wing-tips and was too short (the standard modifier attached to him was "elfin," as in "the elfin peace candidate").
Reporters from 2008 will remember the "hot mic" debate exchange between Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, when the contenders whispered about thinning a field of eight that included Kucinich and Mike Gravel.
"We should try to have a more serious... smaller group," Edwards offered, leading to the following exchange:
Clinton: Well, we've got to cut the number, because they are just being trivialized.
About the seriousness: when asked later that year by Wolf Blitzer why he was the only candidate who'd had a chance to vote on the Patriot Act to vote against it, Kucinich shot back, "Because I read it." He was probably right that none of the others had.
Edwards: They are not serious.
But he was seen as the unserious one. By 2010, when he was opposing the Affordable Care Act for many of the same reasons driving today's Medicare-for-All movement, even would-be liberal commentators like Markos Moulitsas were denouncing him. He was a modern Nader, pushing "unrealistic" and "self-defeating" politics, someone who'd never accomplished anything.
The treatment of Kucinich was pure high school. I used to get an unpleasant pang of recognition listening to the cool kids on the press plane laughing at the "lefty elf" who refused to get the hint he wasn't wanted on the debate stage.,P.
Back when Sanders didn't seem like a threat to win anything, he got much of the same. He was dismissed as a geek and a wallflower who'd be defined by whether he chose to be a help or a hindrance to the real candidate, Clinton. The New Yorker's John Cassidy in early 2015 mock-welcomed Bernie to the race, insisting the entrance of the "loner" would be a "plus" for the Clinton campaign, since he would "occupy the space to the left of Clinton, thus denying it to more plausible candidates, such as Martin O'Malley."
It wasn't until Sanders started piling up delegates that he began to take on the villainous characteristics for which he is now infamous. After he won primaries in 2016, suddenly reporters ripped him as a divisive narcissist with three houses who was the ideological mirror of Donald Trump, boasting racist, sexist and violent followers.
This was all part of the age-old technique of focusing on the person instead of the ideas or the movement behind them. Sanders wasn't winning in 2016 because Bernie Sanders is some great stump act - he isn't. A fair portion of his support was coming from people who were fed up with both parties even before he decided to run.
The easiest way to avoid dealing with uncomfortable truths is to create an ick factor around the politician benefiting from them. That was Sanders in 2016 and it's still him, mainly. However, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have also been pre-emptively dipped in the ick this cycle, cast as crippled politicians whose mere presence in the race will "undermine" Democrats in the end.
Additionally, and I couldsee it coming even a year ago, politicians benefiting from domestic discontent with the status quo are being denounced as Kremlin favorites as well as selfish agents of division.
On the day Gabbard announced her run for the presidency, MSNBC ran a story claiming Russian-linked social media accounts were pushing a "possible campaign of support" for the Hawaii Democrat. The story was sourced to the firm New Knowledge, which had been caught by the Times faking an almost identical story about Russian trolls and Alabama Republican Roy Moore.
Sanders was described as the Kremlin candidate in the Washington Post just a few days ago. This was unsurprising since the Post was asking as far back as the fall of 2017 how Democrats would respond to Putin playing dirty tricks for Sanders in 2020.
There are people who will protest that descriptions of such Russian activity boosting Sanders are rooted in fact, as efforts to reach his supports are described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of the Internet Research Agency. That's fine. I would counsel anyone who thinks Russia is responsible for the rise of Sanders or people like Gabbard or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should go out and interview voters around the country, especially in remote areas.
The anger toward the political establishment that drives support for such politicians began to be visible over a decade ago, long before Sanders or Gabbard were factors in any kind in national politics.
Those voters aren't selfish, or hypocrites, or Kremlin favorites, and they're not going anywhere. What a lot of DC-based reporters and analysts don't grasp is that if you remove Bernie Sanders from the scene, there will still be millions of people out there mad about income inequality. Remove Gabbard, and discontent about the human and financial costs of our military commitments will still be rampant. Removing Warren won't cancel out anger about Wall Street corruption.
Covering personalities instead of political movements only delays things for a while. Sooner or later, the conservatism of tomorrow arrives. You can only delay the inevitable for so long.
(c) 2019 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.
The Cartoon Corner-
This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Tim Eagan~~~
Parting Shots- |
Sarah Huckabee Sanders Accuses Media of Anti-Liar Bias
By Andy Borowitz
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Reacting to the journalist April Ryan's call for her to be fired, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, on Friday, that she has been the victim of the media's "widespread anti-liar bias."
"From their obsession with fact-checking to their relentless attacks on falsehoods, the media have made no secret of their bias," Sanders said. "It's open season on liars in America."
"This is media hypocrisy at its very worst," she added. "The same journalists who advocate freedom of speech want to take that freedom away from anyone whose speech consists entirely of lies."
"This is nothing more or less than a direct attack on the lying life style," she said. "You take away my right to lie and you take away my ability to earn a living."
Kellyanne Conway, the White House senior counsellor, spoke out in support of Sanders, telling reporters, "An attack on one liar is an attack on all liars."
"Our country has seen some dark days, from the Bowling Green Massacre to the bugging of the White House microwave," she said. "But this might be the darkest."
(c) 2019 Andy Borowitz
Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 16 (c) 04/26/2019
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