Chris Hedges with another must read, "Creeping Toward Tyranny."
And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Barr Releases Catatonic Mueller After Removing All Sensitive Material From Special Counsel's Brain," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "No More Years!"
This week we spotlight the cartoons of Randall Enos, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Leio McLaren, Kurt Vonnegut, J. Scott Applewhite, Drew Angerer, Mark Wilson, Bill Clark, Alex Wong, CQ ROLL CALL, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.
"When you look at people who have used authoritarian practices that have brought down democracies, they have used excuses to stay in power. It may be in jest, but you still don't do that in jest." ~~~ US Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
"We can see the climate change signal getting stronger really, really quickly," ~~~ Sandra Diaz ~ IPBES co-chair and professor at the National University of Cordoba in Argentina
"At the outset of his Senate career, Biden lost no time appealing to racism and running interference for huge corporate interests. He went on to play a historic role in helping to move the Supreme Court rightward and serving such predatory businesses as credit card companies, big banks and hedge funds." ~~~ Norman Solomon
"Making a donation is the ultimate sign of solidarity. Actions speak louder than words." ~~~ Ibrahim Hooper
I'm sure you've heard by now how Lying Donald thinks he deserves two more years in office no mather the out come from the 2020 election. He got that idea lodged is his tiny little brain by the "reverend" Jerry Foulmouth! Here's Jerry's thoughts...
After the best week ever for @realDonaldTrump - no obstruction, no collusion, NYT admits @BarackObama did spy on his campaign, & the economy is soaring. I now support reparations-Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup
Of course, Lying Donald was quick to agree with the "reverend" Foulmouth as you can plainly see...
Despite the tremendous success that I have had as President, including perhaps the greatest ECONOMY and most successful first two years of any President in history, they have stolen two years of my (our) Presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back.....
By that "logic," Obama should get 8 more years for the treason run by the Rethuglicans and Turtle boy against him! I know, what a hideous thought. Instead of two more years for Lying Donald, his last two years should be taken away via impeachment, and would, if anyone but Nancy was Speaker of the House. Nancy. who, like Lying Donald, is beholding to the very same corpo-rat masters. Nancy's not one to rock the boat, as it would stop that constant bribe money, coming her way!
In Other News
I see where according to a landmark UN assessment of the state of Nature, humanity is rapidly destroying the natural world upon which our prosperity, and ultimately our survival, depends!
According to Robert Watson, who chaired the 132-nation meeting that validated a Summary for Policymakers forged by 450 experts. "Changes wrought by decades of cutting down and poisoning forests, oceans, soil and air threaten society at least as much as climate change,"
They reported that one million animal and plant species face extinction, many within decades, this is all part of the Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the Sixth extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is a current event, and is one of the most significant extinction events in the history of the Earth. This ongoing extinction of species coincides with the present Holocene epoch (approx. 11,700 years), and is a result of human activity, with global warming speeding this extinction up.
Alarmingly, the accelerating pace at which unique life-forms are disappearing, already tens to hundreds of times faster than during the last ten million years, could tip Earth into the first mass extinction since non-avian dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago.
Mr Watson concluded, "We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality-of-life worldwide, By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganisation."
The pushback from "vested interests," he added, "is likely to be fierce."
Those vested interests like lying Donald, will keep pushing until the human race goes extinct, which isn't as far fetched as one might think! If Lying Donald doesn't kill us, global warming surely will!
I can already hear it in the email I'm about to receive from "liberal" Democrats on why Joe Biden won this week's Vidkun Quisling Award. He won it, of course, because he deserves too. Can you guess who Joe's a little to the right of? No, let's not see all the same hands. For those of you who answered Darth Vader, you may stay after class and clean the erasers, there will be Graham crackers and chocolate almond/cashew milk to follow!
Even though Lying Donald is doing everything his corporate masters want, however as a spokesman for them, he leaves a lot to be desired, as he's a total ass. While Joe has a forty year track record of serving their every whim and unlike Donnie looks and acts almost normal and since the DNC and their like, are corporate stooges too, they decided on a cleaned up version of Lying Donald that they hope to con America into voting for and this rid the country of Lying Donald while pleasing their masters too! It's a win, win for them. A win, loss for America!
If you read my last weeks column you know why I say this, but right below me is my old friend Norman Soloman who does a far better job of explaining dirty Joe that I could ever do. So before you write those protest emails, please read what Norman has to say about "Wall Street" Joe!
It looks like our June 21st edition will be our last full magazine. With half a magazine we will continue on until the 2020 election, providing Lying Donald hasn't killed all of us by then. Not only haven't we been able to pay the last of last years bill, but a new bill comes due on June 24th.
You will notice some of your favorite authors will be missing as we have to pay their publishing rights in order to publish them. You'll have to look them up yourselves and may have to pay to read them on their sites. The same goes for some cartoonists.
We'll still keep fighting the good fight like we always have as we're in it to the end. If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep telling you the truth!
09-07-1945 ~ 05-06-2019
Thanks for the film!
We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can-? Donations
****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******
For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.
So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?
Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2019 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.
Joe gives the corporate salute
Joe Biden Likes Republicans So Much Because He's So Much Like Them
By Norman Solomon
Recent criticism of Joe Biden for praising Dick Cheney as "a decent man" and Mike Pence as "a decent guy" merely scratches the surface of what's wrong with the current frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. His compulsion to vouch for the decency of Republican leaders -- while calling Donald Trump an "aberration" -- is consistent with Biden's political record. It sheds light on why he's probably the worst Democrat running for president.
After several decades of cutting corporate-friendly deals with GOP legislators -- often betraying the interests of core Democratic constituencies in the process -- Biden has a big psychological and political stake in denying that the entire GOP agenda is repugnant.
At the outset of his Senate career, Biden lost no time appealing to racism and running interference for huge corporate interests. He went on to play a historic role in helping to move the Supreme Court rightward and serving such predatory businesses as credit card companies, big banks and hedge funds.
Biden's role as vice president included a near-miss at cutting a deal with Republican leaders on Capitol Hill to slash Medicare and Social Security. While his record on labor and trade has been mediocre, Biden has enjoyed tight mutual alliances with moneyed elites.
The nickname that corporate media have bestowed on him, "Lunch Bucket Joe," is wide of the mark. A bull's-eye is "Wall Street Joe."
With avuncular style, Biden has reflexively used pleasant rhetoric to grease the shaft given to millions of vulnerable people, suffering the consequences of his conciliatory approach to right-wing forces. Campaigning in Iowa a few days ago, Biden declared that "the other side is not my enemy, it's my opposition." But his notable kinship with Republican politicians has made him more of an enabler than an opponent. Results have often been disastrous.
"In more than four decades of public service, Biden has enthusiastically championed policies favored by financial elites, forging alliances with Wall Street and the political right to notch legislative victories that ran counter to the populist ideas that now animate his party," HuffPost senior reporter Zach Carter recounts. Biden often teamed up with Senate Republicans to pass bills at the top of corporate wish lists and to block measures for economic fairness.
In the mid-1970s, during his first Senate term, Biden repeatedly clashed with Sen. Edward Kennedy, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, who wanted to rein in runaway corporate power. "Biden became an advocate for corporate interests that had previously been associated with the Republican Party," Carter reports. As he gained seniority, Biden kept lining up with GOP senators against antitrust legislation and for bills to give corporations more leverage over consumers and workers. "By 1978, Americans for Democratic Action, the preeminent liberal watchdog group of the time, gave Biden a score of just 50, lower than its ratings for some Republicans."
Opposing measures for racial equity and economic justice, Biden's operational bonds with GOP leaders continued. Carter reports that "on domestic policy -- from school integration to tax policy -- he was functionally allied with the Reagan administration. He voted for a landmark Reagan tax bill that slashed the top income tax rate from 70 percent to 50 percent and exempted many wealthy families from the estate tax on unearned inheritances, a measure that cost the federal government an estimated $83 billion in annual revenue. He then called for a spending freeze on Social Security in order to reduce the deficits that tax law helped to create."
Biden came through for corporate power again in November 1993 when he joined with 26 other Democrats and 34 Republicans to win Senate passage of NAFTA, the trade agreement strongly opposed by labor unions and environmental groups. In mid-1996, when Congress approved President Clinton's "welfare reform" bill, Biden helped to vote the draconian measure into law. It predictably had devastating effects on women and children
Throughout the 1990s -- from tax-rate changes that enriched the already-rich to deregulating banks with repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act to loosening government curbs on credit default swaps -- Biden stood with the Senate's Republicans and the most corporate-aligned Democrats. Carter sums up: "Biden was a steadfast supporter of an economic agenda that caused economic inequality to skyrocket during the Clinton years. . . . Biden voted for all of it."
Biden led the successful push to pass the milestone 1994 crime bill, engaging in racist tropes on the Senate floor along the way. By then, he had become a powerful lawmaker on criminal-justice issues.
In 1991, midway through his eight years as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden ran the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas that excluded witnesses who were prepared to corroborate Anita Hill's accusations of sexual harassment. "Much of what Democrats blame Republicans for was enabled, quite literally, by Biden: Justices whose confirmation to the Supreme Court he rubber-stamped worked to disembowel affirmative action, collective bargaining rights, reproductive rights, voting rights," feminist author Rebecca Traister writes.
Early in the new century, Biden wielded another weighty gavel, with momentous results, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 2002, congressional Democrats were closely divided on whether to greenlight the invasion of Iraq, while Republicans overwhelmingly backed President George W. Bush's mendacious case for invading. Biden didn't only vote for the Iraq invasion on the Senate floor in October 2002. Months earlier, he methodically excluded dissenting voices about the looming invasion at key hearings of the Foreign Relations Committee.
While his impact on foreign policy grew larger, Biden's avid service to financial giants never flagged. One of his top priorities was a crusade for legislation to undermine bankruptcy protections. Biden was a mover and shaker behind the landmark 2005 bankruptcy bill. Before President Bush signed it into law, Biden was one of just 14 out of 45 Democratic senators to vote for the legislation.
The bankruptcy law was a monumental victory for credit-card firms -- and a huge blow to consumers, including students saddled with debt. As happened so often during Biden's 36 years in the Senate, he eagerly aligned himself with Republicans and a minority of Democrats to get the job done.
Now, running for president, Biden has no use for candor about his actual record. Instead, he keeps pretending that he has always been a champion of people he actually used his power to grievously harm.
In ideology and record on corporate power, the farthest from Biden among his competitors is Bernie Sanders. No wonder Biden has gone out of his way to distance himself from Sanders while voicing high regard for the wealthy. (I was a Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and continue to actively support him.)
Biden's ongoing zeal to defend and accommodate Republicans in Congress is undiminished, as though they should not be held accountable for President Trump even while they aid and abet him. Days ago on the campaign trail -- while referring to Trump -- Biden asserted: "This is not the Republican Party." And he spoke warmly of "my Republican friends in the House and Senate."
All in all, it's preposterous yet fitting for Joe Biden to claim that Republicans like Dick Cheney and Mike Pence are "decent." He's not only defending them. He's also defending himself.
(c) 2019 Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org 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."
A demonstration outside the Whitehouse in support of the impeachment of President Nixon (1913 - 1994) following the watergate revelations.
Donald Trump Is The Most Impeachable President In American History The sitting president vs. Congress and the U.S. Constitution
By Ralph Nader
Donald Trump is the most impeachable president in American history. Many Democrats, however, are running away from the word "impeachment" for tactical political reasons. Some Democrats say they have a sworn duty under the Constitution to present articles of impeachment for a vote in the House of Representatives, regardless of the refusal by the Republican controlled Senate to hold a trial.
Interestingly, when Republicans in the House impeached President Bill Clinton in 1998, he was more popular in polls than Donald Trump is now. The Republican controlled Senate, however, failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to remove President Clinton from office. Clinton's offenses - lying under oath and obstruction of justice pale in comparison to the many mega offenses of Trump.
The six major House Committees are investigating issues ranging from his tax returns and business dealings to the documented serial obstructions of justice documented in the Mueller Report. As these investigations move well beyond what is already on the public record and more Americans learn their contents, there will be more than enough to substantiate numerous articles of impeachment. Plus a new one of Trump's own creation-the wholesale, broadside obstruction of all these Congressional investigations, defying subpoenas for sworn testimony and documents, amounting to a gigantic contempt of Congress-itself an impeachable offense.
Trump is trying to bar key witnesses from testifying. He is suing his own accounting firm and Deutsche Bank to shield his sordid business relationships and potential tax violations.
I'll bet he's never even read our Constitution - he says out loud that whatever Congress does on impeachment, the Supreme Court will rescue him. Donald, when it comes to Congressional impeachment and conviction, the decision by Congress is final.
The House Democrats can strengthen their case with the American people by connecting impeachable offenses with actions that endanger the lives, health, and economic well-being of adults and children.
For starters, Trump and his henchmen have brazenly, openly, and defiantly refused to faithfully execute the laws of the land as required in Article 2, section 3 of the Constitution. By not enforcing the law, he has opened the floodgates for deadly emissions from various industries that are getting into the lungs of millions of Americans. By allowing more pollution into water, air, food, and workplaces of the American people by immobilizing, if not firing the federal cops on the corporate crime beat, pulling back on existing enforcement, eliminating critical safeguards on the books, and cutting enforcement budgets, he has jeopardized the health of millions of Americans. This is a gift to the lethal coal industry, the reckless drug industry, the chemical pesticide companies, the oil, gas and nuclear industries and all those extractive companies licking their chops to plunder more of our beautiful public lands such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and our national forests.
Physicians have pleaded with the Trumpsters to protect the vulnerable infants and children from toxics and micro-particulates in the air and water. "Hell no," cry his craven gangsters who were chosen to run our health and safety agencies precisely because they want to run them into the ground.
For the first time ever, life expectancy in the United States is declining. This lawlessness is way beyond what should be excused by "prosecutorial discretion." Trump's defiant wholesale repeal of the rule of law begs for impeachment.
Trump's impeachable brew is deep, hot, and deadly. He violates the constitution, federal statutes, and international treaties with his war crimes anywhere he wants to conduct them around the world. John Bolton, the unconfirmed national security advisor and Mike Pompeo, his secretary of state, are looking for new wars - whether in Iran or Venezuela. Bolton and Pompeo are prime examples of unindicted war criminals.
These men violently threaten regimes, except those run by Trump's favorite dictators (he says he's "fallen in love" with North Korea's Kim), as if there are no laws whatsoever to restrain their dangerous missions. The fact that previous Presidents like Clinton, the two Bushes, and Obama committed war crimes does not exonerate Trump. Congress is also culpable. It has to stop the lawless foreign/military policies of Empire that eventually will boomerang and undermine our nation's national security. It has already produced devastating costs in casualties and dollars.
Impeachable offenses include violating Article I, section 8 by conducting wars of choice without a Congressional declaration and other provision of the Constitution (Article 1 section 9 clause 7) and statutes banning spending tax monies without Congressional appropriation. Consider the support of the war on Yemen and bombing of Syria with immense civilian destruction as illustrations.
Then there are Trump's campaign finance violations, his tax frauds, and his threats to use blanket pardons of Trump associates who are now convicted criminals. Not to mention Trump's "indifference to wrongdoing," in the words of Charles Black, the late, eminent constitutional scholar. Such "indifference" Black declared "may be in effect equivalent to ratification of wrongdoing."
"This is the road to tyranny and the de facto overthrow of our 'constitutional order.'"
Another standard for impeachment is the widely quoted criterion by Alexander Hamilton - behavior that constitutes "abuse or violation of some public trust." How about Trump's over ten thousand recorded lies or misleading fabrications? How about his bigotry, misogyny and lying about his sexual misconducts and payoffs? How about Trump allowing the enrichment of his businesses (which he refused to sell or put into a blind trust) by foreign governments spending lavishly at his hotels and other properties, in violation of our Constitution's emoluments clause?
Our Founders condemned behavior, shorn of minimal honor and integrity that brings the Office of the Presidency into disrepute and undercuts the legitimacy of the U.S. government or the ability of the government to function.
Recall the five week shutdown of the U.S. government by our pouting juvenile president over not getting his porous border wall funded. Trump's actions shut down critical, life-saving governmental services. That tantrum alone should be an impeachable offense.
The Congress was handed a mass of evidence by the Mueller Report and Congressional hearings are likely to find this evidence will provide a solid basis for impeachment. Bear in mind, Mueller decided he couldn't recommend any criminal enforcement due to his hands being tied by a Justice Department "opinion," not a law, that sitting Presidents could not be criminally indicted. Instead he punted his damning report to Congress with such statements as "Our investigation found multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations." Over a dozen listed acts, to be specific.
As the laws start catching up with Trump, he will resort to raucous mass rallies where he will warn of violence in the streets, as he did during his campaign in 2016 when discussing his potential loss. He will start military actions, which explains why he had to pressure former generals, Mattis and Kelly, to resign from the Department of Defense and White House. Trump doesn't like generals who advocate restraint.
Trump himself has said that he will be secure so long as the police and military are with him. Get ready for a fast-approaching major constitutional crisis with Congress and adherents of the rule of law.
Our lying, lawless President is about to face the laws of the land, backed by our Constitution. It is time for Republicans to start looking at themselves in the mirror of history. And it is time for all Americans to challenge their elected officials to stand tall and uphold the rule of law.
Safeguarding our democracy requires nothing less. For more information on impeachment, listen to my interview with scholar Alan Hirsch, author of Impeaching the President: Past Present and Future.
The US press has routinely abused, disrespected and lied about Black, brown and yellow peoples and their heads of state, and now subjects its own top political figures to the same treatment.
Common threads connect three of the week's hot news items: the quickening tempo of U.S. regime change efforts in Venezuela; Bernie Sanders' precipitous decline in the polls; and the furious corporate media assault on Medicare for All. In each of these developments we see the ruling class deploying a wide array of overt and covert forces to defeat popular movements for social justice, at home and abroad. The most direct relationship between the three stories is that most of what we know, or think we know, about these developments has been filtered and packaged by a prime accomplice in international ruling class crime: the corporate media. In that sense, the "news" is an element of the crime, since it is not really news at all, but a packet of false consciousness implanted in the consumer's brain.
In the case of Venezuela, the U.S. state, with the full backing of both U.S. corporate political parties, has for 20 years polluted the collective American consciousness with layer upon layer of lies -- lies that were dutifully transmitted and expanded upon by the corporate press. Virtually everything most Americans think they know about the governments of the late Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolás Maduro, is false. The New York Times, Reuters and all the rest of the corporate mouthpieces have cheered every attempted coup by the U.S.-backed white elite since 2002, while largely ignoring the socialist government's tremendous accomplishments in lifting millions out of poverty, illiteracy and ill health. According to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, Venezuela conducts the fairest, most tamper-proof elections in the world, but corporate media endlessly parrot the official U.S. line that Chavez and Maduro are "authoritarians" whose elections were marked by "ballot-stuffing" and other "irregularities." Even the puppet opposition does not make such patently baseless claims inside Venezuela, but anti-Chavista lies are gospel in U.S. media, polluting the pronouncements of even leftish Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Like a crack dealer who has succumbed to smoking his own dope, U.S. corporate media (which includes public television and radio) have come to believe the official lies they transmit. A PBS News Hour correspondent in New York was visibly dumbstruck when the latest "final stage" of Juan Guaido's coup saga failed to drive Maduro from the presidential palace. It was clear that the correspondent actually believed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's disinformation, that Maduro and senior leaders in his government had been prepared to fly to Cuba on Tuesday morning, with "an airplane on the tarmac," and were only dissuaded from fleeing by "the Russians." At the White House, chief disinformer John Bolton spun the tale that the head of the Venezuelan supreme court and the defense minister had conspired with the commander of Maduro's presidential guard to force a transition of power to Guaido. It was a total fabrication by a hostile power, but all three Venezuelan officials felt compelled to publicly deny the disinformation and reaffirm their loyalty to the government, on Tuesday.
"Normal" governments, even of great powers, usually leave the sordid business of tactical disinformation campaigns to their clandestine services. Presidents and secretaries of state only tell the "big" strategic lies that are central to Big Power foreign policy. But then, normal governments are not constantly engaged in regime change operations against multiple targeted states. Especially since 9/11, U.S. imperialism appears to have entered a stage - a permanent war-against-all -- in which disinformation is the only language it speaks, from the CIA professional specializing in destabilization in Caracas all the way up to the Oval Office in Washington. The grotesque fantasia of Iraq invasion justification; the state-induced national obsession with the "hunt" for an Osama bin-Laden whose reported exploits and whereabouts were so contradictory that most of it had to be spook-concocted fiction; and then the descent into the unspeakable, as the First Black President and his entire administration pretended that the United States was not in intimate alliance with al Qaida in Libya and Syria - a non-secret known even to the dumb-ass Donald Trump.
Finally, U.S. rulers destabilized themselves with Russiagate -- a fatal crossing. With former CIA operatives on point, one faction of the ruling class, centered in a Democratic Party swollen with corporate refugees from the now-Trumpified GOP, attempted to delegitimize a sitting president who was supported by about half the white population of the country. In the three years of intra-oligarch civil war, every rule of acceptable domestic political behavior was trashed. By labeling Trump a "dupe" or "agent" of Vladimir Putin, the Democrats gave themselves permission to treat a U.S. president the same way the U.S. treats leaders of targeted foreign countries -- short of assassination. (Trump, the rich white nationalist brat, behaves as if much of the nation is made up of unworthy "foreigners" that can be defamed and abused at will.)
Anti-Trump media - meaning, most of the corporate press -- convinced themselves that Trump was an Enemy of the Homeland, and abandoned all principles of journalism in their coverage of his presidency - in the same way that the corporate press routinely fail to practice elementary journalism in covering targeted foreign presidents, like Maduro.
In a chickens-coming-home irony that Malcolm X would appreciate, an American press that has routinely abused, disrespected and lied about Black, brown and yellow peoples and their heads of state, now subjects its own top political figures to the same treatment. Corporate media are in regime change mode. Not only must Trump go, but he must not be succeeded by Bernie Sanders, who poses a different kind of threat to the corporate system. The CIA 's code of conduct applies: dirty tricks of all kinds are permitted.
Which brings us to Bernie Sanders, whose impressive standing in the polls suddenly and dramatically collapsed, for no discernable good reason, coincident with the entrance of Joe Biden to the race. Sanders came from obscurity in 2016 to win 40 percent of the vote against Hillary Clinton and the whole corporate Democratic machinery. He is the only candidate with a real mass following. Medicare for All, free public college and a higher minimum wage are so closely identified with Sanders, they're near-signature issues. Except for a less than stellar performance at a "She the People" event in Houston, where he was clearly ambushed by Black corporate operatives, the campaign was rolling along nicely. It was expected that Joe Biden would move up a few points from his already lead position, after his formal announcement last week. But a fivethirtyeight.com graph of CNN, Harris, Morning Consult and Quinnipiac polls shows Biden with a "bump" of 11, 4, 6 and 9 percent, respectively, while Sanders is down 4, 2, 2 and 8 percent. According to the CNN numbers, Biden is now favored by 39 percent of Democratic voters, with Sanders at 15 percent. (Warren, Buttigieg, O'Rourke and Harris were favored by 8, 7, 6 and 5 percent of the public, respectively, with the rest of the field garnering 2 percent or less.) Sanders was near neck and neck with Biden only two weeks ago. Nothing has occurred that would account for such a drop in his poll numbers.
I think the game is rigged by the same forces that are trying to rig the public conversation about Medicare for All. As FAIR reports, the whole of corporate media - anti- and pro-Trump - is arrayed against single payer health care. CNN claims "most Americans" do not want Medicare for All, the New York Times advises its readers not to "get too excited about" Medicare for All because it might lose doctors money. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel called Sanders' bill a "preposterous proposal," while the Wall Street Journal called Medicare for All a "false promise" and "too fragile." Yahoo says the idea is "politically impractical," The Atlantic calls it "fool's gold," Fox News sneers that Medicare for All is a "populist bromide."
I don't expect the corporate powers-that-be in media and the Democratic Party to have any more scruples about derailing Bernie Sanders and burying the supermajority-supported issues he represents, than they have shown in their "coverage" of Venezuela over the past 20 years. Class war is never fair, because the ruling class knows that it is tiny, and democracy is a mortal enemy they are obligated to subvert. I think the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is going to be played by the same rules as those that mark U.S. behavior in its Latin American "backyard." The ruling class will try to mount a domestic "color revolution" mimicking a grassroots upwelling, complete with conjured data and a media chorus in support of their trusted candidate -- maybe Biden, maybe not. Anybody but Bernie.
I don't know if most people in the United States ever knew what Fallujah meant. It's hard to believe the U.S. military would still exist if they did. But certainly it has been largely forgotten -a problem that could be remedied if everyone picks up a copy of The Sacking of Fallujah: A People's History, by Ross Caputi (a U.S. veteran of one of the sieges of Fallujah), Richard Hill, and Donna Mulhearn.
Fallujah was the "city of mosques," made up of some 300,000 to 435,000 people. It had a tradition of resisting foreign -including British -invasions. It suffered, as did all of Iraq, from the brutal sanctions imposed by the United States in the years leading up to the 2003 attack. During that attack, Fallujah saw crowded markets bombed. Upon the collapse of the Iraqi government in Baghdad, Fallujah established its own government, avoiding the looting and chaos seen elsewhere. In April, 2003, the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division moved into Fallujah and met no resistance.
Immediately the occupation began to produce the sort of problems seen by every occupation everywhere ever. People complained of Humvees speeding on the streets, of being humiliated at checkpoints, of women being treated inappropriately, of soldier urinating in the streets, and of soldiers standing on rooftops with binoculars in violation of residents' privacy. Within days, the people of Fallujah wanted to be liberated from their "liberators." So, the people tried nonviolent demonstrations. And the U.S. military fired on the protesters. But eventually, the occupiers agreed to be stationed outside the city, limit their patrols, and allow Fallujah a degree of self-governance beyond what the rest of Iraq was permitted. The result was a success: Fallujah was kept safer than the rest of Iraq by keeping the occupiers out of it.
That example, of course, needed to be crushed. The United States was claiming a moral obligation to liberate the hell out of Iraq to "maintain security" and "assist in transition to democracy." Viceroy Paul Bremer decided to "clean out Fallujah." In came the "coalition"troops, with their usual inability (mocked quite effectively in the Netflix Brad Pitt movie War Machine) to distinguish the people they were bestowing liberty and justice upon from the people they were killing. U.S. officials described the people they wanted to kill as "cancer," and went about killing them with raids and firefights that killed a great many of the non-cancer people. How many people the United States was actually giving cancer to was unknown at the time.
In March, 2004, four Blackwater mercenaries were killed in Fallujah, their bodies burned and hung from a bridge. The U.S. media portrayed the four men as innocent civilians who somehow happened to find themselves in the middle of a war and the accidental targets of irrational, unmotivated violence. The people of Fallujah were "thugs" and "savages" and "barbarians." Because U.S. culture has never regretted Dresden or Hiroshima, there were open cries for following those precedents in Fallujah. A former advisor to Ronald Reagan, Jack Wheeler reached for an ancient Roman model in demanding that Fallujah be completely reduced to lifeless rubble: "Fallujah delenda est!"
The occupiers tried to impose a curfew and a ban on carrying weapons, saying they needed such measures in order to distinguish the people to kill from the people to give democracy to. But when people had to leave their homes for food or medicine, they were gunned down. Families were gunned down, one by one, as each person emerged to try to recover the injured or lifeless body of a loved one. The "family game" it was called. The only soccer stadium in town was turned into a massive cemetery.
A seven-year-old boy named Sami saw his little sister shot. He watched his father run out of the house to get her and be shot in turn. He listened to his father scream in agony. Sami and the rest of his family were afraid to go out. By morning both his sister and father were dead. Sami's family listened to the shots and screams at the surrounding houses, as the same story played out. Sami threw rocks at dogs to try to keep them away from the bodies. Sami's older brothers would not let his mother go out to close her dead husband's open eyes. But eventually, Sami's two older brothers decided to rush outside for the bodies, in hopes that one of them would survive it. One brother was instantly shot in the head. The other managed to close his father's eyes and to retrieve his sister's body but was shot in the ankle. Despite the efforts of the whole family, that brother died a slow and horrible death from the ankle wound, while dogs fought over the bodies of his father and brother, and the stench from a neighborhood of dead bodies took over.
Al Jazeera showed the world some of the horror of the First Siege of Fallujah. And then other outlets showed the world the torture the U.S. was engaging in at Abu Ghraib. Blaming the media, and resolving to better market future genocidal acts, the Liberators withdrew from Fallujah.
But Fallujah remained a designated target, one that would require lies similar to those that had launched the whole war. Fallujah, the U.S. public was now told, was an Al Qaeda hotbed controlled by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -a myth depicted as if real years later in the U.S. film American Sniper.
The Second Siege of Fallujah was an all-out assault on all human life that included the bombing of homes, hospitals, and apparently any target desired. A woman whose pregnant sister was killed by a bomb told a reporter, "I cannot get the image out of my mind of her foetus being blown out of her body." Instead of waiting for people to emerge from houses, in the Second Siege, U.S. Marines fired into houses with tanks and rocket-launchers, and finished the job with bulldozers, Israeli style. They also used white phosphorus on people, which melted them. They destroyed bridges, shops, mosques, schools, libraries, offices, train stations, electricity stations, water treatment plants, and every bit of the sanitation and communication systems. This was a sociocide. The controlled and embedded corporate media excused all.
Within a year after the second siege, with the city transformed into a sort-of open-air prison among the rubble, staff at Fallujah General Hospital noticed that something was wrong. There was a dramatic -worse than Hiroshima -increase in cancer, stillborn births, miscarriages, and never-before-seen birth defects. A child was born with two heads, another with a single eye in the center of his forehead, another with extra limbs. What share of the blame for this, if any, goes to white phosphorous, and what to depleted uranium, what to enriched uranium weapons, what to open burn pits, and what to various other weapons, there is little doubt that the U.S-led Humanitarian War is the cause.
Incubators had come full circle. From the lies about Iraqis removing infants from incubators that (somehow) justified the first Gulf War, through the lies about illegal weapons that (somehow) justified the massive terrorism of Shock and Awe, we were now arrived at rooms full of incubators holding deformed infants quickly dying from benevolent liberation.
The U.S.-installed Iraqi government's Third Siege of Fallujah came in 2014-2016, with the new tale for Westerners involving ISIS control of Fallujah. Again, civilians were slaughtered and what remained of the city was destroyed. Fallujah delenda est indeed. That ISIS arose out of a decade of U.S.-led brutality capped by an Iraqi government's genocidal assault on Sunnis went unmentioned.
Through all of this, of course, the United States was leading the world -through the burning of the oil the wars were fought over, among other practices -in rendering not just Fallujah, but most of the Middle East, too hot for humans to inhabit. Imagine the outrage when people who support someone like Joe Biden who played a key role in destroying Iraq (and who can't even seem to regret the death of his own son from open burn pits, much less the death of Fallujah) discover that almost nobody in the Middle East is grateful for the collapse of the climate into an unlivable inferno. That's when the media will be sure to tell us who the real victims are in this story.
(c) 2019 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stands off to the side as other leaders speak during a press conference at the Landsdowne Resort and Spa in Leesburg, Virginia, on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.
The Era Of "Centrist" Establishment Democrats Is Over
By William Rivers Pitt
What do you call a "healthy economy" that almost no one is experiencing personally? I call it a made-for-TV sham.
"President Trump's strongest case for reelection remains the country's healthy economy, but the potency of that issue for him is complicated by a widespread belief that the economy mainly benefits people already in power," The Washington Post reported on Monday morning. "This sentiment runs the deepest among Democratic and independent registered voters, but also exists among a significant slice of Republicans. About 8 in 10 Democrats and more than 6 in 10 independents say the country's economic system gives an advantage to those already in power, while nearly a third of Republicans share that view."
The cognitive dissonance baked into that first sentence is worthy of immediate note. Exactly what "healthy economy" is the Post talking about? Unemployment is low because people need three jobs to stay above water. Wages have only just begun to catch up with the actual cost of living, and only in certain places where the minimum wage has been raised. Health care is murderously expensive, and student debt went over $1.5 trillion in the first quarter in 2018. The stock market is breaking records, though, and the rich people on TV all seem pretty happy (Mr. Bezos, your table is ready).
After that strange declaration, the article goes on to describe how most people very correctly don't believe a word of it, including more than a few Republicans. These people live with eyes wide open in a country where a serious illness can devour their financial future, where higher education is almost completely out of reach due to cost, and where having a job is no guarantee that workers can support their families. Millions of them got screwed this tax season by Donald Trump's big rich-people giveaway tax bill, and eye their empty mailboxes and depleted bank accounts with ever-increasing wrath.
Those people - not these semi-covert white nationalists running around yelling about migrants and MAGA and more guns while clutching their Bibles without a hint of irony or shame - represent the actual interests of working people. One important reason the will of most people does not hold sway in this nation is because they stopped believing they had any power in the current system, and have a strong argument to support that conclusion.
Given the choice in 2016 between a shopworn Establishment Democratic message and the loud guy from TV, 49 percent of them stayed home. "Nope" beat Trump and Hillary Clinton's combined popular vote totals, perhaps the largest canary in the deepest coal mine in modern U.S. history. Even I, a man who is positively evangelical about the power and necessity of voting, have trouble blaming them for not participating two and a half years ago. Not choosing, when the available choice is no choice at all, is a political statement Henry David Thoreau would recognize on sight.
The mathematics of that Post/ABC poll are glaring: 80 percent plus 60 percent plus 33.3 percent equals a coalition of voters who could, if properly organized and motivated, win any election put in front of them by historic margins. Why, then, is the Democratic Establishment so bound and determine to foist yet another right-bent "centrist" nominee on an electorate that sees through the economic fraud being foisted on them disguised as a "healthy economy"?
Many voters properly blame their circumstances on Republicans, with their supply-side economics and the inequality that always rides sidecar with such vividly failed ideas. I use the term "failed" loosely, because it has worked out swimmingly for their billionaire supporters and donors. What do we make, however, of three decades worth of "centrist" Establishment Democrats who dragged the party far to the right in the hope they might win more elections? What is the point of winning if the end result delivers such mediocre, and often even harmful, results?
Sure, we had 16 years of Presidents Clinton and Obama, but their victories came with a steep cost. For every Family Medical Leave or Affordable Care Act, there have been brutal crime bills and deep cuts to the social safety net. Accepting the Republican premise that the country requires austerity because we are broke, and not because of right-wing budgetary vandalism, threatens to bring the entire infrastructure of the New Deal crashing down.
Worse, these Establishment Democrats often make the most eloquent arguments for disregarding the ideals their predecessors actually fought for and preserved. Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein and all the others who have had the run of the party since Ross Perot fired George H.W. Bush are deeply complicit in causing the anger underscored by that Post/ABC poll. They were, and remain, groomsmen and bridesmaids at the unholy union between Republican Party greed and Democratic Party fears.
There can be little doubt that much of the problem here stems from the fact that too many Democrats have far too many of the same big-dollar donors as Republicans. It is no small wonder they are pushing many of the same pro-wealth austerity-laden policies; many of them are cashing the same checks.
Even now, I can hear the "Yeah, but" chorus clearing its collective throat. "Yeah, but only a centrist Democrat can defeat Trump in 2020!" goes the inevitable refrain from people who believe this because "centrist" Democrats told them so. The actual truth is that those in charge of the party want to remain in charge of the party, which means they will keep on doing what demonstrably hasn't worked because it works just well enough for them to be able to hang on to their jobs.
The Post/ABC poll sings a different tune. The "I can win!" argument from "centrist" Establishment candidates like Joe Biden failed spectacularly in 2016. It is easy to blame Hillary Clinton for losing to the worst presidential candidate in modern history, but the fact is the Democratic Party lost that election because its nominee peddled a message that was burdened by the party's shabby record. People stayed home on Election Day because of that as much as anything else, and if that same shabby message is the Democratic Party hood ornament for "Whoever/Whoever 2020," people will stay home again.
Right now, more than ever, people want to hear new and innovative ideas about health care, debt forgiveness, racial justice, free college education, climate justice and many other projects that have stagnated in our current right/far right political status quo. This is not a moment for threadbare timidity, but for bold moves in a better direction.
"The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor," said Helen Keller during the part of her life they don't teach you about in school. "The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands - the ownership and control of their livelihoods - are set at naught, we can have neither men's rights nor women's rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease."
Keller wrote that more than 23 years before the New Deal. Today, more than 70 years after FDR wove together the first strands of the country's social safety net, her words ring true once again. The people, by and large, are hip to the jive now. Attempting to sell them more of the same old incrementalist GOP-lite retread ideas is a bland recipe for chicken-fried defeat.
If a sick person can be healed but isn't, if a hungry person can be fed but isn't, if a homeless person can be sheltered but isn't, and if the only reason they remain sick, hungry and homeless is the profit motive of the system, that system is broken. If tens of millions of people hear about the booming economy and see none of its benefits, that system is broken.
One must bore through miles of rhetorical sediment to plant this core seed of truth within the minds of many who have been trained from birth to believe capitalism and democracy are one and the same, but it can be done. If the Post/ABC News poll has the right of it, that seed has penetrated and begun, at last, to germinate. Establishment Democrats have not yet gotten the message, but the mass of Americans desperate for new ideas and relief from the old ones will not wait forever for them to figure it out.
Representative Jerrold Nadler speaks to reporters before former FBI director James Comey's testimony on Capitol Hill on December 7, 2018.
The Constitution Is On The Side Of Jerry Nadler, Not William Barr
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is prepared to restore the system of checks and balances.
By John Nichols
If he was simply serving in the role he prefers to serve-that of Donald Trump's defense counsel-William Barr might be afforded a measure of leeway in his dramatic clash with the House Judiciary Committee. But Barr is the attorney general of the United States, and his arrogant refusal to cooperate with the committee will not end well.
Barr wants to set the rules of engagement in a way that would disempower the committee and deny the dictates of the Constitution. To that end, he is griping about a plan to have Judiciary Committee staff members-many of whom are experts in the areas that need to be addressed-join lawmakers in posing specific questions with regard to allegations that the attorney general mishandled and mischaracterized the report produced by special counsel Robert Mueller.
But the relationship with Congress that Barr demands is not the relationship that the Constitution demands.
Anyone who knows anything about the system of checks and balances knows that the Constitution is not on Barr's side. It is on the side of Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler as he pushes back against a compromised attorney general and the lawless president Barr serves.
"He is trying to blackmail the committee," Nadler says of Barr's refusal to appear. "We cannot allow the administration to dictate how we operate."
This is not just a committee chairman declaiming on the latest outrage.
This is a serious student of the Constitution declaring that the legislative branch of our federal government has a duty to reassert itself as the essential overseer of an out-of-control executive branch. For too long, the Judiciary Committee has failed in this responsibility. Nadler recognizes that another failure at this point would have dire consequences for the future.
The chairman speaks from a place of deep knowledge and even deeper concern. In addition to his refusal to testify, Barr is ignoring a subpoena from the committee for the unredacted Mueller report and for the underlying evidence that was obtained as part of the special counsel's inquiry into interference with the 2016 presidential election. The unredacted report and the documents associated with it are necessary tools for the Congress, which needs all the available information in order to get to the bottom of allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the president and his aides and allies.
"The challenge we face is bigger than a single witness,"explains Nadler, who noted Thursday that Barr's Department of Justice has "made no meaningful attempt at accommodating that subpoena.
"The letter (from the Department of Justice) references the attorney general's offer to twelve members of Congress-only twelve out of 535-to look behind some, but not all, of the redactions, provided that we agree not to discuss what we see with our colleagues and that we leave our notes behind at the Department of Justice," says the chairman. "It is urgent that we see the documents we have subpoenaed. But I cannot agree to conditions that prevent me from discussing the full report with my colleagues, and that prevent the House from acting on the full report in any meaningful way. An accommodation designed to prevent us from taking official action is no accommodation at all."
He recognizes that what is at stake now is no small matter. This is a fight over the future of Congress.
Nadler has a sense of history, and he spoke to it well on Thursday, with a statement to the committee and to the country that fully embraced the oath he has sworn to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" and to "bear true faith and allegiance to the same." He concluded with a bracing call for the Congress to assume its right and necessary stance:
Ladies and gentlemen, the challenge we face is that the President of the United States wants desperately to prevent Congress-a coequal branch of government-from providing any check whatsoever to even his most reckless decisions.
The challenge we face is that if we don't stand up to him together, today, then we risk forever losing the power to stand up to any President in the future.
The Attorney General of the United States is sworn to uphold the Constitution as our nation's chief law enforcement officer. He has an obligation to do everything in his power to warn the President of the damage he risks and the liability he assumes by directly threatening our system of checks and balances.
Sadly, the Attorney General has failed in that responsibility. He has failed to check the President's worst instincts. He has not only misrepresented the findings of the Special Counsel. He has failed to protect the Special Counsel's investigation from unfair political attacks. He has himself unfairly attacked the Special Counsel's investigation. He has failed the men and women of the Department by placing the needs of the President over the fair administration of justice. He has even failed to show up today.
"Yes, we will continue to negotiate for access to the full report. And yes, we will have no choice but to move quickly to hold the Attorney General in contempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith. But the Attorney General must make a choice. Every one of us must make the same choice. That choice is now an obligation of our office. The choice is simple: we can stand up to this President in defense of the country and the Constitution we love, or we can let the moment pass us by.
I do not know what Attorney General Barr will choose. I do not know what my Republican colleagues will choose. But I am certain that there is no way forward for this country that does not include a reckoning with this clear and present danger to our constitutional order.
History will judge us for how we face this challenge. We will all be held accountable, one way or the other. And if he does not provide this Committee with the information it demands and the respect that it deserves, Mr. Barr's moment of accountability will come soon enough.
This is a clash that could well escalate. "Yes, we will continue to negotiate for access to the full report," says Nadler. "And yes, we will have no choice but to move quickly to hold the attorney general in contempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith."
But this is not a clash between men. This is a clash between two understandings of how the United States will be governed. Barr would make the occupant of the Oval Office what the founders feared, an elected potentate serving as "a king for four years." Nadler says, "We will make sure that no president becomes a monarch."
Some years back, when Jerry Garcia was the featured performer in the Grateful Dead band, my late wife Doris and I had the opportunity to attend a live performance at the Pontiac Silverdome. Not only was the music good but the packed crowd of mostly young people had a grand time not only at the concert but afterwards in social events in the courtyard.
We were struck by the fact that the air was thick with the smell of marijuana and hashish, and tiny squares of LSD were being passed among the thousands of participants. What was even more interesting that even though most of those people were clearly under the influence of various psychedelics there were no fights; no acts of violence. Police officers were clearly present in the building that night but we witnessed no confrontations leading to arrests, even though the crowd was clearly breaking existing drug laws.
In short, everybody had a wonderful time.
Because of this experience it was not surprising to learn about a research team at the University of Alabama that found that psychedelic use reduces the likelihood of criminal behavior. The team, led by Professor Peter Hendricks, used data compiled in a 13-year study among 480,000 participants that used such psychedelics as DMT, LSD, mescaline and psilocybin mushrooms. The study analyzed the effects these drugs had on criminal behavior.
The team came up with a belief that the application of these drugs would have an important effect in taming the criminal element.
"These findings make a case that classic psychedelics may provide enduring benefits for criminal justice populations," Hendricks said. "They certainly suggest that clinical research with classic psychedelics in forensic settings should be considered."
The team found that participants who used a psychedelic at some time in their life were associated with a 22 percent decrease in the odds of ever being arrested for a property crime and an 18 percent decrease for violent crimes. The use of psilocybin mushrooms in particular was linked to a decreased likelihood of criminal acts.
It is interesting that Hendricks' team has been involved in the same kind of research that the late Dr. Timothy Leary was following some 60 years ago. Even though Leary was reporting the same results when applying psychedelics among convicted criminals, he was ostracized and eventually sent to prison. Thus the harsh "war on drugs" launched by President Nixon appears to have succeeded in blocking important research in reducing criminal and aggressive behavior.
(c) 2019 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.
This year also marks the 50th anniversaries of the late Kurt Vonnegut's great antiwar novel, Slaughterhouse Five, and my college newspaper, The Georgetown Voice.
The Anniversary Waltz
In these turbulent times more than ever, memory is a blessing and a curse.
By Michael Winship
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be, the saying goes, but as you get older, milestone years become more significant and resonant, especially if your own memories of them remain vivid.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the mindboggling and tumultuous events of 1968, from the Tet offensive in Vietnam and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy to the tumultuous Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the election of Richard M. Nixon.
Now we're marking the 50th for the happenings of 1969, and while they may not all be as turbulent as those of '68, it still was the pivotal year of Woodstock and the moon landing, Chappaquiddick and the Manson murders, the Stonewall riots - just three blocks from where I'm writing this - and the Vietnam Moratorium when hundreds of thousands marched and rallied to demand an end to a useless deadly war.
This year also marks the 50th anniversaries of the late Kurt Vonnegut's great antiwar novel, Slaughterhouse Five, and my college newspaper, The Georgetown Voice. Understandably, you may not see any connection between those last two, but in my own little universe there is. Read on.
The Voice began at Georgetown in 1969 when a gang of smart, articulate, witty kids, reprobates and rebels did something unheard of - swimming against the tide of the university establishment and creating an new publication out of nothing but talent, desire, a commitment to truth and a heartfelt embrace of good times.
Its creation was a shot across the bow of the existing campus paper, The Hoya, which the Voice founders believed had become too narrowly focused on school goings on while ignoring the issues behind the riots and demonstrations igniting in Washington just blocks from the university's front gates. The fire was right next door and the military draft was breathing down many of our necks. The Hoya was covering intramural field hockey and cafeteria news. On the college grounds, copies of it were burned in protest.
I wasn't present at the creation when the Voice was born. I arrived at Georgetown a few months after the inaugural issue and had my initial Voice byline in April 1970, just after the paper's first anniversary. The piece was an account of the very first Earth Day march and rally in DC, headlined, "Hey, Get Your Earth Day Button," the first of a series of features and reviews I wrote for the Voice.
Among my memories: working in the newspaper's offices the Sunday afternoon before the violent Mayday antiwar demonstrations of 1971, as police and military helicopters roared over the athletic fields. And I remember the next morning when several of us were covering the protests. The police counterattacked and we went hurdling back toward campus only to run smack into massive walls of tear gas.
But I also remember covering the grand opening of the Kennedy Center and being startled when I was grabbed and sloppily kissed by Leonard Bernstein at the afterparty. I remember interviewing politicians and filmmakers. And I especially remember the evenings of camaraderie spent putting the paper to bed and that all-night coffee shop to which we'd go afterwards, hungry, worn out and slaphappy.
In early 1971, I was assigned to cover a lecture by Kurt Vonnegut at the Library of Congress. He was in his ascendancy; his masterpiece Slaughterhouse Five had been published to accolades just a couple of years earlier. If you're not familiar with it, the book is the phantasmagoric journey of Billy Pilgrim, a man "unstuck in time," who journeys back and forth between two planets, skipping with light speed from one part of his lifetime to another and then another but always returning to his World War II experiences at the Battle of the Bulge and as a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany.
Billy Pilgrim - and Vonnegut - were in Dresden on February 13-15, 1945, when British and American bombers attacked the city for 37 hours, creating a 12 square mile firestorm that officially killed 25,000 and possibly many, many more - Vonnegut thought that it might have been about 130,000.
His main character survived in a meat locker deep below the city. Vonnegut wrote, "Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn. It wasn't safe to come out of the shelter until noon the next day. When the Americans and their guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke. The sun was an angry little pinhead. Dresden was like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighborhood was dead."
"So it goes."
Like many college kids, I was a fan and read everything Vonnegut had written, so I was excited about his Library of Congress speech. He was rambling, pensive, thought provoking and funny. He said Jefferson Airplane had asked him to write a "science-fiction song" for a movie they planned to make: "It's about the building of a giant rocket to carry all the knowledge of man away from the world before it's destroyed. I told them they were out of their minds if they thought I was going to support the Jefferson Airplane's making off with the history of mankind."
About 45 minutes in, Vonnegut began reading from his latest book, Breakfast of Champions. Someone began heckling him from the audience, "Since you're a leader of young people, why don't you offer solutions?"
"Hell, I'm no Pied Piper," Vonnegut replied.
"What right have you to predict the end of the world?" the heckler asked. "You should show the alternatives."
"It's not just me -" Vonnegut picked up his manuscript, was silent for a bit, then said, "I really feel as though I have to stop and think things out." He walked off the stage.
The audience was stunned. I felt the heckler had unfairly treated the author, that each of us can choose to affect change in his or her own way. "Vonnegut's way is to write about the absurdity, to write about the end of the world," I wrote. "That is his duty, for he is one of the rare people who has actually seen it. Dresden, February 13, 1945. The city was filled with refugees."
I got a letter from Vonnegut shortly after my piece appeared in the Voice thanking me for what I had said and explaining his reaction that night as having simply "run out of bullshit." And last fall, my girlfriend Pat and I took a daytrip from Berlin to Dresden. Much of the city has been rebuilt from the ruins, the vast Neumarkt square reconstructed as it was before the attacks, open and clean and eerily quiet, a reminder of the bloodshed and mindlessness of war.
I just re-read Slaughterhouse Five and again was reminded how good the book is. It's a quick read - as Vonnegut himself wrote, "Short and jumbled and jangled because... there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds."
Vonnegut's novel is in part about time and memory. I was spurred to visit it again because I also just attended a 50th anniversary reunion of my friends at The Georgetown Voice, motivation for reminiscence and celebration and a stunning reminder of how quickly the years have passed. One of the former editors reminded me about the Vonnegut piece.
After all these decades, despite financial ups and down and other near-death experiences, both campus papers still exist. And while it's unusual for a college to have two such publications, the rivalry and diversity of news and opinions, plus the coverage the Voice has given to national and global issues invigorates the debate and spirit of free speech essential to an institution of learning.
Would that such openness was practiced on a vaster scale. Memory serves to keep alive the things we have done both good and bad that should teach us how to do right, how to avoid the worst, prevent indignities to one another and keep from sinking into an abyss of ignorance, violence, corruption and dysfunction. "There's only one rule that I know of, babies," Vonnegut wrote. "Goddamn it, you've got to be kind."
Look at the news and realize, increasingly by the day, how quickly we forget.
(c) 2019 Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship
Trump And Charlottesville
By Heather Digby Parton
There have been many moments of sharp, frightening clarity during this horrifying administration. Charlottesville remains one of the most clarifying.
This Washington Post story by Ashley Parker about Trump's attempts to re-write history is excellent. This is the sort of thing that will be very useful to historians --- if we survive him:
Hours after Joe Biden launched his 2020 campaign by attacking President Trump for his response to a deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, the president began to spin a yarn.
The August 2017 demonstration was actually just a group of "neighborhood" folks from the local University of Virginia community who simply "wanted to protest the fact that they want to take down the statue of Robert E. Lee," Trump said in an interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin in late April.
Trump himself had merely been supporting those same purportedly peaceful protesters when he said there were "very fine people on both sides," he continued.
Gary Cohn, then the White House economic adviser, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listen to President Trump deliver remarks days after violent clashes broke out at the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.
In fact, the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville - which left one woman dead and 19 injured - was explicitly organized by a group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis as a celebration of white nationalism. The official event was presaged by a nighttime parade in which rallygoers held tiki torches aloft while chanting,
"Jews will not replace us!" and "Blood and soil," a reference to a nationalist slogan used in Nazi Germany.
"It is a misrepresentation of what was happening in Charlottesville to say it was a statue protest that went wrong," said Nicole Hemmer, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia's Miller Center who lives in Charlottesville and attended the rally as an observer. "Anyone who was there that day would have walked into a park of people waving Nazi flags and people who were Klansmen. It was not a secret who put that rally on that day."
For Trump, his recasting of Charlottesville is just the latest version of a story he has been altering and embellishing over the past 21 months in defense of one of the lowest points of his presidency, when he attracted bipartisan opprobrium for his seeming reluctance to forcefully condemn white supremacy. Even in his revisionist retelling, the president's decision to lavish praise on Lee - a slave owner who led Confederate troops in defense of human bondage - leaves in place a level of ambiguity for those in his political base sympathetic to alt-right causes.
His approach to Charlottesville highlights a number of recurring themes in Trump's responses to controversy: his refusal to apologize or admit error; his defiance in the face of critics; his willingness to view facts as malleable in the service of self-preservation; and his ability to speak abstrusely in a way that provides fodder for defenders and detractors alike.
But Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, said Trump's continued reticence to confront white supremacists "is not a dog whistle picked up by the alt-right - it's a bullhorn the whole country can hear."
According to the ADL's most recent annual report, white supremacists were responsible for 39 of the 50 extremist-related murders the group counted in 2018, an increase from the previous year, when 18 of 34 such crimes were committed by white supremacists.
A report in February by the Southern Poverty Law Center identified a record 1,020 hate groups operating across the country in 2018. It also found that the number of deaths linked to the radical right had increased: In the United States and Canada, at least 40 people have been killed by white supremacists.
"It has emboldened extremists," Greenblatt said of Trump's ambivalent posturing. "How do we know this? Because they say so. It's spurred this new, nativistic nationalism that's playing out on college campuses and social media and now cities across the country."
'Very fine people on both sides'
The president's response to the Charlottesville rally - three whiplash statements over four days - seemed to encapsulate his uncertainty over how strongly to condemn the white-supremacist groups behind the event.
On Aug. 12, 2017, after an avowed neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, Trump offered a brief initial statement from his private golf resort in Bedminster, N.J. He denounced "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides" - repeating "on many sides" a second time for emphasis.
The statement was widely condemned as creating a false equivalency between the two groups and for not going far enough. Back at the White House two days later - urged on by worried aides - the president delivered a more forceful, scripted statement in a hastily arranged news conference.
"Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups," he said.
Those remarks, however, left Trump frustrated. The president told aides in the stately Diplomatic Reception Room that his mea culpa was the "worst speech I've ever given" and ,I>"the biggest fucking mistake I've made," according to accounts the journalist Bob Woodward provided in his book "Fear," about the Trump presidency.
The next day, during a news conference ostensibly about infrastructure at Trump Tower in New York, the president unleashed a freewheeling riff on the violence at the rally.
In one breath, he said, ,I<>"I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis or the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally" - a statement his allies have latched on to in defense of his handling of the issue to claim the president was always clear in his denunciations of bigotry and hate-fueled violence.
Yet, in the next breath, Trump asserted, "there's blame on both sides . . . very fine people on both sides."
The last of his three statements was classic Trump - raw, visceral, unfiltered - and, in the eyes of many, his most honest response. The tableau of Trump blaming both sides as John F. Kelly, his chief of staff at the time, stood by grim-faced, was a reflection of "a president who is very frustrated at being told what to say, and who reverts back to his genuine reaction, that there were very fine people on both sides," Hemmer said.
In his initial remarks about Charlottesville, and his recent ones praising Lee, Trump was relying on the rhetorical tools he frequently deploys during controversy - making contradictory or murky statements that allow him and his defenders to claim whatever benefits them in the moment.
Despite his brief condemnation of neo-Nazis and white nationalists, for example, members of those same groups heard in Trump's comments support for their ideology when he blamed both sides.
"What he's signaling to his base - including those that are explicitly racist or with implicit racial bias - is: ‘I'm your guy,' " said C. Shawn McGuffey, a sociology professor and the director of African diaspora studies at Boston College. "He can say all he wants that, ‘I'm not a racist, I'm not a white nationalist,' but when white nationalists call you a white nationalist, you're clearly signaling something."
David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, illustrates the president's Rorschach messaging. The day of the rally, Duke praised Trump, enthusing that the march represented "a turning point for the people of this country."
"We are determined to take our country back," he said. "We're going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump."
But after Trump disavowed hatred and violence in a tweet, Duke responded angrily on social media, writing, "I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists."
An unsuccessful presidential candidate who endorsed Trump in 2016, Duke's feelings toward the president now are mixed. "He's still giving some decent rhetoric, but he's not keeping his promises," Duke said in an interview last week, citing Trump's tough talk on immigration and his vow to enact middle-class tax relief.
At the same time, Duke expressed an appreciation for some of Trump's language on Charlottesville.
"He was the only person in the entirety of the U.S. government who pointed out that all the fault was not with the people who came there to defend the Robert E. Lee statue, and those who came to defend the right and heritage of white people," Duke said.
'Concocting a phony story'
Leon Panetta, a former secretary of defense, CIA director and White House chief of staff, said delving back into Charlottesville is perilous territory for the president. "It brings attention to probably one of his worst failings, which is his inability to acknowledge when he says something stupid," Panetta said. "It's probably one of the worst things he has said during his presidency."
But Trump couldn't help but respond, and he did so by distorting his initial reaction. He repeatedly praised Lee - a line of defense largely absent from his rhetoric in the aftermath of the 2017 event. He said he was never condoning white supremacy but simply defending the rights of peaceful protesters who did not want the Lee statue taken down.
The defense left many unconvinced. Biden accused Trump of "concocting a phony story."
McGuffey said in an era of news micro-cycles, Trump is "trying to rewrite history, he's trying to clean it up."
"He's had almost two years now to do that, and this is his latest version," he said.
Trump's defenders, however, argue the president has been consistent in his outspokenness about hatred since the beginning. Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" on April 28, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump's response to Charlottesville "was twisted for many years" and was "darn near perfection."
"I think anytime a president is willing to condemn people who hate other people based on their race of their religion it's a great day for America, and that's what he did," Conway said.
Another White House official also argued it is unfair to suggest Trump is sympathetic toward neo-Nazis or other extremists given his record on condemning anti-Semitism, including after the recent shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California.
In focusing on Lee, Trump also managed to plunge the nation into a semi-academic debate about the legacy of the Confederate general while obscuring his original response. On ABC's "This Week," House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), a veteran civil rights activist, called Lee "a great tactician" before excoriating him as "a brutal slave master" and a "loser."
Greenblatt said the discussion about Lee allows Trump to defend himself while signaling to the alt-right members of his base that he tacitly agrees with them.
"When you say you're against white supremacy but then you praise Robert E. Lee, the general who led us in the war in favor of white supremacy, I think it's safe to say these are contradictory messages," he said.
Trump's latest remarks, Greenblatt added, should be viewed as part of a troubling broader arc, from Charlottesville to the white-supremacist shootings at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and at the Poway, Calif., synagogue.
"These aren't outliers on a scatter plot," Greenblatt said. "These are data points on a trend line."
Trump is the leader of the growing global white nationalist movement even if he doesn't quite realize it. He's the most powerful man on the planet and his beliefs are as clear as day.
(c) 2019 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.
With climate change, some argue it's too late, that we're already over the edge, about to fall. Is that an argument for doing nothing?
Stop Fiddling While The Planet Burns
By David Suzuki
Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on? Last October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report indicating that global emissions are still rising despite more than three decades of warnings. Now we're on a path to a 3 to 5 C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels by 2100. The IPCC concludes that anything above a 1.5 C rise will take us beyond our ability to "manage" the consequences, but that it's still possible to keep global average temperature increase at or below that.
The report's urgency, coupled with the possibility of remaining within a manageable temperature, should be the driving force behind all we do from here on. Yet some federal and provincial political leaders continue to downplay or deny the reality and severity of climate disruption, loudly opposing proven measures to address it. Canada is warming even faster than most of the world! Even those who agree it's a crisis are doing little about it. They are not leaders.
Swedish teen Greta Thunberg says political inaction is destroying her future. She refuses to listen to politicians' words and instead judges them by their actions. When I was her age, we would say, "Big talk, no action." Thunberg has listened to what scientists are telling us and is taking their predictions seriously. Every child on Earth has the right to say that no government is acting in their best interests. But kids can't vote, so ignoring them has no apparent political consequences, at least until they are old enough to vote or their voting-age parents rise up and demand action on their behalf.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna have young children who will surely be greatly affected by climate change, but they've done little to raise the IPCC's alarm or educate the public about the severity of climate disruption. It's all because of politics. They don't want to jeopardize their chances in the next election so they avoid antagonizing some segments of society.
As the SNC-Lavalin scandal unfolds, we see politicians held hostage by corporate threats of job losses or head offices moving to other countries. As economist and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs recalls, ozone-depleting CFCs were not eliminated by raising taxes on them or encouraging the public to stop buying CFC-containing spray cans or refrigerators. They were legislated out.
We're in a battle for a liveable future and must make a declaration of war against catastrophic climate change. It's too late to remove the carbon we've already put into the atmosphere, so we'll have to live with the results for decades. But it makes no sense to continue to add to what is already at a devastating level higher than it's been for millions of years.
I used to say it's as if we're in a car heading toward a brick wall at 100 kilometres per hour, and everyone is arguing about where they want to sit rather than looking ahead, putting on the brakes and turning the wheel. I don't say that anymore because we're more like a Road Runner cartoon. Road Runner approaches the edge of a cliff, then stops suddenly or turns to avoid it. But Wile E. Coyote keeps charging straight ahead and goes over the edge. Wile E. has that moment of realization when he's suspended in air, looks down and sees he's gone too far, then plunges to the canyon bottom.
Many of my colleagues argue it's too late, that we're like the coyote, already over the edge, about to fall. Is that an argument for doing nothing? I don't think so, because we still don't really know whether we're the coyote or the roadrunner. And even if we fall, we might be able to avoid being crushed by the falling rock or anvil. Let's stop all the name-calling and denial, listen to the experts, seize the challenge and make the commitment to meet the IPCC target.
The economic, social and environmental consequences of whatever governments do or don't do now will be enormous, but we have to do all we can to keep from hitting bottom. As Abraham Lincoln said, "Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality."
President Trump Honors U.S. Military Academy Football Team At White House
Bipartisanship Is Useless In A Political Age Where Donald Trump Can Prosper A letter from hundreds of ex-prosecutors saying the president would be charged with obstruction if he weren't president is just the latest example.
By Charles P. Pierce
So this happened today, and the Green Rooms of America will be lit tonight. From the Washington Post:
The statement - signed by myriad former career government employees as well as high-profile political appointees - offers a rebuttal to Attorney General William P. Barr's determination that the evidence Mueller uncovered was "not sufficient" to establish that Trump committed a crime. Mueller had declined to say one way or the other whether Trump should have been charged, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, as well as concerns about the fairness of accusing someone for whom there can be no court proceeding.
"We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment," they added. "Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. . . . But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice - the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution - runs counter to logic and our experience."
And good for you all.
Barr's decision on obstruction charges was just torn apart by hundreds of former prosecutors. It won't matter.
But so what?
The statement is notable for the number of people who signed it - 375 as of Monday afternoon - and the positions and political affiliations of some on the list. It was posted online Monday afternoon; those signing it did not explicitly address what, if anything, they hope might happen next.
Among the high-profile signers are Bill Weld, a former U.S. attorney and Justice Department official in the Reagan administration who is running against Trump as a Republican; Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush Administration; John S. Martin, a former U.S. attorney and federal judge appointed to his posts by two Republican presidents; Paul Rosenzweig, who served as senior counsel to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr; and Jeffrey Harris, who worked as the principal assistant to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was at the Justice Department in the Reagan administration.
The list also includes more than 20 former U.S. attorneys and more than 100 people with at least 20 years of service at the Justice Department - most of them former career officials.
Nobody of any real influence to do anything about this self-evident welter of impeachable offenses has any intention of doing it, not even if every Supreme Court justice back to John Marshall rises from the dead and signs onto this letter. The fact is that the very nature of political influence has changed, and it's been placed in other hands. It is now a blunt instrument, like a hammer, and the people wielding it believe themselves to be in a universe of nails. If nothing else, this letter is yet another public demonstration of the fundamental impotence of bipartisanship in an age in which someone like this president* can prosper.
How do these people change Mitch McConnell's mind? Or Jim Jordan's? Or Sean Hannity's? Or the minds of all the millions of people who watch his show? Or Rush Limbaugh's? Or the minds of the millions of people who listen to him every day? What pressure can 350 former law-enforcement bureaucrats and high-ranking supervisory jamokes bring that will not fall before the combined political pressure of the Federalist Society and the rest of the Koch-infused wingnut welfare state? How do they plan to overcome a political system gone so mad with money that it will accept almost anything as long as the plutocrats are not inconvenienced? Why do so many people believe that the president* and his enablers can be pressured into doing the right thing for the country? You might as well try to pressure a cobra into being a housepet.
(c) 2019 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.
"Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed, and no republic can survive."
~~~ President John F. Kennedy ~ April 27, 1961
Chaos Theory Why we've had no new 9-11s since, er, 9-11
By Jane Stillwater
Just like we've had no new major political assassinations since MLK involuntarily bought the farm in 1968, there's been no new 9-11 attacks in America since 2001 either. Do you ever ask yourself why? It's because there's really no need for bad guys to actually murder good guys in order to create chaos in America any more. Terrorism and assassinations used to create chaos here back in the day but now bad guys can simply poison good guys' lamb chops, plant drugs or call-girls in their hotel suites or help them jump out a window. Gets the job done -- with no inconvenient fact-finding commissions involved or citizen-sleuths always screaming "fraud."
Nowadays bad guys can just simply ruin good guys' reputations -- and it's far more effective. Just look at Julian Assange. Or the infamous "Dean Scream". Or Bernie Sanders being called that dread word "Socialist". The bad guys falsely claim that AOC is nuts and that Omar sympathizes with terrorists. Character assassination? Gets the job done.
And on the level of foreign policy? Same rules apply. Character assassination gets the job done here as well. Just look at the ongoing media crucifixion of Russia -- rabidly accused of crimes that the Zionists and Saudis have committed daily for decades (and still do). And how about all those horrible things the media is saying about Syria, Cuba and Venezuela? None of them true. Watching the news today is like watching a freaking telenovela!
Yep, the powers-that-be clearly no longer need to set off "terrorist" bombs or assassinate progressives these days. When they really want to get America's knickers in a twist, blowing up the Twin Towers has totally become old-school. To create chaos in America today, all the powers-that-be have to do is, er, create chaos.
Encouraging racial bigotry, kidnapping children at the border, fomenting riots over abortion, closing down the government, yelling "Second Amendment Rights" in a crowded theater -- any of that shite. And then, BOOM! America is suddenly in chaos -- and no tall buildings were even hurt during the filming. Genius! Gotta hand it to them (whoever they are).
These powers-that-be own something like 99% of the media, 99% of America's wealth and 99% of our propaganda. And they use all this power to mislead, misdirect and misinform. Why do Americans put up with this craziness? Generalized chaos weakens each of us individually. We are no longer a community. It is our Kryptonite. The powers that be know this. "Divide and conquer." Why the freak don't we know it too.
The answer? Let's fight back. The very first step in "tidying up" America's chaos? Let's each of us take someone we think is definitely "The Other" out to lunch next week. A homeless guy. A redneck. A bankster, a cop, someone on food stamps, an undocumented alien, a Native, a Black person, an Asian, an oligarch, a Muslim or Christian or Jew, a homosexual, a woman. Whatever it is that you are not. And then listen to their story. And tell them yours too.
We are all Americans. We must all work to prevent the powers-that-be from creating even more chaos -- both at home and abroad. In a supposedly-civilized country such as ours, is this really too big of an ask?
PS: I also plan to attend the annual Book Expo in New York City at the end of May -- staying at a flop-house on Canal Street and also visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Last time I was at that site was in 2001, watching desperate people post photos of their missing loved ones just outside the ruins. George W. Bush and company still have a lot of explaining to do about why they let 9-11 even happen on their watch -- and why they let the House of Saud get off the hook.
Language matters. For example, the words that corporate and government officials use to report on the health of America's economy can either make clear to us commoners what's going on - or hide and even lie about the reality we face.
Consider the most common measurement used by officials and the media to tell us whether our economy is zooming or sputtering: Wall Street's index of stock prices. The media literally spews out the Dow Jones Average of stock prices every hour - as though everyone is waiting breathlessly for that update.
But wait - nearly all stock is owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans, so the Dow Jones Average says nothing about the economic condition of the 90 percent majority of Americans. For us (and for the true economic health of America as a whole) we need to know the Doug Jones Average - how're Doug and Dolores doing?
As we've seen, stock prices keep rising to new highs, while wages and living standards of the middle class and poor majority have been held down by the same corporate and political "leaders" telling us to keep our eye on the Dow. To disguise this decline they play another dirty language trick on us when they issue the monthly unemployment report. Currently, with the unemployment rate down to four percent, they tell us America's job market is booming!
But wait again - that only reflects the number of jobs, not the dollar value of those jobs in terms of wages and benefits. Having lots of people doing poorly paid work is hardly a healthy job market. Notice that they don't measure the stock market by the number of stocks out there, but by their value. And they should measure our job market the same way in order to get an honest picture of how Doug and Delores are doing.
Of course, they'd only do that if they gave a damn about all of us Dougs and Deloreses. And that speaks volumes about their bias for stock-owning elites.
Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Donald J. Trump, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.
Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your long history of being a Rethuglican friend and a corpo-rat tool, 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 "Corporate Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!
Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-18-2019. We salute you Herr Biden, Sieg Heil!
The destruction of the rule of law, an action essential to establishing an authoritarian or totalitarian state, began long before the arrival of the Trump administration. The George W. Bush administration's invasion of Iraq and implementation of a doctrine of pre-emptive war were war crimes under international law. The federal government's ongoing wholesale surveillance of the citizenry, another legacy of the Bush administration, mocks our constitutional right to privacy. Assassinating a U.S. citizen under order of the executive branch, as the Obama administration did when it murdered the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, revokes due process. The steady nullification of constitutional rights by judicial fiat-a legal trick that has enabled corporations to buy the electoral system in the name of free speech-has turned politicians from the two ruling parties into amoral tools of corporate power. Lobbyists in Washington and the state capitals write legislation to legalize tax boycotts, destroy regulations and government oversight, pump staggering sums of money into the war machine and accelerate the largest upward transfer of wealth in American history, one that has involved looting the U.S. Treasury of trillions of dollars in the wake of the massive financial fraud that set off the 2008 economic collapse. The ruling elites, by slavishly serving corporate interests, created a system of government that effectively denied the citizen the use of state power. This decades-long disregard by the two major political parties for the rule of law and their distortion of government into a handmaiden for corporations set the stage for Donald Trump's naked contempt for legality and accountability. It made inevitable our kakistocracy, rule by the worst or most unscrupulous ("kakistocracy" is derived from the Greek words kakistos, meaning worst, and kratos, meaning rule).
Those in the parade of imbeciles, grifters, con artists, conspiracy theorists, racists, Trump family members, charlatans, generals and Christian fascists, all of whom often see power as a way to enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayer, are too many to list here. They include former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (who blamed "environmental terrorist groups" for the 2018 California wildfires, hired private jets to fly himself around the country and opened public lands for mineral and gas exploitation), former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt (who held lavish dinners with the coal-mining and chemical executives whose companies he then deregulated) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This moral swamp also contains bizarre, Svengali-like figures darting in and out of the shadows, such as Stephen Miller, Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci and Omarosa Manigault Newman, not to mention paid-off porn stars and mistresses, sleazy lawyers and bungling and corrupt campaign managers.
At the center of this clown court is Trump, who, if the rule of law was in place, would have been impeached on his first day in office for violating the Constitution's emoluments clause; by violating that prohibition, this chief executive is raking in millions from officials of foreign governments and lobbyists who stay at his hotels and resorts and use his golf courses. Trump not only does not attempt to mask his profiting from his office but in corporate promotional material says that those who stay at his properties may be able to get a photo with the president of the United States. As illustrated by the Robert Mueller report and by Attorney General William Barr's open contempt for Congress, Trump does not even bother to pay lip service to the requirements of the law or the Constitution.
The mechanisms that once made democracy possible have withered and died. We no longer have elections free of corporate control; real legislative debate; an independent press rooted in verifiable fact that lifts up the voices and concerns of the citizens rather than peddling conspiracy theories such as "Russiagate" or cheerleading for disastrous military interventions and occupations; academic institutions that vigorously examine and critique the nature of power; or diplomacy, negotiation, détente and compromise. Puffed up by self-importance, intoxicated by the ability to wield police and military power, despots and their grotesque courtiers are freed with the collapse of the rule of law to carry out endless vendettas against enemies real and imagined until their own paranoia and fear define the lives of those they subjugate. This is where we have come, not because of Trump, who is the grotesque product of our failed democracy, but because the institutions that were designed to prevent tyranny no longer function.
Trump will eviscerate what little legal restraint remains. The Republican Party, which has been transformed into a Trump personality cult, will not stop him. Neither will the Democratic Party leadership, which thinks Trump will be an easy target in the 2020 presidential election, a foolish mistake similar to the one Hillary Clinton made in the 2016 campaign. That the Democratic Party elites place their hope to regain power in Joe Biden, a goofy male version of Clinton, is yet another example of the colossal failure of the democratic process. It shows how out of touch the ruling elites are with the growing social inequality, economic stagnation, suffering, disempowerment and rage that afflict over half the population.
The old forms of political theater and the ruling ideology of neoliberalism that buttressed the ruling elites in the past do not work anymore. Yet, the mind-numbing presidential campaigns, begun two years before the vote and devoid of meaningful content, are once again dominating the airwaves with empty slogans and the posturing by carefully packaged political personalities. This burlesque is anti-politics masquerading as politics. Its disingenuousness, obvious to most of the country, is what made Trump's crude taunts and ridiculing of the system so attractive to betrayed voters. Trump may be inept, vile and a con artist, but in this system of anti-politics you vote not for what you want, but against those you hate. And the established elites, the Bushes and the Clintons, are loathed far more than Trump by most of the country.
The billions in campaign funds provided to selected candidates by the wealthy and corporations, as the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin wrote, created, before the arrival of Trump on the political landscape, "a pecking order that calibrates, in strictly quantitative and objective terms, whose interests have priority. The amount of corruption that regularly takes place before elections means that corruption is not an anomaly but an essential element in the functioning of managed democracy. The entrenched system of bribery and corruption involves no physical violence, no brown-shirted troopers, no coercion of the political opposition. While the tactics are not those of the Nazis, the end result is the inverted equivalent. Opposition has not been liquidated but rendered feckless."
Mass culture has for decades been awash in the lies skillfully disseminated by the public relations and advertising industries. These lies appeal to our vanity and insecurities. They are used to sell us products or experiences that promise an unachievable happiness. These forms of manipulation, which confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge, also were adopted by political parties before Trump gained the presidency. "The result," Wolin wrote in "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Spector of Inverted Totalitarianism," "has been the pollution of the ecology of politics by the inauthentic politics of misrepresentative government, claiming to be what it is not, compassionate and conservative, god-fearing and moral."
Armando Iannucci's movie "The Death of Stalin," a brilliant black comedy, captures what happens when self-interested narcissists, buffoons and gangsters make the laws and rule a state. Once power is based solely on blind personal loyalty and whim, anything, including wholesale murder, becomes possible. Rights are transformed into privileges that can be instantly revoked. Lies replace truth. Opinions replace facts. History is erased and rewritten. The cult of leadership replaces politics. Paranoia grips a ruling elite that feeds off conspiracy theories, sees mortal enemies everywhere and increasingly lives in a hermetically sealed nonreality-based universe. Force becomes the sole language despots use to communicate to a restive population and the outside world.
Despotic regimes are uninterested in, and often incapable of understanding, nuance, complexity and difference. They perpetuate themselves through constant drama and never-ending crusades against internal and external enemies that are presented as existential threats to the nation. When real enemies cannot be found, they are invented. The persecution of "undesirables" starts with the demonized-immigrants, the undocumented, poor people of color and Muslims, along with those under occupation in the Middle East or socialists in Venezuela-but these "undesirables" are only the beginning. Soon everyone is suspect.
Trump's capricious and arbitrary decisions to remove those around him from power keep his courtiers constantly on edge. The instability fuels the vicious court intrigues that characterize all despotism. Trump's inner circle, aware that the only criterion to remain in power is an exaggerated and obsequious personal loyalty acutely attuned to his mercurial moods and temper tantrums, base all decisions on pleasing the despot. This leads to extreme mismanagement and corruption.
The corporate capitalists who hold real power view Trump as an embarrassment. They would prefer to put a more dignified face on the American empire, one like Biden who will do their bidding with the decorum of a traditional president. But they will work with Trump. He has given them huge tax cuts, is slashing what is left of government oversight and regulation and has increased the budgets for internal security and the military. It may be an uncomfortable relationship, as was the relationship between German industrialists and the buffoonish leaders of the Nazi Party, but for the corporate elites it is far preferable to having to deal with a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth Warren. Capitalists, throughout history, have backed fascism to thwart even the most tepid forms of socialism. All the pieces are in place. The hollowing out of our democratic institutions, which cannot be blamed on Trump, makes tyranny inevitable.
(c) 2019 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 www.truthdig.com/chris_hedges.
Barr Releases Catatonic Mueller After Removing All Sensitive Material From Special Counsel's Brain
By The Onion
WASHINGTON-In an attempt to satisfy calls for transparency while also keeping delicate information under wraps, Attorney General William Barr announced Thursday that he had released a catatonic Robert Mueller after excising all sensitive material from the special counsel's brain.
"With the cuts we've made to his prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, we can now make Robert Mueller available to both Congress and the American people," said Barr, who explained that in the four weeks since the special counsel's investigation ended, the Justice Department had gone to great lengths to capture, confine, and forcibly lobotomize Mueller, ensuring any material deemed unsuitable for the public would remain secret.
"In order to keep the details of grand jury testimony and ongoing investigations confidential, we carefully blacked out his memory of the past two years before releasing him. Unfortunately, it would appear this safety precaution has also resulted in Mr. Mueller forgetting how to speak, walk, and feed himself."
At press time, sources confirmed the drooling, glassy-eyed special counsel was set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, whose members were trying to get him to respond to his name so they could swear him in.
Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non_profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.
In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use"copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.
"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a
copyrighted work, including such use by
reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by
that section, for purposes such as criticism,
comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom
use), scholarship, or research, is not an
infringement of copyright.
In determining whether the use made of a work in
any particular case is a fair use the factors to
be considered shall include:
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether
such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in
relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or
value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such
finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."