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In This Edition

Ralph Nader says, "Slogan Voters - The Road To Political Masochism."

Uri Avnery remembers as, "Strong As Death."

Glen Ford orates, "Nationalizing The Banks Is A Popular Demand, So Let's Demand It."

Greg Palast explains, "How RFK Saved MLK's Life."

Jim Hightower gives the, "Meek Reality Behind Trump's Pose As A Bull Moose Populist."

John Nichols reports, "This Guy In Iowa Knows How Democrats Can Win Back Rural America."

James Donahue studies, "The Insanity Of High Cost Education."

William Rivers Pitt explains, "It Didn't Have To Be This Way: How Trump Filled The Void."

Heather Digby Parton states, "Even Rich libertarians Don't Live Forever."

David Suzuki finds, "Mobility Pricing Relieves Congestion, Helps People Breathe Easier."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "There's Reason For Hope In The Supreme Court's Gay-Wedding-Cake Decision."

David Swanson finds, "Tangier Island Is The Earth."

Jane Stillwater warns of, "Climate Deterioration: Snowdrifts In Charleston, SC."

South Dakota state rep Michael Clark, Hartford Republican wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "Why The Only Answer Is To Break Up The Biggest Wall Street Banks."

Chris Hedges orates, "The Second Sight Of W.E.B. Du Bois."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion gives the, "Timeline Of The Republican Party" but first Uncle Ernie examines, "The Absurdity Of The Day."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Chan Lowe, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Abbie Rowe, Win McNamee, Drew Angerer, Matthew Henry,, Unsplash, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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The Absurdity Of The Day
By Ernest Stewart

"The Absurdity Of The Day." ~~~ Bernie Sanders

"I think global warming is the gravest threat. With global warming, it's the product of a war between old energy - between the carbon cronies, who, by the way, could not stay in business in a true free market capitalism." ~~~ Robert Kennedy, Jr

"The children will be taken care of - put into foster care, or whatever." ~~~ John Kelly

"And, in the end,
The love you take.
Is equal to the love,
You make!
The End ~~~ The Beatles

Did you see where tRump asserted his presidential power and escalated his efforts to discredit the special counsel's Russia probe Monday, declaring he has the "absolute right" to pardon himself and attacking the investigation as "totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!" Sorry Donnie but you don't have that right, and if you try it, you'll be impeached! So by all means, try it!

Just one out of hundreds of crazy tRump tweets that we get bombarded with on a daily basis. It's what Bernie Sanders called "The absurdity of the day" on Bill Maher's "Real Time" show last Friday night. I'm amazed at all the people I see on FaceBook, MeWe and Twitter that are just becoming hip to America becoming Nazi Germany. I'm glad that they are finally waking up! I just hope that it's not too late! And while we're at it here's another tRump tweet attempting to place the blame on Democrats when Sessions with tRumps approval are to blame:

So, of course, I had to reply to this tweet:
"Separating families at the border is the work of Jeff Sessions with your approval no doubt. Only a Nazi moron such as yourself would be that evil and stupid. No one believes your lies, except, maybe yourself!"
Just another absurdity of the day in tRumpland. I wonder what tomorrow will bring, don't you, America?

In Other News

According to Thomas Stoerk of the Environmental Defense Fund, Gernot Wagner of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, and Bob Ward of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, "... the true economic damage of global warming is grossly underestimated."

They say that there is " ...mounting evidence that current economic models of the aggregate global impacts of climate change are inadequate in their treatment of uncertainty and grossly underestimate potential future risks."

One of the key components of their analysis is that the models used currently ignore the possibility and potential for "tipping points." These are points beyond which "... impacts accelerate, become unstoppable, or become irreversible." For example, the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet; this would greatly accelerate the rate of change. Consider the cruise ship that goes from Alaska to New York city through the arctic ocean every fall. Or last February when most of the arctic ocean was ice free!

They report that the projected economic damage, which will affect the southern United States, will be much more seriously than the north, is already daunting: "30 percent of GDP destroyed, and a world cost of $535 trillion by the end of this century using existing climate/economic models."

If you won't do it for our health big business, then do it for your bottom line!

And Finally

I see where Senator Jeff Merkley went to a shuttered Wal-Mart in Brownsville, Texas that has been turned into a detention center for children separated from their parents to try to get access to the kids and check on their care. This sitting U.S. Senator had the cops called on him and was turned away.

So you know what I did, don't ya? That's right, I wrote them a letter on their homepage. a letter which had to be approved so you'll never see it but I did leave this shorter, nicer, version of on a reply on their page and I was at the bottom of a very long list of people who are at least as pissed off as I was. I then join the people, on their facebook page too.

I wrote:

"I see that Nazi Germany has come to Texas. So you have some kidnaped children being held and no doubt tortured in a nasty old Wal Mart, being kept incommunicado, even from a US Senator. In case you're not hip, it just hit the fan! Looking forward to your perp walks. I know, you're only following ze orders, Ja? Can I get a heil tRump? Oh, and thanks for writing this weeks editorial!!!"

You might want to add your thoughts to Southwest Key Programs at:

If you do, tell'em Uncle Ernie sent sent you!

While Jeff didn't get into the Wal Mart he did get into another Happy Camp," here's a short interview about it:

Your tax dollars at work, America!

Keepin' On

Well, good news for a change, I went to the old PO Box and, "Eureka!" -- a donation! Thank Zeus for those "Usual Suspects!" Doctor Frank struck again and donated his way into first place for the 2018 donations tally. Thank you so much, Frank! Now if I could hear from our other two Doctors who are also members of the "Usual Suspects" we could stop all this begging for alms for 2018! That's two bills paid and one to go. That's $2100 to go.

Well, the good doctor's donation put us well on the way to keep on bringing you the truth and facts every week for no charge. We depend upon our advertising and donations from our readership, so you don't have to pay to read us like most all of the other news sites do. The whole point of which is to see that the poor can get to the truth. A lot of our readership reads us in libraries as they no longer have a computer, and, in many cases, a roof over their heads. Who deserves to know the truth more than them?

Ergo, if you read us, and like us, and are still gainfully employed, why not send us whatever you can, as often as you can, so that we can continue on our mission to restore the old Republic by hipping ya'll to the truth! Oh, you don't have to be a member of the "Usual Suspects" to help us get by, just go to our donations page and follow the directions, and thanks!


01-10-1935 ~ 06-01-2018
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01-24-1920 ~ 06-06-2018
Thanks for the laughs!


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

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

They are content with Trump's rhetoric and rarely look beneath the surface at
the details. That is, they are not bothered by being fact-deprived in political matters.

Slogan Voters - The Road To Political Masochism
Make America Great Again, Drain the Swamp, and Lock Her Up!
By Ralph Nader

Nearly a year and a half into his presidency, Donald Trump continues to hold his base and maintain an approval rating of around 40% - close to the same percentage he polled at just after his inauguration. Let's try to figure out why.

It can't be because he lies as a matter of daily routine. It can't be because he's giving away our store to big business - engaging in crony capitalism, creating more tax loopholes for corporations, shredding corporate crime enforcement, knowingly exposing Americans to more toxic pollution, committing more business fraud, adding more hazards to the workplace, cutting access to health insurance, and thereby making America dread again.

It can't be because he's taking your tax dollars away from repairing your infrastructure back home - schools, public transit, bridges, highways, airports, power grids, drinking water systems, etc., and pouring money into the bloated Pentagon budget beyond what even the Generals requested. (The huge "infrastructure project" he promised has yet to be proposed to Congress.)

It can't be because he is soiling our society's moral and ethical fabric and breaking the Golden Rule. (Trump is a peerless Oval Office bully, lashing out against the weak, powerless and defenseless.)

It can't be because he is openly holding onto his business interests and enriching himself from foreign vendors in unconstitutional ways, violating the Emoluments Clause (cases challenging his personal gains while in office are now in federal court).

Maybe it is because he is expediently against a woman's right to choose and common-sense gun regulation, selects corporatist judges, and keeps saying he loves his country (what politician doesn't?).

President Trump's words and deeds have not changed the minds of 40 percent of people polled. What else is going on here?

One answer is Slogan Voters. I've spoken to many people who are still for Trump despite all of his lies and misdeeds. They don't pay much attention to politics. When they do, they reveal themselves as Slogan Voters. They are content with Trump's rhetoric and rarely look beneath the surface at the details. That is, they are not bothered by being fact-deprived in political matters.

Here is what they tell me: They hate Hillary. They like Trump. They repeat the three slogans: Make America Great Again, Drain the Swamp, and Lock Her Up! Over and over again.

When I politely ask whether they are specifically aware of what Trump and his heads of departments and agencies are doing, they draw a blank. They explain that President Trump is shaking up Washington and draining the swamp. They believe that's the reason why he generates such an uproar from the swamp-dwellers. In a bizarre way, the more outrageously false and nutty Trump's tweets and actions are, the more these people feel that all the outrage is because he is draining the swamp and the swamp is lashing back at him.

Slogan Voters stress their belief in self-made men and women. They are often college-educated. They are not seen as bigots by their co-workers. They believe if you fail at something, it's your own fault.

They agree there are bad things going on in government, but it's not Trump's fault. Their reaction to bad things that are openly, brazenly, and admittedly Trump's fault - such as shutting down a consumer agency designed to stop Wall Street and the financial/credit industry from cheating you, crashing the economy, or crippling environmental health protections -- is: It's all part of draining the swamp.

Trump has become homeostatic -- whatever goes around, comes around to his advantage for the Slogan Voters. Evidence against Trump is turned around to justify Trump. More than anyone else, Trump has understood this and fed these strange conclusions by inattentive minds.

What would the eminent philosopher of science, Aldous Huxley, think now? He said in 1927: "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." But they do for Trump and his Slogan Voters. He creates his own web of delusion, and his supporters say he is draining the swamp and making America great again.

It wouldn't matter a whit were they to receive critical articles, books, DVDs, or even Trump's own self-contradictory words and record through the years. Recall his boastful sugarcoating as his giant casinos went bankrupt while he profitably escaped their draining impacts on others (e.g. the employees and unpaid contractors he hired to build them).

Unless someone comes up with a secret key to awaken the minds of Trump's Slogan Voters, the best response is to draw some of the more than 100 million eligible non-voters to the polls for the crucial November elections. There are far more than enough votes to surpass the choices of the Trump Slogan Voters for the Congressional races.

One thing you have to credit these Slogan Voters for: THEY VOTE!!

Yeah, "Making America Great Again, Drain the Swamp, and Lock Her Up!"
(c) 2018 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is Unstoppable, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Strong As Death
By Uri Avnery

OH, GAZA. Strong as death is love.

I loved Gaza. That is a play on words. The Biblical Song of Songs says that love is strong as death. Strong in Hebrew is Aza. Aza is also the Hebrew name of Gaza.

I have spent many happy hours in Gaza. I had many friends there. From the leftist Dr. Haidar Abd al-Shafi to the Islamist Mahmoud al-Zahar, who is now the foreign minister of Hamas.

I was there when Yasser Arafat, the son of a Gazan family, came home. They put me in the first row of the reception at the Rafah border, and that evening he received me at the hotel on the Gaza sea shore, seating me next to him on the stage during a press conference.

I met with a friendly attitude everywhere in the Gaza Strip, in the refugee camps and in the streets of Gaza City. Everywhere we talked about peace and about the place of Gaza in the future State of Palestine.

GOOD, BUT what about Hamas, the terrible arch-terrorist organization?

In the early 1990s, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin exiled 415 prominent Islamists from Gaza to Lebanon. The Lebanese did not let them in, so the exiles vegetated for a year in the open air on the border.

We protested against the expulsion and put up a tent camp opposite the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. We stayed there for 45 days and nights, including some days in snow. In the camp were Jews and Arabs, including Israeli Arab Islamists. We spent the long days and nights in political discussions. What about? About peace, of course.

The Islamists were nice people, and treated my wife, Rachel, with utmost civility.

When the exiles were finally allowed home, a reception was held for them in the largest hall in Gaza. I was invited, together with a group of companions. I was asked to speak (in Hebrew, of course) and after that I was invited to a banquet.

I am recounting all this in order to describe the atmosphere at that time. In everything I said, I stressed that I was an Israeli patriot. I advocated peace between two states. Before the first Intifada (which started on December 9, 1987) Gaza was not a place of dark hatred. Far from it.

Masses of laborers crossed the checkpoints every morning in order to work in Israel, and so did the merchants who sold their wares in Israel, or crossed Israel on the way to Jordan, or got their merchandise through Israeli harbors.

SO HOW did we succeed - we, the State of Israel - in turning Gaza into what it is today?

In the summer of 2005 the then Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, decided to cut all ties with the Gaza Strip. "Arik", a soldier in his heart, decided that the costs of occupying the strip were higher than the benefits. He pulled the army and the settlers out and turned the strip over - to whom? To nobody.

Why to nobody? Why not to the PLO, which was already the recognized Palestinian authority? Why not within the framework of an agreement? Because Arik hated the Palestinians, the PLO and Arafat. He did not want to have anything to do with them. So he just left the strip.

But nature abhors a vacuum. A Palestinian authority came into being in Gaza. Democratic elections were held, and Hamas won in all of Palestine. Hamas is a religious-nationalist party which originally was furthered by the Israeli secret service (Shin Bet) in order to undermine the PLO. When the PLO did not accept the election results, Hamas in Gaza took power by force. Thus the present situation came into being.

DURING ALL this time we still had a positive option.

The Gaza Strip could have turned into a blooming island. Optimists spoke about a "Second Singapore". They spoke about a Gaza harbor, with due inspection of incoming goods either in Gaza or in a neutral port abroad. A Gaza airport, with appropriate security inspection, was built and used and then destroyed by Israel.

And what did the Israeli government do? The very opposite, of course.

The government subjected the Gaza Strip to a stringent blockade. All connections between the strip and the outside world were cut. Provisions could come only through Israel. Israel increased or decreased the import of essential necessities at its whim. The affair of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was bloodily stormed near the Gaza shore, emphasized the total isolation.

The Gaza population has now reached about two million. Most of them are refugees from Israel, who were driven out during the 1948 war. I cannot say that I am innocent - my army unit fought in the south of Palestine. I saw what was happening. I wrote about it.

The blockade created a magic circle. Hamas and the smaller (and more extreme) organizations carried out acts of resistance (or "terror"). As a reaction, the Israeli government intensified the blockade. The Gazans answered with more violence. The blockade became worse. And so on, up to and including this week.

What about the southern border of the strip? Rather bizarrely, Egypt cooperates with the Israeli blockade. And not only because of the mutual sympathy between the Egyptian military dictator, Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi, and the Israeli rulers. There is also a political reason: The Sisi regime hates the Muslim Brothers, Its banned internal opposition, which is considered the parent organization of Hamas.

The PLO regime in the West Bank also cooperates with the Israeli blockade against Hamas, which is its main competitor within the Palestinian political framework.

Thus the Gaza Strip remains almost completely isolated, without friends. Except some idealists around the world, who are much too weak to make a difference. And, of course, Hezbollah and Iran.

NOW THERE prevails a kind of balance. The Gazan organizations carry out violent acts, which do no real damage to the State of Israel. The Israeli army does not have the appetite to occupy the strip again. And then the Palestinians discovered a new weapon: non-violent resistance.

Many years ago an Arab-American activist, a pupil of Martin Luther King, came to Palestine to preach this method. He found no takers and returned to the US. Then, at the beginning of the second Intifada, the Palestinians tried this method. The Israeli army reacted with live fire. The world saw a picture of a little boy shot while in the arms of his father. The army denied responsibility, as it always does. Non-violent resistance died with the boy. The Intifada demanded many victims.

Truth is that the Israeli army has no answer to non-violent resistance. In such a campaign, all the cards are in the hands of the Palestinians. World public opinion condemns Israel and praises the Palestinians. Therefore, the army's reaction is to open fire, in order to induce the Palestinians to start violent actions. With these the army knows how to deal.

Non-violent resistance is a very difficult method. It demands enormous willpower, strict self-control and moral superiority. Such qualities are to be found in Indian culture, which gave birth to a Gandhi, and within the black American community of Martin Luther King. There is no such tradition in the Muslim world.

Therefore it is doubly astonishing that the demonstrators on the Gaza border are now finding this power in their hearts. The events of Black Monday, May 14, surprised the world. Masses of unarmed human beings, men, women and children, braved the Israeli sharpshooters. They did not draw weapons. They did not "storm the fence", a lie spread by the huge Israeli propaganda apparatus. They stood exposed to the sharpshooters and were killed.

The Israeli army is convinced that the inhabitants of Gaza will not stand the test, that they will return to useless violence. Last Tuesday it seemed as if this assessment was right. One of the Gaza organizations carried out a "revenge action", launching more then a hundred mortar shells into Israel without causing any real damage. That was a useless gesture. Violent action has no chance whatsoever to hurt Israel. It only supplies ammunition to Israeli propaganda.

When one thinks about non-violent struggle, one should remember Amritsar. That is the name of an Indian town where in April 1919 soldiers under British command opened murderous fire for 10 consecutive minutes on Indian non-violent protesters, killing at least 379 and wounding about 1200. The name of the commander, Colonel Reginald Dyer, entered history, for eternal shame. British public opinion was shocked. Many historians believe that this was the beginning of the end of British rule in India.

"Black Monday" on the Gaza border reminds one of this episode.

HOW WILL this end?

Hamas has offered a Hudna for 40 years. A Hudna is a sacred armistice, which no Muslim is allowed to break.

I have already mentioned the Crusaders, who stayed in Palestine for almost 200 years (more then us, at this moment). They agreed to or entered into several Hudnas with the hostile Muslim states around them. The Arabs kept them strictly.

The question is: Is the Israeli government able to accept a Hudna? After inciting the masses of their followers and filling them with mortal hatred against the people of Gaza in general and Hamas in particular, would it dare to agree?

When the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are choked, lacking medicines, lacking enough food, lacking pure water, lacking electricity, will our government not fall into the trap of illusion and believe that now Hamas will collapse?

That will not happen, of course. As we sang in our youth: "No people withdraws from the trenches of their life!"

As the Jews themselves proved for centuries, there is no limit to what a people can endure when its very existence is at stake.

That's what history tells us.

MY HEART is with the people of Gaza.

I desire to ask their forgiveness, in my name and in the name of Israel, my country.

I am longing for the day when everything will change, the day when a wiser government will agree to a Hudna, open the border and let the people of Gaza return to the world.

Now, too, I love Gaza, with the love that the Bible says is as strong as death.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Nationalizing The Banks Is A Popular Demand, So Let's Demand It
By Glen Ford

The following is an edited version of remarks Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford delivered to a panel on "Imagining an Authentic U.S. Left for the 21stCentury," at the Left Forum, in New York City, this past weekend.

Power to the People!

I'm honored to be among the folks that Paul Street invited to think with him about what an "authentic" left would look like in the United States. It's something that many of us think about all the time.

The left would look very much as it does right now -- you start from where you are-- but it would begin behaving quite differently. I think that what we are actually talking about is: How do we make a movement -- a ruling class-destroying movement -- in the United States?

That's a simple proposition, and I think certain things flow from that proposition. Of course, we'd be talking about setting in motion several mass-based movements that are linked in their shared enemy: the ruling class and its organs of coercion and control, the organs that people come up against every time they move -- and even when they don't move.

These mechanisms of coercion and control are more than just the police and the mass incarceration Gulag, more than the vast national security state. We also confront the awesome power of the corporate media which, as we have witnessed dramatically in the last two years, works hand-in-glove with U.S. domestic and international spy agencies. That is obviously what is going down with the anti-Russia hysteria.

The unity of the oligarchy, the corporate media, and the national security state is perfectly personified in Jeff Bezos, the Amazon owner and owner of the Washington Post, whose company also has a $600 million contract with the CIA. Bezos is the richest man in the world. He and two other oligarchs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, own more wealth than the entire poorest half of the American population. And that is the kind of oligarchic fact that is becoming commonly known out there in this vast, 300-plus million person country.

These are monopolists. They are masters of what they call "creative destruction" -- which is a very grotesque way of them bragging about the huge disruptions that hyper-active capital is causing in U.S. society, and much greater destruction in the Global South.

The concentration of capital in the U.S. and the global capitalist world has reached a point that the individuals at the top of the oligarchy -- the men, and a few white women named Walton -- can be counted on our fingers. We know most of their names, and much of the public knows most of their names -- that is the state of concentration that we have reached.

The heads of the big banks that are the queen ants of finance capital -- the enemy of all mankind -- can be listed on the fingers of one hand.

The crisis of late stage capitalism is all around us. The people know that overlapping crises are in motion. They see it all around them, even if they are among those who still have good jobs. They see the crisis in motion; they talk about it, even if it has not devastated them personally, yet. There is fear everywhere in the United States, even among those people who, on paper, seem to be looking good -- the upper income folks in two-"good job" households.

The people know the names of the oligarchs at the top of the list. Most importantly, everybody knows that the bankers are criminal. And everybody hates the banks.

That is not a hyperbolic statement. I'll say it again: Everybody, or virtually everybody, hates the banks.

In the United States, the only hatred that rivals the hatred of the banks, is the hatred and fear of Black people and Muslims and Latino immigrants. But, the second biggest hatred is the hatred of the banks, and that's the one we've go to work on.

And, in fact, hatred of the banks is damn near universal, in that it is pervasive among allgroups in society, including even many upper income whites. Rightwing libertarian Republicans, who actually do have representation in Congress, hate the bankers, who occupy an especially evil place in their worldview. I don't pretend to understand that rightwing libertarian worldview, but they are vehement in their hatred of the bankers. I suspect that anti-Semitism has something to do with it -- that they think these bankers are mostly Jewish. But, for their own reasons, they hate the banks.

The hatred of bankers is near-universal in the United States. So, if that is the case, how much imagination does it take to imagine a new, 21st century left?

A real left wants to overthrow the ruling class, which is centered in finance capital. The people, in their multi-colored splendor, hate the banks! Therefore, a real left mass movement for the 21st century must call for the nationalizaiton of the banks. That is the logic of history.

I said "nationalization" -- state takeover. It does not mean a temporary takeover, but a permanent public seizure of the banks. We're not talking about just cleaning out the crooks and then giving the banks back to the finance capitalist class.

We're talking about dethroning the bankers. That is, we are making what is, in fact, a revolutionary demand, but one that I am confident is actually a popular demand. In fact, I believe there is no more popular demand than smashing the banks.

I think that the question of what a genuine left response to this era of crisis should be is not so complex and problematic as others seem to believe. Movements are defined by their demands, and the demand to smash the bankers, permanently, would be a popular demand.

I did notsay, Turn Goldman-Sachs over to its workers, as a cooperative, as I've heard some folks propose. I think that's silly. Goldman Sachs and these other monster banks are instruments that have been crafted only for the oppression of humankind. That is their one and only purpose. You might just as well say that you'll solve the race to nuclear annihilation problem by turning the U.S. strategic weapons triad over to the airmen and solders and sailors that man these weapons systems. That is silly and stupid, as well.

No, we want to nationalize the banks, and put those banks to public purposes.

If that doesn't sound sexy enough as a slogan -- and, it doesn't -- than we'll put Mighty Meme Makers like Rebel Diaz and their crew to the task of sexying and sloganizing it up -- and I know that they can do it, because it is a popular demand.

It is the demand that the Occupy Movement never made, back in 2011. They walked right up to the edge of the pool, but they did not dive in.

The core group of Occupy did some other silly things. They invited Black Obamite preachers into the movement. I don't know why they did that. One of the central organizers called me up and told me they were going to invite Rev. Ben Chavis to become part of the Occupy Movement. I told him that Rev. Chavis wrote a column every week for a Black newspaper, and that the column was all about backing Obama and voting for Democrats. But the Occupy people went ahead and invited Chavis in, anyway.

Much of the cooptation that occurred with the Occupy Movement was self-inflicted. Of course, we know that it was Obama, himself, who directed the ultimate police crackdown on Occupy, but there were contradictions at the core in the Occupy Movement. The greatest failing was not to jump in the pool -- the failure to demand nationalization of the banks.

Nevertheless, they left us with a slogan, that has popularized a common sentiment: the hatred of the damn banks, that was common in 2011, and which came to the fore when the "99 percent" slogan was promulgated. Now it's time to jump in the pool.

It's not going to be easy for the Democrats to co-opt a demand for permanent nationalization of the banks. There isn't room for the Democratic Party to come into a movement that is demanding the dethronement of their masters. Historically, the bankers are to the Democratic Party what big energy has been to the Republican Party.

We will see what the relationship of social forces really looks like when the left is pushing a demand that is both truly popular and, on its face, transformative.

The trick, the hard part here, is in projecting what takes the place of the private banks. It is absolutely crucial that the projected new, public banking configuration -- the one that we say will come about as a result of these demands -- be seen by the people as providing all the services that the private banks currently provide, and those services that they used to provide, but no longer do. Because, there will be great anxiety in the land when people wonder where they are going to put their money.

The public banking system will have to be seen as part of the rebuilding of the nation, which is a transformational project. It must also be understood that the new regime of national redevelopment will be a democratic one.

There is, clearly, room in this massive transformational project for all the debate that anyone could imagine. What does a democratic society look like? That's the great debate that flows from the declaration that the people are going to take over the banking system.

The redevelopment of the nation -- because that is what we are proposing to do with the banking system -- must be in service to all the constituencies of the United States. All of these constituencies hate the banks. All of them want transformation, in terms that they can understand.

Black Americans will be the most enthusiastic about smashing the banks. Black Americans are the most left-leaning group in the United States. They are the most in favor, by every measurement, of wealth redistribution, and they are the most opposed to monopoly.

The bankers and the real estate corporations are the ones that created the ghettos -- and everybody Black knows that. Bankers and realtors are also the engines of gentrification – and everybody Black understands that, as well. There is no need to demonize the bankers in Black America. But, what you do have to show Black America is that this public banking institution is going to be, not just of serviceto them, but that they will have a say in the institution. They need to know that there will be a self-determinationist aspect to the reorganization of the banks.

If we are ever to see a real, working unity among Blacks and Latinos on the ground, it will be in common opposition to the bankers that are behind gentrification, which is happening everywhere in the country, all with the same plan of inflating land assets through ethnic cleansing. Latino populations are moving into or getting moved out of the same neighborhoods as Black people. The commonality is real, it is day to day, it cries out for collaboration that I think can be best achieved in a general movement to smash the private banks and take away their power, permanently, and put the nation's capital to public use.

Several movements would be spawned by this demand for nationalization of the banks. In the last two years, it has become absolutely clear to masses of people that the concentration of capital in Silicon Valley -- we're talking about Google and Facebook and Amazon and other corporations in that industry – is a danger to democracy, a growing peril that people are beginning to recognize. I think we should be talking about intervention in those monopolies, as well, and I believe such demands would grow, organically, from the struggle and debate around nationalization of the banks. In fact, the list of struggles that would emerge from this central demand is quite a long one. We have plenty of work to do in the 21stcentury.

Power to the People.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

22 June 1963 - Martin Luther King meets with Attorney General, Robert F Kennedy. White House.

How RFK Saved MLK's Life
By Greg Palast

50 years ago today, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. This is the story of RFK's profile in political courage, gambling his brother's election to the Presidency in order to save Martin Luther King Jr. from lynching.

It was a Republican, Martin Luther King Sr., who made John Kennedy president of the United States - for JFK's saving Daddy King's son, Martin Jr., from lynching.

This harrowing and little known drama of terror and courage, confirmed for me by Martin Luther King III, changed American politics - and America - forever.

On October 19, 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in Georgia for driving with an Alabama driver's license and sentenced to six months hard labor. No one expected King to survive the sentence - he'd be lynched at the outset.

His father, Martin King Sr., had one desperate chance to save his son. Daddy King had endorsed Richard Nixon, a family friend, for the presidency. Nixon could count on King, a Republican like many African-Americans, who chose the party of Lincoln over the racist Democratic party of Jim Crow segregation.

A desperate King called Vice-President Nixon - who refused to answer. But MLK's wife, Coretta, had a single hope. She called a friend, pacifist activist Harris (later Senator) Wofford who called Bobby Kennedy.

RFK didn't hesitate, calling from a pay phone on Long Island to his brother, demanding John save MLK Jr.

It was just three weeks before the presidential election, a race too close to call. This was a crisis. Three Southern governors warned the Kennedys that any help for Dr. King and JFK would lose three Deep South states.

John Kennedy, who'd just won the Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage, knew this was his test. He gave Bobby the go-ahead to save King.

Bobby called Atlanta and told the judge he'd post King's bond - though the judge had never offered bond. But this Democratic judge knew that with his party, the Kennedys could employ and destroy.

Meanwhile, according to Martin King III, his father was pulled from his Atlanta jail at 2am and told he would be transferred to Reidsville Prison hours from the city. King was certain he would not live to see the dawn

But the judge had let it be known that King now was now under the protective gaze of the Kennedys. And MLK, said his son, was "the first prisoner ever to be thrilled and thankful to enter the gates of Reidsville Prison."

But the warning came true. Word of Kennedy saving King cost JFK the electoral votes of Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia. But then there was the miracle. Daddy King had written a pamphlet beginning, in block letters:

"No Comment" Nixon
A Candidate with a Heart,
Senator Kennedy

The pamphlet, on blue paper, was carried to the churches of half a million African-Americans.

Today, RFK's son carries on his father's crusade for voting rights. Bobby Jr. joined with me to bust open the racist GOP vote heist operation to which we gave the name "caging."

Daddy King said, "I have a suitcase full of votes for the Senator that I'm carrying to Chicago."

The mass outpouring of sermon-inspired African-Americans won Kennedy razor-close victories in Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey.

Even historian Ted White cites the King family's powerful campaign of gratitude, and the pamphlet now known as "The Blue Bomb," as the deciding factor in John F. Kennedy's victory over Nixon.

The Democrats' once-solid hold on the South was no longer solid - but a new voting block, would hold hard as a hammer for the Democratic Party for the next half century to today.

It was this profile in courage - the Kings and the Kennedys - that truly made America great and morally mighty.

Those mighty Kings and Kennedys are gone.

So it's left to us to stand up to the gelatinous orange pustule of bloviating bigotry that has, against the democratic will, seized this White House and Congress.

Today, we honor a man whose courage must now be ours; and then we can make America truly great again.
(c) 2018 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review

Meek Reality Behind Trump's Pose As A Bull Moose Populist
By Jim Hightower

It's been pointed out that Donnie Trump has unusually small hands... but who cares?

What's truly alarming are his unusually small policy ideas. Draining the swamp, for example. He bragged that he'd be stronger than Drano, promising he'd rid Washington of its infestation with lobbyists, corporate favor-seekers, and other swamp critters. But he betrayed that populist pledge from the very start, staffing his entire presidency with CEOs, lobbyists, and Republican megadonors who're gleefully rigging the system for themselves against the rest of us.

Also, remember how candidate Trump blistered the behinds of Wall Street's billionaire hedge-fund hucksters for getting rich by destroying middle-class jobs? He promised that – by gollies - he would take away their loophole that lets them escape paying taxes they owe. But as president, he wimped out, handing a trillion-dollar tax cut to the billionaires and their corporations, including meekly leaving the pampered hedge funders' loophole entirely untouched.

And where's that "Make America Great" guy who claimed that only he had the vision and chutzpa to rebuild America, pledging to launch a trillion-dollar investment in our national infrastructure? His chutzpa petered out and his vision shriveled to a hokey scheme of smoke and mirrors, basically asking states and corporations to come up with the money and calling on them to privatize our public infrastructure. Where's the greatness in that?

Poor Donnie wants to be thought of as modern-day Teddy Roosevelt. So he constantly poses as a populist, bigger-than-life Bull Moose character who's got the right stuff to bust the profiteering trusts in order to stop their ripoffs and their schemes to knock down the middle class. Sadly, a pose is all it is, for he's just run-of-the-mill plutocratic president who speaks loudly, but carries nothing bigger than a limp twig when it comes to dealing with the corporate powers.
(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

This Guy In Iowa Knows How Democrats Can Win Back Rural America
John Norris, a savvy strategist for Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama, is running a campaign that seeks to reconnect Democrats with farm country.
By John Nichols

Dubuque, Iowa When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, he took 45 percent of the rural vote nationwide. In Iowa, a state that is often seen as a bellwether for measuring the sentiments of farm country and small-town America, Obama carried the rural regions of the state. Of the state's 99 counties, Obama won 53.

When Hillary Clinton lost the presidency in 2016, she secured just 33 percent of the rural vote nationwide. In Iowa, Clinton lost the rural regions of the state by 30 points. The Democrat carried just six of the state's 99 counties.

It is fair to say that the collapse of the Democratic vote in rural regions of the country cost Clinton a number of states-certainly Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania; perhaps Iowa and several others-where her party had maintained a reasonably steady pattern of winning presidential contests. This is why Democratic strategists spend so much time theorizing about how to renew the party's fortunes among farmers, ranchers, and their neighbors. The most foolish of these strategists think that the party must turn right on the issues, or tailor appeals to angry white men-failing to recognize that angry white men have been backing Republicans for decades.

"The first order of business to reconnect with rural voters is to show up." -John Norris

But there are smart thinkers about rural America, and one of them is running for governor of Iowa.

John Norris, who helped Obama build his base in the Hawkeye State in 2008 and who ran Jesse Jackson's 1988 campaign in Iowa, recognizes what most DC Democrats do not. He understands that the way to appeal to rural voters is not with desperate "I'll-be-whatever-you-want-me-to-be" pleas but rather with two things: (1) Programs that address the complex economic and social issues facing rural regions, and (2) A physical presence in those regions.

Norris grew up on his family's farm and came to be known as an able organizer and strategist in the 1980s, when he served as the director of the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition. He helped to develop the inclusive politics of Jackson's Rainbow Coalition. He organized, rallied, and marched with coalitions of workers, farmers, environmentalists, students, and immigrants that challenged corporate power not just in Iowa but nationally and internationally-in struggles that would see Norris helping to pull together Farm Aid concerts and marching at the side of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone during the 1999 Seattle protests against World Trade Organization policies. When Obama became president and appointed former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture, Norris served as chief of staff for the Department of Agriculture. Later, Obama dispatched him to Rome as the US minister-counselor to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program.

Norris is now running for governor in a crowded field of Democrats. His is an uphill battle. He does not have the most money or the most name recognition going into the June 5 primary.

But Norris has developed terrific ideas about how to respond to the needs of rural regions that have been struggling in recent years-and about how Democrats can and must speak to those needs. The Des Moines Register says that a "rural focus distinguishes" Norris in the gubernatorial contest, noting that "Norris comes by his rural populism naturally and talks about rural values in the context of his upbringing on a farm near Red Oak. 'We know, for Iowa, the sense of love for the land, the sense of community, looking out for each other. The same kind of environment I grew up in rural Iowa-if a farmer gets hurt, you go help with their harvest.'"

Norris has always been comfortable walking into barns, stopping at tables in small-town diners and appearing on radio stations that lead the news with commodity prices. That comfort level is important because, he says, "the first order of business to reconnect with rural voters is to show up. We've had a lot of our statewide Democratic candidates the last several cycles who just have not campaigned in rural Iowa." When those connections are made, the candidate explains to interviewers, partisan and ideological divisions become less pressing and people start to recognize that "We share the same values. Love of the land and a strong sense of community. A fundamental belief in public education as the great equalizer. [An understanding of] how important those rural schools and rural hospitals are."

A policy wonk who has counseled presidents and presidential contenders for decades, Norris talks about a lot more than rural issues. He's an expert on energy policy and served on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He's a savvy environmentalist. And he's a passionate advocate for racial justice and immigrant rights, who tells voters: "I think we've had some success in welcoming new immigrants to the state but we're going to have to be more successful and embrace new Iowans and immigrants if we're going to see population growth particularly in our rural communities. So I want to see Iowa be a more inviting state for a diverse population because that's going to help our workforce needs, help our businesses grow, repopulate our rural schools and our main streets."

That explanation of how welcoming immigrants is economically smart-and necessary-is just one example of how Norris flips the conversation about issues that are often used to divide voters and, instead, makes a progressive case for coming together rather than pulling apart. Even when he is talking about issues such as health care and education, he expands the focus beyond cities and suburbs-talking about how "increasing wages, particularly in rural communities, starts with investing in our schools" and about how he wants to establish "a critical response team to help facilities in rural communities when significant financial challenges arise... will serve as the backstop against the closure of any rural hospital to help ensure residents in all Iowa communities continue to have access to high-quality, local health care."

When the conversation turns to agriculture, Norris speaks a progressive populist language that makes sense to rural Iowans, who are wary of policies that are more favorable to speculators and multinational corporations rather than working farmers and main street businesses:

Iowa's heritage is agriculture. Our love for and relationship with the land runs deep in our culture with thousands of Iowans working to produce the food, fuel, and products that we depend on every day. But, we know that agriculture is always changing and today we are at a critical crossroads that will impact rural communities, our economy and our land for decades to come. We need to ensure the changes made are towards sustainability but that will only happen if we have the will to make it happen. As your governor, I will work with farmers to make Iowa agriculture productive, sustainable and profitable. Today, outside interests are making Iowans choose between these values but I believe it's time we support and empower farmers to not have to make a choice but to realize all three.

What is emerging today in Iowa's agricultural sector resembles far too much the extraction industry where natural resources are mined for the profits of a few, and often out-of-state corporate interests, and the damage left behind becomes the responsibility of everyone else to pay for the cleanup. Current policies have encouraged industrial-scale commodity and livestock production, which has created an unsustainable system in Iowa that damages our environment and public health, forces family farmers off the land, and undermines the vitality of our rural communities.

John Norris integrates his exploration of farm and food issues into a broader discussion of Iowa's future that recognizes the need to build coalitions that are big enough and bold enough to win the fights that matter for people who live in the smallest towns and the biggest cities. It's a smart approach that over the years has earned the respect of Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama-and that Democrats who are competing in 2018 and 2020 would do well to explore.
(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.

The Insanity Of High Cost Education
By James Donahue

Nelson Mandella once said: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

The United States once held the distinction of having the best colleges and universities in the world. People came from all over to study here. That was once. It is no longer the case.

This is clearly one of the signs that the United States is falling behind in its standing in the world. It is a nation that has been taken over by bankers and big money interests who have skillfully devalued the dollar, created an inflation that has grown faster than workers can earn money to live, and in the process, destroyed the great universities that once turned out great thinkers, educators and creative people capable of lighting the world stage.

The bankers and big money interests have literally taken over the nation's colleges and universities and made a big business out of them. A recent story by Astra Taylor and Hannah Appel published in TomDispatch noted that a relatively new phenomenon called "for-profit" instutions has emerged since the 1990s when Bush Administration legislation weakened government oversight of colleges while expanding their access to federal financial aid. This created an industry of specialized schools and short-term training programs open to Wall Street investors.

"While the for-profit business model has generally served investors well, it has failed students. Retention rates are abysmal and tuitions sky-high," the article said. They noted that "graduates of for-profit schools generally do not fare well. Indeed, they rarely find themselves in the kind of work they were promised when they enrolled, the kind of work that might enable them to repay their debts, let alone purchase the commodity-cornerstones of the American dream like a car or a home."

The advent of for-profit schools has also impacted the ivy league and "public" universities, also found that tuition was a preferred form of revenue growth. They also began linking with Wall Street, which meant investors are expecting profits even from the so-called non-profit schools. Consequently it is now almost impossible for working class or even middle class students to graduate without a milstone of debt hanging around their necks.

The situation has grown progressively worse under the Trump Administration and the appointment of Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education. Devos has been pushing to divert federal education dollars from public to charter schools, and institute a school voucher system, which, if approved, would create another educational block on local levels. Also Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the House Education Committee, wants to pour more federal dollars into special education. Meanwhile public school teachers are striking all over the nation beause of low wages and lack of money to buy books and school supplies. The factors behind the rising costs of a college education also include the high cost of textbooks, food and dormatory rent. Students can no longer afford school on what they can earn during the summer months and working part-time while attending class. This has forced them into accepting government student loans which contain an ugly hook. Once the money is accepted, it is a debt that must be paid back, with interest, no matter what. Even bankruptcy court cannot create an escape. Failure to pay that loan places a black mark on the graduate's "credit rating," which has become a deciding factor in obtaining credit for such things as buying a home, buying a car, or even getting a job.

And here we find the ingredients for enslaving the masses. It captures the brighter members of our society, the ones who make the effort to get that college degree, but then fail to get jobs that pay well enough to allow them to pay off that government backed studet loan. And the loans these days now accumulate into the tens of thousands of dollars.

This is a horror story that should never have happened in a nation as grand as ours once was.

Indeed, the latest statistics show that an estimated 40 million Americans suffer under student loan debt, with an estimated $1.3 trillion owned, according to the Federal Reserve. The average debt is nearly $30,000. This is as much as many of us used to pay for a house. And this debt grows with monthly interest.

It may be of interest to note that German universities, which began charging tuition in 2006, have since abolished tuition altogether. Gabrielle Heinen-Kjajic, the minister for science and culture in Lower Saxony, explained: "We got rid of tuition fees because we do not want higher education which depends on the wealth of the parents."

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has been the champion against big corporate controls of the nation's economy, recently sponsored a bill that would have helped reduce student loan payments by increasing taxes on wealthy households. She warned that outstanding student debt is an "economic emergency that threatens the financial futures of Americans and the stability of our economy."

The bill was blocked by a Senate Republican filibuster. Senators failed to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster. The final vote was 56-38, with all Republicans voting NO.

Warren said the vote shows Americans "who we work for in the United States Senate: the billionaires."
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

US President Donald Trump gestures toward journalists shouting questions as he departs the White House May 29, 2018 in Washington, DC.

It Didn't Have To Be This Way: How Trump Filled The Void
By William Rivers Pitt

When it's all over and the smoke has cleared, I believe history will look back on the Trump era as perhaps the most fantastic missed opportunity for humanity in a thousand years. Nature abhors a vacuum; if there is space to be filled, something will come along to fill it. At bottom, that's all Donald Trump really is: Rancid stuffing in the void.

That void began to coalesce right around the time Ronald Reagan and his merry band of supply-side trickle-downers went to war against the very idea of government, taxation for the common good, unions, domestic manufacturing and anything even vaguely resembling financial industry regulations. The looting of the United States Treasury by the war/Wall Street/oil party known as the GOP began in earnest right along with "Morning in America," and some 40 years later we are paying a grievous price.

All these years of neoliberal Third Way any-excuse-to-make-rich-people-richer policies are what gave us Donald Trump in the first place. Even a country as dramatic and scattered as the United States doesn't unspool like this overnight; this mess took time and effort to create, not to mention errors and blown opportunities by the score.

Trump is aftermath; what got us here is the real problem, and the real problem will stubbornly persist after Trump is gone unless positive steps are taken to change what looks by any measurement to be an unutterably bleak future.

The fact that some Trump supporters had a legitimate beef when they voted for him makes me want to bite myself until I die, but there it is. For a progressive, such a statement hedges on heresy, but that doesn't make me wrong. Nature abhors a vacuum. Trump filled it, and we should have all seen it coming, because it was a long time in the making.

To be clear: Racists/white nationalists/Nazis who voted for Trump have no point. None. Misogynists who voted for Trump have no point. None. People who voted for Trump because they recognized him from reality TV have no point. Less than none. Of course they significantly helped Trump get elected, but that coalition was not large enough to elect him by itself.

They needed help, and got it from millions of voters who were born and raised on the "American Dream," only to have that dream turn to ashes in their mouths thanks to the voracious greed of a few western oligarchs for whom the world is not enough. After the 2016 Democratic convention, no one of believable substance was speaking to frustrations with the economic status quo except him (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both sounded similar economic populist notes during the primaries, but then Bernie was gone), and so some ran away to join the circus because they couldn't see how it could get any worse.

It's pretty simple, really: When you take trillions and trillions of tax dollars and give it to people who are already wealthy, when those wealthy people use that money to buy politicians who will lower their taxes and allow them to buy up whole swaths of the news media, when those bought politicians nominate/approve Supreme Court justices who put a stamp of legitimacy on organized public graft, when it all is as exactly as corrupt as it brazenly appears to be, you wind up with a lot of people who will listen to anyone promising a solution, even if that solution is ghastly.

Pull the strings on this rotten bag and out tumbles a collection of historic calamities and Democrats, not necessarily in that order. Bill Clinton, the original Third Way neoliberal, the "best Republican president the country's ever had," left office with the largest budget surplus in US history sitting on his desk waiting for the next occupant. Thanks to the catastrophic 2000 presidential election, that next occupant turned out to be George W. Bush, who promptly delivered that surplus to his rich pals by way of two highly effective money laundering schemes: tax cuts and war profiteering. Using public money to promote the public good was never even considered, and the damage continued apace.

By the time Barack Obama took office, the national Democratic brand was so battered by self-inflicted injuries that great swaths of people wouldn't follow them into the water. Like his predecessors and the jellyfish tank passing itself off as Congress, Obama continued to act as though right-wing deregulation, tax cuts and generalized trickle-down economics still had legitimacy. Damage compounded by damage.

Rather than take a hard look at economic sinkholes like the bottomless Pentagon budget or all the trillions hidden in those offshore accounts, Obama accepted the premise behind Republican austerity plans over and over again, and even dangled major cuts to Social Security and Medicare as "responsible options."

Hillary Clinton and her 2016 presidential campaign were the final embodiment of this slow collapse. As a candidate, she gave lip service to the people but power to the plutocrats and polluters to such a vivid degree that it turned "shame" into a verb. She ran such a horrendous presidential campaign that she lost to Donald F-----g Trump. That's the period at the end of every sentence about 2016; there is nothing else to say, really.

Misogyny and the 25-year media campaign to destroy Hillary Clinton played their significant parts, to be sure, but once again that coalition isn't large enough to deliver victory without some assistance. Hillary Clinton's campaign was that assistance, the last calamity in a torrid string of them dating back to the days when Pac-Man ruled the world and the US hadn't been at war for 27 straight years. There were other options, but the DNC slashed those tires and helped us all into this strange, bewildering place.

Certainly, the Republican Party is primarily responsible for the deeply damaged state of things in the US. Robbing the poor to swell the coffers of the rich has been the hood ornament of their national ideology for a very long time now. They don't care about the damage this does to the body politic; helping people is not why they put their pants on in the morning.

They could have been stopped. They should have been stopped. Time and time again they weren't, the nation was plundered as the people were force-fed lies upon lies, until everything got so maddeningly bad that some decided to roll the dice on the loudmouth with the preposterous hair.

Until something is done about the farce we call capitalism and the casino we call democracy, grifters like Trump will continue to shoot the gap and take advantage.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Trump filled it when wealthy proponents of corporate power and those motivated by racism and xenophobia joined forces with those who were fed up after 40 years of unfulfilled promises and went with the sideshow to shake things up. The absence of genuine solutions to the problems facing this country is what put us here. It didn't have to be this way, and that's the final calamity.
(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.

Even Rich libertarians Don't Live Forever
By Heather Digby Parton

I don't know who will take their places but someone surely will. There's always more greedy rich guys and probably more than ever these days. (Peter Thiel?)

Billionaire conservative icon David Koch is stepping down from the Koch brothers' network of business and political activities.

The 78-year-old New York resident is suffering from deteriorating health, according to a letter that older brother Charles Koch sent to company officials Tuesday morning.

Charles Koch wrote that he is "deeply saddened" by his brother's retirement. "David has always been a fighter and is dealing with this challenge in the same way," he wrote.

David Koch is leaving his roles as executive vice president and board member for Koch Industries and a subsidiary, Koch Chemical Technology group, where he served as chairman and chief executive officer. Koch is also stepping down as chairman of the board for the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, the charity related to Koch brothers' primary political organization.

Charles Koch had assumed a more visible leadership role in the brothers' affairs in recent years. He will continue to serve as the CEO of Koch Industries and the unofficial face of the network's political efforts.

Charles Koch is 82, so he won't be around forever either.

I'm not one to celebrate the misfortune of others even if they are political adversaries. The world will be a better place when the Kochs shuffle off their mortal coils as we all will do someday.

(I would make an exception for Trump. I'm sorry, but I will celebrate quietly if he dies in his sleep. I know that's terrible but I've hated anyone so thoroughly in my life as I hate him.)
(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.

Daytime traffic on the Leaside Bridge in Toronto.

Mobility Pricing Relieves Congestion, Helps People Breathe Easier
By David Suzuki

By 2002, drivers in London, England, were spending as much as half their commuting time stalled in traffic, contributing to much of the city centre's dangerous particulate pollution. To deal with a growing population, increasing gridlock and air quality concerns, the city implemented a congestion charge, using a photo-based licence-recognition system.

Between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, drivers entering a 21-square-kilometre zone in Central London are charged a fee, which has risen from about C$8.50 in 2003 to $20 now. The city offers discounts or exemptions for zone residents, people with disabilities, emergency vehicles, motorcycles and taxis.

Congestion pricing is a solution that works. But politically, it's a difficult sell. Drivers don't like to pay tolls on top of what they already pay to buy, maintain, fuel and park their vehicles. They often forget, though, the less visible costs of congestion: arriving late, having to leave early and burning fuel while stalled or moving at a crawl. Most people end up better off with a well-designed congestion pricing plan.

Although London's plan faced opposition and debate - even a legal challenge - its success has led to widespread acceptance. Almost overnight, drivers who could change behaviour did, travelling at off-peak hours, carpooling or taking transit. Those who chose to drive despite the charge benefited from less congested roads. Within just three years, traffic went down by 15 per cent, and congestion - the extra time to make a trip because of impeded traffic flow - was reduced by 30 per cent. Businesses saw immediate gains, as costs of shipping delays and paying drivers stuck in traffic fell.

Benefits continue. More people take buses to the centre and fewer rely on private automobiles. Shorter commuting times mean more time with family and friends, less aggravation and saving money on gas and vehicle maintenance. The fees also generate about C$300 million a year, which are invested in non-car transportation improvements.

London now has new congestion challenges. To improve safety, health and the environment, and to move more people, road space has been allocated to walking and cycling, which are surging in popularity. For-hire vehicles like Uber, taxis and minicabs - which are exempt from the fee - have also increased significantly. London is looking to a number of solutions, including expanding the fee zone and studying congestion pricing in places like Stockholm, Sweden, where rates vary according to zone and time of day.

As cities grow, challenges around pollution, traffic congestion and automobile infrastructure increase. Studies show you can't build your way out of congestion. More roads and bridges bring more cars.

Cities worldwide have implemented or are considering congestion pricing, including Singapore, New York and my hometown of Vancouver. Metro Vancouver's Mobility Pricing Independent Commission recently released a report that concluded, "Region-wide road usage charging is the most effective tool to provide a systematic, meaningful and lasting reduction in traffic congestion."

The report recommends point- or distance-based charges which "could generate enough revenue to re-assess our broader approach for funding transportation in the region," including "the potential to shift or reduce taxation away from other existing revenue sources, including the regional fuel sales tax." The commission acknowledged that more study is needed to ensure the system is fair and effective. For example, London already had a good public transportation system and added 300 buses to the Central London fleet on the day the congestion fee came into effect. Because the charge is designed to encourage people to use other forms of transportation, viable alternatives must be available.

The report says congestion pricing could cost an average household that doesn't alter commuting behaviour anywhere from $5 to $8 a day, not accounting for savings from reduced congestion. Charges would reduce congestion by 20 to 25 per cent - an hour or more a week for the average city commuter. Costs can be offset by reducing or eliminating gas or other taxes, and revenues can be invested in transit improvements to make getting around without a car easier.

Reducing congestion and pollution and tackling the climate crisis require getting people out of their cars. Congestion pricing is a fair, effective way to reduce reliance on private automobiles, improve traffic flow and help fund public transportation. Let's do it.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

There's Reason For Hope In The Supreme Court's Gay-Wedding-Cake Decision
But it can also be read as an ominous signal from the Court's conservative wing.
By Charles P. Pierce

The Nine Wise Souls in Washington are in the homestretch, which means every Monday for the next few weeks will echo with the sound of shoes dropping all over the Constitution. On this particular Monday, they handed down a funky 7-2 unsigned decision in the case of Masterpiece Cake Shop et. al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission et. al. The case involved a bakery, the owner of which refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because, he said, his religious principles forbade it. While a 7-2 decision is not a "narrow" one, as was reported, the legal grounds on which the Court found for the baker are.

Instead of a sweeping declaration one way or the other, the majority-which included both Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan-determined that the members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission were excessively hostile to the religious beliefs of Jack Phillips, the baker in question, and that the hostility they expressed was the basis for the Court's ruling.

(Apparently, during the commission's deliberation, there was some loose talk comparing what Phillips was asserting with the persecution of gay people during the Holocaust, as well as to the theological arguments used to support the institution of slavery. This seemed to nettle the majority on the Court.)

The decision was read by Justice Anthony Kennedy, and it seems to be an attempt to middle this issue, and to temporize on deciding definitively the volatile issue of equal protection vs. an asserted claim of religious liberty. Kennedy and the majority left open the possibility that the Court could rule the other way, if a state commission's deliberations met the standards of fairness and neutrality that the Colorado's commission did not. From the decision:

Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to-to use their religion to hurt others.
What the hell that means as regards future cases in this area is beyond me. For the moment, anyway, it seems that the most basic question of the case remains unresolved, stuck in a maelstrom of lower courts and administrative bodies, while both sides live to fight another day. Kennedy, you recall, was the deciding vote in the case that legalized marriage equality throughout the country, so he's got a legacy to protect there, which he tries to do by anchoring his decision on the intemperate rhetoric of the Colorado commissioners while asserting his support for non-discrimination as a working policy.

Again, from the decision:

When it comes to weddings, it can be assumed that a member of the clergy who objects to gay marriage on moral and religious grounds could not be compelled to perform the ceremony without denial of his or her right to the free exercise of religion. This refusal would be well understood in our constitutional order as an exercise of religion, an exercise that gay persons could recognize and accept without serious diminishment to their own dignity and worth. Yet if that exception were not confined, then a long list of persons who provide goods and services for marriages and weddings might refuse to do so for gay persons, thus resulting in a community-wide stigma inconsistent with the history and dynamics of civil rights laws that ensure equal access to goods, services, and public accommodations.


The decision also can be easily read as a signal from the Court's conservative wing to conservative Christians that a more sweeping assertion of religious liberty might be out there waiting for Kennedy to retire and for the current president* to get another seat on the Court to fill. Hold your fire, they could be saying. Kennedy can't last forever. And, since I feel safe in a assuming that the next nominee from this administration* will not be Zombie William Brennan, this decision is most significant in that it raises the stakes of the 2018 midterm elections even higher, as practically everything these days does.
(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...

"Politics have no relation to morals.""
~~~ Niccolo Machiavelli

Tangier Island

Tangier Island Is The Earth
By David Swanson

It's nice to look down on the poor foolish residents of Tangier Island, a little speck of land sinking into the Chesapeake Bay. Some 87% of the residents who voted in 2016, voted for Trump. The Mayor of Tangier says that being mayor is only his second job; his first is killing some of what remain of the crabs in the Bay. Residents imagine that the U.S. government will save their island from going under by building a wall. They imagine that Trump will make that happen. Yet Trump famously told the mayor on the phone that there was nothing to worry about, that the island is not actually in any danger. Residents of Tangier say that they know what's coming, but that they leave it up to "the Lord."

What's likely coming is a sea level that renders Tangier uninhabitable in 20 or 25 years. And those poor ignorant fools say not one word about halting the use of fossil fuels, going vegan, controlling population growth, or ending all the planet-destructive wars. Boy, we sure can despise such backwardness. After all, the rest of Virginia may not be doomed for another 20 or 25 years after Tangier.

The rest of us in Virginia and the earth are morally in the exact same situation as the people of Tangier Island. Imagining that voting for a different corrupt ruler, or dropping beliefs in ancient mythologies, or wearing shirts that say "resist" has a damn thing to do with it is our particular form of ignorance. We use stories like Tangier to distract us, sports to distract us, partisan politics to distract us. But if we are not doing everything we can to organize people to engage in massive nonviolent action to completely reverse destructive systemic behavior on the largest scale, we are in no position to criticize anyone.

Five-year averages of temperature in Virginia began a significant and steady increase in the early 1970s, rising from 54.6 degrees Fahrenheit then to 56.2 degrees F in 2012. The Piedmont area, where I live, has seen the temperature rise at a rate of 0.53 degrees F per decade. At this rate, Virginia will be as hot as South Carolina by 2050 and as northern Florida by 2100, and continuing at a steady or increasing pace from there. Sixty percent of Virginia is forest, and forests cannot evolve or switch over to warmer-weather species at anything like that fast a pace. The most likely future is not pines or palm trees but wasteland.

From 1979 to 2003, excessive heat exposure contributed to over 8,000 premature deaths in the United States, more than all deaths from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined, and dramatically more than all deaths from terrorism. Between 1948 and 2006 "extreme precipitation events" increased 25% in Virginia. Precipitation in Virginia is likely to increase or decrease dramatically overall, and is extremely likely to continue the trend of arriving in ever more intense bursts of storms interrupting droughts. This will be devastating to agriculture.

Acidity in the ocean has already increased by 30 percent and if current trends continue will hit a 100 to 150 percent increase by 2100 and continue to spiral upward from there. Oysters' shells in the Chesapeake Bay have grown thinner as a result. The oyster population is 98 percent gone. Shell fish are becoming and will entirely become extinct, if current trends remain unaltered. By 2100 we can expect 60 to 100 percent of the world's coral reefs to be gone. Fish off the Virginia coast are moving north and east to survive, some species having already vanished from Virginia waters either by migrating or dying out. In Virginia 46 percent of fish species, 25 percent of birds, 46 percent of reptiles, 43 percent of amphibians, and 28 percent of mammals are listed as threatened or endangered.

Seventy-eight percent of Virginians live within 20 miles of the Chesapeake, the Atlantic, or tidal rivers. On the Eastern Shore and in the Hampton Roads-Norfolk area, flooding has already become routine. The sea level will rise, if current trends continue, between 3 and 18 feet by 2100. Already it has risen an inch every 7 or 8 years - 12 inches in the last century. Some 628,000 Virginians live within 6.5 feet of sea level. Paul Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk since 1994, says the city may need to soon establish "retreat zones" and abandon sections of the city as too costly to protect. Real estate agents are discussing the need to require disclosure of sea level as well as lead paint and other defects when selling property. The famous ponies of Chincoteague live among trees killed and grasses weakened by risen saltwater, and will not live there much longer.

The U.S. military, headquartered largely in Virginia, the world's largest Navy base in Norfolk, and the swamp-built Capital of the United States in Washington, D.C., face potential devastation directly contributed to by the endless wars for oil, and the consumption of that oil first and foremost in the conduct of the wars and preparations for more wars, despite the widespread belief that the results of the wars are distant. Just as ice melting in Greenland lifts water onto the streets of Norfolk, investment of trillions of dollars in pointless death and destruction not only diverts resources from addressing climate damage but heavily contributes to that damage. The U.S. military would rank 38th in oil consumption if it were a nation.

If any image can wallop someone with the need to adjust our priorities it is one of Wallops Island just south of Chincoteague but protected for the moment by a $34 million rock wall. Wallops Island hosts tests for the $4 billion crash-prone Osprey helicopter, and all sorts of war training, plus a space port from which multi-billionaires can blow themselves up or launch themselves into space to starve in tin cans literally as well as subjectively above the rest of us.

There is no Planet B. Nobody has found anywhere for humans to live apart from earth, at least not remotely in the time frame of the current crisis. Virginia has taken in thousands of refugees from Hurricane Katrina and can expect to take in many more and to create many refugees itself. The only thinking that says every future Hurricane Sandy will miss Virginia is wishful thinking. The claim that Tangier will produce the first U.S. refugees from climate chaos is willfully blind.

The warming will bring the mosquito varieties (already arriving) and diseases. Serious risks include malaria, Chagas disease, chikungunya virus, and dengue virus. Look them up. The television won't explain them until they're here.

Virginians, like others in the United States, consume vastly more energy and produce vastly more warming per capita than do people in other countries, including countries in Europe that they don't look down on. Proposals to actually halt the climate catastrophe generally call for Americans to start living like Europeans (the horror!).

Virginia's Constitution requires the state to "protect its atmosphere, lands, and waters from pollution, impairment, or destruction, for the benefit, enjoyment and general welfare of the people." In a decent court system, any member of the public could have that enforced through a massive emergency Marshall-Plan effort to preserve our climate. Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality does not concern itself with climate change. Virginia lags significantly behind Maryland and North Carolina in addressing climate change. Numerous reasonable steps can be quite easily taken if the political will is found, but they get harder with each passing year.
(c) 2018 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Climate Deterioration: Snowdrifts In Charleston, SC
By Jane Stillwater

One huge fatal flaw in the human psyche is that all too many of us seem to be incapable of grasping the Big Picture. In Charleston, South Carolina, however, the Big Picture is currently being shoved down our throats -- like it or not. "We had seven inches of snowfall here the other day," a long-time resident just told me. "Unheard of!" What caused it? Climate deterioration. Weather pollution.

For crying out loud, how much more further proof do we need before we can actually start seeing the Big Picture here? That Santa Claus has just moved his North Pole workshop down to sunny Carolina? That the winter Olympics are now being held right here on Meeting Street?

Over a hundred years ago, Charleston built a gigantic seawall to keep the Atlantic Ocean out of the front yards of its charming antebellum mansions. Well, in the next 20 years Charleston is going to have to quadruple the height of these "lowcountry" seawalls -- unless it wants to equip its visiting tourists with scuba equipment in order to view Rainbow Row.

Climate deterioration. Weather pollution. Big Picture. Got it yet? Apparently not.

You just gotta love Charleston. It's clearly the most beautiful and charming city in America. And I will miss it when it is gone -- just like I will miss New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Mumbai, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Sydney, Miami, Puerto Vallarta, Vancouver, Seattle, Boston and Buenos Aires.

Climate deterioration/weather pollution. This is the most vital Big Picture that our limited human psyches are clearly missing right now (aside from the fact that "war" will kill our environment too).

PS: Who profits most from denying that climate deterioration is even a thing? Surprisingly, it is American weapons manufacturers -- the largest source of weather pollution there is.

For instance, that phony "war" on Syria alone has already subtracted years and years from the life expectancy of the entire human race. Not to mention all the things that go "Boom" in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, the former Yugoslavia, etc. Each of these senseless and barbaric attacks on vulnerable countries have been incredible bonanzas for American weapons manufacturers -- but could be extinction events for the rest of us.
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Trump,

Dear zustand unterfuhrer Clark,

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 idea that business' should be allowed not to serve blacks or gays, 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 Herr Clark, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

People lay underneath the iconic Wall Street bull during a rally in the financial district
against the proposed government buyout of financial firms September 25, 2008 in New York City.
In response to the global financial crisis, dozens of protesters, from a variety
of activist groups, denounced the capitalist system, Wall Street and the Bush administration.

Why The Only Answer Is To Break Up The Biggest Wall Street Banks
If you took the greed out of Wall Street... all you'd have left is pavement
By Robert Reich

On Wednesday, Federal bank regulators proposed to allow Wall Street more freedom to make riskier bets with federally-insured bank deposits -such as the money in your checking and savings accounts.

The proposal waters down the so-called "Volcker Rule" (named after former Fed chair Paul Volcker, who proposed it). The Volcker Rule was part of the Dodd-Frank Act, passed after the near meltdown of Wall Street in 2008 in order to prevent future near meltdowns.

The Volcker Rule was itself a watered-down version of the 1930s Glass-Steagall Act, enacted in response to the Great Crash of 1929. Glass-Steagall forced banks to choose between being commercial banks, taking in regular deposits and lending them out, or being investment banks that traded on their own capital.

Glass-Steagall's key principle was to keep risky assets away from insured deposits. It worked well for more than half century. Then Wall Street saw opportunities to make lots of money by betting on stocks, bonds, and derivatives (bets on bets) -and in 1999 persuaded Bill Clinton and a Republican congress to repeal it.

Nine years later, Wall Street had to be bailed out, and millions of Americans lost their savings, their jobs, and their homes.

Why didn't America simply reinstate Glass-Steagall after the last financial crisis? Because too much money was at stake. Wall Street was intent on keeping the door open to making bets with commercial deposits. So instead of Glass-Steagall, we got the Volcker Rule -almost 300 pages of regulatory mumbo-jumbo, riddled with exemptions and loopholes.

Now those loopholes and exemptions are about to get even bigger, until they swallow up the Volcker Rule altogether. If the latest proposal goes through, we'll be nearly back to where we were before the crash of 2008.

Why should banks ever be permitted to use peoples' bank deposits -insured by the federal government -to place risky bets on the banks' own behalf? Bankers say the tougher regulatory standards put them at a disadvantage relative to their overseas competitors.

Baloney. Since the 2008 financial crisis, Europe has been more aggressive than the United States in clamping down on banks headquartered there. Britain is requiring its banks to have higher capital reserves than are so far contemplated in the United States.

The real reason Wall Street has spent huge sums trying to water down the Volcker Rule is that far vaster sums can be made if the Rule is out of the way. If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you'd have left is pavement.

As a result of consolidations brought on by the Wall Street bailout, the biggest banks today are bigger and have more clout than ever. They and their clients know with certainty they will be bailed out if they get into trouble, which gives them a financial advantage over smaller competitors whose capital doesn't come with such a guarantee. So they're becoming even more powerful.

The only answer is to break up the giant banks. The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was designed not only to improve economic efficiency by reducing the market power of economic giants like the railroads and oil companies but also to prevent companies from becoming so large that their political power would undermine democracy.

The sad lesson of Dodd-Frank and the Volcker Rule is that Wall Street is too powerful to allow effective regulation of it. America should have learned that lesson in 2008 as the Street brought the rest of the economy - and much of the world - to its knees.

If Trump were a true populist on the side of the people rather than powerful financial interests, he'd lead the way, as did Teddy Roosevelt starting in 1901.

But Trump is a fake populist. After all, he appointed the bank regulators who are now again deregulating Wall Street. Trump would rather stir up public rage against foreigners than address the true abuses of power inside America.

So we may have to wait until we have a true progressive populist president. Or until Wall Street nearly implodes again -robbing millions more of their savings, jobs, and homes. And the public once again demands action.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The Second Sight Of W.E.B. Du Bois
By Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges gave this talk Friday at the Left Forum in New York City.

W.E.B. Du Bois, more than any intellectual this nation produced in the first half of the 20th century, explained America to itself. He did this not only through what he called the "color line" but by exposing the intertwining of empire, capitalism and white supremacy. He deftly fused academic disciplines. He possessed unwavering integrity, a deep commitment to the truth, and the courage to speak it. That he was brilliant and a radical was bad enough. That he was brilliant, radical and black terrified the ruling elites. He was swiftly blacklisted, denied the professorships and public platforms that went to those who were more obsequious and compliant. Du Bois had very few intellectual rivals-John Dewey perhaps being one, but Dewey failed, like nearly all white intellectuals, to grasp the innate violence and savagery of the American character and how it was given its natural expression in empire.

Regeneration and purification through violence is the credo of the American empire. D.H. Lawrence, like Du Bois, saw it, and said, "The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer." The pillars of American capitalism are genocide and slavery. America was not blessed by God. It was blessed, if that is the right word, by producing the most efficient killing machines and trained killers on the planet. It unleashed industrial violence on its enemies abroad and empowered armed white vigilante groups and gun thugs-the slave patrols, the Ku Klux Klan, the White Leagues (the armed wing of the Democratic Party), the Baldwin Felts and Pinkertons-to perpetrate a domestic reign of terror against blacks, Native Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, abolitionists, Catholics, radicals, workers and labor organizers. The ideological descendants of these killers have mutated into white hate groups and militarized law enforcement that terrorize immigrants and undocumented workers, Muslims and people of color trapped in our internal colonies. This bloody visage is the true face of America.

"Once in a while through all of us there flashes some clairvoyance, some clear idea, of what America really is," Du Bois wrote. "We who are dark can see America in a way that white Americans cannot."

Du Bois warned that in times of widespread unrest, this indiscriminate violence, familiar to poor people of color and those we subjugate abroad today in the Middle East, becomes the primary mechanism for internal social control. As the empire disintegrates under unfettered corporate capitalism, futile and costly military adventurism, political stagnation and despotism, we will learn the truth Du Bois elucidated.

Du Bois, early in his career and already recognized as one of the foremost sociologists in the country, attacked Booker T. Washington's odious accommodation with the white segregationists in the South and industrial elites in the North. He derided Washington's advocacy of vocational training for blacks at the expense of intellectual pursuits. The white capitalist Molochs, who funded and promoted Washington and his collaborationist scheme to train blacks to take their spots on the lowest rung of industrial society, turned on Du Bois with a vengeance. The underclass, then and now, was to be taught what to think, not how to think. They would be endowed with just enough numerical literacy to serve as serfs in the capitalist system. The capitalists were determined to maintain what Du Bois called "enforced ignorance," an enforced ignorance now being visited on a dispossessed working class with the degrading of public education, funding of vocational charter schools, and withering away of the humanities.

"Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States," he warned, an eerie forecast of the age of Trump.

He would always remain a double outsider. And this status as an outsider, coupled with his prodigious intellectual gifts and uncompromising honesty, allowed him to expose the hypocrisy of the country's most revered institutions and beliefs.

"The history of the world is the history, not of individuals, but of groups, not of nations, but of races," he wrote, "and he who ignores or seeks to override the race idea in human history ignores and overrides the central thought of all history."

Du Bois was amazingly prolific. He authored 16 seminal texts of sociology, history, politics and race relations including "The Philadelphia Negro," his revolutionary study that established the field of urban sociology; "Souls of Black Folk" that laid the foundations for modern African-American literature and history; and his 1935 classic, "Reconstruction," that portrayed American democracy through the eyes of disenfranchised Southern blacks. He was the editor from 1910 to 1934 of Crisis, one of the country's leading intellectual and civil rights journal. Cornel West calls him the "American Gibbon," after the British historian Edward Gibbon, who chronicled the fall of the Roman Empire and used it as a warning to all empires.

But I want to begin today by looking at one of his often overlooked essays, "The Souls of White Folk," from his book "Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil." He wrote this essay in 1920. White Europeans and Americans were struggling to cope with the suicidal slaughter and barbarity of World War I. Yet, as Du Bois pointed out, none of this savagery was a surprise to blacks in the United States or the victims of colonialism-10 to 12 million blacks died under the brutal colonial rule of the Belgian King Leopold in the Congo.

It was Belgium, not the Congo, however, that was held up as the victim of horrible atrocities due to German occupation after the war. "Behold little Belgium and her pitiable plight, but has the world forgotten Congo?" Du Bois asked. Racism, he saw, was not only endemic to capitalism and imperialism but deformed historical narratives, the stories that got told and those that did not. In the United States, the year before the essay was published, 66 black men and women, mostly in the rural South, were lynched. Another 250 died in urban riots, usually instigated by white vigilante mobs, in the North and in the Arkansas Delta. They could have told you, if they were asked, what America was.

"As we saw the dead dimly through the rifts of battle smoke and heard faintly the cursings and accusations of blood brothers, we darker men said: This is not Europe gone mad; this is not aberration nor insanity; this is Europe; this seeming Terrible is the real soul of white culture," Du Bois wrote in the essay.

Du Bois attended the Versailles Conference that imposed punitive reparations on Germany, crippling its economy and setting the stage for fascism. But to Du Bois the decision by the victorious European powers to blithely carve up Africa, Indochina and the Middle East in open disregard for those who lived there was far more criminal. Self-determination, he saw, was only for white Europeans and Euro-Americans. He would help convene a Pan-African Congress to protest the renewed subjugation of people of color. The war, Du Bois argued, had nothing to do with democracy and freedom. It was a struggle between imperial powers for the ability to plunder the "dark world's wealth and toil," which is also, of course, what our wars in the Middle East are about.

Du Bois knew, like Karl Marx, whom he greatly admired, that the market economy was designed to make the weak weaker and the strong stronger. The idea that a class of black capitalists and entrepreneurs, or black politicians such as Barack Obama, would somehow rectify social and racial inequality within capitalism was absurd. These tokens would serve the capitalist and imperialist system, which, he said, had to be overthrown and replaced with socialism.

Outcasts are gifted, Du Bois wrote, with a "second-sight" or what he called a "double-consciousness." It was, he wrote in "The Souls of Black Folk," the sensation "of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others." This gives to outcasts, as it did to many Jewish intellectuals in Nazi Germany, the ability to see behind what Du Bois called the veil. This sight is imperative not only for the outcasts, but for the nation. Those blinded by privilege and the myth of whiteness cannot fathom reality, or understand themselves, without these outcasts. The more the voices of these outcasts are shut out, the more collective insanity grips the country. By silencing the voices of the oppressed, we ensure our own oppression.

"I have been in the world," Du Bois said, "but not of it. I have seen the human drama from a veiled corner, where all the outer tragedy and comedy have reproduced themselves in microcosm within. From this inner torment of souls the human scene without has interpreted itself to me in unusual and even illuminating ways."

The endemic violence that plagues the country stuns many white elites, but this violence is a daily reality to Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis and, of course, poor Americans of color.

"But what on earth is whiteness that one should so desire it?" Du Bois asked. "Then always, somehow, some way, silently but clearly, I am given to understand that whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and ever, Amen!"

"It is curious to see America, the United States, looking on herself, first, as a sort of natural peacemaker, then as a moral protagonist in this terrible time," he wrote. "No nation is less fitted for this role. For two or more centuries America has marched proudly in the van of human hatred-making bonfires of human flesh and laughing at them hideously, and making the insulting of millions more than a matter of dislike-rather a great religion, a world-war cry: Up white, down black; to your tents, O white folk, and world war with black and parti-colored mongrel beasts."

Du Bois saw redemption, certainly at the end of his life, not within the bowels of the empire but in liberation movements outside the empire struggling for freedom. He was arrested for "subversive" activities in 1951 and had his passport revoked for years. His books were removed from library shelves and eliminated from course curriculums. He remained steadfastly defiant. On Dec. 1, 1961, he formally joined the Communist Party. Soon after he left the United States to spend the rest of his life in Ghana.

Du Bois had a particular characteristic I especially admire. He was rooted in the reality of those he wrote about. He listened. He methodically interviewed poor blacks, whether in "The Souls of Black Folk" or "The Philadelphia Negro," where historian Herbert Aptheker has estimated that Du Bois spent some 835 hours interviewing some 2,500 households. This gave his work a reportorial authenticity and freshness that eluded most other sociologists and philosophers who pondered the great questions ensconced in their academic enclaves.

There comes a time, Du Bois wrote, when the oppressed erupt in paroxysms of rage, much like jihadists in the Middle East. Those who never took the time to investigate the long, slow drip of collective humiliation and suffering are shocked. The rage, because it appears to have no context or rationality, is seen as incomprehensible, the product of racial or religious mutations. We see this with the Israeli reaction to the nonviolent protests in Gaza. The press, little more than courtiers to the elites, dutifully certifies the rage as incomprehensible. Because it is incomprehensible it must be violently crushed. Du Bois writes:

It is difficult to let others see the full psychological meaning of caste segregation. It is as though one, looking out from a dark cave in a side of an impending mountain, sees the world passing and speaks to it; speaks courteously and persuasively, showing them how these entombed souls are hindered in their natural movement, expression, and development. ...It gradually penetrates the minds of the prisoners that the people passing do not hear; that some thick sheet of invisible but horribly tangible plate glass is between them and the world. They get excited; they talk louder; they gesticulate. ...They may scream and hurl themselves against the barriers, hardly realizing in their bewilderment that they are screaming in a vacuum unheard and that their antics may actually seem funny to those outside looking in. They may even, here and there, break through in blood and disfigurement, and find themselves faced by a horrified, implacable, and quite overwhelming mob of people frightened for their own very existence.
Du Bois would hardly fare better today. His radical critique of empire and capitalism would make him even more of a pariah in the academy and on the airwaves. The corporate state, assured they can keep us entranced with their electronic hallucinations and spectacles, along with the inane trivia and gossip masquerading as news, do not see him or other radical theorists as a threat. They orchestrated the post-literate society, the "enforced ignorance," that perpetuates their power. We have his books. Read them while you still can.
(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
~~~ Chan Lowe ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Timeline Of The Republican Party
By The Onion

Founded in 1854, the Republican Party has been one of America's two major political parties for most of the nation's existence. The Onion presents a timeline of the party that currently controls all three branches of government.

Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell born.

President Abe Lincoln adds note at the end of the Emancipation Proclamation clarifying that his freeing the slaves means Republicans can never, ever be accused of being racist.

Cartoonist Thomas Nast popularizes the party's mascot, an elephant that hates poor people.

President Benjamin Harrison presides over only four-year stretch in American history where literally nothing happened.

Congress votes to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the GOP learns an important lesson about not relying on fear and demagoguery to win elections.

Democratic and Republican parties decide to switch platforms out of boredom.

Richard Nixon becomes the only Republican president to face consequences for his actions.

Party leaders realize they can just say "welfare queens" instead of "lazy minorities."

Republicans sweep midterms on the back of the "Contract With America," which promises they'll be beholden to interests of a completely different set of lobbyists than the Democrats.

Purchased by NRA.

President George W. Bush begins successful campaign to ensure nation completely forgets about Iraq War.

Another traditional Republican elected president.
(c) 2018 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 22 (c) 06/08/2018

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(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."