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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi returns with, "Michelle Wolf Slays Useless White House Correspondents' Dinner."

Uri Avnery remembers, "The Real Victor."

Glen Ford remarks, "Bill Cosby Should Have Been Denounced By Black America Long Ago."

Lee Camp joins us with a must read, "I Know Which Country The U.S. Will Invade Next."

Jim Hightower exposes, "The New American Aristocracy."

John Nichols considers, "Donald Trump's Unhinged Attack On Jon Tester."

James Donahue says, "Let's Dismantle The Federal Reserve."

Norman Solomon finds, "The Ghosts Of 'New Democrats' Are Haunting Us."

Heather Digby Parton examines, "Trump's Savvy Playground Negotiating Style."

David Suzuki concludes, "Better Vehicle Standards Drive Innovation And Benefit Citizens."

Charles P. Pierce reports, with tongue-in-cheek, "The Great Climate Hoax Rolls On."

Jane Stillwater is, "Paying The Bills: Not Giving Our Government Credit For All That It Spends ."

David Swanson examines, "What Mass Killers Tend To Have In Common."

Would be Senator Patrick Little wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "How To Stop Trump."

Chris Hedges explores, "The Crime Of Being Poor And Black."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Americans Startled By Spectacle of President Who Can Speak English" but first Uncle Ernie points out, "The Enemy Of The People."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Joe Heller, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Pete Souza, Tom Williams, Tasos Katopodis, Mountainview Program, Mandel Ngan, David Dees, Sgt. Timothy Kingston, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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The Enemy Of The People
By Ernest Stewart

"Sarah, if the American people had ever known the truth about what we, the Bushes have done to this nation, we would be chased down in the streets and lynched." ~~~ George H.W. Bush

"It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change." ~~~ Charles Darwin

"There are clearly some changes in Trump as a speaker since the 1980s, a clear reduction in linguistic sophistication over time, with simpler word choices and sentence structure. Some sentences, or partial sentences, would, if written, make a second-grade teacher despair." ~~~ Ben Michaelis ~ psychologist

"I am always in awe of people who devote their lives to a good cause and are brave enough to take a stance, though it may be controversial in their time." ~~~ Rebecca Pidgeon

It must be obvious, to even a blind man, that the Rethuglicans are the true enemy of the people, except of course, to the uber wealthy which they love! It's been that way since the beginning of the party and continues to this very day.

Even "Honest Abe's" first act in office was the suspension of habeas corpus on April 27, 1861. Habeas Corpus or, literally, "find the body," was the Constitutional law that required the government to actually provide a reason for locking someone away. There would be no protests allowed and all those who didn't want to be drafted, etc. found themselves as a disappearo in one of Abe's new Happy Camps, if they were lucky. If they weren't so lucky they found themselves executed without even a Bush tribunal or, as the citizens of New York City found out, being slaughtered by broadsides from US Battleships anchored in the harbor. Half of New York City was either burnt to the ground or shelled into little pieces along with the residents of old New York. Talk about your collateral damage! Hundreds died, thousands were wounded and many blacks were lynched! Freeing the slaves was an after thought and if he's had his way would have been shipped back to Africa! The war was fought for the advantage of the Northern Banksters.

The other popular Rethuglican president was old Teddy Roosevelt. Yes, Teddy fought the banksters but fought in Cuba not to free the Cubans but to make them our slaves and not Spains. While like a typical Rethuglican he liked white folks but he hated Indians and blacks. And those two were the best the Rethuglicans ever had to offer.

What about Ike? Sure he taxed the rich but he also told the folks around A-Bomb test sites that the radiation from the fallout was harmless and had factories and schools shut down so the people could see for themselves that the lovely pink snow that they went out to play in was harmless. Of course, it wasn't and everyone of them died in a few years from terrible, cancerous tumors and turned their towns into ghost towns. Some notable folks that Ike's tests killed were the cast and crew of "The Conqueror." John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and director Dick Powell just to name of a few, all of them died fron cancer within a few years!

And please don't get me started on Nixon, Ray Guns, the Bushes and tRump. Either they go, or we'll go, it's as simple as that, America!

In Other News

As old Chuck Darwin once postulated. Either adapt or die! A good example of that might be the dinosaurs. 99.9% of them didn't and died out, that .1 % did and there are billions of them today. In case you're wondering they are called birds! I see where Damselflies are doing the same thing today to survive global warming!

Damselflies are rapidly evolving in response to global warming, new research shows, experimenting with genetic adaptations as temperatures continue to rise.

"Genes that influence heat tolerance, physiology, and even vision are giving them evolutionary options to help them cope with climate change,"
Rachael Dudaniec, a researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, said in a news release. "Other insects may not be so lucky."

To measure the damselfly's response to climate change, Dudaniec and her colleagues tracked genetic variations among blue-tailed damselfly, or Ischnura elegans, populations in Sweden.
"At different points in a species' genome, a population will feature several different gene variants, or allele. Allele frequency describes the distribution of variants among a population. In the latest study, scientists looked at the shift in allele distribution as they surveyed populations from north to south in Sweden.

"We examined the degree of turnover from one variant of a gene to another variant," said Rachael. "For example, how strongly does one variant of a gene change to another variant as you move to higher latitudes."
In addition to latitude, scientists looked for relationships between allele frequency trends and summertime highs, summertime precipitation and local wind patterns.

As conditions change, the gene variants best suited for the new environs become more common. By analyzing patterns of variation among the damselfly's genome, researchers were able to pinpoint genes allowing the insect to adapt -- genes related to heat tolerance, physiology and visual processing.
"These genes may be helping these insects deal with extreme climates, and how they find food and mates as their distribution shifts into novel northern habitats," said Rachael. "Our research suggests that the blue-tailed damselfly has a wealth of evolutionary strategies available to help it adapt to a changing climate."
Rachael and her colleagues published their findings this week in the journal Molecular Ecology.

"Our research highlights the need to further investigate how different species will cope with climate change," said Rachael. "Identifying the species that are going to struggle the most in changing environments will allow us to direct conservation actions more appropriately."

Not all species will have the genetic tool needed to adapt to rapidly changing temperatures and environmental conditions. So, it's either, adapt or die out mankind!

And Finally

After some serious thought and a little research I have come to the conclusion that Trump's deteriorating speech could be a sign of early Dementia or Alzheimers, either way we are soooooo screwed.

His tortured syntax, mid-thought changes of subject, and apparent trouble formulating complete sentences, let alone a coherent paragraph, in unscripted speech holds to key his current brain health. He can still read speeches but without a script he seems to be lost and soon is rambling. All he needed for the campaign was a few sentences repeated over and over and over and believable lies told over and over and an audience dumb enough to believe them. You'd be hard pressed to find a people stupider than Americans anywhere on the planet. After 300 years of brainwashing you get Donald Trump.

You may recall that back in the day Donald was as slick as could be. He could fool almost anyone with his witty repartee and talk them out of billions of dollars on a yearly basis thorough his casinos, schools, airlines, steaks, you name it, all of it garbage but some how with a few words from Donald sounded perfectly sound.

However, as of late he speaks like a child and research has shown that changes in speaking style can result from cognitive decline. His thoughts may or may not be valid but it comes out of his mouth as a mishmash of ideas and thoughts that often have nothing to do with one another. It reminds me of Ray Guns when his mind fell apart and the country was being run by Nancy's fortune tellers and mystics. Fortunately or unfortunately "Bush the assassin" was in control and Ronnie's nuclear launch button didn't do anything. Hopefully Donald's nuclear launch button doesn't do anything either!

Keepin' On

We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

We aren't asking for much-not thousands of dollars a month, not tens of thousands a year. What we need is simply enough money to cover expenses for the magazine. A few thousand dollars a year. A few hundred dollars a month. We cannot continue to go into debt to publish Issues and Alibis but at the same time we cannot, in good conscience, go quietly about our daily lives, remaining silent in face of the injustices perpetrated by our leaders and our government. So we need your help. We need your spare change. A dollar, five dollars, whatever you can contribute. Every penny makes a difference.


11-07-1965 ~ 04-30-2018
Thanks for the music!


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2018 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Michelle Wolf provides the entertainment at the 2018 White House
Correspondents Association Annual Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Michelle Wolf Slays Useless White House Correspondents' Dinner
Could this be the long-overdue end of the Sycophants' Ball?
By Matt Taibbi

After the annual mutual congratulation session known as the White House Correspondents' Dinner concluded Saturday, NBC News White House reporter Kelly O'Donnell distanced herself from the program. O'Donnell thought Daily Show comedienne Michelle Wolf had been too rough on Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

"The spirit of the event had always been jokes that singe but don't burn," O'Donnell wrote.

Like your reporting, you mean?

The White House Correspondents' dinner has always been a bad aristocratic joke, the punch line obvious to everyone but the participants. "Make a joke - but not a real one" has been its unofficial motto since forever. That is exactly what was said, for instance, in 1996, when shock jock Don Imus made his infamous appearance at the Radio and TV Correspondents' dinner. Somehow reporters were surprised when Imus said the same things in front of Bill and Hillary Clinton he'd been saying on the radio for years, making jokes about Whitewater and Bill's womanizing rep, among other things. The D.C. press was horrified.

"Now none of us can go on [Imus's] show again," complained Cokie Roberts.

"We wanted some discomfort, but not that much," said ABC's Jackie Judd, one of that event's organizers, perfectly predicting future sentiments about Wolf.

The Imus incident really should have been the last correspondents' ball of any kind, as it revealed the basic nature of the proceeding. It's designed to be a chummy mutual admiration society, in which pols and pundits dressed in black tie stroke each other to the edge of ecstasy over champagne and filet mignon.

A comic is often invited. The humorist's job is to make an anodyne joke or two about the first family before rapidly sitting down and shutting the %$^k up (a curtsey is optional).

After this "roast," the president is supposed to get up and take a free shot at one or two or six of the administration's most hated journos, before quickly retreating into a state of feigned respect for the weasel-audience.

It's a repulsive scene, and only ever becomes interesting when someone forgets to tell the comic to leave the gloves on, as with Wolf.

The consensus among media pros seems to be that Wolf went too far with a routine that began, "Like a porn star says when she's about to have sex with a Trump, let's get this over with."

The line most-often cited as being the most offensive was this one, aimed at Sanders: "I actually really like Sarah. I think she's very resourceful. But she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye..."

Sarah Huckabee Sanders attends the 2018 White House Correspondents' Dinner at Washington Hilton on April 28, 2018 in Washington, DC.

It seems this was a makeup joke, and too mean for poor Sanders - who of course spends her days non-answering questions directed by this same White House "press" toward the Trump White House.

Rather than be offended by that, the press took offense on Sanders' behalf. O'Donnell's NBC colleague Andrea Mitchell tweeted a typical reaction:

"Apology is owed to @PressSec and others grossly insulted ny [sic] Michelle Wolf at White House Correspondents Assoc dinner which started with uplifting heartfelt speech by @margarettalev - comedian was worst since Imus insulted Clinton's [sic]"

Apparently Mitchell is still scarred by that 1996 experience of having to watch a comedian make a mean joke to the face of a sitting president, and not be executed on the spot.

Of course, there was no chance of that this year, as the current president does not attend the correspondents' ball - not for any good reason, of course, but because he can't take a joke and also is preemptively bitter that he won't be slobbered over by the audience as was the custom with, say, Barack Obama.

That didn't mean Wolf let Trump off the hook. On the contrary, she ripped him from start to finish, to the early delight of the crowd.

"You can't shut me up as a woman ... unless you are Michael Cohen and wire me $130,000," she joked. "You can find me on Venmo under my porn star name, Reince Priebus."

But the crowd of reporters turned silent when Wolf started in on them, noting that we in the media could be covering a lot of things, but instead only cover "like three topics": "Every hour it's Trump, Russia, Hillary, and a panel of four people who remind you why you don't go home for Thanksgiving," she quipped.

The laughs here slowed to a kind of half-laughing, half-grumbling sound that Steve Martin would have called "just a general murmur."

"You guys are obsessed with Trump," Wolf went on, smiling. "Did you use to date him? You pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him."

Murmur, murmur, murmur!

"What no one in this room wants to admit is Trump helped all of you," she went on. "He couldn't sell steaks, vodka, water, college, ties or Eric. [But] he has helped you sell your papers, books, and TV. You created this monster, and now you're profiting off of him."

She went on to remind the crowd that there's still no clean water in Flint, a not-so-subtle reference to the topics we could be covering instead of the all-Trump, all-the-time format that everyone from Les Moonves of CBS to CNN International chief Tony Maddox has admitted has been great for the bottom line of our business. Afterward, the head of the White House Correspondents' Association, Margaret Talev, effusively apologized for her own invitee's unconscionable decision to say true things in public.

"Last night's program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility," Talev wrote. "Unfortunately, the entertainer's monologue was not in the spirit of that mission."

Everything that is revolting about the D.C. press corps was on display in this incident. On the one hand, who cares - it's just a party, right? On the other hand, why are we partying with the people we're supposed to be covering?

The reason is that a significant portion of the national press corps genuinely gets off on the experience of being close to power. They love going to fancy restaurants and being whispered to by a Senatorial aide or, better yet, an actual Senator. Even more titillating is being handed a packet of secrets by someone at the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon!

This is why so many journalists circle the wagons when someone dares to interrupt their public love sessions with the people who misuse our tax money, bomb innocent civilians, lie to us, give get-out-of-jail free cards to white collar criminals, etc.

We're supposed to recoil from them, as from scorpions, but instead we host dinners for them, beg for photo ops, and defend them from even the most remotely pointed barbs. It's gross.

The 1999 Overseas Press Club awards, in which famous journos ripped then-Pacifica reporters Jeremy Scahill and Amy Goodman for disrupting the ceremony to ask a question about Kosovo of keynote speaker and Clinton Yugoslavia envoy Richard Holbrooke, was a classic example of the wagon-circling phenomenon. Wolf's take on the press relationship to Trump, of course, was dead-on. The press affects to hate Trump, and on an individual level some reporters may, but the degree to which he's been a financial boon to the entire media business has long been the dirty little secret of the Trump era. The bit about acting like we used to date him is totally true. There's a glee in how much we talk about him that's unseemly.

Moreover, while the vast majority of reporters in this country don't work in Washington or get off on prostrating themselves before the rich and powerful, the most visible among us do often act that way, which has considerable impact on public perception of the press.

We didn't just "create this monster" by giving Trump oodles of free coverage during the campaign season. We also did so by too often acting like courtiers to power instead of adversaries who challenge it, behavior that allowed the billionaire Trump to ludicrously - but successfully - portray the press as the real "elite" during the 2016 race, while he, Trump, was just a regular guy.

The White House Correspondents' Dinner has always been an odd concept. It's strange to me when reporters try to have friends at all, much less ones in the White House. What's the point? If the public thinks the news is Nerf-balled and stage-managed for our powerful would-be buddies - "some discomfort, but not that much" - they'll tune us out more than they already have.

To me this is like the all-too-common scenario when pundits and pols who rip each other on TV glad-hand each other and exchange digits in the green room afterward. The public may not see these scenes, but they pick up on the phoniness nonetheless, and end up hating press and politicians alike.

There haven't been too many positive developments of the Trump years, but the end of black tie lovefests and the charade of buddy-buddy press-pol relations might be one. Is being on the outside so bad?
(c) 2018 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 Real Victor
By Uri Avnery

ON THE fifth day of the six-day war in 1967, I published an open letter to the Prime Minister, Levy Eshkol. The Israeli army had just conquered the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and I proposed that Eshkol immediately offer the Palestinian people to establish the State of Palestine there, in return for peace with Israel.

I was a Member of the Knesset at the time. Two days after the end of the war, Eshkol asked me to meet him in his office in the Knesset building.

He listened to what I had to say, and then he answered with a fatherly smile: "Uri, what kind of a trader are you? In a negotiation, one offers the minimum and demands the maximum. Then one starts to negotiate, and in the end one reaches an agreement somewhere in the middle. And here you want to offer everything before the negotiation even starts?"

I objected feebly that this may be true about an ordinary deal, but not when the fate of nations is concerned.

(The Trade Minister, Haim Zadok, a very clever lawyer, soon gave me another lesson in the Zionist mentality. I asked him what part of the newly occupied territories the government was ready to give back. He replied: "Simple. If possible, we shall give back nothing. If they press us, we shall give back a small part. If they press us more, we shall give back a large part. If they press us very hard, we shall give back everything." At the time, giving back meant giving back to the King of Jordan.)

There was no effective pressure, so Israel kept everything.

I REMEMBERED this episode when I watched the second episode of Raviv Drucker's outstanding TV series about Israel's past Prime Ministers. After Ben-Gurion came Levy Eshkol.

Drucker portrays Eshkol as a nice and bumbling politician, a weak person who happened to be in office when the most fateful war broke out with results that have shaped our destiny to this very day. Little Israel became a regional power, with large occupied territories north, east and west. Eshkol was pushed around by his rebellious generals, made decisions against his will under duress. So Israel's present situation was shaped almost by accident.

All Drucker's facts are scrupulously correct, and like the chapter about Ben-Gurion, this one, too, is full of new disclosures, new even to me.

Yet I think that Drucker's characterization of Eshkol is not completely accurate. True, Eshkol was an amiable person, modest and moderate, but underneath it all there was a hard core, an obstinate belief in the Zionist ideology.

Before becoming Prime Minister by the general consent of the Labor Party, when Ben-Gurion had become intolerable and was kicked out, Eshkol was in charge of settlements. His determination to settle Jews on the land owned by Arabs was unshakable.

Between us a curious relationship developed. I was the enfant terrible of the Knesset, a one-man faction in extreme opposition, hated by the ruling Labor Party. I was seated in the Knesset hall just under the speaker's podium, an ideal place to interrupt the speaker.

Eshkol was an abominable speaker, the despair of the stenographers. His sentences had no beginning and no end. When I interrupted him with a remark, he forgot what he was going to say, turned towards me and answered in a friendly way, driving his party colleagues mad.

But I had no illusions. It was under his government that the Knesset enacted a law that was quite openly designed to close down my weekly magazine, which was detested by the ruling party (a fact that induced me to run for the Knesset).

WHEN THE 1967 Middle East crisis started, Eshkol - then both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense - indeed hesitated to act. Israel was threatened by three Arab armies, America's consent to an Israeli attack was not assured. The crisis lasted for three weeks, and the anxiety of the Israeli population intensified from day to day.

Eshkol looked like an unlikely war leader. At the height of the crisis, he decided to make a radio speech to lift the spirits of the nation. He read from a prepared text - prepared too much. An advisor had improved the manuscript, changing some words. When he reached these words, Eshkol stumbled. It sounded like indecision, and immediately a public conviction was formed: Eshkol must go, or at least give up the Defense Ministry.

A group of women (nicknamed "the Merry Wives of Windsor") demonstrated in the streets, Eshkol surrendered and Moshe Dayan became Minister of Defense.

The army, which for years had been superbly armed and prepared by Eshkol, won a crushing victory. Dayan, the picturesque one-eyed ex-general became the great victor, the dream of women around the world, though his contribution had been minimal.

When it all ended, Eshkol's stature in the public mind remained low. While the case can be made that he was the real victor, all the glory went to the glamorous generals. Israel became a militarist state, the generals became national heroes, Dayan, who was quite incompetent, was venerated.

AND THEN, less than two years after the war, Eshkol suddenly died. These were the fateful two years, in which the surprising results of the war had to be dealt with.

There was no real debate. My friends and I advocated the creation of a Palestinian state and found no support - neither in Israel nor throughout the world. When I visited Washington DC, everybody was adamantly against it. Even the Soviet Union (and the Israeli Communist party) took up the idea only years later.

One of the arguments against it was that the "Arabs of the West Bank" (God forbid calling them Palestinians) wanted to return to the King. So I went to see all the prominent local leaders in the West Bank. At the end of every conversation I asked them point blank: If you had the choice between returning to Jordanian rule or creating a Palestinian state, what would you choose?" Every one of them said: "a Palestinian state, of course."

When I brought this up in a Knesset debate, Dayan, then still the Minister of Defense, answered that I was lying. When I brought it up again in a debate with the Prime Minister, Eshkol supported his minister.

But then Eshkol did something that only an Eshkol could do: his advisor for Arab affairs called me and asked for a meeting. We met in the Knesset Member's cafeteria. "The Prime Minister has asked me to find out on what you base your assertion," he told me.

I recounted my conversations with the various Arab leaders in the occupied territories. He drew up a meticulous protocol and summed it up: "I agree with MK Avnery on every detail. However, we both agree that a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as capital is unthinkable. Since the government has decided to keep East Jerusalem in any peace agreement, the idea of a Palestinian state is irrelevant." (I have just transferred this document to the National Archive.)

The extreme right already demanded the annexation of all the occupied territory to Greater Israel, but they were then far from power, and few took them seriously.

What remained was the vague "Jordanian Option". The idea was to return the West Bank to King Hussein, on the condition that he let us have East Jerusalem.

That was a crazy idea, resulting from a total ignorance of Arab reality. The king was a scion of the Hashemite family, the family of the prophet Muhammad. The idea that he would give up the third holiest place of Islam, the place from which the Prophet himself had ascended to heaven, was ludicrous. But Eshkol, like all the other ministers, had no idea about Islamic or Arab affairs.

THE ONLY Israeli Prime Minister who knew Arab Palestinians was hardly mentioned in Drucker's series: Moshe Sharett.

Sharett was Israel's second Prime Minister. When Ben-Gurion decided to abdicate and settle in the Negev, Foreign Minister Sharett was chosen by his party to succeed him. It took Ben-Gurion about a year to decide that he wanted to be Prime Minister after all, so he returned to the Defense Ministry, and after some time to the Prime Minister's office.

Sharett was the opposite of Ben-Gurion in almost every respect. It is no accident that Drucker hardly mentions him. He was considered weak, indeed negligible. While Ben-Gurion was decisive, bold and even adventurous, Sharett was considered a coward and widely despised.

But Sharett, who came to Palestine from Ukraine at the age of 12, had lived for two years in Arab neighborhoods. Unlike all other Prime Ministers, he spoke Arabic, thought Arabic and understood the Arabs. He even looked faintly Arab, with a well kept mustache.

When Ben-Gurion returned from his Negev self-exile, he had the idea of invading Lebanon, installing a Christian leader as dictator, and turning it into the first Arab state to make peace with Israel. Sharett, still Prime Minister, thought this a stupid idea. But he did not dare to stand up to Ben-Gurion publicly. He went home and wrote a letter to Ben-Gurion, in which he listed everything that was wrong about the idea. The plan was abandoned.

A generation later, Ben-Gurion's favorite, Ariel Sharon, then Minister of Defense, executed Ben-Gurion's plan, with exactly the results Sharett had prophesied. But it did not help to resurrect Sharett's reputation.

Sharett was also a very vain person. Once we met at the foot of the Metsada (Masada) mountain, at the start of the very arduous climb to the top. It took him an hour and 5 minutes, quite a feat for a man of his age. Yet, by mistake, I reported in my paper that it took him 105 minutes. He was so enraged that he sent me an official letter demanding a correction and an apology. I complied, of course.

Sharett died early, a bitter and disappointed man. Still, I think that he, too, deserved a chapter in Drucker's excellent series.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Bill Cosby Should Have Been Denounced By Black America Long Ago
By Glen Ford

The following article was authored by Glen Ford when he was editor of The Black Commentator.

Bill Cosby's Confused Notions Of 'Responsibility'

The Black Commentator, June 3, 2004

Bill Cosby has some nerve talking about "personal responsibility." On May 17, with no warning, the 67-year-old multimillionaire comedian ambushed three venerable Black organizations - the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Howard University - fatally disrupting a gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Brown desegregation decision. Cosby drew from the hip (or the lip) to spray the hall with generalized insults against people who weren't even there: the Black poor who, he said, "are not holding up their end in this deal."

Apparently, Cosby thinks he is one of the deal-makers, and that he's been cheated. The mostly Black, tuxedoed attendees at Washington's Constitution Hall, forced to bear witness to Cosby's tirade, were also to blame "in this deal" since they had collectively failed to sufficiently call the "lower economic people" to account for their "personal responsibility" deficits.

Not once did it occur to "Cos" that he owed his immediate and larger audience the benefit of a well-prepared presentation. Dr. Cosby saw no need to buttress his rant with a single reliable fact, nor to provide a coherent structure for his argument, so that reasonable people might arrive at some useful conclusions. Instead, he played the elderly "shock jock," frothing and flailing away, spewing a sewer of abuse that, if directed against other ethnic groups, would be considered blood libels. (See a compilation of "Cosbyisms" at the end of this essay.)

The super-successful entertainer, famed for his practiced timing and flawless delivery, the evangelist of education - the discipline in which he received his Ph.D. - displayed an utter disrespect for his audience and for the august occasion of the anniversary. His extended outburst, presented without the evident benefit of even the most rudimentary preparation, was a gross violation of professional and personal discipline - an affront Cosby would never commit against a half-drunk nightclub crowd, much less the corporate and university audiences he regularly addresses. Yet he gave free rein to his inner demons in front of a throng of African Americans at Constitution Hall on the anniversary of Brown.

The irresponsible icon

Icons always have apologists; Cosby has a media-full. Black people who should be insulted, instead make excuses for Cosby's shameful, impulsive, totally uninhibited behavior that, in a non-icon, would invite suspicions of substance abuse.

USA Today's Black columnist DeWayne Wickham - normally a smart fellow - sugarcoats Cosby's bile as "talking black" - as if Black discussions of public policy, including subjects as momentous as the Fate of the Race, are by definition devoid of substance, structure, precision or logic. A similar exculpatory current runs through most corporate newspaper columns penned by Black writers in the wake of the Cosby abomination.

Amazingly, the out-of-control, grotesquely self-indulgent comedian was roundly praised for his "courage" in confronting the supposed Black phobia against "airing dirty linen" in public, i.e., within hearing distance of whites. How perverse and ironic! Much of the Black talking classes forgive Cosby's clear lack of a sense of "personal responsibility" and elementary decorum, precisely because to do otherwise would risk diminishing a Black icon - in front of white people! Better to let Cosby's insults to African Americans, slide.

And since when was it an act of courage to badmouth poor Black people in America?

By simple standards of civility Cosby is guilty of an extreme lapse in "personal responsibility" by dint of his behavior to his audience and to the millions of people he slandered. More to the point, Cosby doesn't know the meaning of the term - and neither do most of the Black chatterers who have been bandying it about.

Role Model mogul

What do the various political actors mean by "personal responsibility?" Certainly, we know that in the mouths of Republicans and their Black camp followers "personal responsibility" is a code for what people are told to exercise when the state refuses to see to the general welfare of its non-rich citizens. We know that song. But what does Cosby mean, and why are otherwise progressive Black writers and politicians bending over backwards to find ways to agree with him?

An enormous vacuity surrounds the Black discussion over Cosby's remarks. People rush to say "yes" to a term, the definition of which is not necessarily shared or understood. Where does "personal responsibility" end and "social responsibility" begin? If a comedian turned demagogue can hector a substantial portion of a race of people to behave as he (vaguely) commands, then surely he is talking politics, not just giving advice to individuals. Cosby's politics are in fact rooted on the conservative side of the Black spectrum - that is, when he is being coherent at all.

The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page recalls:

"Cosby was saying the same thing backstage when I interviewed him during my college days. It was 1968, but he didn't want to talk about black power, Black Panthers or cultural revolutions. He wanted to complain about why so many young blacks of my generation were wasting the great opportunities that hard-won civil rights victories had brought us. In those politically polarized times, I was disappointed by his traditionalist attitude. But I appreciate its wisdom today with new eyes, the eyes of a parent."
Actually, Page appreciates Cosby with the "new" eyes of a highly paid corporate journalist who finds enough common ground with white conservatives to appear regularly on shows like The McLaughlin Group.

Thirty-two years later, Cosby was still urging young people on campus to be politically passive. At Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in May, 2000, he warned students:

"Those of you going to grad school, listen to me carefully... I know you have an idea of how you want to make a change in the world. That is not what grad school is for. Do what they tell you to do and then when you graduate, do what you want to do. That is what grad school is for. If you're gonna argue with the professor you're going to not get a good grade, you're not going to graduate in grad school. Okay? So take your young idea, study what they want you to study, kick tail and then when you get your turn to write your dissertation then you tell it the way it ought to be told.

"It is not for you to stand up and argue... You get an A on all the tests and then, make your move."

By that, Cosby meant, make your personal career move. Don't dabble in campus politics, or challenge the orthodoxy of those in power at the institution. Shut up.

Because of men and women who shared Cosby's worldview, many Black college campuses were relatively quiet during the Civil Rights Movement, a silence enforced by Black administrators who did not hesitate to expel students and fire faculty who sought any change whatsoever in the status quo, on or off campus. Later in the Sixties, Blacks on white college campuses tended to be significantly more activist than students at traditionally Black schools, largely because they were not smothered by a "tradition" hostile to mass Black political activity.

Cosby advocates a neutered Black politics of individual striving within the parameters that are allowed by those in power. He projects his own, self-invented persona as a "role model" for African Americans to follow as individuals, while rejecting collective action to alter power relationships. His message: Each of you people should do as I did. Cosby's method is derived from a long line of accommodationist Negro leaders whose message was the equivalent of, "Eat your Jell-O."

Ironically, the young Cosby did not follow traditionalist counsel. He dropped out of college to pursue the wildly perilous career of Black standup comedian in a largely segregated America. Had he failed as a comic - as the odds overwhelmingly dictated - without a good education he might not have been able to buy his mother a fine house far from the projects where he grew up. Luckily, Cosby the dropout didn't listen to people like - Cosby.

Spurned, vengeful benefactor

Cosby bucked the odds, but never the system. His job was to become a Role Model for a Black presence within the existing order. Once that was accomplished, he added a make-believe family to the Model: the Huxtables. Writer Khalil Tian Shahyd "wasn't surprised at all" at the tone of Cosby's Constitution Hall remarks:

After all, for more than a decade he presented us every Thursday with what he thought the ideal African-American family should look like. That we should listen to jazz, and have people like BB King come into our home for dinner and invite us to sit front row at his shows. Take weekend trips by limo to the most expensive hotel in the city for dinner and pampering just to treat our partners to a day without the children. Live in a big house with not one neighbor of color, where our children shave their heads to appear in a skin head rock video and are sheltered from the real world of zero sum politics, gentrification, under-funded and abandoned school districts, swelling prison populations, racial profiling, economic marginalization, domestic abuse and all those specifically "poverty based social ills."
In addition to making Cosby a lot richer, the TV show proved that a Black-cast show could hold white people's attention in prime time for multiple seasons. This was considered a great victory. The ideal Black Role Model - Cosby himself, or the self he created - was now the entire nation's Role Model for Black people. Heady stuff.

Role Model Politics is nearly as emotion-laden as cult-of-personality politics - and just as divorced from reality. The Role Model is, by definition, the template of righteousness and progress. Those who fail to follow the Role Model's path are rejecting the Model's persona. No wonder Cosby goes ballistic at poor Black people's behavior - or what he imagines that behavior to be. He takes it personally. It's as if "those people" are all playing the "dozens" at his expense. How else to explain the explosive vitriol of Cosby's Constitution Hall performance?

However, Cosby's inability to perceive that he is obligated as a matter of "personal responsibility" to atone for his blanket verbal assaults, is his personal problem. It is far more worrisome that so many Black opinion molders harbor similar attitudes towards politics and the poor. Cosby showed his ass, but the same ill winds are blowing through the spaces in lots of Black skulls in high places. Deep down, they value other Black people little, and trust them less. They would rather celebrate virtual social mobility (the "Huxtables") than fight for the material resources that bring the possibility of dignity to millions. They see more virtue in a millionaire parting with a fraction of his money - although never enough to risk falling out of wealth - than in the selfless work of thousands of community organizers and activists who are motivated by a sense of both personal and social responsibility.

Dr. King and Malcolm X and Fred Hampton died in a social struggle to empower Black people. Cosby demonizes these same people, employing the enemy's language, like some vengeful, spurned benefactor. Yet much of Black media pretend not to see the throbbing ugliness in their icon, thus calling into question their own fitness. In the face of a brazen assault on the human dignity of African Americans, they equivocate - or join in the mass lynching. Mimicking racists, they impose yet another burden on the already super-disadvantaged Black poor. As Paul Street wrote in the April 8 issue of:

"The harsh material and structural-racist reality of American society interacts with timeworn, victim-blaming ruling-class explanations of poverty to play an ugly game on the nation's most truly disadvantaged. They are expected to magically leap beyond their social-historical circumstances - to exercise an inordinately high degree of sound personal responsibility just to keep their heads above water - while others are structurally empowered to "pass Go and collect $2 million" without such exercise, and indeed to deepen the well of black disadvantage."
If huge numbers of Black people could be drawn together to figure out precisely how we have failed each other, that would be one helluva "social responsibility" conversation. But the Bill Cosbys of the community cannot be allowed to hog the microphone, just because they may have paid for it. As journalist-educator-lawyer-activist Lizz Brown says, "That doesn't give him license." In truth, we can't afford Bill Cosby anymore. He costs more than he gives.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

A U.S. Army soldier on patrol in Iraq in 2008.

I Know Which Country The U.S. Will Invade Next
By Lee Camp

By the end of this column, it will be clear which country the United States will invade and topple next. Or failing that, it will be clear which country our military-intelligence-industrial complex will be aching to invade next.

We all want to know why America does what it does. And I don't mean why Americans do what we do. I think that question still will be pondered eons from now by a future professor showing his students a video mind-meld of present-day UFC fighters booting each other in the head while thrilled onlookers cheer (not for either of the fighters but rather for more booting in the head).

But we all seem to assume that America-the entity, the corporation-has some sort of larger reasoning behind the actions it takes, the actions put forward by the ruling elite. And almost all of us know that the reasons we're given by the press secretaries and caricature-shaped heads on the nightly news are the ripest, most fetid grade of bullshit.

We now know that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. We now know that the crushing of Libya had nothing to do with "stopping a bad man." If one does even a cursory check of what dictators around the world are up to recently, you'll find that the U.S. doesn't care in the slightest whether they are bad or good, whether they're using their free time to kill thousands of innocent people or to harmonize their rock garden. In fact, the U.S. gives military aid to 70 percent of the world's dictators. (One would hope that's only around the holidays though.)

So if it's not for the stated reasons, why does the U.S. overrun, topple and sometimes occupy the countries it does? Obviously, there are oil resources or rare minerals to be had. But there's something else that links almost all of our recent wars.

As The Guardian reported near the beginning of the Iraq War, "In October 2000, Iraq insisted on dumping the U.S. dollar-the currency of the enemy-for the more multilateral euro."

However, one example does not make a trend. If it did, I would be a world-renowned beer pong champion rather than touting a 1-27 record. (I certainly can't go pro with those numbers.)

But there's more. Soon after Libya began moving toward an African gold-based currency-and lining up all its African neighbors to join it-we invaded it as well, with the help of NATO. Author Ellen Brown pointed this out at the time of the invasion:

> [Moammar Gadhafi] initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar.
John Perkins, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hitman," also has said that the true reason for the attack on Libya was Gadhafi's move away from the dollar and the euro.

This week, The Intercept reported that the ousting of Gadhafi, which was in many ways led by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, actually had to do with Sarkozy secretly receiving millions from Gadhafi, and it seemed that his corruption was about to be revealed. But, the article also noted, "[Sarkozy's] real military zeal and desire for regime change came only after [Hillary] Clinton and the Arab League broadcasted their desire to see [Gadhafi] go." And the fact that Gadhafi was planning to upend the petrodollar in Africa certainly provides the motivation necessary. (It doesn't take much to get the U.S. excited about a new bombing campaign. I'm pretty sure we invaded Madagascar once in the 1970s because they smoked our good weed.)

Right now you may be thinking, "But, Lee, your theory is ridiculous. If these invasions were about the banking, then the rebels in Libya-getting help from NATO and the United States-would have set up a new banking system after bringing down Gadhafi."

Actually, they didn't wait that long. In the middle of the brutal war, the Libyan rebels formed their own central bank.

Brown said, "Several writers have noted the odd fact that the Libyan rebels took time out from their rebellion in March to create their own central bank-this before they even had a government."

Wow, that sure does sound like it's all about the banking.

Many of you know about Gen. Wesley Clark's famous quote about seven countries in five years. Clark is a four-star general, the former head of NATO Supreme Allied Command, and he ran for president in 2008 (clearly he's an underachiever). But it's quite possible that 100 years from now, the one thing he'll be remembered for is the fact that he told us that the Pentagon said to him in 2002: "We're going to take down seven countries in five years. We're going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan. We're going to come back and get Iran in five years."

Most of this has happened. We have, of course, added some countries to the list, such as Yemen. We're helping to destroy Yemen largely to make Saudi Arabia happy. Apparently our government/media care only about Syrian children (in order to justify regime change). We couldn't care less about Yemeni children, Iraqi children, Afghan children, Palestinian children, North Korean children, Somali children, Flint (Michigan) children, Baltimore children, Native American children, Puerto Rican children, Na'vi children ... oh wait, I think that's from "Avatar." Was that fiction? My memories and 3-D movies are starting to blur together.

Brown goes even further in her analysis of Clark's bombshell:

What do these seven countries have in common? ... [N]one of them is listed among the 56 member banks of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That evidently puts them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers' central bank in Switzerland. The most renegade of the lot could be Libya and Iraq, the two that have actually been attacked.
What I'm trying to say is: It's all about the banking.

So right now you're thinking, "But, Lee, then why is the U.S. so eager to turn Syria into a failed state if Syria never dropped the dollar? Your whole stupid theory falls apart right there."

First, I don't appreciate your tone. Second, in February 2006, Syria dropped the dollar as its primary hard currency.

I think I'm noticing a trend. In fact, on Jan. 4, it was reported that Pakistan was ditching the dollar in its trade with China, and that same day, the U.S. placed it on the watch list for religious freedom violations. The same day? Are we really supposed to believe that it just so happened that Pakistan stopped using the dollar with China on the same day it started punching Christians in the nose for no good reason? No, clearly Pakistan had violated our religion of cold hard cash.

This leaves only one question: Who will be next on the list of U.S. illegal invasions cloaked in bullshit justifications? Well, last week, Iran finally did it: It switched from the dollar to the euro. And sure enough, this week, the U.S. military-industrial complex, the corporate media and Israel all got together to claim that Iran is lying about its nuclear weapons development. What are the odds that this news would break within days of Iran dropping the dollar? What. Are. The. Odds?

The one nice thing about our corporate state's manufacturing of consent is how predictable it is. We will now see the mainstream media running an increasing number of reports pushing the idea that Iran is a sponsor of terrorism and is trying to develop nuclear weapons (which are WMDs, but for some strange reason, our media are shying away from saying, "They have WMDs"). Here's a 2017 PBS article claiming that Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism. One must assume this list of terror sponsors does not include the country that made the arms that significantly enhanced Islamic State's military capabilities. (It's the U.S.)

Or the country that drops hundreds of bombs per day on the Middle East. (It's the U.S.) But those bombs don't cause any terror. Those are the happy bombs, clearly. Apparently, we just drop 1995 Richard Simmons down on unsuspecting people.

Point is, as we watch our pathetic corporate media continue their manufacturing of consent for war with Iran, don't fall for it. These wars are all about the banking. And millions of innocent people are killed in them. Millions more have their lives destroyed.

You and I are just pawns in this game, and the last thing the ruling elite want are pawns who question the official narrative.
(c) 2018 Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and activist. Camp is the host of the weekly comedy news TV show "Redacted Tonight With Lee Camp" on RT America. He is a former comedy writer for the Onion and the Huffington Post and has been a touring stand-up comic for 20 years.

The New American Aristocracy
By Jim Hightower

Multibillionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch, want to supplant America's core democratic principle of majority rule - ie, the will of The People - with their plutocratic principle of inviolable property rights, also known as rule by the wealthy minority. Their notion is that We The People cannot be allowed to tax the riches of the owner class, nor set rules on how they treat workers, consumers, and society as a whole.

To set themselves up as the new American aristocracy, this clique of moneyed elites has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars - much of it secret - on front groups and whorish politicians. For nearly 40 years, they and their uber-rich allies have torn down legal structures and mechanisms that give ordinary people some chance to control their own destinies. The Kochs' goals include:

*Killing all restrictions on political spending by corporations and the rich.
*Suppressing voting rights of students, people of color, the elderly, and others who tend to favor Democratic policies.
*Eliminating labor unions.
*Canceling the right of workers, consumers, and others to sue corporations that harm them...
*Shredding the social safety net including food stamps, Social Security, and Medicare.
*Axing provisions to protect our environment.
*"Preempting" the right of local people to pass laws that corporations oppose.
*And packing courts with pro-corporate judges.

This is Jim Hightower saying... The Koch conspiracy's attack on our democratic rights has already rigged our country's economic and political rules so the richest of the rich can now grab ever more of society's wealth and power, thus shattering America's commitment to the Common Good and creating a savage level of inequality. To learn more, go to the watchdog group, Center for Media and Democracy.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Jon Tester speaks at a news conference in the Capitol on May 9, 2017.

Donald Trump's Unhinged Attack On Jon Tester
The senator has always championed the causes of veterans. Apparently, this enrages the president.
By John Nichols

It is no secret that Donald Trump casually disregards the United States Constitution whenever it gets in the way of his ego-trip presidency. But now, the president is threatening one of the few senators who truly respects the Constitution and who puts its dictates into practice.

After Montana Senator Jon Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and many other advocates for veterans began discussing concerns that had been raised last week regarding Trump's nomination of White House physician Ronny Jackson to serve as secretary of veterans affairs, Jackson withdrew his name from consideration rather than face an embarrassing committee hearing.

Trump was furious-not with Jackson for buckling under pressure rather than answer questions about his background and vision, not with the two dozen current and former colleagues who raised concerns regarding Jackson, not with the media accounts that explored those concerns, and not with White House staffers who failed to prepare the president or Jackson for the rigorous confirmation process that Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee members from both parties were duty bound to perform. No, Trump was furious with Tester for upholding a system of checks and balances that only works if members of the Senate are prepared to ask tough questions about presidential nominees.

A presidential Twitter storm attacked Tester as "very dishonest and sick!" and said "Tester should lose [his reelection] race in Montana." After the Secret Service said it could not confirm a CNN report regarding Jackson's reckless behavior, Trump declared: "Tester should resign." The president veered so far out of control that he began spewing threats. "I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said them, he'd never be elected again," Trump announced to a Michigan crowd on Saturday.

That's not presidential language. That's the crude language you'd expect to hear from a deliberately intimidating and ill-informed villain in a classic gangster movie. Or from Joe McCarthy at the peak of his frenzies in the 1950s. Trump is attacking a man he knows nothing about. And it will not end well for the president.

Montanans who know Tester respect him as one of the Senate's straightest shooters-a family farmer who got into politics to speak up for those who are often forgotten by politicians. Tester has always championed the cause of veterans. That's what he was doing when he discussed the issues that had been raised with the Jackson nomination. Tester commented on allegations that had been forwarded to the committee, as well as on news reports about what a former White House Medical Unit staffer told CNN was "definitely inappropriate" behavior on Jackson's part. Yet, Tester refused to pressure Jackson to withdraw. He encouraged the nominee to answer questions and appear before the committee, telling reporters, even as the White House sent conflicting signals regarding the Jackson nomination, that "there's a possibility he could be confirmable." What Tester pressed for was a hearing in which "we need to get to the facts."

When asked about how Tester's approach to the Jackson nomination, a spokesperson for Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee chair Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., replied: "Senator Isakson has a great relationship with Senator Tester. He doesn't have a problem with how things were handled."

Former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran who would go on to serve as secretary of defense, rejected the attacks on Tester, arguing there is "no one who cares more about veterans and looks out for their interests than my former colleague, Jon Tester." Tester has earned this bipartisan praise because, to a far greater extent than many of his colleagues, he has served as a senator is supposed to serve. When President Trump forwarded for Senate consideration the name of an unvetted and ill-prepared candidate to lead an essential agency with a $180 billion budget and almost 400,000 employees, the senator from Montana did not shy away from the duty the Constitution rests with him.

Motivated primarily by his concern for the veterans who rely on the VA for care-and whose continued care is threatened by the profiteers who seek to privatize major functions of the agency-Tester gathered information and discussed concerns that had arisen regarding a presidential nominee. He called for transparency and a serious review of that nomination. He refused to bend to political pressure, even though he faces what could be a tough reelection race in a state that handed Trump a 20-point advantage in 2016.

Tester used his position to assure that the interests of veterans would be protected. He did not leave things to chance. He did not simply trust a White House that treated the nomination of a secretary of veterans affairs as a casual afterthought.

That's what the Constitution says senators are supposed to do. That Donald Trump would attack and threaten Tester, using the language of a thug rather than a president, tells us everything we need to know about Trump's disregard for the separation of powers that sustains this country's system of government. It also tells us why senators like Jon Tester are essential to the future of that system.
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Let's Dismantle The Federal Reserve
By James Donahue

Americans and perhaps some of the elected representatives in Washington seem to believe that we all must depend upon the Federal Reserve to stabilize the nation's financial system and keep the wheels of commerce running smoothly.

Indeed, we once considered Alan Greenspan, long-time chairman of the Federal Reserve, as one of the most powerful and influential figures in the world of finance. Later the bearded face of Ben Bernanke filled that void and he wielded as much power as Greenspan once did. Janet Yellen served under President Barack Obama. This year Jerome Powell took that exhalted post after his appointment by Donald Trump.

Writer David Quinn in an article for The Cutting Edge said most Americans erroneously believe the Federal Reserve is part of our government. It is, however, a privately held corporation owned by stockholders representing the largest banks in the land. The Federal Reserve holds its power because Americans have been led to believe that it should have it. Quinn wrote that "if the American public understood what their (Federal Reserve) policies have done to their lives, they would be rioting in the streets.

"In less than one century the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States has destroyed our currency and has allowed bankers to gain unwarranted power over the country. They had the ability and opportunity to bring down the worldwide financial system," Quinn wrote.

The U. S. Constitution gives the power of making money to the Congress. Congress also has the power of regulating its value. The Constitution also requires that money be coined of gold or silver, and that paper bills, if used, must be backed by their printed value by gold or silver maintained in government vaults.

Thomas Jefferson, a former president and one of the framers of the Constitution, once warned that "If we turn our monetary system over to the bankers our children will wake up as slaves to the country we fought to free." Jefferson understood the power of greed that has historically emanated from the hearts of the few that rise to possess and control the wealth.

In 1913, the very thing that Jefferson warned us about happened. On Christmas Eve that year, while many members were home with their families for the holidays, a key number of congressmen met for a special session in Washington to pass the Federal Reserve Act. This is an unconstitutional act that turned over the U. S. monetary system to a few international bankers. The act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, who advocated a better system of stabilizing the monetary system.

With the banks under the control of the Federal Reserve, the rules for printing money changed. Our dollar bills once were considered a representation of their value in gold stored in places like Ford Knox, Kentucky. The old bills once stated this. Now our bills are identified as Federal Reserve notes. This means that they are loans or I.O.U.s and are no longer backed up in value by gold reserves. And that is in clear violation of the Constitution.

Did the Federal Reserve bring the stability to our monetary system as President Wilson had hoped? Indeed, it did not. By 1928 America and the world banking system was plunged into the Great Depression, largely because of the same kind of reckless banking activities and false printing of paper dollars that brought about the current world economic crisis.

While climbing out of the Great Depression and numerous "recessions" over the years, we have experienced a slow decrease in the value of the dollar, caused by the Federal Reserve's printing of more money than there have been gold reserves to back up the value. This, in turn, has been causing an inflationary spiral that has been slowly destroying the American capitalistic/industrial system.

Notice that one day after the Republicans gained control of the Congress and the promise of a stronger yoke on the nation's financial system in mid-term elections, the Federal Reserve announced a decision to print another $600 billion under the guise of propping up the big banks.

Older Americans can remember a time just after World War II when a new automobile could be purchased for $1000 and gasoline sold at the pump for 25 cents a gallon. We worked in those days for a dollar an hour and thought it was good money. A good house in 1960 could be purchased for $25,000 or less.

That was a time when jobs were plentiful. There was opportunity for advancement and if the job we had didn't work out, we could move on to find employment elsewhere. Employers used things like health insurance benefits and paid vacation time to coax good workers to stay on the job.

We thought we were living in an era of promise and opportunity. Little did we know that the robber barons were hard at work, dismantling the monetary system that made it possible for us to enjoy that way of life.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Then-President Barack Obama talks with former President Bill Clinton and senior adviser
Valerie Jarrett at the White House in July 2010. Obama was meeting with business
leaders to discuss new ways to create jobs and strengthen the partnership between the
public and private sectors to make new investments in the clean energy industry.

The Ghosts Of 'New Democrats' Are Haunting Us
By Norman Solomon

Twenty-five years ago, the so-called New Democrats were triumphant. Today, their political heirs are eager to prevent the Democratic Party from living up to its name. At stake is whether democracy will have a chance to function.

A fundamental battle for democracy is in progress-a conflict over whether to reduce the number of superdelegates to the party's national convention in 2020, or maybe even eliminate them entirely. That struggle is set to reach a threshold at a party committee meeting next week and then be decided by the full Democratic National Committee before the end of this summer.

To understand the Democratic Party's current internal battle lines and what's at stake, it's important to know how we got here.

After a dozen years of awful Republican presidencies, Bill Clinton and running mate Al Gore proved to be just the ticket for the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Clinton settled into the White House in early 1993 as the leader of pathbreaking New Democrats. Many media outlets hailed him as a visionary who had overcome left-leaning liberalism to set the party straight.

Although candidate Clinton had criticized Republican trickle-down economics and spoken about the need for public investment by the federal government, as president he proceeded along the lines of what Washington Post economics reporter Hobart Rowan described as a formula of "fiscal conservatism and social liberalism." That formula provided a template that the next Democratic president, Barack Obama, deftly filled.

Both Clinton and Obama were youthful and articulate, breaths of fresh air after repugnant Republican predecessors in the White House. Yet our two most recent Democratic presidents were down with corporate power-not as far down as the GOP, but nevertheless in the thrall of Wall Street and the big banks.

From the outset of the Clinton and Obama administrations, top appointees reflected and propelled the deference to oligarchic power. Robert Rubin went from being co-chair of Goldman Sachs (paid $17 million in 1992) to serving wealthy interests as director of Clinton's National Economic Council, a post so powerful that it earned him the title of "economic czar." Two years later, Rubin began a long stint as secretary of the treasury, succeeding former Texas Sen. and big-business tool Lloyd Bentsen. They were just two of the numerous corporate functionaries in the upper realms of the Clinton administration.

"Ron Brown, corporate lawyer and lobbyist for American Express and Duvalier's Haiti, would supervise a Clinton industrial policy at the Department of Commerce," economic analyst Doug Henwood wrote after eight months of Clinton's presidency. "Mickey Kantor, corporate lawyer, would negotiate trade deals. Warren Christopher, corporate lawyer, would oversee the New World Order. Hillary Rodham Clinton, corporate lawyer and board member at Walmart, the low-wage retailer that's destroyed countless rural downtowns, would supervise health care."

While that kind of lineup went over big with moneyed interests, its policy pursuits would end up driving a wedge between the Democratic Party and the working class. Of course the guys driving Clinton's economic train loved the North American Free Trade Agreement. Why wouldn't they? Workers were costs, not people. Corporate trade deals were profit boosters.

Weeks after pushing NAFTA through Congress with an alliance of Republicans and corporate-friendly Democrats, Clinton signed the trade pact in December 1993-a move that was unpopular with working-class voters across the political spectrum. A year later, Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, a GOP grip over the body that went uninterrupted for 12 years.

During his first term, Clinton's signature accomplishments to serve economic elites went beyond NAFTA to include the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996. That same year, riding a wave that included ample undertows of misogyny and racism, Clinton celebrated his signing of the welfare "reform" bill into law. The legislation created a gold rush for media conglomerates to gobble up broadcast stations, while low-income women found their financial plights becoming even more dire.>{} Heartbroken over the new welfare law, one of the lone holdouts against the corporate sensibilities in the Clinton Cabinet, Labor Secretary Robert Reich, exited as the first term ended. Meanwhile, Clinton doubled down on selecting an intensely corporate crew for the administration. "The firm-er, team-is still adding partners-er, members," Time reported in December 1996, cataloging the array of investment bankers, stock-market friendly lawyers and wealthy financiers who had reached key posts.

The newcomers "are don't-rock-the-boat appointments, and they are exactly what Wall Street wants," a senior economist at an investment banking firm told the magazine. During the last years of his presidency, Clinton's economic team implemented reckless Wall Street deregulation, paving the way for the financial meltdown of 2007-2008.

The political similarities between how Presidents Clinton and Obama behaved in office-and the electoral disasters that ensued for Democrats-are grimly acute. Only two years into their service to corporate America as presidents, the bottom fell out of support from the Democratic base to such an extent that in both instances the Democrats lost control of Congress.

Arriving in the Oval Office while a huge financial crisis threatened the homes of millions, Obama proceeded to bail out the big banks, offering little help to people whose houses were "under water" and who faced foreclosures.

Not coincidentally, like Clinton, Obama stocked his cabinet with Wall Street favorites. His first-term treasury secretary was Rubin protege Timothy Geithner. During the second Obama term, the job went to Jack Lew, a former top executive whose achievements from 2006 till 2008 included overseeing "a unit of Citigroup that made money by betting against the housing market as it prepared to implode."

In fact, profiteering from the 2008 housing implosion was in keeping with what helped make Obama's election to the presidency possible. In 2007, his campaign was lubricated by bountiful donations from the biggest Wall Street investment banks. And more than anyone else, his financial patron in the quest for the White House was Penny Pritzker, a billionaire real estate magnate who profited handsomely from the 2008 subprime mortgage disaster that befell so many low- and moderate-income Americans, a large proportion of them people of color.

In 2013, Obama made Pritzker the secretary of commerce, a position she held through the end of his presidency. Of all the people to choose for that Cabinet role, he selected someone with an estimated wealth of more than $2 billion who just happened to be the most important financial backer of his political career.

After his re-election, Obama lost interest in the Democratic National Committee, leaving its finances in shambles by the time the 2016 election rolled around. And, as measured by votes, the Democratic base eroded nationwide. During Obama's eight years in office, his party lost about 1,000 seats in state legislatures.

Now, the New Democrats and those walking in their footsteps are battling to retain control of the national party.

This year's midterm election campaign has seen lots of intervention efforts by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, favoring establishment candidates over progressive opponents in party primaries from California to Texas to Pennsylvania. Days ago-after the release of a secretly recorded audio tape that exposed how House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer tried to pressure a progressive congressional candidate to pull out of a race in Colorado-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended Hoyer at a news conference.

Later this year, as the 2020 election grows larger on the horizon, the DNC will make decisions about party rules with major effects on the race for the presidential nomination. Insiders who don't want to democratize the Democratic Party are weighing their options.

Consider, for instance, a long-standing New Democrat named Elaine Kamarck. She's one of only a few people (all of them Clinton 2016 primary supporters) on both the DNC's Unity Reform Commission and its powerful Rules and Bylaws Committee-which will meet in Washington next week to vote on such matters as superdelegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Based at the Brookings Institution, Kamarck has been on the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee since 1997. Her official Brookings biography says that "she has participated actively in four presidential campaigns and in 10 nominating conventions-including two Republican conventions."

The bio goes on to tout Kamarck this way: "In the 1980s, she was one of the founders of the New Democrat movement that helped elect Bill Clinton president. She served in the White House from 1993 to 1997, where she created and managed the Clinton administration's National Performance Review, also known as the 'reinventing government initiative.'"

In her role on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, Kamarck is part of the process that could end up-as recommended by the party's Unity Reform Commission that included Clintonites and progressives-eliminating 60 percent of the existing 712 superdelegates (more than one-seventh of the total) in time for the 2020 national convention.

The distorting and undemocratic impacts of superdelegates have gone way beyond their numbers. By November 2015, Hillary Clinton had already gained public commitments of support from 50 percent of all the superdelegates-fully 11 weeks before any voter had cast a ballot in a state caucus or primary election. Such a front-loaded delegate count, made possible by high-ranking party officials who are superdelegates, can give enormous early momentum to an establishment candidate.

Many Democrats are eager to substantially reduce or eliminate superdelegates as antithetical to democracy. But Kamarck has quite a different agenda. She doesn't want to get rid of superdelegates. In fact, she'd like more of them.

That makes sense, when you consider that Kamarck is working to lower corporate taxes. She's co-chair of the big business organization RATE (Reforming America's Taxes Equitably) Coalition, which has the explicit mission of "reducing the corporate income tax rate."

Such an agenda is best served in the long run by choking off democracy as much as possible, lest the riffraff get away with undermining the ruling elites.

"Kamarck has backed the original Unity Reform Commission proposal, but also made clear that she believes that, in the long term, more so-called peer review by veteran party leaders produces stronger presidential nominees," BuzzFeed reported in April. Kamarck's idea is for party authorities to screen candidates. BuzzFeed explained: "In a forthcoming study for New York University's law journal, she said, she will propose a number of changes to the nominating system, from an increase in superdelegates to a new pre-primary endorsement process where the party's top elected officials would meet with the candidates, question their positions, and issue votes of confidence or no confidence. Candidates who fail to meet a certain threshold would be barred from debates or from a spot on the ballot, depending on how the party decided to structure the system,"" she said.

Let's face it: Democracy is dangerous to the powerful who rely on big money, institutional leverage and mass media to work their will. The insurgencies of this decade against economic injustice-embodied in the Occupy movement and then Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign-are potentially dire threats to the established unjust order.

For those determined to retain their positions in the upper reaches of the Democratic Party hierarchy, democracy within the party sounds truly scary. And inauthenticity of the party-and its corresponding heavy losses of seats from state legislatures to Capitol Hill during the last 10 years-don't seem nearly as worrisome to Democratic elites as the prospect that upsurges of grass-roots activities might remove them from their privileged quarters.

As Sanders told a New York Times Magazine reporter in early 2017: "Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats."
(c) 2018 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Trump's Savvy Playground Negotiating Style
By Heather Digby Parton

I guess the Trump administration thinks Kim Jong Un is as dumb as Trump because they are "negotiating" with him to give up his nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions at the same time that they are swaggering around insisting they are going to tear up the Iran deal that was based on exactly those terms. And they must think he's unaware of US past behavior when we deposed Iraq's leader after he had given up his weapons and attacked Libya's leader after he gave up his. There were different reasons for both of those attacks but the pattern must look pretty obvious to Kim.

Still he's never dealt with a man with hands the size of Trump's so all bets are off.

I guess.

Here's Axios on Trump's masterful negotiating "style." It's lucky he was born with money or he would have been nothing more than a cheap street hustler selling stolen watches on a street corner:

President Trump tells people he keeps the world guessing with his wild unpredictability. But those who work most closely with him say he's a one-trick pony in negotiations.

The trick: Threaten the outrageous, ratchet up the tension, amplify it with tweets and taunts, and then compromise on fairly conventional middle ground.

"His ultimate gamble is: 'You don't have as big of stones as I do,'" a source close to Trump told me. "'You're going to feel too uncomfortable where I go. The stakes are too high. This is too far outside your comfort zone.'"

Consider these threats: To withdraw from Syria (he reengaged with missile strikes), withdraw from Afghanistan (he settled on the more-of-the-same strategy recommended by his generals), withdraw from the U.S.-Korean trade deal (Trump's team negotiated with the Koreans and announced modest changes to the deal), veto the government spending bill (he signed it), and impose severe worldwide tariffs on steel and aluminum (he offered a bunch of exemptions).

Sources who've been in the room with Trump for negotiations over NATO and various trade deals tell me they've at times felt "awkward" watching Trump go in hard against foreign leaders.

They say Trump seems immune to awkwardness - but then rarely follows through on his most extreme rhetoric.

The next few weeks promise three more Trump tricks:

After sending financial markets into a mass freakout over a trade war with China - which culminated in Trump's threatening China with $100 billion in tariffs - some senior officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are cautiously optimistic they'll find a compromise with Beijing. On Tuesday night, Mnuchin leads a delegation to China to try to negotiate a way out of the trade war.

Senior White House officials tell me a NAFTA deal could be "imminent" - meaning, an announcement could come in the next few days. Trump's team is still negotiating and views Canada as a major problem, but we're a far cry from a year ago when Trump's aides were telling us he was hellbent on terminating NAFTA.

Last August, the world braced for nuclear apocalypse as Trump threatened "fire and fury" against North Korea. And less than four months ago, Trump tweeted that his nuclear button is "much bigger & more powerful" than Kim Jong-un's. Now, we're anticipating peace talks on the Korean Peninsula.

He's so dreamy. He talks tough and gets results and nobody needs to worry that it's going to get out of control. He's got this.

Can you feel the Villagers getting excited?
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Better Vehicle Standards Drive Innovation And Benefit Citizens
By David Suzuki

Transportation accounts for about a quarter of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, making it the second-highest source, slightly behind the oil and gas industry. In the U.S., it's the largest source of emissions and pollution. Despite continued improvements in personal vehicle fuel standards since 1975, Canada's transportation emissions grew by 42 per cent from 1990 to 2015, partly because of growing populations and increasing numbers of vehicles on the road, and because of huge increases in sales of trucks, SUVs and "crossover" vehicles for personal use. Clearly, we must do better.

Instead, after years of progress, the U.S. administration is planning to roll back world class passenger vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions regulations set by the previous administration, bucking a worldwide trend toward cleaner vehicles. Since Canada and several other nations have historically followed the U.S. on fuel standards, this announcement could have negative ripple effects around the world.

It's difficult to fathom why a government would be so opposed to clean air, technological innovation, economic progress and healthier citizens that it would undo effective regulations that few people, even in industry, oppose. The only industries that might benefit are oil and automakers, and there's no indication they've been hurt by progress made over the past half century of increasingly higher standards. Top executives at Ford and GM have stated they support the standards, as have Toyota, Jaguar and Volvo.

The good news is that California and about a dozen U.S. states will continue to use their influence to maintain and strengthen much-needed rules, although there are hints the Environmental Protection Agency might undo a 50-year-old waiver that allowed California to set its own standards.

Whatever the U.S. does, it's time for Canada to steer its own course. If we want to meet our Paris Agreement climate commitments and protect citizens from pollution and climate disruption, we need policies and regulations to make all vehicles - including trucks and SUVs - less polluting.

Of course, the top priority should be to get people out of cars and trucks as much as possible, through investments in public transit and infrastructure for active transportation like cycling and walking. That would also help reduce congestion as growing populations add to the pressure on our roads. But we also must ensure that the cars, trucks and buses that will be with us for years to come are as non-polluting as possible.

One of the more promising developments is the rapid innovation and deployment of electric and hybrid vehicles. Electric vehicles are on track to reach more than half the world's new car sales by 2040, but the trend must accelerate if we are to succeed in addressing the climate crisis.

Just as the U.S. has followed California's example, Canada should follow Quebec's. In January, the province adopted a zero-emission vehicles standard, similar to California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Under the plan, subject automakers must accumulate credits for putting zero- and low-emission vehicles into the market. The Quebec government says 41 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions are from the transport sector. Its goal is to increase zero- and low-emission vehicle sales and leases to 10 per cent of its market by 2025.

Canada signed on to a global goal of increasing electric vehicles sales to 30 per cent by 2030 and has committed to developing a zero-emission strategy, but has set no targets nationally. Progress has been slow, hindered in part by opposition from car manufacturers. Canada doesn't currently make mass-market electric vehicles.

As large economies including China, California and the European Union now require car dealerships to sell a greater proportion of zero- and near-zero-emission cars and trucks, Canada's counterparts may want to reconsider and join the leading edge of this revolution. Clinging to the status quo puts car manufacturing in Canada at risk.

Adopting a national zero-emission standard and investing in clean car manufacturing could save Canada's car industry and help counter the climate crisis.

For the sake of human health, the climate, our economy and innovation, it's time to gear up, even if the U.S. decides to jam on the brakes and shift to reverse.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The Great Climate Hoax Rolls On
Plus: overactive geysers out West.
By Charles P. Pierce

I don't want to alarm people unnecessarily, but the planet is getting seriously pissed again.

From Reuters:

Steamboat Geyser, which can shoot water as high as 300 feet (91 meters) into the air, erupted on March 15, April 19 and on Friday. The last time it erupted three times in a year was in 2003, the U.S. Geological Survey's Yellowstone Volcano Observatory said. The last time it erupted prior to March was more than three years ago in September 2014.

"There is nothing to indicate that any sort of volcanic eruption is imminent," Michael Poland, the scientist in charge for the observatory, said in an email.

"This year's eruptions have been smaller than a usual Steamboat eruption, but the two in April were about 10 times larger than an eruption at the park's famed Old Faithful Geyser in terms of the amount of water discharged,"" he said. Geologists have not pinpointed a reason for the latest series of eruptions, but say they could indicate a thermal disturbance in the geyser basin, or that Steamboat may be having smaller eruptions instead of one large.

You know, after an entire weekend of watching the elite of my profession express concern about the tender feelings of a professional liar while the president* went to Michigan and threatened Senator Jon Tester in front of an audience full of angry rubes, I sit back and think, y'know, why the hell not.

Meanwhile, in central Asia, as the UN tells us, the greatest hoax in the history of the world is working just the way all those grant-fattened climatologists said it would.

According to the World Bank, for instance, temperatures in the Central Asia region could rise by up to 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. That could cause more than a third of Central Asian glaciers to melt by 2050, exposing nearby villages to glacial floods.

In spite of these alarming prospects, most experts warn that people, buildings and governments are insufficiently prepared. I have been to so many missions and events where that observation was made.

From Turkmenistan to Tajikistan, risk assessments often underestimate the probability and cost of impacts such as utility outages, displaced households and accumulation of debris. Uncoordinated data makes it difficult to understand which areas are critically exposed. And emergency units within governments are often limited by narrow mandates and capabilities.

The United States is not taking the lead on this crisis because, you know, JOBS!
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."
~~~ Edgar Allan Poe

Paying The Bills: Not Giving Our Government Credit For All That It Spends
By Jane Stllwater

My go-phone just died. "Maybe you forgot to charge it?" asked a friend. No. I just forgot to pay my freaking phone bill at the first of the month.

If you don't pay your bills, you get cut off. Everyone knows that. It's the law. Literally. And this law not only just applies to ordinary people like you and me, it also applies to our government as well. Duh.

And the first of the month is once again starting to roll around for you and for me -- and also for the United States of America too.

Who is going to foot the bill for all those thousands of ICE raids that we hear so much about on TV?

Who is going to write out that big check for America's half-baked and squalid "war on terror" and all those other phony, invented (and totally pricey) other "wars" that Washington delights in?

Who will keep the lights on in our expensive and elaborate prison system?

Who is going to have to tighten their belts in order to pay for the Border Wall?

Who will have to bite the bullet financially in order to pay for the Afghanistan fiasco? Israel's sick apartheid regime? All those cute (and very expensive) little acronyms for oppressive operations abroad such as the CIA, AFRICOM, NATO, FUK-US, SOUTHCOM, PACOM, US-AID and SOCOM? And also for all those cute (and very expensive) little acronyms for oppressive operations here at home such as the NSA, SWAT, DEA, DHS, SEC, ATF and FDA?

Who will be stuck with trying to pay all these bills when the first of the month finally rolls around for the USA as well as for us? It will be you and me that will be stuck with trying to fend off the repo man after America goes bankrupt.

America is not spending its money wisely. And who the hell do you think is going to get stiffed for the tab?

 During World War II, Americans all voluntarily tightened their belts in order to pay for what they thought was a good use of their money -- but in America today most of us are involuntarily tightening our belts. But why? So that the the rich can get richer of course. Yet all we get out of it is to lose our homes, lose our futures and get even more stinking "wars" shoved down our throats.

PS: A border Wall and an ICE machine have only proved to be wasteful and stop-gap solutions to a very real problem. It's time to do the math correctly for a change. Immigrants come up here from Latin America because their lives down there have been made a living hell. So. If you don't want them to come here, stop screwing up their lives down there. Boom. End of problem. They'd probably rather stay down there anyway, given a choice.

PPS: While recently re-reading my (most excellent) book recounting my experiences as an embedded journalist during the "war" on Iraq, I was (sort of) surprised to see Mike Pence's name jump out on the page. Back in 2007, he and John McCain held a press conference in the Green Zone that I had attended, wherein Pence happily offered us poor benighted reporters an inside glimpse on how to be a truly shady war hawk.

Who knew back in 2007 that this war-drum-pounding little piece of shite would someday become America's vice-president and even help us spend approximately ten billion dollars in just one night on the illegal and criminal bombing of Syria. Guess Pence just couldn't get enough of Shock and Awe -- and was willing to tell the exact same lies to see it all happen again.

Still and all, ten billion dollars woulda gone a hecka long way toward paying off my go-phone bill.
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

What Mass Killers Tend To Have In Common
By David Swanson

It may almost seem too obvious to mention, but I don't think that's why we so seldom mention it. I don't mean being male, or being mentally disturbed, or having been cruel to women, or living in places like the United States where it's easy to acquire weapons of war. These and many other factors are very significant and very often discussed, as they should be, when we consider mass killings.

There's something else that ties a lot of mass killers together, and it's also obvious, but seldom discussed. The man who killed with a van in Toronto had been briefly in the Canadian military and promoted his crime on Facebook beforehand as a military operation. The same day he killed in Toronto, the G7 countries were meeting at the University of Toronto and declaring their unified hostility toward Russia. The mass killing on Toronto's streets sought to solve problems in the same way that the Canadian government and its allies seek to solve problems.

The recent mass-killing in a Florida High School was also promoted by the killer as a military operation, in the sense that he wore his JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) shirt and killed in the same school where the U.S. Army had trained him to shoot and instructed him in war-supporting views of the world and its history.

Why should anyone notice such points or generalize from them? Don't members of militaries and veterans have it hard enough already without such gross bigotry?

There's actually no need to generalize. Looking at a long list of mass shootings in the United States, almost all of the shooters are men, and almost all of them are between ages 18 and 59. Above age 59, the percentage of men in the general U.S. population who are veterans leaps up dramatically. Between 18 and 59 - by averaging the percentages for each age year - about 14.76 percent of U.S. men are veterans, but at least 35% of these shooters were veterans. I determined that by quickly reading available news reports online about each shooting, so the percentage is likely to be significantly higher. I found no news reports that stated that any of the shooters had not been in the military.

In U.S. mass shootings, military veterans are over twice as likely to be mass shooters, and probably much more likely than that. Needless to say, this is a statistic about a large population, not information about any particular individual. Needless to say, profiling and discrimination are counterproductive. But here's what else might be counterproductive: Training people in the arts of mass murder, launching wars, and dropping people trained for wars and having suffered through wars into a heavily armed society taught by schools and entertainment systems that mass-killing is the way to solve problems. Mass killing in the United States gets you on the news, and if you happen to be a president bombing a distant land it gets you widely praised and labeled as "finally presidential."

Of course it's possible that people inclined toward mass shootings are also inclined to join the military, that the relationship is a correlation and not a cause. In fact, I would be shocked if there wasn't some truth to that. But it's also possible that being trained and conditioned and given a familiarity with mass shootings - and in some cases no doubt an experience of engaging in mass shooting and having it deemed acceptable - makes one more likely to mass shoot. I cannot imagine there isn't truth in that.

The most killing Western societies do is done abroad by their militaries. In the United States, hundreds of deadly shootings every year are committed by police officers - disproportionately military veterans. Suicides, as well, are disproportionately committed by veterans. And not because we are untactful in pointing to problems, but because we generally fail to admit to and deal with problems. Veteran suicides are driven by guilt over having participated in killing. That guilt is the top factor in predicting suicide, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration.

Militarism will continue to cause extensive damage until we shift our culture to nonviolence. That shift needs to include our governments, and it needs to treat the illness, not just its symptoms. The answer to gun violence is not more guns any more than the answer to van violence is more vans. I hope that seems obvious. It should.


David Swanson is director of World BEYOND War which will be holding a conference in Toronto this September 21 and 22.
(c) 2018 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

The Dead Letter Office...

Patrick hates those Jews!

Heil Trump,

Dear Herr Little,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your policy to get rid of all the Jews, 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 06-02-2018. We salute you Herr Little, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

How To Stop Trump
By Robert Reich

Why did working class voters choose a selfish, thin-skinned, petulant, lying, narcissistic, boastful, megalomaniac for president?

With the 2018 midterms around the corner, and prospective Democratic candidates already eyeing the 2020 race, the answer is important because it will influence how Democrats campaign.

One explanation focuses on economic hardship. The working class fell for Trump's economic populism.

A competing explanation which got a boost this week from a study published by the National Academy of Sciences - dismisses economic hardship, and blames it on whites' fear of losing status to blacks and immigrants. They were attracted to Trump's form of identity politics - bigotry.

If Democrats accept the bigotry explanation, they may be more inclined to foster their own identity politics of women, blacks, and Latinos. And they'll be less inclined to come up with credible solutions to widening inequality and growing economic insecurity.

Yet the truth isn't found in one explanation or the other. It's in the interplay between the two.

Certainly many white working class men and women were - and still are - receptive to Trump's bigotry.

But what made them receptive? Racism and xenophobia aren't exactly new to American life. Fears of blacks and immigrants have been with us since the founding of the Republic.

What changed was the economy. Since the 1980s the wages and economic prospects of the typical American worker have stagnated. Two-thirds now live paycheck to paycheck, and those paychecks have grown less secure.

Good-paying jobs have disappeared from vast stretches of the land. Despite the official low unemployment rate, millions continue to work part-time who want steady jobs or they're too discouraged to look for work.

When I was Secretary of Labor in the 1990s, I frequently visited the Rust Belt, Midwest, and South, where blue-collar workers told me they were working harder than ever but getting nowhere.

Meanwhile, all the economy's gains have gone to the richest ten percent, mostly the top 1 percent. Wealthy individuals and big corporations have, in turn, invested some of those gains into politics.

As a result, big money now calls the shots in Washington - obtaining subsidies, tax breaks, tax loopholes (even Trump promised to close the "carried interest" loophole yet it remains), and bailouts.

The near meltdown of Wall Street in 2008 precipitated a recession that cost millions their jobs, homes, and savings. But the Street got bailed out and not a single Wall Street executive went to jail.

The experience traumatized America. In the two years leading up to the 2016 election, I revisited many of the places I had visited when I was labor secretary. People still complained of getting nowhere, but now they also told me the system was "rigged" against them.

A surprising number said they planned to vote for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump - the two anti-establishment candidates who promised to "shake up" Washington.

This whole story might have been different had Democrats done more to remedy wage stagnation and widening inequality when they had the chance.

Instead, Bill Clinton was a pro-growth "New Democrat" who opened trade with China, deregulated Wall Street, and balanced the budget. (I still have some painful scars from that time.)

Obama bailed out the banks but not homeowners. Obamacare, while important to the poor, didn't alleviate the financial stresses on the working class, particularly in states refused to expand Medicaid.

In the 2016 election Hillary Clinton offered a plethora of small-bore policy proposals - all sensible but none big enough to make a difference.

Into this expanding void came Trump's racism and xenophobia - focusing the cumulative economic rage on scapegoats that had nothing to do with its causes. It was hardly the first time in history a demagogue has used this playbook.

If America doesn't respond to the calamity that's befallen the working class, we'll have Trumps as far as the eye can see.

A few Democrats are getting the message - pushing ambitious ideas like government-guaranteed full employment, single-payer health care, industry-wide collective bargaining, and a universal basic income.

But none has yet offered a way to finance these things, such as a progressive tax on wealth.

Nor have they offered a credible way to get big money out of politics. Even if "Citizens United" isn't overruled, big money's influence could be limited with generous public financing of elections, full disclosure of the source of all campaign contributions, and a clampdown on the revolving door between business and government.

Trump isn't the cause of what's happened to America. He's the consequence - the product of years of stagnant wages and big money's corruption of our democracy.

If they really want to stop Trump and prevent future Trumps, Democrats will need to address these causes of Trump's rise.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Emmanuel Mervilus, who will graduate soon from Rutgers after being in prison, speaks in Newark, N.J.,
at an event sponsored by the Mountainview Program, which fosters education among those who have been incarcerated.

The Crime Of Being Poor And Black
By Chris Hedges

NEWARK, N.J.-This is the story of Emmanuel Mervilus, who got locked up for a crime he did not commit, whose life was derailed and nearly destroyed by the experience and who will graduate this spring from Rutgers University. It is a story of being a poor black man in America, with the exception being that most poor black men never get a second chance.

The only reason Mervilus got a second chance was because of one man, history professor Don Roden, who founded the Mountainview Program at Rutgers for formerly incarcerated students. This program accepts, among others, the students I teach in prison, one of whom, Ron Pierce, also will graduate this spring.

There are only a few saints in this world. Professor Roden is one.

Mountainview staff, students, professors and families gathered Friday at Rutgers' Newark campus to speak of the struggles and hardships endured by students such as Mervilus and Pierce. Those at the two-hour meeting spent much of the time weeping or fighting back tears.

Mervilus is 6 feet tall and broad-shouldered and has long, thick dreads. He was never in a gang. He was not a drug dealer. He had a job. He came from a good and loving family. But he was cursed with being black and poor and living in a city, Elizabeth, N.J., where if you are black and poor you are always one step away from being arbitrarily shot or arrested or tossed into jail. This is true in nearly every city in America.

There are cops in poor communities who hunt black boys and men as if they are prey. To them it is a sport. These cops are not always white, although they are often white. But they are always sadists. Intoxicated by the power to instill fear, use lethal force indiscriminately and destroy lives-and allowed to do so by a judicial system that no longer protects the most basic rights of the poor, including due process, adequate legal representation and the right to a jury trial-they circle around their victims like human vultures. If we were to use the strict dictionary definition, these police officers are criminals.

"There is a cop who used to tell me when I was a boy he was going to give me my first adult charge,"Mervilus said. Mervilus said he did not want to name the officer, now a detective, for fear of retribution.

This cop made good on his threat when Mervilus turned 18 and was a senior in high school. He saw Mervilus on the street smoking a joint. Mervilus ran. The cop chased him. Mervilus turned, put his arms up and shouted, "I give up! I give up!" The cop threw him on the hood of a police car.

"I don't remember anything after that," he said. "I saw a flash. Next thing I'm in the back of the police car. There are scratches on my face."

"I'm not a saint," Mervilus said to me. "I did things. But everything I did I owned up to."

When he got to the police station he was charged with having a dozen bags of marijuana. The charge was a lie.

"They need more than simple possession to lock you up so they plant drugs," he said. "It makes the charge stick."

He was in the county jail for two weeks and was assigned a public defender who told him to plead guilty. "The public defender told me, 'How are you going to prove this [your innocence]?'" he said.

"No one wants to believe cops lie," Mervilus said. "Why would a cop lie? Lots of reasons. Promotion. Quotas. And I don't look like a regular citizen. I'm black. I got dreads. I fit the description. I figured I ran. I didn't know much of anything at that time, you feel me? So, I said, I'll take it. I thought that probation could be expunged if I did good. But I was wrong. From that day on, I said I would never, ever, plead guilty to something I didn't do."

He went back to high school, repeated senior year, and graduated. He got a job in the kitchen of a nursing home in Linden, N.J. He earned minimum wage. It was 2005. He was 21. He was living at home. He was stopped randomly one afternoon on the street by a cop. The cop ran his name in the system.

"He says there is a warrant for my arrest," he said. "He says I just jumped two fences and put something under a rock. It was a total lie. I am arrested with another guy for manufacturing and distribution. I spent a month in Union County jail. And when you spend a month in Union County jail it makes you want to plead guilty. You're confined to a little area. You don't get out."

"I was first put in a holding tank with someone else, some type of drug dealer going through withdrawal," he said. "It was nasty. Throwing up. Diarrhea. Two steel bunks. One steel toilet. No windows.

"They put my bail at $75,000," he said. "I paid $7,500-10 percent-and bailed out. I tried to get my old job back. They refused to let me back, said 'abandonment of work.' I didn't want to hustle [illegal drugs]. When your back is against the wall, you can't find a job, and you have to pay a lawyer, often all you can do is hustle. But if I hustled I'd probably catch another charge and go to prison."

Eventually, his girlfriend's stepfather helped him get a job at the port in Newark. He was making $12 an hour. But the criminal justice system was not done with Mervilus. On leaving a Dunkin' Donuts in October 2006 he met a friend and they started walking down the street. Cops stopped them. There had just been a stabbing and robbery. The victim told the cops that Mervilus and his friend had attacked him.

"Why would he [the victim] point a finger at me?" Mervilus asked searchingly. "I look the part, a black man with dreads. But there was no evidence to corroborate his story. I didn't have any blood on me. He said we stole his bookbag."

The cops rushed him and his friend. They shouted, "Put your hands on the wall!" He complied. He was put in jail, and his bail was set at $100,000.

The loss of his job while he was in jail meant he could no longer support his mother, who was dying of breast cancer, his sister and two brothers. His father had left the family.

"Rent has to be paid, everything has to go on as if I'm there," he said. So he told his family not to use their paltry resources to bail him out. "My younger brother was 16. I played the father role. The system failed me. It failed him. He lost me."

His family believed the cops. That hurt the most.

"I'm Haitian," he said. "My family is looking at me like, what? This guy's robbing people? He stabbed someone who almost died? I get blackballed. No one comes to see me, not even my mom. My mom raised me better than that. All these Haitian people were saying, 'Well, why is he locked up if he didn't do it?' I was hurt and depressed."

One night after he had been in jail for seven months he was jolted awake in his cell. "It felt like there were claws digging into my stomach," he said. "The pain was horrible."

His mother, he found out later when his brother visited, died that night. She was 52. After the visit he insulted another prisoner and got into a fistfight. "It didn't fill the void," he said.

He finally got out on bail. His family had taken his mother's body back to Haiti for burial, and he visited her grave. It was made out of white painted cement blocks and surrounded by a small gate. He brought flowers.

"I told my mom I was sorry I wasn't there when she died," he said. "I told her I was innocent. I wasn't going to plead guilty. I told her I had let her down by not watching over my little brother. I was sitting talking to her for two or three hours. It was very emotional. It was the first time I cried. Her dying [always had been] my biggest fear. My mom would be asleep; I would stand at the door looking in to make sure she was breathing. I was a momma's boy. Serious. Every day when I came home from work I brought her a chicken sandwich with mayo and pickles from Wendy's."

The prosecutor offered him a deal of five years in prison if he would plead guilty to the crime in which the man was stabbed and robbed. He refused. He was facing 20 years. He went to trial. The victim changed his story several times and at one point when asked if his assailant was in the courtroom pointed to someone other than Mervilus. It did not matter. Mervilus was sentenced to 11 years for first-degree robbery.

His younger brother worked at any job he could find to pay for a lawyer for Emmanuel. When the brother got the $12,000 needed to retain an attorney, Emmanuel filed an appeal. The lawyer exposed a series of discrepancies and inconsistencies in the testimony of the man who had been stabbed. Mervilus was retried, acquitted by a jury and freed after having been behind bars for four years. The process, which cost his brother $32,000, achieved an almost unheard-of result for a poor person in our dysfunctional court system. The lawyer, John Caruso, called the acquittal "a Halley's Comet occurrence."
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Joe Heller ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Americans Startled By Spectacle of President Who Can Speak English
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Americans who were watching television on Wednesday morning witnessed the startling spectacle of an English-speaking President, viewers have confirmed.

All of the major cable news networks interrupted their regularly scheduled programs to cover the phenomenon, as a man who was identified as "President" spoke in complete, grammatically correct English sentences with no visible sign of strain or discomfort.

Just minutes into the telecast, thousands of viewers called the networks to inquire if they were witnessing a hoax.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing," Carol Foyler, a viewer in Akron, Ohio, said. "It had to be special effects or something.

While the spectacle might have appeared jarring to many, cable news insiders reported that the networks had in fact aired several hundred speeches by an English-speaking President between the years 2009 and 2017.
(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 17 (c) 05/04/2018

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