Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

Nick Turse returns with, "Tomorrow's Terror Today: Pentagon Documents Detail Dystopian Dangers."

Uri Avnery studies, "The Luck Of The Gambler."

Glen Ford explains, "How The 'Progressives' In The Black Caucus Have Shrunk To Almost Nothing."

Dahr Jamail returns with, "A Disrupted Climate Means Deadlier Cyclones In The Middle East."

Jim Hightower says, "Doctor Trump Prescribes A Sugar-Coated Nothing Pill."

John Nichols reports, "Breaking A Promise, Tom Perez Puts His Thumb On The Scale For Andrew Cuomo."

James Donahue wonders, "Is The Afghan Fighting About The Gold?"

William Rivers Pitt totals, "The Cost Of War At The End Of Empire."

Heather Digby Parton explores, "The Leaks And The Leaking Leakers Who Leak Them."

David Suzuki warns a, "Climate Change Drives Disease-Spreading Arthropods Into New Territory."

Charles P. Pierce reflects, "They Did Not Die For What We Have Now-And That's On Us, Not Them."

Eric Alterman considers, "The Fraying Ties Between Liberal American Jews And Israel."

Amy Goodman reports, "Groups Demand Homeland Security 'Race Paper.'"

Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich examines, "America's Megalomaniac."

Chris Hedges is, "Teaching 'Les Miserables' in Prison."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst reports, "While Donald Trump Stews, Robert Mueller's Investigation Grinds On" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Ve Ist Der Master Race."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Keefe, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Catherine LeRoy, Mandel Ngan, Ricky Best, Mohammed Mahjoub, Airman Magazine, The White Star Line, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Bookmark and Share

Visit me on Face Book

Ve Ist Der Master Race
By Ernest Stewart

When der Fuhrer says, "Ve ist der master race"
Ve HEIL! HEIL! Right in der Fuhrer's face
Not to love der Fuhrer is a great disgrace
So ve HEIL! HEIL! Right in der Fuhrer's face.
Der Fuhrer's Face ~~~ Oliver Wallace

"Global warming has melted the polar ice caps, raised the levels of the oceans and flooded the earth's great cities. Despite its evident prosperity, New Jersey is scarcely Utopia. ~~~ Godfried Danneels

No one should have to choose between medicine and other necessities. No one should have to use the emergency room every time a child gets sick. And no one should have to live in constant fear that a medical problem will become a financial crisis. ~~~ Brad Henry

"The desire for power in excess caused angels to fall; the desire for knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity is no excess, neither can man or angels come into danger by it." ~~~ Francis Bacon

It's always something with the Trumpsters, isn't it? Trump's contempt for the rule of law was on full display when he mocked the very idea of due process for immigrants, and seemed to suggest ending immigration courts altogether.

In an interview that aired during Thursday morning's "Fox & Friends," host Brian Kilmeade pointed out that Trump's crackdown has contributed to a monumental backlog in immigration courts.

"You need more judges," Kilmeade said. "How close is that?"

"Think of it, we are the only country, essentially, that has judges,"
Trump said. "They want to hire thousands of judges. Other countries have, it's called security people. People that stand there and say 'You can't come in.'

"We have thousands of judges, and they need thousands of more judges,"
Trump said. "The whole system is corrupt, It's horrible. So, yeah, you need thousands of judges based on this crazy system."

"Who ever heard of a system where you put people through trials?" Trump asked. "Where do these judges come from? You know, a judge is a very special person. How do you hire thousands of people to be a judge? So, it's ridiculous. We're going to change the system. We have no choice for the good of our country."

When der Fuhrer says ve ist der master-race. Oh my, America!

In Other News

So how is your global warming denial thingie working out for you? Folks down in suburban Baltimore are starting to believe, no mater what they thought in 2015. To be precise the residents of Elliot City found out the an undeniable truth in 2016.

In 2016, Ellicott City, Maryland was struck by a flood so bad it became known as the "1,000-year flood." A one in one thousand chance. Then on Sunday, just two years later, it happened again. So they're having a once in 1,000 years flood, every other year now and folks say that this one was worse than the last one.

According to reporters in the city, which lies approximately 12 miles west of Baltimore, flood waters rushed through the streets, reaching as high as stop signs and ravaging first-floor homes and storefronts. The water swept up cars and large debris as it made its way through town. Oh, and did I mention the last flood was so bad it is only now that they had rebuilt the city. I wonder how many will get out while the gettings good this time around. Like the town in Kansas that was hit by a tornado seven times out of nine years, of course they said they were going to rebuild!

Folks, this is just the beginning of weather horror stories to come, like the preseason tropical storm Alberto that's dropping a like amount of rain on Florida, Alabama , Mississippi and North Carolina as was dropped on Elliot City. Meanwhile, down in Puerto Rico Harvard studies show the death toll from last years hurricane Maria, wasn't 64 people like the government claimed but at least 4645! Now might be a good time to unload that beach front property, ya think?

And Finally

You may recall when President Ray-Guns signed a law in 1986 that prohibits emergency rooms from sending patients away, a practice that disproportionately affected the unemployed and people of color. But Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), who is also running for governor, believes the law should be repealed in an effort to keep health care costs down. I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs:
Dianne says, "No insurance or the wrong color, you die!"
Black told MSNBC host Chuck Todd on Friday:

"I'm an emergency room nurse, There are people that came into my emergency room that I, the nurse, was the first one to see them. I could have sent them to a walk-in clinic or their doctor the next day, but because of a law that Congress put into place to say, no, I have to treat everybody that walks into that emergency room." Especially those darkies and the poor, Diane?

Oh, an did I mention that she sees a direction connection between pornography and the school shootings. Simply get rid of the porn and all these mass murders will go away!

And she wants to be governor? Imagine the future death rate in Tennessee if they're dumb enough to elect her! Ergo she wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award. Congratulations Diane, you deserve it!

Keepin' On

It's that time of year once again when those income tax checks come a rollin' in. If you're getting one, please think of us because we always think of you! We desperately need your help to keep publishing. Please send us what you can and not only will we be extremely grateful but we'll see that it goes to good use in the struggle to reclaim our Republic! Please, do whatever you can as often as you can. We need your help.


03-15-1932 ~ 05-26-2018
Thanks for the adventure!

19-22-1933 ~ 05-27-2018
Thanks for the adventure!

07-23-1947 ~ 05-27-2018
Thanks for the read!


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

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

"In the dystopian scenario used by the Pentagon to train its future leaders, today's forever wars
have proven ineffective and future threats are to be met with new, similarly ineffective, forever wars."

Tomorrow's Terror Today: Pentagon Documents Detail Dystopian Dangers
Narco-corruption, ISIS 3.0, and the terror drone attack that never happened.
By Nick Turse

For almost 20 years, U.S. drone warfare was largely one-sided. Unlike Afghans and Yemenis, Iraqis and Somalis, Americans never had to worry about lethal robots hovering overhead and raining down missiles. Until, that is, one appeared in the skies above Florida.

But that's a story for later. For now, let's focus on a 2017 executive order issued by President Trump, part of his second attempt at a travel ban directed primarily at citizens of Muslim-majority nations. It begins: "It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks."

That sentence would be repeated in a January report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." Meant to strengthen the president's case for the travel ban, it was panned for its methodological flaws, pilloried for its inaccuracies, and would even spur a lawsuit by the civil rights organization, Muslim Advocates, and the watchdog group, Democracy Forward Foundation. In their complaint, those groups contend that the report was "biased, misleading, and incomplete" and "manipulates information to support its anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim conclusions."

To bolster the president's arguments for restricting the entry of foreigners into the United States, the DOJ/DHS analysis contained a collection of case summaries. Examples included: the Sudanese national who, in 2016, "pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS"; the Uzbek who "posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS"; the Syrian who, in a plea agreement, "admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah," an al-Qaeda offshoot.

Such cases cited in the report, hardly spectacular terror incidents, were evidently calculated to sow fears by offering a list of convicted suspects with Muslim-sounding names. But the authors of the report simply looked in the wrong places. They could have found startling summaries of truly audacious attacks against the homeland in a collection of U.S. military documents from 2016 obtained by TomDispatch via the Freedom of Information Act. Those files detail a plethora of shocking acts of terrorism across the United States including mass poisonings, the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and that "People's Armed Liberation (PAL) attack on U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) headquarters in Tampa, Florida, [by] a drone-launched missile."

That's right! A drone-launched missile attack! On CENTCOM's Florida headquarters! By a terrorist group known as PAL!

Wondering how you missed the resulting 24/7 media bonanza, the screaming front page headlines in the New York Times, the hysterics on Fox & Friends, the president's hurricane of tweets?

Well, there's a simple explanation. That attack doesn't actually happen until May 2020. Or so says the summary of the 33rd annual Joint Land, Air, and Sea Strategic Special Program (JLASS-SP), an elaborate war game carried out in 2016 by students and faculty from the U.S. military's war colleges, the training grounds for its future generals and admirals.

PALing Around with Terrorists

The 2016 edition of JLASS-SP was played out remotely for weeks before culminating in a five-day on-site exercise at the Air Force Wargaming Institute at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. It involved 148 students from the Air Force's Air War College, the Army War College, the Marine Corps War College, the Naval War College, the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, the National War College, and the National Defense University's Information Resources Management College. Those up-and-coming officers -- some of whom will likely play significant roles in running America's actual wars in the 2020s -- confronted a future in which, as the script for the war game put it, "lingering jealousy and distrust of American power and national interests have made it politically and culturally difficult for the United States to act unilaterally."

Here's the scene as set in JLASS-SP: while the U.S. is still economically and militarily powerful into the next decade, anxieties abound about increasing constraints on the country's ability to control, dictate, and dominate world affairs. "Even in the military realm... advances by others in science and technology, expanded adoption of irregular warfare tactics by both state and non-state actors, proliferation of nuclear weapons and long-range precision weapons, and growing use of cyber warfare attacks have increasingly constricted U.S. freedom of action," reads the war game's summary.

While the materials used are "not intended to be an actual prediction of events," they are explicitly meant "to reflect a plausible depiction of major trends and influences in the world regions." Indeed, what's striking about the exercise is how -- though scripted before the election of Donald Trump -- it anticipated many of the fears articulated in the president's December 2017 National Security Strategy. That document, for instance, bemoans the potential dangers not only of regional powers like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, but also of "transnational threats from jihadist terrorists and transnational criminal organizations," undocumented immigrants, "drug traffickers, and criminal cartels [which] exploit porous borders and threaten U.S. security and public safety."

The JLASS-SP scenario also prefigured themes from that 2018 DOJ/DHS report supporting the travel ban in the way it stoked fears of, above all, a major "foreign-born" -- especially Muslim -- terror threat in the United States. A 2017 Government Accountability Office report would, however, conclude that, of "the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far right-wing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27 percent)."

Two years after the war game was conducted, in a time of almost metronomic domestic mass killings, President Trump continues to spotlight the supposedly singular danger posed by "inadequately vetted people" in the U.S., although stovetops and ovens, hot air balloons, and burning pajamas are far more deadly to Americans. Indeed, since 9/11, terrorism has been a distinctly low-level risk to the American public -- at least when compared to heart disease, cancer, car crashes, fires, or heat waves -- but has had an outsized effect on the perceptions and actions of the government, not to mention its visions of tomorrow.

Tomorrow's Terror Today

An examination of the threats from international and domestic terror groups, as imagined in JLASS-SP, offers unique clues to the Pentagon's fears for the future. "Increasingly," reads the war game's summary, "transnational organizations, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and violent extremist organizations challenge the traditional notions of boundaries and sovereignty."

That drone-launching terror group, PAL, for instance, is neither Islamist nor a right-wing terror group, but an organization supposedly formed in 2017 in hopes of defeating "globalism and capitalism throughout the world by rallying the proletariat to orchestrate the overthrow of capitalist governments and global conglomerates." Its ideology, an amalgam of increasingly stale leftist social movements, belies its progressive ranks, a rainbow coalition consisting of "most of the globe's ethnicities and cultures," all of whom seem to be cyber-sophisticates skilled in fundraising, recruiting, as well as marketing their particular brand of radicalism.

As of 2020, the audacious drone strike on CENTCOM's headquarters was PAL's only terror attack in the tangible world. The rest of its actions have taken place in the digital realm, where the group is known for launching cyber-assaults and siphoning off "funds from large global corporations, banks, and capitalist governments around the world."

Even though PAL went from a gleam in the eye of its founder, the Bond-villain-esquely named Otto Cyre, to terrorist power-player in just a few short years, the pace of its operations didn't please its hardest core members who, the war game scenario says, broke away in late 2020 to form yet another organization devoted to even more rapidly eroding "confidence in governmental and institutional bodies by staging events that demonstrate the 'impotency' of the establishment." That splinter group, United Patriots Against International Government (UPAIGO) -- in this war game all terror groups have Pentagon-style acronyms -- concentrates on "spectacular but deniable actions," a scattershot campaign of often botched but sometimes lethal efforts that include:

November 2021: a cyber-attack on the Angarsk Refinery in the Russian Federation, which resulted in a two-week shutdown causing a sharp rise in the price of oil and gas just prior to the 2021-2022 winter heating season.

April 2022: a failed attempt to assassinate, by IED, the chief of U.S. Pacific Command. Two members of the commander's security detail and the command's political advisor were killed in the attack while others, including civilians, were injured.

January 2022: a failed plot to detonate a dirty [radioactive] bomb, employing medical waste and homemade explosives, at Philadelphia International Airport.

2023 fire season: as fires raged in the western United States, UPAIGO established relief efforts designed to compete with the U.S. government's response, in order to "undermine confidence in government agencies."

June 2024: an attack, in coordination with members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), on a U.S. flagged air carrier transporting U.S. military personnel at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Militants fired two surface-to-air missiles at the aircraft, which was damaged but managed to land successfully."

PAL and UPAIGO are, however, hardly the only terror threats facing the United States in the 2020s, according to JLASS-SP 2016. PAL's fellow travelers, for example, include the fictional versions of the real Irish National Liberation Army and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). There's also the Environmentalists Against Capitalists Organization, or EACO, "a lethal environmental anti-capitalist terrorist group with global connections." Formed in 2010 (though not in our actual world), EACO, according to the war gamers, evolved into an increasingly violent organization in the 2020s, carrying out not just cyberattacks on corporations but also a full-scale bombing campaign "targeting executive board meetings of large corporations, particularly in industries such as oil, coal, natural gas, and logging." The group even took to planting IEDs on logging roads and employing tainted food as a weapon. By 2025, EACO was implicated in more than 400 criminal acts in the U.S. resulting in 126 deaths and $862 million in damages.

Then there's Anonymous. In the Pentagon's fictional war-game, this real-world hacktivist group is characterized as a "loose organization of malicious black-hat hackers" that employs its digital prowess to "distribute bomb-making instructions, and conduct targeting for options other than planes, trains, and automobiles." In the past created by the military's imagineers, Anonymous was declared a terrorist organization after it conducted an August 2015 digital attack on Louisiana's power grid with something akin to the Stuxnet worm that damaged nuclear centrifuges in Iran. That cyber-assault was meant to protest the state's restrictions on online gambling -- an affront, according to the fictional Anonymous, to Internet freedom. (In the real world, Louisiana lawmakers actually just deep-sixed online gambling without an apparent terrorist response.) Taking down that power grid "resulted in the death of 15 elderly patients trapped in a facility denied air conditioning as a result of the power outage."

Also included among domestic terror groups is Mara Salvatrucha 13 or MS-13, the Los Angeles street gang, born of the American-fueled Central American civil wars of the 1980s, that was transplanted to El Salvador and has since returned to the United States. This violent American export -- the product of deportations in the 1990s -- has paradoxically become a key justification for President Trump's crackdown on immigration. "MS-13 recruits through our broken immigration system, violating our borders. And it just comes right through -- whenever they want to come through, they come through," said Trump earlier this year during a White House roundtable focused on the gang. "We've really never seen anything quite like this -- the level of ferocity, the level of violence, and the reforms we need from Congress to defeat it."

In the real world, the U.S. branch of MS-13 operates in loose local cliques under a franchised name, dabbling in small-time drug dealing, gun-running, prostitution, and extortion (primarily of recent immigrants). Many of its crimes are committed against its own affiliates or members of other gangs. The president nonetheless baselessly claimed that MS-13 has "literally taken over towns and cities of the United States." He also continues to portray the gang, which reportedly makes up less than 1% of the estimated 1.4 million gang members in the U.S., as a sophisticated international cartel.

And that's precisely how MS-13 was also portrayed in the fantasy world of JLASS-SP. In that war game, Mara Salvatrucha has developed "the resources to wage full-scale insurgent campaigns in Central America and the capability to cause serious disruption in the United States and Canada," while rumors swirl of contacts between its members and foreign militants. "If cooperation between foreign terrorist groups and MS-13 ever blossomed, the potential for terrorist attacks within the borders of the United States would increase significantly," the war game scenario warns.

President Trump has been accused of conflating members of MS-13 with undocumented immigrants (and referring to both groups as "animals"). Regardless, there's no question that he kicked off his presidential run in 2015 by disparaging Mexicans. "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people," he infamously declared. The JLASS-SP documents reverse Trump's formula by first noting that "most illegal immigrants crossing into the United States are just trying to make a better life for themselves," only to suggest that the U.S.-Mexican border also "serves as an infiltration point for terrorists."

Unlike in the real world, where such fears circulate primarily as a conspiracy theory, in the Pentagon's future fantasy there is "substantial evidence... that terrorists from the Middle East and North Africa transit the Mexican-U.S. border." Worse yet, radical Islamists even "camouflage themselves as Hispanics" to cross the border. The military's fantasists point to "a flood of name changes from Arabic to Hispanic and the reported linking of drug cartels along the Texas border with Middle East and North Africa terrorism."

That represents a Trumpian-style nightmare-cum-fantasy even the president hasn't yet dreamed up -- a Hispanic-surnamed, cartel-supported group of Islamist terrorists. But by the 2020s, according to the Pentagon's futurists, such worries are well-founded. And this will occur at the same time that Mexican and South American drug gangs have grown so rich and powerful they can regularly buy protection from U.S. government officials.

"Popular opinion in the United States is beginning to believe the 'Narco-corruption' is affecting the 'rule of law' north of the border," according to their scenario, with the cartels spending $20 billion in 2022 alone to buy off U.S. officials or get candidates of their choice elected. That same year, allegations of election tampering in mayoral races across the American South come to light and the number of corruption convictions of U.S. Border Patrol agents and law enforcement officials skyrockets. Perhaps most shocking is the discovery of a "vast irrigated grow site" (evidently a massive marijuana farm) tended by "a dozen Mexican farmers armed with AK-47's" in -- wait for it! -- "remote areas of Illinois."

Mexican farmers, El Salvadoran gang members, Islamists masquerading as Hispanics, eco-terrorists, and anti-globalization militants aren't the only threats foreseen by the military's futurists. Much-ballyhooed reports of the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, like the much-hyped defeat of its predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, turn out to be premature. In the 2020s, the re-re-branded group, now known as the Global Islamic Caliphate, or GIC, draws "support from Sunni-majority regions in Syria and Iraq; refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey; and internally displaced persons in Syria and Iraq," while continuing to launch attacks in the region.

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has grown in reach, size, and might. By 2021, the group has 38,000 members spread across Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger with bases reportedly located in Western Sahara. On May 23, 2023, AQIM carries out the most lethal terror attack in the U.S. since 9/11, detonating massive truck-bombs at both the New York and New Jersey ends of the Lincoln Tunnel, killing 435 people and injuring another 618. The bombing prompts President McGraw -- you remember him, Karl Maxwell McGraw, the independent Arizona senator who rode his populist "America on the Move" campaign to victory in the 2020 election -- to invade Mauritania and become mired in yet another American forever war that shows every indication of grinding on into the 2030s, if not beyond.

The Age of Terrorism

In the real world, the lifetime odds of an American dying from "walking" are one in 672. The chance of being killed by a foreign terrorist? One in 45,808. By an illegal immigrant terrorist? One in 138 million. And the odds of being killed by a "chain migration" immigrant sometime this year? One in 1.2 billion! In other words, you have a far greater chance of being killed by a dog, a shark, lightning, or the government via legal execution.

In their dystopian war-game future, more than two decades of fighting "them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America" (as former President George W. Bush put it in 2007) proves unequivocally futile.

This is not to say terrorism isn't a major threat to others around the world or that terror groups are not proliferating. Since 9/11, the number of terrorist organizations recognized by the U.S. State Department and battled by the Pentagon -- from Africa to the Middle East to Asia -- has grown markedly.

"States are the principal actors on the global stage, but non-state actors also threaten the security environment with increasingly sophisticated capabilities," reads an unclassified synopsis of the Pentagon's 2018 National Defense Strategy. "Terrorists, trans-national criminal organizations, cyber hackers and other malicious non-state actors have transformed global affairs with increased capabilities of mass disruption."

While it may be "the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks," as President Trump's 2017 executive order declares, the Pentagon envisions a future in which such policies are increasingly ineffective. In their dystopian war-game future, more than two decades of fighting "them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America" (as former President George W. Bush put it in 2007) proves unequivocally futile. In this sense, the Pentagon's fantasies bear an eerie resemblance to the actual present. In the dystopian scenario used by the Pentagon to train its future leaders, today's forever wars have proven ineffective and future threats are to be met with new, similarly ineffective, forever wars.

In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Trump declared that we're living in the "age of terrorism." His solution: wielding "unmatched power," loosening the rules of engagement, and establishing an unfettered ability to detain, question, and "annihilate" terrorists.

All of these tactics have, however, been part of the Pentagon's playbook since 2001 and, according to the military's best guess at the future, will lead to an increase in terror groups and terror attacks while terror networks and terrorist ideologies will grow in strength, resilience, and appeal. Almost two decades in, it seems we're still only in the opening days of the "age of terrorism" and, if the Pentagon's war-gamers are to be believed, far worse is yet to come.
(c) 2018 Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning investigative journalist, he has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Nation, and is a contributing writer for The Intercept. His latest book is Next Time They'll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is

The Luck Of The Gambler
By Uri Avnery

WE ALL know the picture from the books and the movies: a gambler sits at the roulette table in a casino. He has luck. A lot of luck.

In front of the gambler the pile of chips is growing. Higher and higher. Every spin of the roulette wheel adds to the heap.

When the heap reaches the level of his eyes, he could just get up, exchange the chips for money and go home. He winnings are enough to keep him in luxury for the rest of his life.

But the man cannot get up. Just cannot. He is glued to his place at the roulette table. And then his luck abandons him. The heap of chips starts to shrink.

He could still get up and save a part of his winnings. But he cannot. He is glued to his seat. Until he loses the last chip.

In the movies, the man gets up and puts a pistol to his head.

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU resembles this man. He has luck. A lot of luck. It is uncanny.

The whole country sees the luck. His popularity rises to the heavens.

The economy is flourishing. There is practically no unemployment. More and more Israeli start-up companies are being bought abroad for astronomical sums.

In the international sphere, Israel marches from victory to victory. The president of the world's most important country behaves as if he were Bibi's abject slave. The US has recognized undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Greater Israel. The transfer of the American embassy there turned into a national festival, on the same day as another festival took place in Tel Aviv, an outburst of popular joy over Israel's triumph at the Eurovision song contest. The masses are overcome, as if it was a victory in war.

The world press mentions Trump, Putin and Netanyahu in the same breath. Three giants.

INSIDE ISRAEL, Netanyahu has unlimited power. Emperor Bibi and his wife look like a royal pair.

He has no competitors. Every possible competitor was purged from the ruling party long ago. The remaining Likud functionaries look like dwarfs compared to Giant Bibi. The coalition partners are a miserable lot of small factions, whose leaders know that they have no chance against Bibi. The "opposition" is pitiful, at best.

The institutions of democracy, whose duty it is to safeguard the democratic system from becoming a dictatorship, are being destroyed, one after the other, while the masses shout encouragement. The Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the State Comptroller, the Police Chief - those who do not surrender are crushed.

The corruption cases against both Binyamin and Sarah Netanyahu, which could be wound up within a month, drag on for years, with no end in sight.

ON THE most important front - the Arab - Netanyahu's luck has reached incredible heights.

The Arab world has always been disunited. But in the past it was a hidden disunity. The lack of coordination between Egypt, Jordan and Syria enabled us to win the 1948 war.

Now the disunity has become open and extreme. Something is happening that in the past was but a dream: Saudi Arabia almost openly cooperates with Netanyahu in the fight against Iran, and so does Egypt.

Two weeks ago, on Black Monday, unarmed Palestinians in Gaza were slaughtered wholesale. Yet not in a single Arab country did stormy demonstrations break out. Not even in the West Bank. Nor in East Jerusalem. Only a tiny Arab demonstration in Haifa, in which a policeman broke the leg of a shackled demonstrator after his arrest.

The entire world witnessed the hideous connection: the victory celebration of Netanyahu at the new US embassy in Jerusalem, while thousands were wounded or killed on the Gaza border. And just a few hours later - the mass outbreak of joy in Tel Aviv's central square over the victory of an Israeli songstress at the Eurovision contest.

The world saw and remained silent. The international reaction to the massacre in Gaza was even less than the usual hypocritical minimum prescribed for such occasions. The only serious reaction came from the Turkish ruler and was buried under a heap of derision in Israel.

During Israel's 70 years of existence, its governments have pretended to long for peace with the Arab world, and before that the Zionist leadership did the same. Since the Oslo agreement, the government also pretended to seek peace with the Palestinian people, whose very existence it denied until then.

During Netanyahu's reign even this pretense has evaporated. At the beginning, Bibi uttered a few words which were construed as advocating the two-state solution. They have been forgotten long ago. Now even the hypocrisy has been swept away. No more peace offers, no "painful concessions", no nothing. Total ignoring of the Saudi Peace Plan (long forgotten).

Why? Simple: there is no possibility of peace without the creation of a Palestinian state. Such a peace necessitates the giving up of parts of the "Land of Israel". Netanyahu knows this well. He does not dream of doing so.

> Does this hurt him in the national arena? On the contrary. Does this hurt him in the international arena? Not at all. Perhaps the opposite is true. The further the chances of peace move away, the higher his popularity rises.

A leader with such luck, who will stand up to him? Which politician, which journalist, which billionaire? Everybody flatters him. Everybody wants to serve him. All except a few idealists and other idiots.

WHAT WILL happen when the incredibly lucky gambler starts to lose, after all?

History is full of heroes who had legendary luck. Who conquered countries and continents, until the bitter day arrived. Napoleon, for example. Or his German successor, whose name had better not be mentioned in this context.

A person who is too successful will inevitably become a megalomaniac. Their mental equilibrium will be upset.

They will go one kilometer too far and fall into the abyss.

And when they fall, they will take the entire country with them.

Perhaps Netanyahu's luck will continue for some time. Perhaps he will still have more and more successes. Until it stops.

Where will Netanyahu move on from the dizzy height of his successes?

Wisdom would say: he should now exchange the chips he has won, which lie before him on the table, the table of the country, and offer the Palestinians and the whole Arab world a generous peace, which would assure Israel peace for generations to come. It is always wise for a country to make peace while it is at the height of its strength.

But Netanyahu is not wise enough to do so. He will continue on his present path.

Perhaps he will be able to restrain himself and not lead us into a war with Iran - a war which will be lost by both sides. It would be a destructive, a catastrophic war. Perhaps Bibi is clever enough to avoid this trap. Unless the criminal investigations against him come too close to trial and his future becomes too endangered. War is always the last refuge of a nationalist ruler.

Even without war, Bibi's course is leading towards an apartheid state. There is just no other possibility. The "Jewish Nation-State" from the Mediterranean Sea to the desert, with an Arab majority that will inexorably grow, until the balance of power within the state turns, the international situation changes, and the willpower of the herrenvolk weakens.

That has happened in history again and again, and that will happen to us. The Jewish State will turn into a bi-national state, with a shrinking Jewish minority, since Jews will not want to live in such a country.

When? In fifty years? In a hundred years? At the end of the glorious Zionist chapter, the Jews will again disperse throughout the world.

I DON'T like to be a prophet of doom. My heart aches when I see the masses captivated by his charisma and following him to perdition.

It reminds me of the legend of the Pied Piper.

In Hamelin, a small town in Germany, there was a plague of rats. In despair, the burghers summoned a renowned rat-catcher and promised him a generous reward.

The rat-catcher took his flute and started to play. The melody was so sweet that all the rats came out of their holes and followed him. The Pied Piper led them into the river, where all the rats perished.

Having got rid of the rats, the burghers refused to pay the agreed price.

So the Pied Piper took up his flute again and started to play. The melody was so sweet that all the children of the town left their homes and followed him. He led them into the river, where all of them drowned.

Bibi Netanyahu, the Pied Piper. Frightening.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

How The "Progressives" In The Black Caucus Have Shrunk To Almost Nothing
By Glen Ford

The "Russiagate" hysteria is only the latest reason to conclude that the Democratic Party is the greatest institutional impediment to creation of mass "resistance" to onrushing war and never-ending austerity under late-stage capitalism. Last week's vote on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019 showed, by the numbers, that any legislative "resistance"depends, not on Democratic victory in November of this year, or in 2020, or the cycle after that, but on the formation of an entirely new party. Only 59 Democrats voted against the $717 billion Pentagon spending bill, whose passage guarantees, not only more war, but new waves of privatization and a painful spiral of doom for what's left of the social safety net in the United States-an ultimate outcome that is fully understood by the perpetrators on both sides of the corporate duopoly.

The lopsided vote reveals that there really is no "left wing" of the Democratic Party, just a tiny, ill-defined faction that can be brushed aside even on "bright line" issues of war and peace, guns or butter, and social justice versus police repression. Since it is the Democratic half of the duopoly that claims the allegiance of the vast demographic consisting of virtually all the components of a "progressive" social base in the U.S. -- components representing large majorities of the American people and the near-totality of the Black population -- it is the Democrats that are to blame for the strangulation of the majority's aspirations for a more just, equal, and peaceful society. Republican gerrymandering of legislative districts concentratesDemocrat-leaning voters, but it is the Democratic Party that turns these voters' progressive notions into mush and dust. Donald Trump didn't make the Democrats betray the solid progressive majority of their constituents; Nancy Pelosi did, on behalf of the party's masters on Wall Street. No rescue of "the people" is conceivable under budgets burdened with such military outlays, yet there is only token "resistance" to military spending from the Democrats, and even those that voted against the authorization still scream for war against the Russians, daily.

The 59 Democrats that opposed the Pentagon bacchanalmake up just 30 percent of the 192-member Democratic Caucus in the House -- a smaller group than the 78-member, and wholly bogus, Congressional Progressive Caucus. Only thirteen Black Representatives voted "Nay," composing exactly the same 30 percent proportion of the Congressional Black Caucus. Yet Black people are the most anti-war, pro-peace and social justice, left-leaning ethnic constituency in the nation, as shown by public opinion polls going back generations. According to a Zogby poll taken weeks before the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, only 7 percent of Blacks supported an invasion "that would kill thousands of Iraqi civilians," while majorities of whites were willing to countenance such an outcome. Polls also show Blacks are, in the majority, a "socialist"-friendly demographic, and Black millennials are even more socialist-leaning than that. But the Democratic Party reflects none of that demographic political sentiment, because it snuffs it out at the source.

The Democratic Party is a people-suppression mechanism. It is, therefore, even more harmful to the Black polity, since Blacks are more left-wing than whites. Overwhelming majorities of Blacks are anti-war, and huge super-majorities of Black people favor a revival of social and economic development spending. But, because of the corporate electoral duopoly system offers only a choice between the White Man's Party (GOP) and the Democrats, the Democratic Party has infested every nook and cranny of Black society. That's why only 30 percent of the Black Caucus -- a pitiful 13 members -- voted against a monstrous Pentagon-funding measure that will starve the social arms of government and prime the pumps for more war. Here's the result of the roll call:

"Yeas" (29)

Alma Adams (NC); Sanford Bishop (GA); Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE); Anthony Brown (MD); G.K. Butterfield (NC); Andre Carson (IN); Wm. Lacy Clay (MO); James Clyburn (SC); Elijah Cummings (MD); Danny Davis (IL); Val Butler Demings (FL); Dwight Evans (PA); Marcia Fudge (OH); Al Green (TX); Alcee Hastings (FL); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Johnson, E. B.(TX); Robin Kelly (IL); Brenda Lawrence (FL); Al Lawson (FL); Donald McEachin (VA); Gregory Meeks (NY); Cedric Richmond (LA); Bobby Rush (IL); David Scott (GA); Bobby Scott (VA); Terri Sewell (AL); Bennie Thompson (MS); Marc Veasey (TX)

"Nays" (13)

Karen Bass (CA); Joyce Beatty (OH); Yvette Clarke (NY); Emanuel Cleaver (MO); Keith Ellison (MN); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); Hank Johnson (GA); Barbara Lee (CA); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); Maxine Waters (CA); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ); Frederica Wilson (FL)

Not Voting (1)

John Lewis (GA)

"Bright Line" Issues

The effectively "progressive" faction in the Black Caucus is even tinier than the 13 "nay-sayers" that opposed the Pentagon super-budget. On the other "bright line" issues of police repression and militarization of local cops, the Black Caucus' voting record is damnable -- and the best proof that the Party is the main impediment to Black dignity, safety and political empowerment.

The week before, an even smaller number of Black House members pried themselves away from Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi's grip to vote against the Protect and Serve Act , which makes any assault on a police officer (a charge that is attached every time the cops beat you up) a "hate crime." Only 11 Black Caucus members opposed treating the police as a "protected class." They were: Karen Bass (CA); Yvette Clarke (NY); Wm. Lacy Clay (MO); Alcee Hastings (FL); Johnson, E. B.(TX); Barbara Lee (CA); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ)

Black Democrats have learned nothing from the grassroots movement that emerged after Mike Brown was shot down by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri, in August, 2014. Two months prior to Brown's killing, on June 14, the full House voted on the Grayson amendment to halt the Pentagon's transfers of weapons and equipment to local police departments. Only 8 Black Caucus members voted for the amendment and against continued militarization of the police. They were:

John Conyers (MI); Donna Edwards (MD); Keith Ellison (MN); Hank Johnson (GA); Barbara Lee (CA); John Lewis (GA); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA)

80 percent of the Black Caucus, 30 of the full-voting members, opted to continue the Pentagon program, or abstained, which amounted to the same thing.

So, how tiny is the dependably "progressive" faction in the Black Caucus, as revealed by votes on such "bright line" issues? If we take the 13 "Nays" against last week's Pentagon measure as a base, and then subtract those members that voted the wrong way on the two key police issues, we are left with even less than a faction -- hardly a grouplet -- that can be depended on to reflect fundamental Black political sentiments. Of the group of 13 from last week's vote, Karen Bass (CA), Joyce Beatty (OH), Yvette Clarke (NY), Emanuel Cleaver (MO), Hakeem Jeffries (NY), Gwen Moore (WI), Donald Payne (NJ), and Frederica Wilson (FL) all voted to continue the militarization of police in 2014, and therefore fail the "bright line" test as dependable Black progressives (or decent human beings). Some of them also voted this month to make police a protected class, as did Keith Ellison (MN), and Hank Johnson (GA).

That leaves standing only three Black Caucus members: Barbara Lee (CA), Maxine Waters (CA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), who was not a member of Congress when the 2014 vote on militarization of police occured.

Michigan's John Conyers, a reliable progressive vote on such issues, has resigned after 53 years in the House. Donna Edwards has been replaced in her Maryland district by Anthony Brown, a Pelosi-sucking hack. The entire Black Caucus class of 2017 and 2016 is worthless: Dwight Evans (PA); Lisa Blunt Rocherster; Val Butler Demings (FL); Al Lawson (FL); A Donald McEachin (VA).

This is not a generational issue. The thoroughly corporate nature of the Democratic Party is the reason that only three Black Caucus members are minimally worthy of the term "progressive" (and, of course, if slavish support for Israel is made a "bright line" issue, then none of the Caucus qualifies.)

The Democratic Party grossly distorts, mangles the political aspirations and sentiments of all the Americans it purports to represent, but especially Black people, who are effectively stripped of any real say in government by the only corporate party the duopoly provides for them.

Anybody that thinks they can transform such a party from the inside-out, is thinking very badly - or a Democrat trying to fool you.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

A picture taken on May 26, 2018, shows a car stuck in a flooded street in the city
of Salalah, Oman, after Cyclone Mekunu dumped two years' worth of rain in 24 hours.

A Disrupted Climate Means Deadlier Cyclones In The Middle East
By Dahr Jamail

On May 26, Cyclone Mekunu, the most powerful storm ever to strike Salalah, Oman, made landfall, killing at least 13 people.

Cyclones are uncommon in the Arabian Sea and off the Eastern African Coast, but that is changing, thanks to human-caused climate disruption. Their frequency and strength is increasing dramatically with each passing decade as the atmosphere continues to warm due to human fossil fuel emissions.

Cyclone Mekunu deluged Salalah, Oman's third-largest city, with more than two years' worth of rainfall in 24 hours. Salalah normally gets five inches of rain per year.

The storm, which packed gusts of up to 124 miles per hour (mph), tore apart buildings, downed street lights and turned normally bone-dry creek beds into raging rivers. Scenes of the devastation are apocalyptic.

Unfortunately, science shows us that this region must prepare for more of this to come, as climate disruption continues to shift planetary weather patterns in increasingly dramatic ways.

The Science

Over the last two decades, the intensity of storms across the Arabian Sea has increased notably. As the already very warm waters of that area are warmed further (this year they are 2 degrees Celsius above normal), the amount of evaporation increases, which lends larger downpours and increasing strength to the cyclones.

While no single weather event can ever solely be attributed to human-caused climate disruption, science shows that higher ocean heat provides more energy for storms. Given that oceans have absorbed nearly all of the heat humans have generated in the atmosphere, the impact is obvious.

And this has been made clear in just the last few years. In 2015, Hurricane Patricia in the North Atlantic set a record (at that time) for the strongest winds at sea at 215 mph. The very next year, Winston became the strongest storm ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.

Hurricanes and cyclones function as a sort of relief valve of energy as they remove heat from tropical oceans in the form of moisture being drawn into the atmosphere where it is radiated back out into space. This keeps the oceans cooler, and no other phenomenon plays this role as hurricanes do.

Experts with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe human-caused climate disruption will cause stronger storms.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has long since shown that there has been an increase in hurricane activity across the North Atlantic since the 1970s. While other areas of the globe may not necessarily see more hurricanes and cyclones, the strength of storms everywhere is highly likely to increase.

For example, storms with precipitation levels like Hurricane Harvey that deluged the Houston area in 2017 with record-breaking rainfall are expected to increase,/A> in strength, and also in frequency. That type of storm has already evolved to be expected once every 16 years instead of once every century.

IPCC research also already shows that there has been an increase in hurricane activity over the last four decades.

Hence, while overall around the globe the number of storms is not dramatically increasing, the strength of storms clearly is, given the fact that the oceans have absorbed nearly all of the increase in the planet's energy between 1971 and 2010.

Higher winds, higher storm surges, and dramatically increased downpours with hurricanes and cyclones around the world are now becoming the new normal, and these trends will all increase with time as human-caused climate disruption continues unchecked.
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Doctor Trump Prescribes A Sugar-Coated Nothing Pill
By Jim Hightower

President Trump is said to see himself as a sort of Teddy Roosevelt. TR, however, was known as a trust buster, while DT has become known as a trust hugger.

We recently saw the hugger in action when he held a PR event to ballyhoo 50 proposals to stop Big Pharma from gouging American consumers with monopolistic drug pricing. People are rightly outraged that pill-peddling giants exploit patients who have life-threatening diseases and routinely jack up prices on common drugs by some 10 percent a year. As a presidential candidate, Trump jumped on this hot issue, accusing drug makers of "getting away with murder."

So, now with typical modesty, he has revealed his plan to stop the rip-offs, calling his 50 proposals the "most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs for the American people." Yeah, "sweeping" as in sweeping the problem under the White House rug. Fifty is just a political number meant to puff-up Trump's plan as something BIG. But as one congressional Democrat pointed out, all 50 amount to "a sugar-coated nothing pill." It even fails to include his own campaign promise to use the purchasing power of Medicare to negotiate lower prices for seniors.

Far from feeling punished, Big Pharma itself felt it had gotten a warm presidential hug - drug company stock prices went up immediately after the presidential speech.

It's really no surprise that Trump is letting these corporate profiteers continue "getting away with murder." After all, political posturing aside, he has stacked his administration with drug industry executives like Alex Azar, a former Eli Lily honcho who is now his Secretary of Health. How revealing that Azar was standing right behind the president at the White House media event, beaming and applauding as Trump announced... well, a lot of nothing.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Tom Perez looks at his notes during a Democratic National Committee forum in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 11, 2017.

Breaking A Promise, Tom Perez Puts His Thumb On The Scale For Andrew Cuomo
By abandoning a commitment to strict neutrality and endorsing in a key race, the DNC chair undermines confidence in the Democratic Party.
By John Nichols

Tom Perez has been a member of the Democratic Party's inner circle for a long time, as an elected official, a candidate, a gubernatorial and presidential appointee and the chair of the Democratic National Committee. He was one of the ablest members of Barack Obama's cabinet, developing a reputation as a secretary of labor who actually cared about laborers. He has a history of taking reasonably progressive stands on issues, and he has highlighted them as part of his work with the DNC.

Following the disastrous 2016 election, Perez campaigned to become the chair of a party that needed to change. In a contentious race, he was seen as the candidate of an embattled establishment, while Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison was viewed as the insurgent challenger. After narrowly winning, Perez tried to patch things up by making Ellison the deputy chair of the DNC and touring the country with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. More importantly, Perez signaled that he would reverse the reputation of the DNC as a tool of party insiders who were invariably biased in favor of establishment candidates and major donors.

At the heart of this effort was a commitment to remain neutral in primary contests that have now taken on an edge as a "battle for the soul" of the party. For years, grassroots activists have griped that the DNC put its finger on the scale in big-ticket contests-to the advantage of predictable centrists and to the disadvantage of populists who proposed to expand the party's appeal by exciting the base. The frustration peaked in 2016, during the primary campaign between Hillary Clinton and Sanders, with Sanders backers complaining about everything from the scheduling of debates to the DNC's approach to resolving disputes over caucuses.

Perez said he was very serious about taking the DNC's thumb off the primary scale in 2018 and beyond. Acknowledging lingering concerns from 2016-some of which are being addressed by a Unity-Reform Commission process-the chairman said in March: "We've got to make sure the process is fair in fact and fair in perception, so everyone feels like they got a fair shake." The vital thing is that people have confidence in the Democratic Party" and its nominating processes as "open to everyone."

Restoring and maintaining confidence in the party is a delicate task, especially with lingering mistrust among different factions. As chairman, Perez has used precise language to describe what is necessary to build that confidence. "Scrupulously neutral" was the term Perez employed just last week, when he was asked whether the national party might intervene in the Georgia primary between former legislator Stacey Abrams, a high-profile contender who had attracted significant support from progressive groups that were excited by her base-building campaign to become the country's first African-American female governor, and former legislator Stacey Evans, who had secured endorsements from former governor Roy Barnes, former senator Max Cleland, and a number of other old-school Georgia Democrats.

On May 18, Perez said the DNC needed to maintain strict neutrality "because we think the voters should decide that."

That was then. This is now. On May 24, Perez appeared at the New York State Democratic Party convention to deliver an all-in endorsement of Governor Andrew Cuomo and his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "You've been delivering results and you've been delivering results that have made people's lives better," declared the DNC chair. "That's why Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul are charter members of the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party, and that's why I'm proud to endorse them."

What gives? Both Cuomo and Hochul face spirited primary challenges from progressive Democrats who have captured public attention and endorsements, and who seem to be stirring the imaginations of the younger Democrats and the independents and new voters the party needs. In support of Cuomo's challenger, Cynthia Nixon, New York Working Families Party director Bill Lipton says: "She is fighting for a New York for all of us, that leaves no one behind. That means fair funding for all our public schools, a criminal justice system that serves all our communities and a campaign finance system that puts working families first, not wealthy donors. We believe Democratic primary voters will choose her as well." The WFP, which backed Sanders in 2016 and this year is backing many progressive Democrats in primary fights, is also supporting Hochul's challenger, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, whom it hails for helping to "lead the fight to end the abuse of stop-and-frisk, prevent gun violence, and for affordable housing, equity, and social justice."

So why is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee appearing at a state Democratic convention to endorse a pair of candidates who face hotly contested primaries? Perez says he's been politically and personally friendly with the Cuomo family for years.

But, as an inner-circle Democrat who has been active in party politics for decades, Perez has (like all party chairs) been politically and personally friendly with a lot of prominent Democrats for a long time. A number of people he knows are running this year. A number of people he knows-including several who played important roles in advancing his political career-might run for the party's presidential nomination in 2020. Will they to be counted in "the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party" that somehow merits more generous consideration than the candidates with whom Perez and other inner-circle Democrats are less familiar? Or simply less friendly?

This is a serious question. And a serious issue, which Tom Perez summed up well in March of this year, when he explained during a C-SPAN conversation that the DNC must avoid even the hint of favoritism.

"One thing we've learned at the DNC is that when you, in fact or in perception, are trying to put the thumb on the scale in a spirited primary, that can undermine public confidence in us," said the chairman.

Parties are rarely pure or perfect when it comes to staying clear of primaries, especially when incumbents are challenged.

But Perez articulated a high standard-no thumbs on the scale-which was exactly what was needed.

Then, on Thursday, Perez put his own thumb on the scale in a spirited primary-in fact and in perception. In so doing, the DNC chair undermined confidence in the Democratic Party at a point when it simply cannot afford to be seen as a party that maintains high standards of fairness except when it doesn't. Tom Perez needs to recognize that this is exactly the wrong impression for the party to be sending about 2018-and 2020.
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Is The Afghan Fighting About The Gold?
By James Donahue

Afghanistan appears on world maps as a nation with borders, but in reality it is a vast land occupied by many tribes. United States troops have been at war there for the past decade. Before that the Russians were fighting the tribes. Looking back into history, Afghanistan has been an almost constant battleground at least since Alexander the Great invaded in 330 BC and probably long before this.

When President George W. Bush ordered American troops to invade the entire country of Afghanistan in 2001 in retaliation to the 9-11 attack by an al-Qaeda terrorist cell located in Kandahar, many believed there was some other objective behind such a military move. Osama bin Laden and his gang quickly disappeared into the rugged mountainous terrain between Afghanistan and Pakistan and US and British forces found themselves fighting against another powerful tribal force, the Taliban, which was not believed to have been linked with al-Qaeda or the attack on the United States.

So why did we do this? And why are we still there in 2018, with military advisors saying they think we need to stay a few years longer to try to build a stable government? From the images we see on our nightly television news Afghanistan might as well be the Moon. It is largely an undeveloped rugged wasteland that has been occupied by tribal farmers and herders for centuries.

As with most contemporary wars, our objective in Afghanistan has to be about money. When it comes to prolonged warfare it always involves big business interests. But other than the manufacture and sale of military weapons, is there something else?

You bet there is.

For one thing, Afghanistan's biggest cash crop has been the poppy plant, from which much of the world's supply of morphine and heroin are produced. This alone involves big business, both for the pharmaceutical industry and organized crime.

What few people know, however, is that during the Cold War, both Soviet and U. S. geologists bored thousands of test holes and discovered huge deposits of copper, zinc, mercury, tin, fluorite, potash, tale, asbestos, magnesium, and most exciting of all....they found gold, emerald, ruby, lapis, lazuli, and other precious stones. Also deep in that ground it is known that untapped resources may also include undiscovered new pockets of oil and natural gas.

The riches lying under the Afghan landscape have not been a secret to the tribal leaders. Primitive mining has been going on there for hundreds of years and it is believed that about 200 mines exist . . . all under the control of local warlords.

The last serious mining there occurred during the reign of Alexander the Great more than 2000 years ago.

Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the central "democratic" government established under the rule of President Hamid Karzai, Pentagon officials and American geologists have conducted new surveys and now estimate mineral riches there worth over $3 trillion.

Karzai's government passed a mining law and established the Ministry of Mines and Industries in 2006. Under this law, all minerals located on or under the surface is "the exclusive property" of the government. The government is free to promote the efficient development of the mineral industry by the private sector. Thus the door was opened for big corporate interests to get involved in mining operations in Afghanistan.

Among the first corporate investment interests to enter the picture was J. P. Morgan Capital Markets. Morgan's involvement immediately intensified the resistance by the Taliban, which is fighting to protect the mines.

Thus the Afghanistan war is no longer being fought under the guise of battling al-Qaeda forces. We are now fighting the Taliban, and the war is over big corporate greed. This is what American troops are dying for.

President Obama's promise to shut down the Afghanistan War did not happen. Trump does not appear to want to halt any of the fighting now occurring throughout the Middle East. Thus it appears that the endless war in Afghanistan goes on indefinitely; and this time the U.S. is caught up in it.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Members of the Old Guard arrive with packs full of US flags to place on graves at
Arlington National Cemetery on May 24, 2018 ahead of Memorial Day in Arlington, Virginia.

The Cost Of War At The End Of Empire
By William Rivers Pitt

Picador Publishing recently released a 40th anniversary edition of Philip Caputo's Vietnam masterpiece, A Rumor of War. I was happy to purchase a copy, having read my original copy to tatters some 30 years ago in my ongoing quest to better understand my oft-inscrutable father, and to better understand the war that left such a deep, damaging mark on him.

Caputo's harrowing memoir was one of many dozens I pored through over the years in that endeavor, with limited success. The Vietnam War is everywhere, and nowhere. It touches everything and everyone even all these years later, yet nobody talks about it; Ken Burns made a mighty documentary attempt at opening a conversation on the massive meaning and impact of that war, but his endeavor fell far short by failing to recognize the significance of the war resistance that was, after all these years, proven absolutely right.

When I was a boy, the old men like my grandfather were veterans of World War II or Korea, or both. The sailors wore hats emblazoned with the ships they had served on, the infantrymen marched in the annual parades, and nobody avoided the subject of war around them. This seems strange in retrospect, because the "Good Wars" also involved astonishing acts of carnage committed against civilian populations. They also involved active war resistance, though not at the scale seen in the years to come.

Now that I am a man, the old men are Vietnam veterans, and while we don't flee the topic of the war the way we did 30 years ago, it is best left alone. Old scars still bleed, and the killing fields remain only a nightmare away.

Today, as with every Memorial Day year after year, there are flags. The Boston Common is filled right now with more than 37,000 small US flags, placed there by volunteers to commemorate every Massachusetts soldier killed in battle since the Revolution. Thousands of those flags represent soldiers who died in Vietnam. The fluttering sea of red, white and blue creates an uncommon silence in the heart of the city.

More than 100 soldiers from 93 different Massachusetts towns have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Their flags share the Common with their Vietnam forebears, but more than that, they share the vicious fate of having died in wars that should not have been fought. The astonishing Vietnam War memorial in Washington DC should not exist. Should someone finally choose to honor the fallen of the Forever War with a wall of their own, it will be a monument to our gross failure as a society to keep them alive. Should a wall ever be erected honoring the civilians murdered in these wars, it would blot out the sun and stand as brick-and-mortar evidence of crimes against humanity.

When Philip Caputo marched off to war in 1965, he and his fellow soldiers were filled with the missionary zeal imbued by President Kennedy in those years, when the majority of people in this country bought into narratives of US exceptionalism and the moral righteousness of US military hegemony. "For Americans who did not come of age in the early sixties," wrote Caputo in his memoir, "it may be hard to grasp what those years were like -- the pride and overpowering self-assurance that prevailed." It didn't last, of course; the war beat the idealism out of them one long day at a time. "We left Vietnam peculiar creatures," said Caputo, "with young shoulders that bore rather old heads."

It is strange to imagine such idealism today. The Vietnam War lasted 25 years, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted 27 years with no end in sight -- the Trump administration is wrapping our seemingly eternal involvement in Afghanistan in multiple layers of secrecy -- shattering the lives of millions in the gritty disarray of a military empire in collapse. It took decades for the country to come to grips with the folly that was Vietnam, but it was abundantly clear that Iraq and Afghanistan were a disastrous fool's errand before the shooting even started. Yet we invaded anyway, and still we remain so many years later, because war is what we do.

It is our principle export, a vital economic engine, the hub to which all the spokes of our rickety national wheel are attached, and it is visibly cracking. You can't steal $6,000,000,000,000 from a country in less than 20 years and fail to make a monstrous impact on the very bones of that society, yet that six trillion is merely loose change compared to what we have squandered on permanent war since 1947.

Every bomb dropped, every missile launched, every bullet fired, every bandage used, every body bag filled represents money that once belonged to all of us but has been transferred to a small group of wealthy war profiteers we will never meet. The theft is generational in scope, and affects everything from the hospital bills we can't afford to the roads too potholed to drive on to the schools without enough teachers and books. The damage done to us all is comprehensive, and that's before we get to the body count.

And so there are the flags of Memorial Day, meant to honor the sacrifice of those who died in the wars. The remaining war survivors in the US are victims of a lethal machine designed to extract maximum profit for as long as possible, as are their brothers and sisters in the cold ground, as are the murdered civilians in Asia and the Middle East, as are we all.

Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq - it's all the same war, bolstered by the same profit motive and veiled in the same empty promises. Only the dead -- the fallen US soldiers and those they have killed -- know the true cost of war here at the end of empire. A truly fitting memorial would be a Memorial Day when no new flags are needed, when we have all the dead we can stand and choose not to make more.

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

The Leaks And The Leaking Leakers Who Leak Them
By Heather Digby Parton

For a little chuckle on a Sunday evening:

Shortly after word leaked that Kelly Sadler had taken a nasty shot at John McCain, President Trump convened a meeting in the Oval Office for a tiny group of communications staffers, according to sources familiar with the gathering. Sadler, Mercedes Schlapp, Raj Shah, and John Kelly all gathered in front of the Resolute Desk for a conversation with Trump about the leaking problem. They were the only people in the room, though the door to the outer Oval was open.

What happened: The president told Sadler she wouldn't be fired for her remark. He added, separately in the conversation, that he's no fan of McCain. Then Trump, who had grown obsessed with the leaking problem, told Sadler he wanted to know who the leakers were. Sadler then stunned the room: To be completely honest, she said, she thought one of the worst leakers was Schlapp, her boss.

Schlapp pushed back aggressively and defended herself in the room. And in follow up conversations after the meeting, some of Schlapp's colleagues also came to her defense. (In a prior meeting, she had said, "You can put this on the record: I stand with Kelly Sadler"). Sadler went on to name other people she also suspected of being leakers.

The allegation - like a previous internal meeting to deal with leaking - ultimately got leaked to us.

It's a free-for-all in there with everyone in the White House, including the president, leaking and accusing others of leaking.

He runs a very tight ship.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Aedes mosquito. The Aedes mosquito can spread serious diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, the Zika virus and chikungunya.

Climate Change Drives Disease-Spreading Arthropods Into New Territory
By David Suzuki

According to an African proverb (and the Dalai Lama), "If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito." The saying implies that even when we feel insignificant and powerless, we can create a buzz. But mosquitoes and other tiny critters can literally have a huge impact.

An insect no bigger than a grain of rice, fortified by climate change, has devastated forests in British Columbia and beyond. Warmer winters have allowed the mountain pine beetle to move further north and survive and thrive in places where cold temperatures once halted their spread.

If swaths of red, dying forests weren't enough to get us to take global warming seriously, other tiny critters might get our attention. Researchers have found that ticks, fleas and mosquitoes are moving into new territories, in part because of climate change.

That's led to an uptick in diseases, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It found vector-borne diseases spread by parasitic insects and arachnids more than tripled in the U.S. over 12 years - from 27,388 cases in 2004 to 96,075 in 2016.

Although the report only looked at disease increases, experts say climate change is a factor. University of Toronto epidemiologist David Fisman told E&E News (republished in Scientific American) that black-legged ticks carrying Lyme disease - which can impair motor function and cause memory loss, even death - are showing up in parts of Canada where they haven't been seen before.

In the past, "They just didn't have the ability to establish local tick populations because it simply was too cold for them to complete their life cycles," Fisman said.

A disease-carrying mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is also expanding throughout the continental U.S., and is now common in 38 states. Yet another arthropod, the lone star tick, causes a severe lifelong immune response to meat, called "alpha-gal allergy." When a tick bites, it spreads the alpha-gal sugar molecule through its saliva into the human's blood. As a Grist article explains, "Then, the molecule essentially rewires the body's immune system, prompting it to produce an overload of alpha-gal antibodies." The life-threatening reaction hits infected people several hours after they eat meat.

Because parasitic insects and arachnids have spread not just north, and because disease increases don't always correlate exactly with increased populations, researchers say other factors besides climate change could be at play. But, as an article in The Lancet says, "Under current predictions of climate change, mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are expected to increase in both distribution and ability to transmit diseases such as dengue, Zika, and yellow fever."

The Lancet article also says increasing cases of dengue and spread and intensity of cholera have been "directly linked to climate change." Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz found warmer temperatures and increased rainfall provide ideal conditions for mosquitoes to breed and can also "accelerate viral replication in mosquitoes."

Insects aren't the only concern related to climate and disease. "Rising global temperatures, disruption of seasons, and landscape changes can cause drought and famine, as well as natural disasters and rising sea levels," the article says. "The effects, and the attendant population displacement, have huge implications for infectious diseases." It points to factors that exacerbate disease spread and severity, including mass migration, overcrowded housing, unsanitary conditions, flooding, drought and undernutrition - all worsened by a warming planet.

The most vulnerable are also at the most risk. A recent study by researchers at Memorial University published in Pediatrics found children bear 88 per cent of the burden of climate-related disease, which "threatens to reverse the gains in global child health and the reductions in global child mortality made over the past 25 years." It points to insect-related diseases such as malaria and Zika, waterborne illnesses that cause diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies, and effects of heat, drought and air pollution.

A mosquito whining while you're trying to sleep is annoying. You might want to swat it, repel it or deal with it in some other way. Parasite and disease proliferation that comes with accelerating global warming is a much bigger, collective problem that we must work together to resolve.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

They Did Not Die For What We Have Now-And That's On Us, Not Them
Ultimately, that's why we've lost the plot on Memorial Day.
By Charles P. Pierce

Long after he had done his part at Gettysburg to help save the Army of the Potomac, and win the battle, and probably preserve the United States of America as the United States of America, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a soldier and a gentleman and a scholar, wrote about how best to memorialize what he had done, and what had been done by all the less-famous souls, some gone off to glory and some not, with whom he had served.

He wrote:

Those who will may raise monuments of marble to perpetuate the fame of heroes. Those who will may build memorial halls to remind those who shall gather there in after times what manhood could do and dare for right, and what high examples of virtue and valor have gone before them. But let us make our offering to the ever-living soul. Let us build our benefactions in the ever-growing heart, that they shall live and rise and spread in blessing beyond our sight, beyond the ken of man and beyond the touch of time.
Perhaps it was too much to hope that Memorial Day would continue to be a day of mourning and of contemplation-an "occasion of sacred bereavement," as historian David Blight called it. In truth, its origins are a matter of some dispute and for years, it was an occasion to re-fight the Civil War over the bones of the people who'd died in it. Like Blight, however, I choose to place its beginnings on May 1, 1865.

Dead soldiers lie on the battlefield at Gettysburg, where 23,000 Union troops and 25,000 Confederate troops were killed during the Civil War. July 1863.

During the war, the Confederate government had turned the racetrack in Charleston, South Carolina into an open-air prison. Hundreds of Union prisoners died there from disease and mistreatment. They were buried without ceremony behind the grandstand. Blight picked up the story from there in a piece for The New York Times:

After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, "Martyrs of the Race Course.". The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy's bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing "a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before."

The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song "John Brown's Body." Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children's choir sang "We'll Rally Around the Flag," the "Star-Spangled Banner" and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible. After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite. That's the way to remember how Memorial Day began-memorializing not only the dead, but also the righteous cause for which they died. No both sides. No Lost Cause gilding of history. There was one right side in the Civil War, and it was the side of abolition and national union, and that's what the African-American citizens of Charleston took it upon themselves to do. The deaths of the prisoners at of the racetrack, and the torrents of blood expended in the war, as historian Barbara Fields memorably put it in Ken Burns's series on the war, "had to be for something higher than Union and the free navigation of the Mississippi River."

Marines recovering body of comrade while under fire during N. Vietnamese/US mil, conflict over DMZ.

Maybe we've lost the plot on this holiday because we've lived through so many wars now whose causes were anything but righteous. Maybe we've lost the plot on this holiday because so many of our fellow citizens have died fighting for reasons that were hazy at the time and look even more inscrutable in retrospect. Maybe we've lost the plot on this holiday because our wars have killed so many people for such dubious reasons all over the planet. We have made Shilohs and Gettysburgs in jungles and in deserts and in the mountains and in the trenches along the Somme. Sherman marched to the sea, destroying everything in his path. It took months. We took out two cities with two bombs three days apart, killing 150,000 people instantly. That is the way wars are now.

What has remained clear is the feeling, best expressed by Barbara Fields, that all the bloodshed and all the death has to be for something. And maybe, ultimately, that's why we've lost the plot on this holiday, because we all have failed to maintain our faith in the institutions of free government that we say, once or twice a year, that all of these people died to preserve.

An American flag drapped coffin is taken to a burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on March 7, 2016.

They did not risk, they did not bleed, they did not die for what this country is at the moment: a republic of mummery, numb and stupid, drunk on unreality and unreason, and, by its own public choice, led by a ridiculous and dangerous man. They did not risk, they did not bleed, and they did not die for what we have now, and that is on us, not them, and not on the people who sent them to war. It is this country at this moment that has squandered the peace and that has profaned the sacrifice because it has made a mocker's game of both of them. This is not what they died for.

Happy Memorial Day.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia."
~~~ George Orwell

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington.

The Fraying Ties Between Liberal American Jews And Israel
A new generation of liberal American Jewish leaders will no longer uncritically support Israel, and Netanyahu no longer pretends to care.
By Eric Alterman

The 70th anniversary of Israel's founding, coupled with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem and the mass protests and killings in Gaza, gives every indication of being a turning point. Israel is not divorcing America's liberal Jewish community quite yet, but it is well on its way to estrangement.

Not surprisingly, the media coverage of what's happening on the ground has fallen behind. The sight of Israeli Defense Force snipers shooting unarmed protesters is indeed appalling. Yet the punditocracy remains filled with those who do not merely excuse Israel's use of excessive force but actively praise it.

This is particularly true of the New York Times op-ed page, which, aside from Michelle Goldberg's laments for the fate of liberal Zionism, is dominated by apologists for the Netanyahu government. Shmuel Rosner is one of a dwindling number who see their role as defending Israel to liberal Jews. He authored a Times op-ed that was headlined with a phrase that ought to shock defenders of Israel: "Israel Needs to Protect Its Borders. By Whatever Means Necessary." In the piece, Rosner argues, "Guarding the border was more important than avoiding killing, and guarding the border is what Israel did successfully." Rosner even tried to justify the use of live bullets. We so often hear that Israel is a technocratic marvel, but is murder by sniper really the best method of border control it can come up with?

Yossi Klein Halevi is a more skillful and honest pro-Israel commentator. In The Wall Street Journal a few weeks earlier, Halevi wrote a measured, relatively balanced column, whose essential thesis was nevertheless irrelevant: "What has been missed by most observers is the rare clarifying moment that this confrontation has offered: The March of Return is an explicit negation of a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza coexisting beside Israel." This may be true, but it is beside the point, since Israel is ruled by a party that not only explicitly rejects Palestinian statehood but also seeks to make such a solution impossible in the future. If Israel is not practicing apartheid today-and that point is arguable-there can be no doubt that it is planning its implementation soon. There is simply no other way to continue the 51-year occupation and retain the state's Jewish character.

No doubt the most prominent member of the "Israel is always right" brigade is the Times' Bret Stephens, formerly of the Journal, where he was known to complain of the "disease of the Arab mind." In his latest column on Gaza, Stephens can't even write the word "occupation" without derisive quotation marks. He whines, Trumplike, "Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?"

This, of course, is transference of the first order. As the pro-Israel (and mostly conservative) Economist observed in a lead editorial, "Gaza is a prison, not a of the most crowded and miserable places on Earth. It is short of medicine, power and other essentials. The tap water is undrinkable; untreated sewage is pumped into the sea." Israel, the editors go on to observe, "insists that the strip is not its problem, having withdrawn its forces in 2005. But it still controls Gaza from land, sea, and air. Any Palestinian, even a farmer, coming within 300 metres of the fence is liable to be shot."

The fact that Israel chooses to perpetuate this enforced misery within and beyond its ill-defined borders is evidence of a political transformation that would horrify the founders of Zionism and its earliest pioneers. Who are Israel's political enemies, according to Bibi Netanyahu? They are human-rights groups, Jewish civil-society organizations, and even American rabbis who belong to groups like Jewish Voice for Peace.

And who are its friends? As Anshel Pfeffer, the prime minister's astute biographer, notes, Netanyahu is "the toast of the new wave of right-wing, populist and autocrat-like (if not outright autocratic) leaders. They see in him a kindred spirit, even a mentor." Look at who was invited to speak at the opening of the Trump administration's Jerusalem embassy: John Hagee and Robert Jeffress. The former described Hitler as God's "hunter," and the latter believes that all Jews are going to Hell. But Netanyahu-whose government has all but endorsed the anti-Semitic campaign by the Hungarian government against the Jewish liberal philanthropist George Soros-doesn't care. What all they share, as with Trump and company, is an unashamed hatred of Islam and its practitioners.

Another new development: Netanyahu refuses to even pretend that he cares what liberal American Jews think or feel about Israel. After all, he has billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to listen to. The Adelsons were in Jerusalem for their victory lap, just as they had spent the inauguration with Trump. Recently, we learned of an over $30 million donation-some might say payoff-to the Republican Party on top of the estimated $82 million spent on Trump and the GOP in 2016. At the same time, Adelson's wife, Miriam, just named herself publisher of their pro-Bibi propaganda sheet Israel Hayom.

And while most of the current generation of American Jewish leaders still uncritically support Israel, that's about to change. According to the Pew Research Center, liberal Democrats, who supported Israel over the Palestinians by a margin of 30 percent in 2001, now say they favor the Palestinians by 16 percent-an astonishing 23-point swing.

Organizations led by young American Jews, such as IfNotNow and J Street U, are dominated by those who hate the occupation at least as much as they love Israel. They read Haaretz and see hope in partnering with Israeli groups like Breaking the Silence, the New Israel Fund, B'Tselem, Molad, Peace Now, and the excellent binational publication +972. But it is these narrow threads that hold together the alliance between liberal American Jews and the nation they once considered a source of pride and admiration-and today brings only shame and sadness.
(c) 2018 Eric Alterman is Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism, Brooklyn College, City University of New York. He is also the "Liberal Media" columnist for The Nation, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, and the Nation Institute and the World Policy Institute in New York, as well as former columnist for The Daily Beast, The Forward, Moment, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, the Sunday Express (London), etc. Alterman is the author of 10 books, including the national bestseller What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News. He has been called "the most honest and incisive media critic writing today" in the National Catholic Reporter and author of "the smartest and funniest political journal out there" in The San Francisco Chronicle. A winner of the George Orwell Prize, the Stephen Crane Literary Award, and the Mirror Award for media criticism, he has previously taught at Columbia and NYU and has been a Hoover Institution Media Fellow at Stanford University. Alterman received his PhD in American history from Stanford, his MA in international relations at Yale, and his BA from Cornell. He lives with his family in Manhattan, where he is currently at work on a book about the history of the Israel/Palestine debate in the United States for Basic Books. More information is available at

A detail from the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C.

Groups Demand Homeland Security 'Race Paper'
By Amy Goodmn

Roseanne Barr's abhorrent tweet, comparing Obama presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape, once again put race front and center in the national discourse, where it should remain. The scourge of racism takes many shapes, and has been integral to American history long before the nation's founding. Racism's most odious form, though, is when it appears as official policy, as is the case with the "Black Identity Extremist" ("BIE") classification recently adopted by the FBI.

The "Black Identity Extremist" label was revealed last year when an FBI report was leaked to the press, provoking a firestorm of criticism from civil-liberties and racial-justice groups, alleging the FBI was reverting to behavior akin to COINTELPRO, its counterintelligence program from the 1950s, '60s and '70s, when it criminally targeted, surveilled, infiltrated and disrupted protest organizations like the Black Panther Party, leading to the imprisonment and death of many.

This recent leaked FBI report, titled "Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers," was dated Aug. 3, 2017 - ominously, just three days before the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one anti-racist activist, Heather Heyer, was killed, and scores more were injured.

In addition to the FBI memo, documents obtained by several groups under the Freedom of Information Act revealed the existence of an internal document at the Department of Homeland Security, that staff there referred to as the "Race Paper." The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Media Justice and 40 other organizations have written to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, calling for the release of the unredacted version of this paper. A copy was released by DHS, but in a completely redacted form.

"We believe that the 'Race Paper' may improperly suggest that constitutionally-protected Black political speech should be considered an indicator of criminal conduct or a national security threat," the letter's co-signers wrote, expressing their concern over "serious implications on the constitutional rights and safety of Black and Brown people in the United States, and, in particular, protesters and activists of color."

At least one African-American activist has been jailed as a "Black Identity Extremist." Rakem Balogun, a Dallas-based activist, believes he was the first person arrested as a "BIE." He described his arrest on the "Democracy Now!" news hour: "On December 12th [2017], around 6 a.m. in the morning, me and my son were at home resting, when FBI agents rammed our door and immediately rushed us outside in our underwear, under gunpoint." He spent five months in jail on trumped-up charges of illegal firearms possession that were later dropped. "The FBI was pretty much surveilling me for over two and a half years as a domestic terrorist," he explained. "The judge denied me bond based off of me using my First Amendment right to criticize police officers on Facebook."

Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice and a Black Lives Matter Bay Area activist, is no stranger to the FBI's aggressive surveillance of people of color. "My mother was a member of the Black Panther Party in New York," she said on "Democracy Now!" "She ran the breakfast program in New York. And my mother was visited by the FBI just weeks before she died in 2005. So this FBI harassment of black activists didn't end in 1969. It didn't end when COINTELPRO was exposed in 1971. It is continuing today. Under current political conditions, black activists are being targeted, Muslims are being targeted, immigrants are being targeted, while white supremacists are running free."

The Intercept obtained FBI documents confirming that the FBI surveilled and infiltrated activist groups that were organizing after the 2014 police killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Much of the surveillance relied on "open source," or publicly accessible, information, such as social media posts that included activists' travel plans.

Where is the FBI when it comes to recent white mass shooters who posted highly disturbing content to social media before their killing sprees? Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who murdered eight students and two teachers at Santa Fe High School in Texas, posted on Facebook a picture of a T-shirt reading "born to kill." Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, was reported to the FBI and police more than 40 times, in part because of his disturbing social media posts, yet he was never arrested.

Racism is unacceptable, anywhere, anytime, whether it is a tweet from a TV star or the president, or white NFL owners punishing black athletes for kneeling in protest of police brutality, or the arrest of African-American patrons, as recently happened at a Philadelphia Starbucks. And we must be especially intolerant of racism when it appears as official government policy, enshrined in secret documents in black and white.
(c) 2018 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now,!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co"author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

The Dead Letter Office...

Diane and her hero.

Heil Trump,

Dear unterfuhrer Black,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your wanting to get rid of the poor and blacks from the emergency rooms thereby making a big profit for the hospitals, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-27-2018. We salute you Frau Black, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

America's Megalomaniac
By Robert Reich

I spent last week at a conference in South Korea, during which time Trump went from seeking a meeting with Kim Jong Un to cancelling it, then suggesting it might be back on.

"What does Trump want?" South Korean officials at the conference kept asking me. Notably, no one asked what the United States wants. They knew it was all about Trump.

Trump's goal has nothing to do with peace on the Korean peninsula, or even with making America great again. It's all about making Trump feel great.

"They are respecting us again," Trump exulted to graduating cadets at the Naval Academy last Friday. "Winning is such a great feeling, isn't it? Nothing like winning. You got to win."

In truth, the United States hasn't won anything, in Korea or anywhere else. After fifteen months of Trump at the helm, America is far less respected around the world than it was before.

The only thing that's happened is Trump is now making foreign policy on his own - without America's allies, without Congress, even without the State Department. Trump may consider this a personal win but it hardly makes America safer.

Some earnest foreign policy experts are seeking to discover some bargaining strategy behind Trump's moves on North Korea. Hint: There's no strategy. Only a thin-skinned narcissist needing flattery and fearing ridicule.

Trump got excited about a summit with Kim when he thought it might win him praise, even possibly a Nobel Peace Prize. He got cold feet when he feared Kim might be setting Trump up for humiliating failure. Now he's back to dreaming about the Prize.

The delicate balance in Trump's brain between glorification and mortification can tip either way at any moment, depending on his hunches. All international relations become contests of personal dominance.

He rejected the 2015 Iran treaty for no apparent reason other than Obama had entered into it. Trump couldn't care less that by doing so he has harmed relations with our traditional allies, who pleaded with him to stay in. And he's undermined America's future credibility. Why would any nation (including North Korea) enter into a treaty with the United States if it can break it on the whim of a president who wants to one-up his predecessor?

Ditto with the Paris climate accord. Obama got credit for it, so Trump wants credit for unilaterally sinking it.

Trump has demanded that America's nuclear arsenal be upgraded. Why? Since 1970, the United States has been committed to nuclear nonproliferation. What changed? Trump. A more powerful arsenal makes him feel more powerful - "respected again."

It's not about American interests in the world. It's about Trump's interests.

Wonder why Trump promised to lift trade sanctions on ZTE, China's giant telecom company? ZTE has been trading with North Korea and Iran, in violation of American policy. Everyone around Trump advised against lifting the sanctions.

Look no further than Trump's personal needs. ZTE is important to China, and China recently pledged a half-billion-dollar loan to a project connected with Trump's family business.

While we're on the subject of high tech, why has Trump pushed the Postal Service to double the shipping rate it charges Amazon? I mean, isn't Amazon important to America's high-tech race with the rest of the world?

The most likely explanation is that the CEO of Amazon is Jeff Bezos, who's also far richer than Trump. Bezos also owns The Washington Post, and the Post has been critical of Trump.

As you may have noticed, the man doesn't like to be criticized. As Trump explained to Leslie Stahl of "60 Minutes" during his campaign, his aim is "to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you."

Any halfway responsible president of the United States would be worried about Russian meddling in U.S. elections. Protecting American democracy is just about the most important thing a president does.

But Trump has turned the inquiry about the Russians into a "dark state" conspiracy against him. And he's demanded that the Justice Department investigate the people who are investigating him.

With Trump, there's no longer American foreign policy. There's only Trump's ego.

If peace is truly advanced on the Korean peninsula, the Prize shouldn't go to Trump. It should go to South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who has tirelessly courted the world's two most dangerous megalomaniacs.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Teaching 'Les Miserables' in Prison
By Chris Hedges

I spent the last four months teaching Victor Hugo's 1862 novel "Les Miserables" at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey. My students-like Hugo's main character, Jean Valjean, who served 19 years in prison-struggle with shame, guilt, injustice, poverty and discrimination, and yearn for redemption and transformation. The novel gave them a lens to view their lives and a ruling system every bit as cruel as Hugo's 19th-century France.

"Les Miserables" was wildly successful when it was published, including among Civil War soldiers in the United States, although Hugo's condemnation of slavery was censored from Confederate copies. It was American socialist leader Eugene V. Debs' favorite book-he read it in French. The socialist British Prime Minister Lloyd George said "Les Miserables" taught him more about poverty and the human condition than anything else he had ever read and instilled in him a lifelong ambition "to alleviate the distress and the suffering of the poor." Hugo's novel, however, enraged the ruling elites. It was panned by French critics. Copies were burned in Spain. Pope Pius IX put it on the church's list of banned books, along with "Madame Bovary" and all the novels of Stendhal and Honore de Balzac.

"While through the working laws of customs there continues to exist a condition of social condemnation which artificially creates a human hell within civilization, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; while the three great problems of this century, the degradation of man in the proletariat, the subjugation of women through hunger, the atrophy of the child in darkness, continue unresolved; while in some regions social asphyxia remains, while ignorance and poverty persist on earth, books such as this cannot fail to be of value," Hugo wrote in the preface.

My students interpreted the novel through the peculiar reality of prison, something that would have pleased Hugo, who relentlessly chronicled the injustices meted out to the poor by ruling institutions and agents of the law. The heroes in his book are the outcasts, the demonized and the impoverished-les miserables-as well as the rebels, usually doomed, who rise up in their defense. The theme that runs through the novel can be summed up in Leo Tolstoy's dictum: "The only certain happiness in life is to live for others."

Jean Valjean, after 19 years in prison-five for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's hungry children and 14 more as punishment for attempts at escape-is released with no home, no occupation and little money. He tramps through the French countryside, ending up in the town of Digne. He is required to present to local authorities his yellow identity card, a document that brands him for life as an ex-convict. He is refused a room at several inns, despite having the money to pay for lodgings. Finally, after Valjean is found sleeping outside, Monseigneur Bienvenu, the local bishop, gives him a place to rest in his modest house. Valjean arises early and, leaving before the bishop wakes, steals the household silver-platters, forks, knives and spoons-the cleric's last and only extravagance after having given away most of his possessions to the poor. The gendarmes spy Valjean on the road with his plunder. They haul him before Monseigneur Bienvenu. The bishop lies to the gendarmes, saying he gave the silver to Valjean. After the police leave, he turns to Valjean: "Do not forget, do not ever forget, that you have promised me to use the money to make yourself an honest man. ... Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to what is evil but to what is good. I have bought your soul to save it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God."

Valjean, shaken, nevertheless commits one final crime. He robs a boy of a coin, almost instinctively, but it was "an act of which he was no longer capable." The theft plunges him into despair. He desperately searches for the boy to return the coin. He cannot find him. The boy has run away in terror. Valjean vows to become a different man.

The decision by the bishop to lie on behalf of Valjean triggered an intense debate in my classroom.

"Who would do this?" a student asked.

"No one," another student answered.

Several students dismissed the scene as improbable.

And then from the back of the room a student, speaking in emotional undertones, told this story.

"I came back to my bunk one day," he said. "There was a new Bible on it. Inside was a letter. It was from my victim's sister. She wrote, 'I forgive you. Now you must forgive yourself.' I broke down. I could be more than a criminal. I could change. She made that possible."

My students will spend their lives condemned as felons. They, like Valjean, will never completely wash away the mark of Cain. Transformation, even when it occurs, will not free them from the criminal caste system. Transformation must be carried out not for what it will achieve, for often it will achieve nothing, or how it will be perceived, for most of the wider society will not perceive it. Transformation is about making peace with yourself. It is about obeying your conscience, which Hugo equates with the divine. It is about never living at the expense of another. Transformation is about rising above the hatred many feel, with justification, for a society that has betrayed them.

"If you are persecuted for virtue, why be virtuous?" a student asked.

"Those who have nothing need other people," another student said. "We can't survive alone. The more we sacrifice for those around us, the more we reduce our collective suffering; the more we recover our humanity, the more people reach out to us when we need help, and we all need help. Goodness is contagious."

And yet, as my students know, this internal battle is hard and fierce within a society that denies the poor dignity and respect.

"Obscurely he perceived that the priest's forgiveness was the most formidable assault he had ever sustained," Hugo wrote of Valjean, "that if he resisted it his heart would be hardened once and for all, and that if he yielded he must renounce the hatred which the acts of man had implanted in him during so many years, and to which he clung. He saw dimly that this time he must either conquer or be conquered, and that the battle was not joined, a momentous and decisive battle between the evil in himself and the goodness in the other man."

Hugo was aware that there are some who cannot be redeemed. They are incapable of empathy or remorse. They are driven by greed and ambition. They take a perverse joy in inflicting suffering on others. They are capable only of deceit. These people must be kept at bay. In the novel they are represented by Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, "human creatures which, like crayfish, always retreat into shadow, going backwards rather than forwards through life, gaining in deformity with experience, going from bad to worse and sinking into even deeper darkness."

This cold reality, nevertheless, proved to be a painful one to digest in the classroom. Several students argued passionately that everyone, no matter how depraved, could ultimately be redeemed, and yet the reality of prison, my students conceded, amply illustrates that there are human predators to whom one can never show vulnerability or expect mercy. Fyodor Dostoyevsky described hell as the inability to love. These predators inhabit this hell. This internal hell, a barrenness of the soul, is exemplified in the police inspector Javert, who hounds Valjean throughout the novel. Hugo wrote, "The Austrian peasants believe that in every wolf-litter there is a dog-whelp which the mother kills, because otherwise when it grows larger it will devour the rest of her young. Endow this dog with a human face, and you have Javert."

Javert, born in a prison to a mother who was a fortune teller and a father who was a convict, came from the underclass he persecuted. The social backgrounds of corrections officers, police and prisoners were then, and are today, often the same; indeed it is not uncommon for prisoners and corrections officers to have familial ties. Javert embraced the rigid code of the law and absolute state authority, which absolved him from moral responsibility. "His duties were his religion," Hugo wrote. Javert's iron fealty to the letter of the law is juxtaposed with Valjean's fealty to empathy and justice, which is repeatedly criminalized by those in power.

There is a moment in the novel when a man named Champmathieu is hauled into court and accused of being Valjean, who has broken parole and is living under the assumed name of Monsieur Madeleine. Javert and three witnesses who were in prison with Valjean insist the man is Valjean. Valjean, under his pseudonym, has become the prosperous mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. If he remains silent, allowing the innocent Champmathieu to go to prison in his place, he will throw the police off his trail permanently. During a night of anguished indecision, he burns his last personal effects from his life as a convict, but then sees the coin he stole from the boy when he left the bishop's house-a coin that represents his last crime and his transformation. He goes to the courtroom. He announces to the stunned court that he is Valjean. He condemns himself, but recovers his name. He saves his soul.

The importance of a name, and the idea that carrying out a moral act means you will be crucified by the ruling elites, intrigued my students, most of whom, like Valjean, are known by their prison numbers. Valjean, Hugo wrote, sacrificed "his personal security to his moral principles" and "had, it seems, concluded after the manner of saints and sages, that his first duty was not to himself." Jean Valjean, through this act of self-sacrifice, emerged from the court "even more honored and secure than before." He had, in Hugo's words, taken up the cross. Hugo went on:

Certainly his life had a purpose, but was it simply to hide himself, to outwit the police? Had everything he had done been for no better reason than this? Had he not had a greater purpose, the saving not of his life but of his soul, the resolve to become a good and honorable and upright man as the bishop required of him-had not that been his true and deepest intention? How he talked of closing the door on the past when, God help him, he would be reopening the door by committing an infamous act, not merely that of a thief but of the most odious of thieves. He would be robbing a man of his life, his peace, his place in the sun, morally murdering him by condemning him to the living death that is called a convict prison. But if, on the other hand, he saved the man by repairing the blunder, by proclaiming himself Jean Valjean the felon, this would be to achieve his own true resurrection and firmly close the door on the hell from which he sought to escape. To return to it in appearance would be to escape from it in reality. This was what he must do, and without it he would have accomplished nothing, his life would be wasted, his repentance meaningless, and there would be nothing left for him to say except, "Who cares?"
Hugo added: "It was his most melancholy destiny that he could achieve sanctity in the eyes of God only by returning to degradation in the eyes of men." He is filled with terror, yet proceeds. "Whichever way he looked," Hugo wrote, "the course of duty glared at him as though the words were written in letters of fire-'Stand up and say your name!' " He could "cling to his paradise and become a devil, or become a saint by going back to hell."

To save Champmathieu, Valjean gives up his freedom. In this singular act of justice and heroic self-sacrifice he exposes the bankruptcy and corruption of the courts, including the lie of authority. He elevates a convict, Jean Valjean, to a higher morality. He redeems his name and the names of all convicts. The price is catastrophic. But the price for moral acts is usually catastrophic. No one is rewarded for virtue. In my class this chapter triggered a discussion of Immanuel Kant's "categorical imperative," the idea that there are things we must do no matter what the consequences. The moral life, as Hugo pointed out, is not pragmatic or rational. It does not guarantee that we as distinct individuals survive. And yet, it permits us, by living for others, to become our best selves. It allows us a bittersweet happiness.

Valjean finds his ultimate fulfillment in raising the orphan Cosette. Most of my students have children. They struggle in prison to hold on to their role as fathers. Their children are often the only way left for them to have influence on the outside. But, as in the novel, these children grow up and drift away.

One of my students, serving a life sentence without parole and unable to be with his small daughter, structured his day as if she was in the cell with him. He woke her up in the morning. He cooked for her. He spoke to her. He read books to her. He wrote long letters. Every night he said goodnight to her as if she were in the next bunk. This ritual was not only about loss. It preserved his identity as something other than a prisoner. It allowed him to retain the title of father. It kept alive the virtues of nurturing, tenderness and love that prison can often crush. Hugo's understanding of the titanic internal struggle to be human in an inhuman environment was intimately familiar to my 26 students.

Valjean, at 80, is consumed by the isolation that grips many in prison, dying alone, condemned as one of les miserables with no friends or family. Cosette has married. He feels forgotten. In the final scene his beloved Cosette appears as he dies.

We began each class with a student summarizing the main points in the week's reading. On the day of the final class a student, Joel, rose to speak, holding two pages of notes.

"I think about the final interaction between Valjean, Cosette and Marius [her husband]," he said. "I think about the strength in [Valjean] for all he had suffered, all he had sacrificed, all he had endured just for the beauty and simplicity of love. I think about those last moments between them, the thankfulness for the opportunity to love; the opportunity to not be alone in his last moments; the opportunity to live. I thank Hugo for the picture he painted for me here. ... I think about the man who became my father and how much pain and suffering I have caused him. I think about the things he sacrificed for me. I think about all the challenges he took on for the sake of me. Yet despite it all I think about how much love I have had the opportunity to share with him, how much life he has given me. I pray that on his last day he may be able to rest his hand on my head, to feel a sense of accomplishment when it comes to his son, to be free of this world with a sense of happiness. That I too can one day say [quoting lines penciled onto Valjean's gravestone]:

He sleeps. Although so much he was denied,
He lived; and when his dear love left him, died.
It happened of itself, in the calm way
That in the evening the night-time follows day.
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Mike Keefe ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

While Donald Trump Stews, Robert Mueller's Investigation Grinds On
By Will Durst

We now offer up a few choice words concerning the continuing investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller, and those words are: Happy Birthday, baby! You are now 1 whole year old.

Who's the big boy? Why, you are. You're the big boy. Yes, you are.

Traditionally, the present for a first anniversary is paper, but you don't need any more of that, considering the voluminous file cabinets full of documents already collected and stashed in triple-locked, humidity-controlled warehouses all over the leaky swamp that is Washington.

There's also the promise of more witnesses o'plenty to be interviewed, including some grifter named President Donald Trump.

The modern alternative gift is a timepiece, but that can't be a need, as half the civilized world keeps reminding you how late it is while pointing at their watches and clocks encouraging a modicum of alacrity. Conservatives want it over the same way liberals want the administration over. Everyone's looking for closure.

But we all know there is no timetable for justice. This could be your first at bat in an extra-inning game. Might just be "A - Atrocity" in the Encyclopedia of Malfeasance. The initial downbeat of a drumstick at a 24-hour, jam-band concert featuring Phish, Widespread Panic and Dave Mathews.

One unintended consequence of your tornado of an investigation is it's spawning other sister twisters. The U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York spun off its own study into the affairs of Trumpian lawyer Michael Cohen, who seems to have as many grisly secrets as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street's cellar.

Then Trump demanded that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein look into the secret FBI informant who infiltrated his campaign, claiming he was a spy planted by then-President Barack Obama.

In other words, he wants to investigate the investigation. And knowing 45's penchant for creating chaos and muddying the waters, we can next expect a call to investigate the investigators who are investigating the investigation, investigatively.

Thus far, 19 people and three companies have been charged with crimes, including a national security adviser, 13 Russians, a couple of random aides, the son-in-law of a Russian billionaire and Trump's former campaign manager.

Five guilty pleas have been entered, which means the chances that people are talking their heads off is about equal to that of finding seagulls in a dumpster behind a fish cannery.

Trump insists the whole thing is a "witch hunt, witch hunt," probably referring to a case of mass hysteria, not implying he is the victim of witchcraft. Although, he does seem a bit agitated by Mueller's Evil Eye, not to mention intimidated by his freakishly large hands.

The Trump administration's designated barky dog, Rudy Giuliani, claims Mueller hopes to wrap things up with the obstruction charge by Sept. 1. That could be either wishful thinking or a public announcement to goose Mueller into pooping or getting off the pot. Fish or cut bait. Jump or don't.

Some are waiting for you, the birthday boy, to tire out and take a nap while others are counting on you to perp-walk the entire Trump administration into federal custody with trench coats draped over their handcuffs.

No pressure. Happy Birthday Investigation Being Conducted by Robert Mueller. And many mooooooooore.

Blow out your candle, big boy. Who wants cake?
(c) 2018 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former Pizza Hut assistant manager. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, "Durst Case Scenario," please visit:

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 21 (c) 06/01/2018

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 educational purposes;
(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."