Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

Ralph Nader writes, "The Unsurpassed Power Trip By An Insuperable Control Freak: An Open Letter To Jeff Bezos."

Uri Avnery explains, "Two Souls."

Glen Ford explains, "Racial And Ethnic Roundups Are Legal, As Long As "Race" Is Not The Only Reason."

Richard Falk joins us with, "The U.S. Withdraws (Again) From The UN Human Rights Council."

Jim Hightower introduces, "The New American Aristocracy."

John Nichols reports, "Ben Jealous Shakes Up Maryland Politics."

James Donahue says, "God Exists And He May Be Huge."

William Rivers Pitt considers, "Capitalism, Politics And Immigration."

Heather Digby Parton explores, "Trade War For Dummies."

David Suzuki finds, "Energy Efficiency And Technology Squeeze The Carbon Bubble."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "The Supreme Court's Conservative Majority Lives in Happy Gumdrop Land."

David Swanson orates, "Altruism And Sadism In Public Policy."

Jane Stillwater gives, "Two Book Reviews."

Stephen Miller wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich overlooks, "Trump's Fourth Of July."

Chris Hedges tells, "The Soldier's Tale."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion but first Uncle Ernie recalls, "Lies Of The American Revolution."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jimmy Margulies, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Mathieu Thouvenin, Spencer Platt, Stephanie Keith, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Bookmark and Share

Visit me on Face Book

Lies Of The American Revolution
By Ernest Stewart

"Frustrated historians often claim that the average American knows almost nothing about the Revolutionary War--and that most of what they do know is wrong. There are so many misconceptions, inaccurate quotes, and downright lies told about the American Revolution that it is hard for those who study the period to share their knowledge with the average person. There's a fine line between sharing what you know and telling someone they are wrong. Funny thing, people don't like to be told they are wrong. During the last election and inauguration I kept finding my jaw on the floor as newscasters stated "facts" that I knew were wrong to millions of unsuspecting viewers. Not one of my helpful e-mails to various news departments got a response or a correction." ~~~ Dan Shippey

"Global warming is the foreboding thunder in the distance. Ocean acidification is the lightning strike in our front yard, right here, right now." ~~~ David Horsey

"I have tremendous respect for women." ~~~ Donald Trump

You know, the landlord rang my front door bell.
I let it ring for a long, long spell.
I went to the window,
I peeped through the blind,
And asked him to tell me what's on his mind.

He said,
Money, honey.
Money, honey.
Money, honey, if you want to get along with me.
Money Honey ~~~ Elvis Presley

It's that time of the year again when politicians and pundits crawl out from under their rocks to feed you lies again about the "revolution." I'm not talking about the obvious ones like George Washington never told a lie; "lie" should have been his middle name. Like the lies he told the tribes trying to get them to help him fight the British, and then turned around after the war and became a genocidal maniac, wiping out those same tribes that came to our rescues during the war for their land. Something George learned about during the French and Indian Wars, where George became the richest man in the country by stealing Indian land and selling it to the newbies from Europe.

No, I'm talking about all the "Sons of Liberty" bullshit; you know, the Sons by their regular name: the Boston Chamber of Commerce. They tossed that tea not because of the penny tax the East India company put on it, but because of the East Indian Company -- not the Crown. The revolutions was about our Corporations fighting the British Corporations, just like today where our Corporations are fighting a war just to make a buck. Of course, none of them picked up a rifle and went off to war; they got the working men to fight their war, and just like tRump spouted some song and dance about why we must go kill all those people to bring the few survivors democracy; it's not even a real democracy, but a capitalist democracy. You'll remember that the Constitution was set up as a guarantee that we'd never have a real democracy in this country! For example Hamilton's bright idea, the Electoral College and every time it's overthrown a winner, it has always done so for the 1%, ask Hilary who won by 3 million votes how it worked out for her!

Nope, you get hit in the head with tales of Molly Pitcher -- while in the background there'll be strains of Yankee Doodle (Yankee Doodle came to terms, writing Martin Buber. Stuck a Fuhrer in our back, and called it "Schicklgruber!") while the rockets' red glare blinds you to the reality that the Revolutionary War had nothing to do with a real democracy. Don't believe me; just ask the blacks, the Indians, and women how that worked out for them; play that democracy song and dance on Abigail Adams, and see how it works; go ahead, make my millennium!

No, by all means, drink a six pack of industrial sludge; follow that up with some GMO hot dogs and red slime burgers and a Roundup-coated apple pie. How yummy can it get, eh?

You deserve it all, America: the lies, the mythologies, the poison food and drink; it all goes rather well, hand-in-hand, if you like, with the songs and dances of our phony history. Just remember, America; "Abraham Lincoln didn't die in vain; he died in Washington D.C.," see?

In Other News

Currently there are at least 52 wildfires burning throughout the United States, mostly out West, including Alaska.

A red flag warning and wind advisory were issued for parts of Northern California and Nevada, which may see wind gusts of up to 40 mph and relative humidity of only 5 percent.

The governor of California has declared a state of emergency in parts of Northern California due to raging wildfires that have burned 12,000 acres so far.

No casualties have been reported, but 22 buildings have been destroyed, with 600 more at risk. More than 200 personnel have been monitoring the fires from agencies such as the Lake County Sheriff's Office, the US Forest Service and the California Conservation Corps. Lake County is about 100 miles northwest of Sacramento. Yes, they had bad fires around there last year.

According to Cal Fire, "Flames were first reported Saturday evening driven by low relative humidity, erratic winds and above normal temperatures." Global warming strikes again!

In the month of June, in Alaska, they've already had at least 90 wildfires. Because of the record high temperatures they been having for about a decade the permafrost has melted causing much of the forrest's trees to point in various direction causing some to call it the "drunken forest" but trees leaning sideways fall over and become ground clutter and wildfire fodder. Not to mention the melted permafrost plays havoc with roads, towns infrastructures and airport runways, just another side effect of global warming. In fact, you may recall, that once upon a time great herds of duckbilled dinosaurs once grazed on Alaska's tundra!

Meanwhile, back in the mid-west, floods have taken out bridges from Iowa to Michigan's upper peninsula. A line of thunderstorms from Minnesota to South Carolina are dropping inches of rain and spawning tornadoes everywhere they go. Oh and did I mention the folks that study hurricanes have come up with a new rating of a "Force Six" hurricane with wind speeds above 185. You might remember that back in October of 2015 Hurricane Patricia reached maximum sustained winds of 215 mph in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. Sure, it was a fluke, one of those 1,000 year storms, like those 1,000 year floods that they keep having year after year in Maryland!

And Finally

The Washington Post says:
In the 466 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker's database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

That's an average of nearly 6.5 claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president's first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. Slowly, the average number of claims has been creeping up.

Indeed, since we last updated this tally two months ago, the president has averaged about 9 claims a day.
Like spokes-weasel Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Dan Coulter, er Ann Coulter, (she's finally got the rest of her adams-apple removed) says tRump doesn't lie. Of course, that's a lie, 90% of the trash that flows out of his gab hole is always a lie. When I first read the Washington Post report I thought, "This can't be right, I would have thought he passed the 3000 mark not on May 1, 2018, it seems to me he did that in his first 90 days in office!"

If we don't take back the House and the Senate come November, America is over. That wall isn't to keep Latins out, it's to keep us in!

Keepin' On

Got them ole "Mother Hubbard got no bones again, blues!" (In A-minor) Lawdy, lawdy...! Yep, nothing in the till again. It seems without the usual suspects it will soon be... C'est la vie, Problemes Et Excuses Royale!

You may recall what happen four years ago? I'll write a weekly blog, but the other 46 authors will be gone along with most of the cartoons, videos and such and the information they convey. They'll still be out there, Mulder; but some of them are very hard to find! It is, as it has been, since my bank account got emptied, totally up to you, the readership, if we live or die.

Ergo, if you think you get something worthy and worthwhile out of what we do, please help us keep bringing everyone what they really need to know about what's happening. You can always deal with the truth; but in order to survive, you need to know what the truth is. We bring it to you weekly, and have been since February 1, 2001, at absolutely no profit to ourselves, but because it's what we feel we must do for our fellows. If you can dig that, then please go here and follow the instructions. Thanks Ya'll!


03-11-1964 ~ 06-22-2018
Thanks for the Music!

03-04-1941 ~ 06-25-2018
Thanks for the laughs!

05-27-1934 ~ 06-27-2018
Thanks for the reads!


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

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


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

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

"Amazon has been a leading corporate welfare King and is about to reap more of this extorted harvest once you decide where to locate your second headquarters."

The Unsurpassed Power Trip By An Insuperable Control Freak: An Open Letter To Jeff Bezos
Given your successful tax avoidance mania, you should be ashamed of yourself. Because of your company's insatiable greed, you have decided to ignore the plight of the homeless
By Ralph Nader

An open letter to Jeff Bezos:
June 21, 2018

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Inc.
410 Terry Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

Dear Mr. Bezos:

You've come a long way from being a restless electrical engineering and computer science dual major at our alma mater, Princeton University. By heeding your own advice, your own hunches and visions, you've become the world's richest person - at $141 billion and counting. You must feel you are on top of the world.

You are crushing your competition-those little stores on Main Street, USA, and other large companies that are still in business.

Your early clever minimizing of sales taxes gave you a big unfair advantage over brick and mortar stores that have had to pay 6, 7, 8 percent in sales taxes. Your tax-lawyers and accountants are using the anarchic global tax avoidance jurisdictions to drive your company's tax burden to zero on a $5.6 billion profit in 2017, plus receiving about $789 million from Trump's tax giveaway law, according to The American Conservative magazine (see Daniel Kishi's article, "Crony Capitalism Writ Large," in the May/June 2018 edition).

Amazon has been a leading corporate welfare King and is about to reap more of this extorted harvest once you decide where to locate your second headquarters. By the way, if you are considering the Washington, D.C. area, where you are building an extended mansion worthy of an emperor, consider the fact that there is a higher concentration of public interest lawyers per square mile there than any other metropolitan area. These lawyers stand opposed to further housing price spirals, gentrification, congestion, and huge crony capitalistic subsidy demands.

Your expansion into retail stores and warehouses will further highlight the low wages and sometimes hazardous working conditions and assembly line pressures of your corporate model. Other companies are exploiting their workers-as in Walmart (which by the way pays far more income taxes than you do on a percentage basis even under its tax avoidance schemes)- but few companies are as blatant in their planning to replace with robotics the warehouse workers and truck drivers delivering goods.

Your small Board of Directors is clueless about both their responsibility for Amazon shareholders and their overall social responsibility. Your board will rubberstamp all of your proposals as they tally how rich you've made them with stock options, at the expense of your workers. I wrote you (see enclosed letter) as a shareholder to start paying a dividend-your horde of cash belongs to the shareholders, doesn't it? You have not had the courtesy to reply to this letter.

Amazon and Starbucks have just succeeded in a grotesque power play reversing the Seattle City Council's vote to impose a mere $48 million a year tax on large, local corporations to combat the crisis of homelessness and unaffordable housing in your hometown. Given your successful tax avoidance mania, you should be ashamed of yourself. Because of your company's insatiable greed, you have decided to ignore the plight of the homeless.

You should spend some personal time with Seattle's homeless. Then you can announce what you have seen is inconsistent with our society's values and capabilities. You should then announce that you will personally pay that annual $48 million to the city. This charitable gesture will ground, ever so slightly, your cash investments in extraterrestrial space travel. Jeff, reduce your focus on the future, installing all robotic plants and your outer space ventures. You would do well to increase your focus on what is happening presently on Earth. Here, hard-pressed people have to live and raise their children with increasingly bleak prospects.

So you are on top of the world, hyper-rich, arrogant, with your raucous laugh and your sudden temper, believing that neither antitrust laws, nor labor laws, nor tax laws, nor consumer, nor environmental, nor securities laws will ever catch up with the excesses of your business model.

Don't bet on it. Relentless greed with overly concentrated power (about the only thing you seem not to be willing or able to control is Alexa whose ambitions may come back to haunt you) sooner or later, faces a statute of limitations.

Ralph Nader
(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).

Two Souls
By Uri Avnery

"AS LONG as in the heart, within, a Jewish soul is yearning..." thus starts the official translation of Israel's national anthem.

Actually, the Hebrew original says "the soul of a Jew", but the translator probably got it right. It's the Jewish Soul that was meant.

But is there a Jewish Soul? Is it different from the souls of other people? And if so, what is the difference?

FRANKLY, I don't know what a soul is. But let's assume that there is such a thing as a collective psychology, the general spirit of all the men and women who make up this collective - each of whom has a psychology of his/her own. What is it that differentiates it from that of other peoples?

Looking at the present day Israeli people, a stranger may well be perplexed. First of all, more than a fifth of Israelis are not Jewish at all, but belong to the Palestinian people, who presumably have a different "soul". When people speak about Israelis, they generally really mean "Jewish Israelis".

This, by the way, should have convinced Israelis long ago to change the national anthem and other symbols of statehood, to give the minority a sense of belonging. The Canadians did so. When they realized that the citizens of French descent were liable to secede and found a nation of their own, they changed their anthem and flag, so as to give the French minority a sense of belonging. As far as I can judge from afar, the operation was successful. But there is little chance of this happening here.

EVEN WHEN speaking about Israeli Jews only, our national psychology (or "soul") is rather perplexing. It contains elements that are mutually exclusive, profound inbuilt contradictions.

On the one hand, most (Jewish) Israelis are immensely proud of the power of the state they have "built out of nothing". 150 years ago, there were hardly any Jews in the land of Palestine, and these were completely powerless. Today, Israel is the most powerful state in the region, a nuclear power excelling in many fields of human endeavor - military, technological, economic, cultural etc.

Yet listening to many Israeli outpourings, one might come to the conclusion that we may be wiped from the map at any moment. The world is full of people whose sole aim in life is to destroy us. Therefore we must be ready at any moment to defend our very existence.

How do these two contradictory attitudes go together? No problem. They do very well.

FIRST, THERE is the ancient belief that God chose us from all the peoples.

Why did God do that?

God knows. He does not have to explain.

The thing is a bit complicated. First the Jews invented God. There are also Egyptian and Mesopotamian claims, but Jews know better.

(It has been said that many Jews do not believe in God, but believe that God has chosen the Jews.)

Jews learn at a very tender age that they are God's chosen people. Unconsciously, this knowledge remains anchored in their "soul" throughout their life, even though many of them become total atheists. True, many peoples on earth believe that they are better than other peoples. But they don't have a Bible to prove it.

I am sure that many Jews are not even aware that they believe this, or why. The Jewish soul just knows it. We are special.

The language reflects this. There are Jews and there are the others. The Hebrew for all the others is "goyim". In ancient Hebrew, "Goyim" just means peoples in general, including the ancient Israelite people. But over the centuries a new definition has come into being: there are the Jews and there are all the others, the Gentiles, the Goyim.

According to legend, the Jews were a normal people living in their land, the Land of Israel, when the evil Romans conquered them and dispersed them throughout the world. In reality, the Jewish religion was a proselytizing religion and expanded quickly throughout the empire. The Jews in Palestine were already a minority among the adherents of Jehovah, when the Romans evicted many of them (but far from all) from the country.

Soon they had to compete with Christianity, an offshoot of Judaism, which also started to wildly gain adherents. Christianity was built around a great human story, the story of Jesus, and was therefore more apt to convert the masses of slaves and proletarians throughout the empire.

The New Testament also includes the story of the crucifixion - an unforgettable picture of "the Jews" demanding the execution of the gentle Jesus.

I doubt if a person who heard this story in their early childhood ever really loses the scene in their unconscious mind. The result is some kind of anti-Semitism, conscious or unconscious.

This was not the only reason for hating the Jews. The very fact that they were dispersed throughout the world was a huge advantage but also a huge curse.

A Jewish merchant in Hamburg could connect with a Jewish merchant in Thessaloniki, who was corresponding with a Jewish merchant in Cairo. Few Christians had such an opportunity. But the competition exposed Jews to innumerable pogroms. In one European country after another Jews were attacked, killed, raped, and finally expelled.

In the Jewish soul all this created two conflicting trends: the conviction that Jews were special and superior and the conviction that Jews were in eternal danger of being persecuted and exterminated.

IN THE meantime, another offshoot of Judaism - Islam - came into being and conquered a large part of the world. Lacking a Jesus story, it was not anti-Jewish. Muhammad had his quarrels with Jewish tribes in the Arabian desert, but for long stretches of time, Muslims and Jews worked closely together. Moses Maimonides, one of the greatest Jewish thinkers, was the personal physician of one of the greatest Muslim heroes, Salah ad-Din (Saladin). Until Zionism arose.

Jews did not change. While other European nations changed their forms of social structure - tribes, multi-tribal kingdoms, empires, modern nations etc. - Jews stuck to their ethnic-religious diaspora. This made them different, leading to pogroms and finally to the Holocaust.

Zionism was an attempt to turn the Jews into a modern European nation. The early Zionists were cursed by orthodox Rabbis in the most savage terms, but refused to be drawn into a culture war. They created the fiction that in Judaism, religion and nation are the same.

Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, was a European colonialist through and through. He tried to win a European colonial power for his enterprise - first the German Kaiser, then the British imperialists. The Kaiser said to his aides "It's a great idea, but you can't do it with Jews". The British realized the potential and issued the Balfour Declaration.

The Arab populations of Palestine and the "Middle East" realized too late that their very existence was in danger. When they started to resist, Zionism built up modern military forces. Very soon, they became by far the most efficient military machine in the region, and the only local nuclear power.

THAT IS where we are now. A domineering regional power and a global crybaby, ruling a colonized population deprived of all rights while being convinced that dark forces are out to exterminate us at any moment, considering ourselves a very special people and an eternal victim. All this quite sincerely. And all this together.

When somebody dares to suggest that anti-Semitism in the West is dying, and that anti-Islam is on the rise instead, the Jewish reaction is furious. We need anti-Semitism for our mental equilibrium. Nobody is going to steal it from us.

Almost 80 years ago, small groups of young Jews in Palestine had the idea of a separation between the communities: we Jews in Palestine were a new nation, all the others would remain just Jews. Rather like Americans and Australians, who were largely of British descent but not quite British anymore.

We all went "native". On reaching the age of 18, we all exchanged our Jewish names for Hebrew Names. (That's how Uri Avnery came into being.) We started to think of ourselves as a new nation, with a new "soul", connected to Judaism, sure, but mainly historically.

But when the full extent of the Holocaust became known, all these ideas died. The Jewish past was glorified. Now Israel calls itself the "Jewish State". With all the attributes of being Jewish, including the double soul.

So Israelis will continue to sing at football matches "As long as a Jewish soul..."
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Racial And Ethnic Roundups Are Legal, As Long As "Race" Is Not The Only Reason
By Glen Ford

Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking for the U.S. Supreme Court's far-right majority, this week repudiated a previous high court decision upholding President Roosevelt's mass detention of ethnic Japanese residents and U.S. citizens during World War Two. Roberts said the 1942 Korematsu ruling "was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and - to be clear - has no place in law under the Constitution.'" Korematsu was near-universally condemned over the decades, yet remained legally intact for 76 years because no case involving related legal issues had come before the high court. Chief Justice Roberts seemed to use Korematsu as a prop to justify his court's decision to uphold President Trump's ban on travel into the United States by citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries. Korematsu does not pass Constitutional muster because it detained 120,000 people "solely and explicitly on the basis of race," while the Trump ban is "facially neutral," in Roberts' view, since it "says nothing about religion," but is instead based on "the Government's claim of a legitimate national security interest." In a dissent to the majority opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued that Trump's ban is, indeed, ethnically based, although thinly cloaked by "an ill-defined national security threat to justify an exclusionary policy of sweeping proportion." Trump had repeatedly called for a blanket exclusion of Muslims from the country, and during his presidential campaign cited Roosevelt's internment of Japanese. "Take a look at what F.D.R. did many years ago," said Trump. "He did the same thing."

"National security" is the magic term that legally sanctions concentration camps -- as long as the authorities are careful not to spell out the race or religion of the intended inmates.

Such camps already exist in the U.S. -- and always have. American chattel slavery and its attendant legal structures treated all African descended people as inmates or probationers. For the slave, the whole nation was a prison and every white person a guard who was obligated to enforce the terms of confinement. Such is the logic of the Fugitive Slave laws and Chief Justice Taney's Dred Scott decision that Blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

The Jim Crow regime that followed the Civil War was replaced by a Mass Black Incarceration State almost immediately upon the enactment of national anti-Jim Crow legislation, in the 1960s. The U.S. constructed a vast prison gulag that confines a quarter of the world's prisoners -- 2.3 million people, two-fifths of them Black and 60 percent non-white, with nearly five million more on probation or parole. The "white man's country" that the Founders created -- as Judge Taney affirmed and the evolving criminal justice system enforced -- remains in effect. The GOP, the White Man's Party, garners white majorities in every national election. There was nothing essentially different about 2016 except that Donald Trump's appeals were more overtly racial than some of his predecessors, but the white response was essentially the same: they affirmed that the United States should continue to be a white man's country.

As a matter of "national security," such a country requires racially restrictive and repressive immigration and travel policies, a massive internal gulag, and a pervasive police and intelligence presence in non-white -- especially Black -- communities.

Such countries must also be prepared to respond to civil disturbances among non-white populations (and their perceived allies) with mass detention centers to accommodate ethnic-based roundups -- as a matter of national security.

U.S. governments have routinely invoked "national security" to justify racially repressive policies that would otherwise be deemed unconstitutional. "National security" justified the FBI's COINTEL program's lethal assault on Black militants and other activists in the late Sixties and early Seventies. COINTELPRO never ended; the "national security" rationale is a permanent counter to Black militancy.

Nearly five decades after declaring the Black Panther Party the "greatest threat to U.S. national security," the FBI in 2017 "assessed" that a rejuvenated Black grassroots movement constitutes a threat to U.S. law enforcement. "Black Identity Extremists" were deemed responsible for an increase in "ideologically motivated" attacks on police. According to a declassified FBI Intelligence Assessment:

"The FBI assesses it is very likely this increase began following the August 9 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent Grand Jury November 2014 declination to indict the police officers involved. The FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans since then have continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement. The FBI assesses it is very likely some BIEs are influenced by a mix of anti-authoritarian, Moorish sovereign citizen ideology, and BIE ideology. The FBI has high confidence in these assessments, based on a history of violent incidents attributed to individuals who acted on behalf of their ideological beliefs, documented in FBI investigations and other law enforcement and open sources reporting. The FBI makes this judgment with the key assumption the recent incidents are ideologically motivated."
The Brennan Center for Justice, in testimony before the Congressional Black Caucus, noted that "Department of Justice Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Regarding Their Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity states that the Constitution only requires that these characteristics cannot be the sole basis for a law enforcement action (BAR italics)."

As long as the feds cite "criminal activity" and hostile "ideologies" among the targeted groups, they are empowered to carry out what are, in reality, race- and religion-based counter-measures. Should these alleged activities become sufficiently threatening, the next step is to invoke "national security" -- and then all bets are off on how far they will go in suppressing the "threat," including mass roundups.

This year, Freedom of Information requests revealed that a "Race Paper" is circulating within the giant Homeland Security apparatus. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Media Justice and 40 other organizations are seeking a non-redacted version of the document. Homeland Security includes ICE, the TSA, the Secret Service and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and operates under a national security mandate. It's where the Mass Black Incarceration State and the National Security State will combine, should the U.S. government embark on a mass roundup and internment of Blacks -- the group that is a permanent threat to the White Man's Country.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not interfere, as long as race is not the only rationale invoked.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

"By purporting to punish the Human Rights Council, the Trump presidency, representing
the U.S. Government, is much more punishing itself, as well as the peoples of the world."

The U.S. Withdraws (Again) From The UN Human Rights Council
America's laughable tendency to lecture the world about the human rights failures of others.
Richard Falk

Explicitly focusing on alleged anti-Israel bias the U.S. withdrew from further participation in the UN Human Rights Council until it reforms itself in accord with the liking of the Trump Administration. The only internationally credible basis for criticizing the HRC is its regrettable tendency to put some countries with the worst human rights records in leading roles, creating genuine issues of credibility and hypocrisy. Of course, I would have expected Ambassador Nikki Haley to refrain from such a criticism as it could only embarrass Washington to admit that many of its closest allies in the Middle East, and elsewhere have lamentable human rights records, and, if fairly judged, the U.S. has itself reversed roles since the year 2000, having itself slipping into the category of the most serious human rights offenders.

In this regard, the U.S. 'withdrawal' could be most constructively viewed as a self-imposed 'suspension' for falling short when it comes to the promotion and protection of human rights, absenting itself until it can protect human rights in its own society at a high enough standard as to make it less laughable than when it lectures the world about the human rights failures of others, naturally America's current list of adversaries. But Haley is not someone intimidated by reality. In her fiery withdrawal speech she has the audacity to say that the first objective of the U.S. is "Improving the quality of Council membership." She adds, "(w)hen a so-called Human Rights cannot bring itself to address the massive of abuses of Venezuela and Iran..the Council ceases ceaces to be worthy of its name." Making such an argument, politically charged at best, raises eyebrows of scorn if one takes note of the deafening silence of Washington with respect to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt to mention just three Middle Eastern allies.

Undoubtedly, the U.S. was frustrated by its efforts to 'reform' the HRC according to its views of the UN agency should function, and blamed its traditional adversaries, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, along with Egypt, with blocking its initiative. It also must not have welcomed the HRC High Commissioner, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, for describing the 'zero tolerance policy' of separating children from their immigrant parents at the Mexican border as an 'unconsciounable' policy.

In evaluating this latest sign of American retreat from its prior role as global leader, there are several considerations that help us understand such a move that situates the United States in the same strange rejectionist corner it now shares with North Korea and Eritrea:

-the fact that the U.S. withdrawal from the HRC occurred immediately after the Israeli border massacre, insulated from Security Council censure and investigation by a U.S. veto, is certainly part of political foreground. This consideration was undoubtedly reinforced by the HRC approval of a fact-finding investigation of Israel's behavior over prior weeks in responding to the Great Return March border demonstrations met with widespread lethal sniper violence;

-in evaluating the UN connection to Palestine it needs to be recalled that the organized international community has a distinctive responsibility for Palestine that can be traced all the way back to the peace diplomacy after World War I when Britain was given the role of Mandatory, which according to the League of Nations Covenant should be carried out as a 'sacred trust of civilization.' This special relationship was extended and deepened when Britain gave up this role after World War II, transferring responsibility for the future of Palestine to the UN. This newly established world organization was given the task of finding a sustainable solution in the face of sharply contested claims between the majority Palestinian population and the Jewish, mainly settler population.

This UN role was started beneath and deeply influenced by the long shadow of grief and guilt cast by the Holocaust. The UN, borrowing from the British colonial playbook, proposed a division of Palestine between Jewish and Palestinian political communities, which eventuated in the UN partition plan contained in the 1947 General Assembly Resolution 181. This plan was developed and adopted without the participation of the majority resident population, 70% non-Jewish at the time, and was opposed by the then independent countries in the Arab world. Such a plan seemed oblivious to the evolving anti-colonial mood of the time, failing to take any account of the guiding normative principle of self-determination. The Partition War that followed in 1947 did produce a de facto partition of Palestine more territorially favorable to the Zionist Project than what was proposed, and rejected, in 181. One feature of the original plan was to internationalize the governance of the city of Jerusalem with both peoples given an equal status.

This proposed treatment of Jerusalem was never endorsed by Israel, and was formally, if indirectly, repudiated by Tel Aviv after the 1967 War when Israel declared (in violation of international law) that Jerusalem was the eternal capital of the Jewish people never to be divided or internationalized, and Israel has so administered Jerusalem with this intent operationalized in defiance of the UN. What this sketch of the UN connection with Palestine clearly shows is that from the very beginning of Israeli state-building, the role of the international community was direct and the discharge of its responsibilities was not satisfactory in that it proved incapable of protecting Palestinian moral, legal, and political rights. As a result, the majority of Palestinian people have been effectively excluded from their own country and as a people exist in a fragmented ethnic reality that is sustained by Israel's apartheid regime of control. This series of events constitutes one of the worst geopolitical crimes of the past century. Rather than do too much by way of criticizing the behavior of Israel, the UN has done far too little, not mainly because of a failure of will, but as an expression of the behavioral primacy of geopolitics and naked militarism;

-the revealing stress of Ambassador Haley's explanation of the U.S. withdrawal from the HRC gives almost total attention to quantitative factors such as the 'disproportionate' number of resolutions compared with those given to other human rights offenders, making no attempt whatsoever to refute the substantiveallegations of Israeli wrongdoing. This is not surprising as any attempt to justify Israeli policies and practices toward the Palestinian people would only expose the severity of Israel's criminality and the acuteness of Palestinian victimization. The U.S. has also long struggled to be rid of so-called Item 7 of the Human Rights Council devoted to human rights violations of Israel associated with the occupation of Palestinian territories, which overlooks the prior main point that the UN is derelict in its failure to produce a just peace for the peoples inhabiting Mandate Palestine, and the least that it can do is maintain a watchful eye.

-withdrawing from international institutional arrangements, especially those positively associated with peace, human rights, and environmental protection has become the hallmark of what be identified as the negative internationalismof the Trump presidency. The most egregious instances, prior to this move with regard to the HRC, involved the repudiation of the Nuclear Program Agreement with Iran (also known as the JCPOA or P5 +1 Agreement) and the Paris Climate Change Agreement. As with these other instances of negative internationalism this departure from the HRC is likely to hurt the U.S. more than the HRC, reinforcing its myopic willingness to do whatever it takes to please Netanyahu and the lead American Zionist donor to the Trump campaign, Sheldon Adelson. Only the provocative announcement of the planned unilateral move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem last December was as explicitly responsive to Israel's policy agenda as is this rejection of the HRC, both initiatives stand out as being contrary to a fair rendering of American national interests, and hence a show of deference to Israel's preferences. Despite this unabashed one-sidedness the Trump presidency still puts itself forward as a peacemaker, and promised to produce 'the deal of the century' at the proper moment, even enjoying the cynical backing of the notorious Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, who seems to be telling the Palestinians to take what the Trump team offers or forever shut up. Knowing the weakness and shallow ambitions of the Palestinian Authority, there is no telling what further catastrophe, this one of a diplomatic character, may further darken the Palestinian future. A diplomatic nakbamight be the worst disaster of all for the Palestinian people and their century-long struggle for elemental rights.

It should also be emphasized that the U.S. human rights record has been in steady decline, whether the focus is placed on the morally disastrous present policies of separating families at the Mexican border or on the failure to achieve acceptable progress at home in the area of economic and social rights despite American affluence (as documented in the recent report of Philip Alston, UNHRC Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty) or in the various flagrant violations of human rights committed in the course of the War on Terror, including operation of black sites in foreign countries to carry on torture of terror suspects, or denials of the most fundamental tenet of international humanitarian law (Geneva Conventions) in the administration of Guantanamo and other prison facilities;
-it is also worth noting that Israel's defiance of internatonal law and international institutions is pervasive, severe, and directly related to maintaining an oppressive regime of occupation that is complemented by apartheid structures victimizing the Palestinian people as a whole, including refugees, residents of Jerusalem, the Palestinian minority in Israel, and the imprisoned population of Gaza. Israel repudiated the authority of the International Court of Justice with respect to the 'separation wall' that back in 2004 declared by a near unanimous vote of 14-1 (U.S. as the lone dissent) that building the wall on occupied Palestinian territory was unlawful, that the wall should be dismantled, and Palestinians compensated for harm endured. There are many other instances concerning such issues as settlements, collective punishment, excessive force, prison conditions, and a variety of abuses of children.
In conclusion, by purporting to punish the Human Rights Council, the Trump presidency, representing the U.S. Government, is much more punishing itself, as well as the peoples of the world. We all benefit from a robust and legitimated institutional framework for the promotion and protection of vital human rights. The claim of an anti-Israeli bias in the HRC, or UN, is bogus diversionary politics. The truer focus would be upon the daily violation of the most basis rights of the Palestinian people. This is the tragic reality that the UN has been unable to overcome. This is all we need to know.
(c) 2018 Richard Falk is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. An international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years, since 2002 Falk has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

The New American Aristocracy
By Jim Hightower

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

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

* Killing all restrictions on political spending by corporations and the rich.

* Suppressing voting rights of students, people of color, the elderly, and others who tend to favor Democratic policies.

* Eliminating labor unions.

* Canceling the right of workers, consumers, and others to sue corporations that harm them.

* Shredding the social safety net including food stamps, Social Security, and Medicare.

* Axing provisions to protect our environment.

* Preempting the right of local people to pass laws that corporations oppose.

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

Ben Jealous Shakes Up Maryland Politics
The former head of the NAACP is running for governor on a progressive platform that's won endorsements from Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and The Baltimore Sun.
By John Nichols

Ben Jealous is running an unapologetically progressive campaign for governor of Maryland that outlines a politics of economic and social justice that could change more than one state.

The polls suggest that Jealous is at or near the front of a crowded field going into Tuesday's Democratic primary. If he is nominated, it will be because the former head of the NAACP has run the sort of serious, issue-focused campaign that invites voters to imagine-and build-a future with Medicare-for-All health care, fully funded schools, and sweeping reform of a broken criminal-justice system.

This vision has secured enthusiastic support from unions representing nurses and teachers, from community activists and civil-rights campaigners, and from national figures who recognize the potential for the politics Jealous proposes. Senator Bernie Sanders, on whose behalf Jealous delivered a stirring 2016 Democratic National Convention address, has endorsed and campaigned for the Maryland contender-as have California Senator Kamala Harris and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.

Strikingly, Jealous also enjoys the backing of the state's largest newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, which surprised a lot of Maryland political observers in mid-June when it rolled out an endorsement of Jealous that celebrated his savvy progressivism.

"His proposals reflect a sophisticated understanding of the problems the state faces and the choices its leaders will have to make in the years ahead." -The Baltimore Sun

"Maryland voters deserve a real choice in November's election for governor, and we believe Democrat Ben Jealous provides the clearest alternative to Gov. Larry Hogan," argued the endorsement. "It's not just that the former NAACP president and CEO has the stature or political skills to run a competitive campaign against the popular and extremely well funded Republican incumbent (though he does), it's that he presents the strongest contrast to the governor in his vision for the state."

The editors explained:

Voters may think of Mr. Jealous as the Bernie Sanders candidate in this race. Mr. Jealous was a prominent supporter of Senator Sanders' presidential candidacy. He's brought Bernie into the state... and promises state versions of Senator Sanders' best known policy proposals: a single-payer, Medicare for all health care system and free college tuition.

But that shorthand version of how he stands out from the broad and deep field of Democrats in this race belies the true nature of his campaign. Mr. Jealous did not grow up in Maryland-his parents had to leave the state because their mixed-race marriage was not legal here at the time-but he has deep roots in Baltimore and a respect for its role in the state, and his policy platform reflects that. We have a lot of questions about how Medicare for all or free tuition would work in Maryland, but on dozens of other issues, from strengthening public education to tackling the opioid crisis to reforming the criminal justice system, his proposals reflect a sophisticated understanding of the problems the state faces and the choices its leaders will have to make in the years ahead.

The Sun noted that, in addition to his strengths as an agenda setter, "Jealous has a proven track record of success in grassroots organizing, whether through get-out-the-vote drives in the deep South or galvanizing Marylanders around issues like the death penalty repeal, the Dream Act and marriage equality. And he has the stature and gravitas to be a leader that Marylanders turn to in difficult times."

It's no wonder that the Jealous campaign is featuring the Sun's endorsement in its "closing-argument" TV ads, as it concludes by portraying him as a progressive who is prepared not just to contend for high office but to govern.

"[We] looked for the candidate who is best able to articulate a cohesive progressive vision to contrast with Mr. Hogan's center-right policies so that voters can send a clear message in November about the direction they want the state to take, and we looked for the candidate who would best be able to govern if he or she wins," explained the editors, who concluded that "Mr. Jealous is the best choice on both counts."
(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.

God Exists And He May Be Huge
By James Donahue

The alleged detection of "invisible entities" swimming in the atmosphere above Earth by an optics, nuclear physics and energy company in Florida, has helped support a personal theory concerning the existence of God. Is it not possible that the Creator is so massive from our point of view that we as a species are but a tiny life force within the whole? Are all of the moving planets, suns and galaxies we observe through our telescopes part of the composition of the great living energy we perceive as God?

Researchers for Thunder Energies Corporation, Tarpon Springs, Florida, were using a revolutionary Santilli telescope with concave lenses designed to prove the existence of anti-matter in space. The telescope reportedly produced evidence of the possible existence of antimatter galaxies, antimatter asteroids and antimatter cosmic rays. And swimming in the black soup of the atmosphere surrounding Earth were seen moving invisible life forms looking unlike anything man has ever found on Earth.

From the published images, it appears that these creatures have long stringy bodies attached and twisted like several upside-down U's and all of them propelled by some kind of jet energy.

What they are or why they exist is yet to be discovered. That they exist in the invisible space all around us suggests that life is in existence even in the black void of space, at least the stratosphere surrounding our planet. Could that life force also exist beyond Earth's stratosphere . . . filling all of the vast vacuum throughout the known and alternate universes? This would explain how so many different life forms have come and gone on Earth since our planet cooled to a point where it would support life.

Darwin's Theory of Evolution was but the first step in explaining varieties of species. But short of believing the story in Genesis, that all life was created by a grandfather God in seven days, there has been no explanation for the various sea creatures, land animals, insects, birds, plants, fungi and other life forms competing for space on this planet.

If we place these newly discovered invisible life forms on a barren planet, will various life forms evolve? Are these creatures, like us, all part of the living God? Dr. Ruggero Santilli, who created the controversial telescope, was quoted by various publications as making the following statement:

"This is an exciting discovery. We do not know what these entities are; they're completely invisible to our eyes, our binoculars, or traditional Galileo telescopes, but these objects are fully visible in cameras attached to our Santilli telescope."
Santilli has produced images, as shown with this story, that appear to push back his sceptics who laugh at the very thought of negative energy, a negative universe and invisible living forms swimming around in what to us is a black nothingness of space. So is Santilli right or is his amazing story just a hoax? If he is on to something, we may be having a new and exciting glimpse of the very energy that surrounds us all.
(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.

A Cuban man seeking asylum waits along the border bridge after being denied into the Texas city of Brownsville

Capitalism, Politics And Immigration
A Tale of Profitable Suffering
By William Rivers Pitt

As Republicans in Congress hurl claims about immigrants stealing jobs from US citizens, it's clear that lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to be in deliberate denial about the fundamental hypocrisy of the US's chaotic, cruel immigration policy.

As immigrant organizers laid bare in February 2017 by shutting down businesses nationwide with a "Day Without Immigrants" strike that exposed the inability of restaurants, construction companies and other businesses to function without their immigrant workforce, the US economy would collapse without the labor of the very immigrants that Republican lawmakers are trying to push out of the country.

"We want to make sure that people understand that this city would stop functioning if we weren't there to build, or cook, or clean," Ligia Guallpa, an organizer with the Worker's Justice Project in Brooklyn, told Labor Notes at the time of the strike.

In a blog post titled "Under the Volcano," legendary celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain also eloquently summed up these uncomfortable truths about the United States and its chaotic, cruel immigration policy as it pertains to people coming from south of the border: "Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, look after our children."

"As any chef will tell you," Bourdain continued, "our entire service economy - the restaurant business as we know it - in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are 'stealing American jobs.' But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter's position - or even a job as prep cook."

Despite his erroneous use of the word "American," Bourdain nailed the crux of the issue to the shed: The United States, despite all the strategic nativist political demagoguery from its politicians, is economically dependent on the massive pool of low-paid, often undocumented laborers who come north every day seeking work.

That dependence is why achieving a coherent, just immigration policy is a practical impossibility today: So long as this nation keeps lying to itself about the basic nature of its national economy, no solution will be found. The problem, in short, is all business, capitalism in the raw, humans treated as disposable to keep prices low and profits high.

Take, for Bourdain's example, the restaurant/service industry. Last year, the Pew Research Center estimated that some 11 percent of workers in restaurants and bars, some 1.3 million people, are undocumented. According to Pew, 19 percent of the nation's dishwashers and 17 percent of its bussers are undocumented.

Those figures are spread out across the whole country; the numbers in large metropolitan areas are far higher. "In major cities," labor activist Saru Jayaraman told The Washington Post, "you're talking about a restaurant workforce that is maybe 75 percent foreign-born, and maybe 30 to 40 percent undocumented. The restaurant industry in major cities would absolutely collapse without immigrants."

A similar situation is seen in the US agriculture industry, which is heavily reliant on both documented and undocumented workers. A comprehensive study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform determined:

Over the past several decades, the farming sector has grown increasingly dependent on a steady supply of workers who have entered the country illegally, despite the unlimited availability of visas for foreign agricultural guest workers.

The agribusiness sector has consistently opposed an immigration policy that would result in a legal workforce. Their position is that current hiring practices are crucial for the survival of the industry, as Americans are not willing to do agricultural work and increasing wages to attract native-born workers would result in significantly higher food prices or a decline in American food production.

If unauthorized workers were replaced by authorized workers at the higher average wage rate authorized workers currently earn, farms in the fruits, nuts, and vegetable sector would experience a total labor cost increase of 10 percent, and the increase for the field crops and grains sector would be 6 percent.

The issue is not just with undocumented workers. Big Ag, along with the landscaping, seafood and meat processing industries, rely heavily on workers who have been granted temporary (H-1B and H-2B) visas to find seasonal employment. Thanks to the chaotic approach to immigration reform taken by Trump and his Republican allies in Congress, compounded by a long history of failure across the political spectrum, finding enough legal temporary workers has become an entirely unreliable process, which only serves to increase dependency on undocumented labor.

That chaos, and the staggering hypocrisy of anti-immigrant politicians and advocates, was on full display last week, as an attempt by House Speaker Paul Ryan to pass immigration reform legislation exploded into fully unsurprising disarray.

One bill, a cruel piece of work sponsored by Virginia Rep. Robert Goodlatte, would have sharply curtailed legal immigration and vastly expanded border enforcement. The bill was defeated by a vote of 193 to 231, with 41 Republicans and all 190 House Democrats voting in opposition. A second bill, slightly more moderate but still fully draconian, was pushed to next week after an uprising by the far-right House Freedom Caucus seemed to spell its doom.

At one point in the process, House Speaker Ryan and Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows got into a heated nose-to-nose argument over the legislation on the floor of the House chamber. According to Meadows, the second "compromise" bill lacked several provisions demanded by the Freedom Caucus. "The talking points," said Meadows after his tangle with Ryan, "do not match the legislative text." After a Thursday filled with fuss and feathers, a vote on the second bill was postponed.

What promised to be a weekend of difficult vote-corralling for Speaker Ryan and House leadership got much harder on Friday morning, when Trump tweeted that Republicans should P"stop wasting time on immigration" until after the midterm elections. The Washington Post, in a moment of extraordinary journalistic understatement, reported that Trump's tweet made Ryan's task >"significantly more difficult heading into the weekend," though GOP leadership pledged to continue trying.

All of this, of course, comes within the context of the humanitarian catastrophe of migrant family separation still unfolding at the US/Mexico border. Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy toward undocumented immigrants led to images of frantic children being broadcast to the nation and the world. In the face of a massive groundswell of public disgust and outrage, Trump was forced, to a very small degree, to back down on his policy of separating children from their families. For the time being, those families will be indefinitely detained together.

In point of fact, many of the people arriving at the southern border did not come to find work in the fields or filling the ice bins behind the bar. The staggering, unrelenting poverty and violence that is tearing through countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala has forced families with children to flee for their lives. They are not "taking American jobs." They are trying not to die, and find themselves ensnared in a long game of profits, prices and politics.

Immigrants have always been an easy target for opportunistic politicians seeking to wring votes out of the economic fears and racist resentments shared by a segment of the population. It works; Donald "Mexicans are rapists" Trump would not be president today had he not mined that deep deposit for all it was worth.

There is far more to this ongoing mess than politically expedient racism. This is a problem created and exploited by the fundamental cruelty of capitalism. To keep profits high and prices low, major US industries like agriculture do not want undocumented workers to have a path to citizenship, as that would require paying them a living wage and even providing benefits like health insurance. That, you see, would be expensive. Simultaneously, they do not want to see the flow of undocumented workers into the country stopped, as such an act would deprive them of the huge pool of cheap labor they have come to depend on.

Essentially, the industries making money on the backs of undocumented workers don't want a solution to the problem, making an already complicated situation almost completely intractable. Adding to the mayhem are politicians who rail against immigrants while cashing campaign donation checks from the very entities that thrive on cheap labor.

"Illegal immigrants are some of the most exploited workers in history," writes immigration activist Garrett S. Griffin. "Capitalists can increase their profits by taking advantage of millions of people, again whether intentionally or as a natural, inadvertent consequence. Capitalism benefits from a steady flow of illegal immigrants. It is very interesting to note that in this case the ideology of anti-immigrant conservatives does not align with the interests of capitalist power."

That alignment is there for all to see when politicians use nativist rhetoric to win elections so they can vote in favor of the interests of capitalism and big business. It has been this way for many long years now, but the inherent contradiction appears, at long last, to be coming to a head. More than that, Trump's abrupt surrender this week on the issue of family separation demonstrates that even the worst of the lot can be forced to act.

"Our movement," argues immigration activist Joel Sati, "must make a fundamental shift in how we frame our experience in the struggle for substantive immigration protections: safety from deportation, citizenship for all 12 million, and a reconceptualization of political membership in such a way that the situation we face never happens again. We deserve this not because we are good, but because we are human beings."

Before that happens, before a fair and functioning immigration policy can be established, this country must have a reckoning with itself. Cheap food, cheaper labor and the enforced nightmares of opportunistic racism must be seen for the empty vessels they are.

Until US citizens come to grips with the degree to which our comfortable lifestyle comes at a blood cost, and until the capitalist drive for profit at the expense of human life and dignity is cast aside, no solutions will be found.
(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.

Trade War For Dummies
By Heather Digby Parton

While we're all extremely concerned about Sarah Sanders' inalienable right to finish her cheese board, something else is happening. American companies are starting to accept that Trump's trade war is actually happening. So they are reacting, on Wall Street and in their own boardrooms.

Trump doesn't like it:

Krugman has some words:
The Trump administration appears to be headed for a trade war on three fronts. As far as anyone can tell, it is simultaneously going to take on China, the European Union and our partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The economic fallout will be ugly.

But that's probably not the whole story: There's also likely to be ugly political fallout, not just abroad but here at home, too. In fact, I predict that as the downsides of hard-line trade policy become apparent, we'll see a nasty search by President Trump and company for people to scapegoat. In fact, that search has already started.

To understand what's coming, you need to understand two crucial points.

First, the administration has no idea what it's doing. Its ideas on trade don't seem to have evolved at all from those expressed in a white paper circulated by Wilbur Ross, now the commerce secretary, and Peter Navarro, now the trade czar, in 2016. That white paper was a display of sheer ignorance that had actual trade experts banging their heads on their desks. So these people are completely unprepared for the coming blowback.

Second, this administration is infested - I use that word advisedly - with conspiracy theorists. In fact, it seems, literally, to treat belief in absurd conspiracy theories as a job qualification. You may remember the case of an official at the Department of Health and Human Services who was temporarily suspended after reports that she had worked for a conspiracy-theory website. Well, it turns out that she listed that connection on her resume when she applied for government employment. She was hired not despite but because of her connection to paranoid politics.

So what will happen when cluelessness meets conspiracy theorizing?

About that trade blowback: Trump famously declared that "trade wars are good, and easy to win." Never mind the goodness issue: It's already becoming apparent that the "easy to win" part is delusional. Other countries won't quickly give in to U.S. demands, in part because those demands are incoherent - Trump is demanding that Europe end the "horrific" tariffs it doesn't actually impose, while the Chinese can't even figure out what the Trump administration wants, with officials calling America "capricious."

Add in the enormous amount of ill will Trump has generated around the world, and the idea that America is going to get major concessions anytime soon is deeply implausible. In fact, I'm finding it hard to see how we avoid a series of tit-for-tat retaliations that end up taking us well down the path toward full-blown trade war.

And while some import-competing industries might gain from such a trade war, there would be a lot of American losers. For one thing, a lot of American jobs - more than 10 million, according to the Commerce Department - are supported by exports. Agriculture, in particular, is a very export-centered sector, sending more than 20 percent of what it produces abroad. A trade war would eliminate many of these jobs; it would create new jobs in import-competing industries, but they wouldn't be the same jobs for the same people, so there would be a lot of disruption.

And the damage wouldn't be limited to export industries: More than half of U.S. imports, and 95 percent of the Chinese goods about to face Trump tariffs, are intermediate inputs or capital goods - that is, things that U.S. producers use to make themselves more efficient. So the coming trade war will raise costs and hurt prospects for many businesses, even if they aren't exporters.

So how will this conspiracy-minded administration react when domestic victims of its trade policy start complaining? We've already had a preview.

To date we've only had some minor trade skirmishes; but even these have sent the price of soybeans, which we export to China, plunging, while the price of steel has soared. And farmers and steel-using businesses are unhappy.

So did the administration say, "Look, we're taking a tough stand, and there will be some costs"? Why, no. Instead, Ross declared that the price changes were the work of "antisocial" speculators engaged in "profiteering," and called for an investigation. See, we aren't looking at the predictable effects of administration policy; we're looking at an anti-Trump conspiracy.

By the way, this kind of accusation isn't normal for a top government official. I follow these things, and I've never seen anything like it.

And remember, soybeans and steel offer just a minor preview of the disruptions ahead. How will the administration react to the blowback when the trade war really gets going? Will it admit that it misjudged the effects of its policies? Of course not.

What I predict, instead, is that it will start seeing villains under every bed. It will attribute the downsides of trade conflict not to its own actions, but to George Soros and the deep state. I'm not sure how they can work MS-13 into it, but they'll surely try.

The point is that the politics of trade war will probably end up looking like Trump politics in general: a search for innocent people to demonize.

And I think we need to steel ourselves to the idea that tens of millions of people will believe him

He's an effing moron.
(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.

Laptop with a graph showing fluctuations

Energy Efficiency And Technology Squeeze The Carbon Bubble
By David Suzuki

The carbon bubble will burst with or without government action, according to a new study. That will hurt people who invest in fossil fuels.

As energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies improve and prices drop, global demand for fossil fuels will decline, "stranding" new fossil fuel ventures -likely before 2035, according to the study in Nature Climate Change, "Macroeconomic impact of stranded fossil fuel assets."

Researchers from Cambridge University and elsewhere found technological advances will strand fossil fuel assets regardless of "whether or not new climate policies are adopted," but that "the loss would be amplified if new climate policies to reach the 2 C target of the Paris Agreement are adopted and/or if low-cost producers (some OPEC countries) maintain their level of production ('sell out') despite declining demand."

That could "amount to a discounted global wealth loss of US$1-4 trillion," and Russia, the U.S. and Canada could see their fossil fuel industries nearly shut down, the report says.

The best way to limit these negative impacts is to divest from fossil fuels and speed up the transition to a diversified, energy-efficient, clean-energy economy. Investing tax dollars to expand fossil fuel development and infrastructure, including pipelines, is irresponsible and incompatible with Canada's Paris Agreement commitments, putting everyone at economic risk, and leaving us with polluted air, water and land, and increasing climate impacts and health-care bills.

Lead author Jean-François Mercure told the Guardian, "With more policies from governments, this would happen faster. But without strong [climate] policies, it is already happening. To some degree at least you can't stop it. But if people stop putting funds now in fossil fuels, they may at least limit their losses."

Co-author Jorge Viñuales said, "Individual nations cannot avoid the situation by ignoring the Paris agreement or burying their heads in coal and tar sands."

Researchers found that while the shift from fossil fuels to conservation and clean energy is moving quickly enough to strand fossil fuel assets, it's not happening fast enough to keep global average temperature from rising more than 2 C above pre-industrial levels. That will require concerted action from governments worldwide to meet and exceed Paris Agreement commitments.

One often overlooked factor is efficiency. A study in Nature Energy found energy efficiency improvements could limit global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels -the aspirational Paris Agreement target. Many experts have suggested limiting warming to that degree would require large-scale bioenergy deployment (burning forest and plant products for energy) and negative emissions technologies (removing CO2 from the air and storing it on land, underground or in the oceans). But many of those technologies haven't been tested on a commercial scale, and burning biomass creates pollution and affects land use, habitat and food production -and the new report says warming could be limited without them.

According to a Carbon Brief article, researchers used integrated assessment models to determine how improving energy efficiency in the global north and south could help limit warming to 1.5 C while fulfilling international sustainable development goals, including "zero hunger," "good health and wellbeing" and "affordable and clean energy" for all.

Technological and social innovation at the consumer and industrial level, including "the spread of digital services in the global south and the rise of vehicle-sharing in the global north" would fuel most improvements. Measures like getting people to reduce or eliminate meat from their diets would also be necessary, as far more energy and land are required to raise and produce meat than fruits and vegetables.

Although the report offers hope, our best bet for avoiding the worst effects of a warming planet is to do everything we can at all levels of society and government: conserve energy, shift to clean energy, protect and restore green spaces, reduce meat consumption, improve women's rights and family planning to stabilize population growth, increase infrastructure for transportation alternatives to the private automobile, divest from fossil fuels and hold politicians to account for credible climate policies.

The world is changing in response to serious energy challenges. We can take advantage of the growing economic opportunities and benefits to human health, ecosystems and the climate or we can keep extracting, selling and burning fossil fuels while the world warms. The choice is obvious.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The Supreme Court's Conservative Majority Lives in Happy Gumdrop Land
Their decision on Texas's voting maps is delusional on multiple levels.
By Charles P. Pierce

Racism is dead. Hurrah, again, for the Day of Jubilee!

Let us pause for a moment to congratulate, again, all those idiots who claimed that voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton solely for the purpose of fending off a radical right Supreme Court was "extortion." None of those people are likely to be affected by Monday's decision in Abbott v. Perez, the latest in a series of decisions aligned with Chief Justice John Roberts' lifelong quest to crush the ability of the federal government to protect the franchise of its minority citizens. This decision to keep in place Texas's current voting districts is not only obviously delusional on the issue of race, it's yet another one that indicates that the five-vote conservative majority on this court lives in Happy Gumdrop Land-or, rather, Exxon-Mobil Happy Gumdrop White People's land.

In merciful brief, the case involved the unholy mess that Texas made of its redistricting maps in 2010. A year later, and before this Court gutted the Voting Rights Act-which held Texas had to pre-clear its maps in Washington-a federal court there threw out the maps. Meanwhile, a federal district court in Texas drew up its own maps, and the Supreme Court tossed them. Thus, Texas faced the prospect of going into the 2012 elections with no maps at all. In March of that year, in a kind of blind panic, the Texas court concocted some interim maps which, shockingly, looked as badly gerrymandered by race as all the others had. Those were the maps Texas used in 2012. In 2013, the Texas legislature adopted these "interim maps" as permanent, racial gerrymanders and all.

The question before the Court in this case was whether or not it could assume that, having gerrymandered the state by race three times in as many years, the Texas legislature made the interim maps permanent because they maintained the racially rigged districts. In other words, can we assume, based on the fact that many of us are not three years old, that the members of the Texas legislature were satisfied with the racial gerrymandering that helped many of them all get elected. Follow? Good, because it gets worse. Justice Samuel Alito is stepping up to the plate.

No, said Alito, from his perch high atop Mount Disingenuous, we cannot assume that at all.

Whenever a challenger claims that a state law was enacted with discriminatory intent, the burden of proof lies with the challenger, not the State... The allocation of the burden of proof and the presumption of legislative good faith are not changed by a finding of past discrimination. "[P]ast discrimination cannot, in the manner of original sin, condemn governmental action that is not itself unlawful." Mobile, 446 U. S., at 74 (plurality opinion). The "ultimate question remains whether a discriminatory intent has been proved in a given case." Ibid. The "historical background" of a legislative enactment is "one evidentiary source" relevant to the question of intent. Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U. S. 252, 267 (1977). But we have never suggested that past discrimination flips the evidentiary burden on its head. The "past discriminatory intent," which Alito seems to believe occurred under the administration of Governor Sam Houston, was two years earlier and the beginning of one continuum that ended on Monday. In 2013, the Texas legislature did not have to "intend" to discriminate. It already had, in 2010.
In addition, Alito seems to be saying that the 2013 decision by the Texas legislature to adopt as permanent the interim maps that had been proven to be racially gerrymandered was not discriminatory, possibly because there is no video of the legislature waving Confederate battle flags, drinking moonshine out of mason jars, and trying on white hoods to see if they go with gray suits.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was having none of this folderol.

This disregard of both precedent and fact comes at serious costs to our democracy. It means that, after years of litigation and undeniable proof of intentional discrimination, minority voters in Texas-despite constituting a majority of the population within the State-will continue to be underrepresented in the political process. Those voters must return to the polls in 2018 and 2020 with the knowledge that their ability to exercise meaningfully their right to vote has been burdened by the manipulation of district lines specifically designed to target their communities and minimize their political will. The fundamental right to vote is too precious to be disregarded in this manner
There seems not to be much doubt that the president* will get to appoint at least one more justice; the latest rumor has Justice Clarence Thomas retiring, not that many people would notice. And Merrick Garland still labors away down the street. Tell me more about "extortion." I'm keen to learn.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

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

Altruism And Sadism In Public Policy
By David Swanson

Remarks at Peace Resource Center of San Diego, June 23, 2018.

There are three things that are almost always underestimated: the U.S. military budget, altruism, and sadism.

First, the military budget.

The U.S. military budget, including all things military in various departments, is roughly 60% of federal discretionary spending, meaning the spending that Congress members decide on each year. It is also, by my very rough estimate, the topic of well under 1% of the discussions of government spending engaged in by candidates for Congress. Most Democrats running for Congress this year have websites that don't even acknowledge the existence of foreign policy, beyond expressing their passionate love for veterans. They're campaigning for 40% of a job.

U.S. political debate for decades has been framed between those who want a smaller government with fewer social benefits, and those who want a larger government with more social benefits. Someone like myself who wants a smaller government with more social benefits can't even be comprehended. Yet it shouldn't be so very hard to grasp that if you were to eliminate one little program that makes up 60% of discretionary spending, you could increase many other things and still have a smaller government.

The U.S. military budget is over $1 trillion. When you hear an advocate for peace tell you that U.S. wars in recent years have cost some outrageous figure in the hundreds of billions or low trillions, what they are doing is normalizing most military spending as somehow being for something other than wars. But military spending is, by definition, spending on wars and preparations for wars. And it is $1 trillion each and every year for that and nothing else.

When you hear an advocate for economic fairness tell you how much money you could get by taxing billionaires, it's less than one year's military budget. If you taxed every dime away from every billionaire, I'd throw you a party and raise a toast, but the next year you'd have to tax millionaires instead, as there wouldn't be any billionaires left. In contrast, the trillions for militarism just keep flowing, year after year. For a little over 1% of a trillion dollars a year, you could end the lack of clean drinking water everywhere on earth. For about 3% of a trillion dollars a year, you could end starvation everywhere on earth. For larger fractions you could put up a serious struggle against climate chaos. You could provide much of the world with cleaner energy, better education, happier lives.

You could make yourself widely loved in the process. While 95% of suicide terrorist attacks are motivated by a desire to get a military occupier to end an occupation, exactly 0% of such attacks thus far have been motivated by resentment of gifts of food, medicine, schools, or clean energy.

Militarism threatens nuclear apocalypse and is the single biggest cause of climate and environmental collapse, but in the short term it kills more by the diversion of funds from useful projects than through all the mass-murdering horrors of war. That's how big the military budget is. And by "horrors of war" I mean to include the intentional creation of famine and disease epidemics in places like Yemen, and the creation of life-shortening hells from which refugees flee only to get themselves resented as illegal alien immigrants.

Global military spending is roughly $2 trillion, meaning that the rest of the world combined makes up roughly another $1 trillion, to match the United States' trillion. So, now you're talking about a doubly incomprehensible number, and a sum capable of doing doubly unimaginable good if converted, redirected, and put to moral use. And I'm not even counting the trillions of dollars of damage that the violence of war does to property each year. Well over three-quarters of world military spending is spent by the United States and its close allies and weapons customers whom the U.S. government leans on hard to increase their spending. China spends a fraction of what the U.S. does, Russia a tiny fraction (and Russia has been reducing its military spending dramatically); Iran and North Korea each spend 1 to 2 percent what the U.S. does.

This is why the Pentagon has struggled for years to identify an enemy to justify U.S. spending. Military officials in recent years, including before and after Trump's arrival in the White House, have openly told reporters that the motivations behind the new Cold War with Russia are bureaucratic and profit driven. The lack of a credible national enemy has clearly also been a motivation behind the generation, exaggeration, and demonization of smaller, non-governmental enemies, as well as the marketing of wars as means to rid small non-threatening nations of non-existent weapons and to prevent imminent if fictional massacres. With the United States in the lead as the top weapons dealer to the world, to poor nations, and to dictatorships, it has become unusual not to have U.S. weapons on both sides of a war. And the counter-productive nature of the wars, generating more enemies than they eliminate, has been well established and conscientiously ignored. As I've said before, given the record of the war on terrorism spreading terrorism, the war on drugs spreading drugs, and the war on poverty increasing poverty, I would strongly support a war on prosperity, sustainability, and joy.

A big chunk of U.S. military spending goes to maintain some 1,000 military bases in other people's countries. The rest of the world's nations combined maintain a couple of dozen bases outside their borders. When President Trump recently mentioned ending war rehearsals in Korea and the bare possibility of bringing U.S. troops home from there, many Democratic Party members in Washington, D.C., and in the corporate media nearly lost their minds. Senator Tammy Duckworth immediately introduced legislation to forbid bringing any troops home, an action she seemed to consider would be an attack on those troops.

I need to pause in my remarks here for a few sadly necessary diversions related to personalities, parties, and troops. First, personalities. I don't think any cause is helped by the deification or demonization of any individual politician. I think the best of them in the U.S. government do far more harm than good, and the worst of them do good sometimes. I think activists need to focus on policy, not personality. When Trump was threatening nuclear war on North Korea, I was demanding his impeachment for it. I still am demanding his impeachment for a long list of quintessentially impeachable offenses, none of which involve unproven and ridiculous accusations of having conspired with Vladimir Putin to besmirch the utterly corrupt, antidemocratic, unverifiable, broken beyond belief U.S. election system. But when Trump stopped threatening North Korea and began talking about peace, I didn't need to turn against peace because I'm on the anti-Trump team or a card-carrying member of the so-called Resistance that steadily votes Trump bigger war budgets and expanded tyrannical powers. It's fair to recognize that the main thing Trump has done is cease prolonging a crisis of his own buffoonish creation. It's fair to be embarrassed by the propaganda video he showed in Singapore, and his dishonest and ignorant discussion of recent events. But the people of South Korea and the world have been demanding an end to the war rehearsals, the so-called war games. When Trump announces something we've been demanding, we ought to express our approval and insist on follow-through, because we ought to be on the side of peace and not care a fig for being on the side for or against the current king of the kakistocracy. In saying that, I'm about a trillion miles away from supporting Trump for a Nobel peace prize. Even President Moon, who is far more deserving, is not a peace activist in need of funding for the work of abolishing war. Others in Korea and around the world actually qualify under Alfred Nobel's will.

Second, parties. I want to offer a similar caveat. Activism is not served by devotion to a lesser evil political party. If you want to do lesser evil voting on election day, knock yourself out. But if you can't do it without becoming an apologist for the evils of a particular party throughout the year, then it's not a good trade off. What we do on non-election days is more important than what we do on election days. Nonviolent activism in all of its millions of forms is what has always changed the world. And the fact that both the lesser and the greater evil continue to steadily grow more evil is not an argument for or against lesser evil voting, and certainly not an argument for lesser evil activism.

Third, troops. The United States has a poverty draft. No volunteer in its so-called volunteer military is permitted to cease volunteering. The massive budget increases for more weapons are not actually for the troops. No war has ever actually been extended for the benefit of the troops; nor has the ending of any war ever damaged the troops. The top killer of U.S. troops is suicide. The top cause of troop suicide is moral injury, which is to say deep regret for what these young men and women come to realize they were swindled into taking part in, namely mass murder. There are zero recorded cases of moral injury or PTSD or brain injury from war deprivation. Admitting that this is a cruel system is a first step in fixing it, not a treasonous attack on troops. Demanding basic human rights, like free college, guaranteed retirement, or a habitable future climate for troops and non-troops alike is not anti-troop. Demanding free job retraining for all former troops during a process of conversion to a peaceful economy is not anti-troop, even if one believes that we ought to stop calling mass murder a service and stop thanking anyone for it, that people should board airplanes in the fastest rather than the most militarist or the most profitable order, that the handicapped rather than the uniformed should get the close parking places at the supermarket, and that aircraft carriers should not be used as tourist attractions in non-sociopathic societies. So, in my view pollsters who ask if you are pro-war or anti-troop are engaged in a nasty sort of deception, while hash tags that encourage veterans of recent wars to make up their own personal beliefs about what they claim to have been fighting for is pure anti-intellectualism of the worst sort. You may very well favor democracy or freedom or faith or family or any number of other phrases, but that doesn't mean you were sent to Iraq for that purpose or that your being in Iraq served that purpose, or that I can't denounce the criminal enterprise you were part of without opposing you and your noble sentiments.

A final word on the underestimated military budget before I turn to underestimated altruism and sadism. Trump has just proposed saving money by merging the Education and Labor Departments which have nothing to do with each other and now cost a combined 7 percent or so of the military budget, while Congress is busy cutting food stamps. At the same time, Trump has proposed to create a whole new branch of the U.S. military: a space force. The idea of weaponizing space has been prevalent in the U.S. military since Operation Paperclip brought hundreds of former Nazis from Germany to the United States to work in the U.S. military and to develop U.S. rockets and a U.S. space program. The Nazi scientists who worked in Huntsville, Alabama, were widely considered by the locals to be what Trump called the fascists who marched through my town of Charlottesville last year, namely very fine people. A space force is a misnomer working off troopist propaganda. Trump's proposal is not to send armies into space, but to expand current efforts to send weapons into space. In other words, a space force would consist of weapons makers and make weapons makers into troops whose supposed wishes must be religiously obeyed, even though the only thing preventing a global treaty banning all weapons from space has for many years been the United States government. With weapons companies now flying their own drones for the U.S. military and mercenaries widely employed, the merging of profiteering with the status of troops is already underway.


The second thing that is often underestimated is altruism. That sounds odd in a conversation about war and peace, but I think it's true nonetheless. Why are people rallying to prevent the separation of refugee parents and children? It's not just taking sides for a political team. People generally do that while solidly seated on their sofas. And it's not selfishness.

People are rallying against this cruelty to children and parents, because people care about children and parents. Why do millions of people walk and run and otherwise fundraise against cancer and autism? Why do white people wave Black Lives Matter signs and men join in women's marches? Why do people demand rights for other species and ecosystems? Why do people donate to many charities? Why are non-poor people participating in the Poor People's Campaign today? The answer is altruism. Altruism is not some sort of logical mystery that needs to be explained any more than air is. We can try to better understand it, but its existence is self-evident.

When I wrote a book called When the World Outlawed War about the peace movement in the 1920s, I found that the arguments people used for ending war were moral arguments much more often than today, and that they were much more often successful. In contrast, today, and for decades now, we've heard from peace activists that to mobilize people for peace you must focus on something that impacts them directly and selfishly. You must focus on U.S. troops with whom they can relate. You must focus on the financial cost to their own bank accounts. You must not expect people to be good or decent or caring.

We even have peace activists who join in with the Democratic Congress members who want to compel 18-year-old women to register for any possible draft along with men, so that they can be compelled to go to war against their wishes as a remedy for sexist discrimination. Peace activists argue that a draft would mobilize selfish imaginary right-wing-economic-theory persons to finally care about war. But drafts don't have a good record of ending wars, and do have a good record of facilitating wars. The U.S. draft during the war on Vietnam didn't prevent the killing of some 6 million people, which I don't consider a price worth paying for a larger peace movement, which I think we can get by other means.

I think the fact that people will take action for refugee families as soon as the corporate media tells them about those families provides good reason to believe that many would similarly take action for Yemeni or Afghan or Palestinian or other people if they were told about them by corporate or enlarged independent media. If war victims had names and faces and stories and loved ones, nothing else would be likely to prevent those who care about separating families to care also about killing families or creating orphans via murder instead of via deportation.


The third thing that is quite often underestimated is sadism. Just as we're trained to find some so-called rational explanation for altruism, we're solidly in the habit of seeking out sensible motivations behind actions driven by irrational urges, especially evil ones. When someone claims he cannot possibly end the policy of separating children from parents and then does so, our inclination is to assume that at least he's being honest with himself, that somewhere there is a secret explanation that makes sense and it's just not being shared with us. But locking up little children at a greater cost than what it would be to place them and their families in luxury hotels or top boarding schools or hospitals or job training programs, and instead depriving them of basic needs, doesn't scream out for a rational explanation.

The U.S. practice of mass incarceration of refugees and non-refugees makes zero financial or public policy sense. It doesn't reduce crime in the way that a smaller expense put into education and health would. It's not designed around protecting the public, as most of the people locked up are no particular threat and many of them never were. You can call it correctional, but it's not designed to correct anything. Incarceration and the torture of solitary confinement and the horror of state execution are, however, often openly justified as vengeance - meaning that the point is not forward looking at all but backward, the point is cruelty toward someone being blamed for something - just as I've seen on social media people blaming the victims of the separation policy for their own hardships.

Why do some people scream for environmental destruction, yell "drill baby drill," spend the money for the biggest gas guzzling vehicles possible, or hunt the biggest animals possible? It isn't all profit motive. Most people don't own oil companies. It isn't all ignorance or denial. People may pretend that the earth isn't dying, or that the livestock industry isn't a big part of what's killing it, or that the animals grown for human consumption don't suffer. But other people, and often the very same people, take glee in the creation of suffering. That we are engaged in a mass suicide, taking many other species with us, is not all an accident, not all a tragedy of the commons. In fact there's no such thing as a tragedy of the commons - there's a tragedy of privatization.

I wrote a book called War Is a Lie in which I examined various types of lies used to initiate or extend wars, and then tried to also answer what really motivates the wars for which the lies are told. I found that I just couldn't explain all wars with profit motives or political calculation or even misguided national defense. I found that I needed the mad drive toward domination and the willful cruelty of pointless destruction to explain wars. When U.S. war planners would privately discuss extending the war on Vietnam they would consider what reasons to give the public, and they would separately discuss what reasons to give each other, but they would never discuss whether or not to extend the war. That was simply understood. The Pentagon Papers' analysis put percentages on motivations, including 70 percent of the motivation being that of saving face - continuing a war purely so as not to end it. That seems mad enough, but where in that analysis was the motivation of sadism? This was a war full of the massacre of innocents, their ears collected as trophies, with war supporters back home screaming for racist killing.

In recent wars, you can - as a fraction of the U.S. population does - claim to be supporting the destruction of Iraq or Libya as an act of philanthropy for the benefit of its victims, but you'll find yourself on the same side of the issue with those shouting for blood and urging the use of nuclear weapons. Participants in these wars painfully catch on to what they've been engaged in. Some of them can't handle the realization. Some of them become dedicated whistleblowers. And yet others publicly proclaim the great service they've rendered and appreciate being thanked for it. And we're supposed to think ourselves cruel if we don't offer up our gratitude, including to those who've supposedly given their lives. No matter how courageously or misguidedly they acted, I say their lives were not given but taken from them by the monstrous urges of those in power who pursue pointless counter-productive policies while chanting "There is no military solution," "There is no military solution" and knowing perfectly well that those words are true.

When George W. Bush proposed painting a plane with UN colors and flying it low to try to get it shot at to start a war that he said God had instructed him to wage and which was needed because Saddam Hussein had supposedly tried to kill his daddy, or when Lyndon Johnson gloated, "I didn't just screw Ho Chi Minh, I cut his pecker off," or when Bill Clinton remarked about Somalis "We're not inflicting pain on these fuckers . . . I can't believe we're being pushed around by these two-bit pricks," or when New York Times columnist Tom Friedman said the purpose of the Iraq war was to kick in doors and declare "Suck on this!" or when people have sent me death threats for advocating peace, or when Barack Obama announced immunity for crimes through a policy of "looking forward" but rolled out a new sort of war using flying robots targeting small numbers of people, the majority of them never identified - in these and countless other cases, what we're dealing with is not sanity, not logic, and not tough love. What we're dealing with is cruelty run amok.

What else could one call the idea of building smaller, more supposedly usable nukes, meaning nukes roughly the strength of those dropped on Japan, and knowing full well that an exchange of nuclear weapons could black out the sun and starve us? Attempts to rationalize Harry Truman's approval of nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki, rather than following the advice of his top generals who opposed it, rather than listening to the top strategists who said it wasn't needed, rather than demonstrating a nuclear weapon on an unpopulated area and threatening to use it on people, rather than allowing one rather than two nukings to suffice - these attempts fall short. Truman was the same man who had said that if the Germans were winning the United States should help the Russians and if the Russians were winning the United States should help the Nazis, because that way more people would die. The notion that he saw maximizing Japanese deaths as a downside of any decision is not supported by any evidence. U.S. support for multiple sides in wars like the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s or the current war in Syria is not purely incompetence. Like much of public policy, like arresting homeless people in San Diego for being homeless rather than giving them homes, we can better understand what we're dealing with if we admit to each other that we're dealing with sadism.

This doesn't mean that wars don't also have lots of more rational motivations, and it doesn't means that all war supporters are drooling lunatics. I've done civil public debates with war supporters and found through polling the room before and after the debates that such rational discussion changes minds. The lesson that everyone has learned about believers in WMDs holding their beliefs all the more firmly after being presented with facts should not be overblown. Persuading people of what they'd rather not know is difficult, not impossible. But for many supporters of wars some factors are not fact-based thoughtful considerations.

A preacher in Alabama wants any football player who doesn't properly worship the U.S. flag and national anthem to be killed. President Trump merely wants them fired. He also claims that anyone who cares about refugee families must hate the victims of any murders committed by refugees (while presumably caring compassionately for the victims of any murders committed by non-refugees). Sadism and patriotism and exceptionalism mesh nicely together, and none of them makes any sense. There's no particular reason that people should identify with other people at the level of a nation more so than at the level of a family or neighborhood or city or state or continent or planet. Belief in national exceptionalism (in U.S. superiority to other places) is - and this is the topic of my new book Curing Exceptionalism - no more fact-based and no less harmful than racism, sexism, or other sorts of bigotry. While poor white people could for centuries proclaim "At least I'm better than non-white people," anyone in the United States can claim "At least I'm better than non-Americans." And anyone can try to believe that, but it doesn't make sense and it does do great damage.

In Curing Exceptionalism I review ways in which the United States might be the greatest nation on earth, and I'm unable to find any. It's not by anybody's measure most free or most democratic or richest or most prosperous or best educated or healthiest or holding the longest life expectancy or the greatest happiness or the most environmental sustainability or anything else that one might want to use to provide substance to chants of "We're Number One." The United States is number one in locking people in cages, in military spending, in various measures of environmental destruction, and other sources of shame rather than pride. But basically it is a worse place to live by most quantifiable measurements than any other wealthy country, while still being a better place to live than a poor country or a country where the CIA is assisting a coup or a country being endlessly liberated by NATO.

The fact that people try to immigrate to the United States is not actually evidence of greatest nation on earth status. The United States is not the most preferred destination, does not accept the most immigrants, is not kindest to immigrants when they arrive, and does not shape its immigration policies around aiding those most in need but rather around preferences for Europeans. The fact that people need to escape danger and poverty in poor nations is just not relevant to the question of whether the United States can bring itself up to the standards of other wealthy nations. Or it's only relevant in the sense that by redirecting priorities to human and environmental needs at home and abroad, the U.S. government could catch up to the rich countries while ceasing to contribute to the suffering of many poor countries, and in fact help to make many countries places where people prefer to remain. Do we need a slightly less cruel immigration policy and a larger wall, or do we need open borders that will allow in billions of people? Neither. We need open borders combined with unimaginably enormous efforts to make people's own countries desirable places to live, and a halt to policies that help make them unlivable. And this we can do by redirecting a fraction of military spending.

But people in the United States view the United States as exceptionally great. Their patriotism, their belief in unique superiority, the prevalence of flags and national anthems outpaces those in other countries. Even the poor in the United States who have it worse than the poor in other wealthy countries are more patriotic than the poor in other countries or than the wealthy in their own country. The damage this does takes many forms. It distracts people from organizing and acting for change. It leads people to support politicians, not because they will do them any good, but because they are patriotic. (The least likely person to be elected U.S. president is not actually an atheist. It is a non-patriot.) Exceptionalism leads people to support wars and to oppose international cooperation and law. It leads people to reject proven solutions to gun control and healthcare and education because they've been proven in other countries that ought to learn from this one rather than the other way around. It leads to indifference to United Nations' reports on the cruelty of poverty in the United States. It leads to the rejection of foreign aid following so-called natural disasters in the United States.

We need to come around to the understanding that patriotism, nationalism, exceptionalism is not something to be done properly, but a nightmare from which to awaken. Peace is not patriotic. Peace is globalist. Peace depends on our identifying as humans rather than as Americans. This does not mean feeling national shame instead of national pride. It does not mean identifying with some other nation. It means diminishing one's identification with nationalism in order to identify as an individual, a member of various communities, a global citizen, part of a fragile ecosystem.

When the U.S. government raises your taxes or claims the right to part of your land or bails out Wall Street or expands the rights of corporations or any of the other things it does, people don't tend to place those actions in the first person. Few people say "We just re-gerrymandered the districts," or "We gave more war weapons to local police departments," or "We take in billions in campaign contributions." Instead, people talk about the government using the word "government." They say "the government raised my taxes," or "the state government made voter registration automatic," or "the local government built a park." But when it comes to war, even peace activists announce that "We just bombed another country." That identification needs to end. We need to remember and increase our awareness of our responsibility to change things. But we don't need to make our identity into one that looks better to us if we imagine the Pentagon must have some good reason for helping to starve the people of Yemen.

In Curing Exceptionalism I look at various techniques for curing exceptionalism, including role reversal. Let me just quote one paragraph:

Let's imagine that for whatever reasons, beginning some seventy years ago North Korea drew a line through the United States, from sea to shining sea, and divided it, and educated and trained and armed a brutal dictator in the South United States, and destroyed 80 percent of the cities in the North United States, and killed millions of North USians. Then North Korea refused to allow any U.S. reunification or official end to the war, maintained wartime control of the South United States military, built major North Korean military bases in the South United States, placed missiles just south of the U.S. demilitarized zone that ran through the middle of the country, and imposed brutal economic sanctions on the North United States for decades. As a resident of the North United States, what might you think when the president of North Korea threatened your country with "fire and fury"? Your own government might have gazillions of current and historical crimes and shortcomings to its credit, but what would you think of threats coming from the country that killed your grandparents and walled you off from your cousins? Or would you be too scared to think rationally? This experiment is possible in hundreds of variations, and I recommend trying it repeatedly in your own mind and in groups, so that people's creativity can feed into the imagination of others.

What is my point in suggesting that we underestimate military spending, altruism, and sadism? Well, mainly to come up with an accurate understanding. Then we can try to draw lessons for how to act. One lesson might be this: in undoing sadism, we need interventions that recognize the possibility of altruism. Members of the Ku Klux Klan have been converted into advocates for racial justice. People have joined across racial lines for economic justice in poor people's campaigns, old and new. Those who identify with imagined U.S. greatness often fantasize about levels of U.S. generosity and goodness which, if made real, would transform the world for the better. Learning a little bit about another culture or language is not hard, and may not meet as much resistance as a peace demonstration, but can make all the difference. Studies have found that willingness to bomb a country is inversely proportional to ability to accurately locate it on a map. What if super-patriots could somehow be tricked into learning the geography of the globe that they seek to rule?

And ultimately, what would happen if people could be made aware of the size of the U.S. military budget, and the fact that it reduces jobs rather than creating them, endangers Americans rather than protecting them, destroys the natural environment rather than preserving it, erodes liberties rather than creating freedom, shortens our lives, reduces our health, and threatens our security. What if those who want the United States to be generous could join forces with those who pretend it is generous and act on the basis of facts to make it into the sort of government that not only doesn't remove children from their living parents, but also doesn't create millions of orphans by killing their parents with wars?

People do care about cruelty they find out about. But cruelty in foreign policy is the least found out about, because no major political party wants it known, because the corporate media wants it unknown, because school boards consider such knowledge treasonous, and because people do not want to know. George Orwell said that nationalists will not just excuse atrocities committed by their nation, but they will show a remarkable ability never to find out about them. Yet, we know that if people could be compelled to find out about them, they would care. And if they found out about them through a communications system that made them aware that others were finding out as well, they would act.

As things stand, with our very limited awareness, we are not powerless. Preventing the 2013 bombing of Syria, upholding for a few years the 2015 Iran agreement, halting the threats of fire and fury, stopping the removal of children from families - these are all partial victories that point to far greater potential.

I've written a children's book called Tube World that tries to give children a non-exceptionalist, kind, and constructive perspective on things. I've also written and brought with me today a book called War Is Never Just which I wrote in preparing for a debate and which is a critique of so-called just war theory. In it I make a case that many criteria of just war theory can never be met, but that if they could then a miraculous just war would still - in order to be morally justified - need to outweigh the damage done by keeping the institution of war around and dumping a trillion dollars a year into it. Such a feat is impossible, given the alternatives we have developed in non-violent action, unarmed peace keeping, truth and reconciliation, diplomacy, aid, and the rule of law.

This perspective of taking on the entire institution of war is that of an organization I work for called World BEYOND War. We have a very short pledge that people have signed in 158 countries, and which I'll pass around on a clipboard in just a moment in case you'd like to sign it too, and put down your email address if you'd like to be more involved, and put it down really super legibly if you'd like us to not accidentally email somebody else. I'll read you the pledge so you don't have to read it off the clipboard:

"I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace."

We work on educational and activist efforts to advance this goal and steps in its direction. We seek the closure of bases, divestment from weapons, accountability for crimes, shifts in budgets, etc. And sometimes we plan big days of actions. One that's coming up on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, exactly 100 years since the ending of World War I, is Armistice Day, which was a holiday for peace up until its conversion into Veterans Day during the destruction of North Korea in the 1950s. Now it's a holiday on which Veterans For Peace groups in various cities are forbidden to participate in parades. We need to turn it back into Armistice Day, and in particular we need to overwhelm with our celebration of Armistice Day the celebration of weaponry of war (and the implicit threat to the world) that Donald Trump has planned for the day in Washington, D.C. Go to to learn more.

Now I'd love to try to answer any questions or engage in any discussion.

Thank you.
(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.

Two Book Reviews
One on apartheid & one on Jim Crow
By Jane Stillwater

I'm probably the very last person in Berkeley to read Isabel Wilkerson's excellent book, "The Warmth of Other Suns." And how do I know this? Because when I filed a hold-request for it at the Berkeley Public Library, I ended up being something like 60th in line for the next of 25 copies then out on loan. However, it was well worth the wait.

Wilkerson's book describes the insanely brutal Jim Crow practices that took place in the American South -- and in such scary detail that it made me cry. Jim Crow policies were in several ways even worse than slavery. "But, Jane," you might say, "nothing could have been worse than slavery in the Ole South." Yes it could.

With slavery, at least slave owners were slightly constrained with regard to the physical damage they could do because of limitations inherently imposed on them by not wanting to damage their own property. With Jim Crow, however, there were no such constraints. Torture and lynchings were every-day occurrences in the "post-bellum" South -- and they were common occurrences there for over 70 years. This book was chilling.

Then author Richard Hardigan asked me to review his new book, "The Other Side of the Wall," which is about every-day life in Occupied Palestine for the last 70 years. And it was deja vu all over again. Jim Crow had apparently left the American South and moved over to Palestine.

Hardigan's book is a fascinating account of a heinous caste system in Palestine that is very similar to the heinous caste system in the American south under Jim Crow -- and just as cruel too. And, much to my surprise, Hardigan's book was also an intriguing page-turner -- although, unlike Wilkerson's book, no one yet knows how this story will end. However, reading these two books side by side at the same time, I was struck by the parallel similarities between how White Southerners had set up their caste system and Israeli neo-cons have set up theirs.

PS: Sometimes referred to as the Negro Holocaust, untold numbers of lynchings took place in the American South before the Civil Rights movement tried to put a stop to this ghastly behavior. And in the Jewish Holocaust, approximately six million Jews were murdered.

Imagine what it would be like if the troubled souls of Negro Holocaust victims could look down on us today, only to discover that much of America is still almost as racist as ever.

And imagine what it would be like if the troubled souls of six million Jewish Holocaust victims could look down on Israel today, only to discover that Bibi Netanyahu and his neo-con friends are shamelessly using their six million brutal, torturous and genocidal deaths as a propaganda tool and lame excuse for inflicting those same brutal tortures and genocidal massacres on Palestinians.
(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 senior advisor fur politik Miller,

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 of kidnapping children at our borders and keeping them for ransom, 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 Miller, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Trump's Fourth Of July
By Robert Reich

On this coming Fourth of July, it's worth pondering the true meaning of American patriotism - as opposed to the malignant, distorted view of it propounded by Donald J. Trump.

For Trump, the central challenge of American patriotism is to secure our borders. "Without borders, there can be no nation," he says.

But excluding foreigners has never been a dominant part of American patriotism. For most of its existence America has been relatively open to people from the rest of the world, especially those fleeing tyranny and violence.

America's core struggle has been one of inclusion, not exclusion. We have strived to extend equal citizenship to Native Americans, African Americans, women, and LGBTQs.

The poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, and the songs of Woody Guthrie, expressed loving devotion to America while turning that love into a demand for justice.

"This land is your land, this land is my land" sang Guthrie. "Let America be America again," pleaded Hughes: "The land that never has been yet-/And yet must be - the land where everyone is free./The land that's mine - the poor man's, Indian's Negro's, ME -."

Trump's patriotism centers on symbolic displays of loyalty like standing for the national anthem and waving the American flag.

But such displays haven't been at the center of American patriotism, either. Historically, American patriotism has meant taking a fair share of the burdens of keeping the nation going.

This includes volunteering time and energy to improving the community and country. It has meant paying taxes in full rather than lobbying for lower taxes, seeking tax loopholes, or squirreling away money abroad.

It also means refraining from making political contributions that corrupt our politics, and blowing the whistle on abuses of power even at the risk of losing one's job.

Real patriotism involves strengthening our democracy - defending the right to vote and ensuring more Americans are heard, not claiming without evidence that millions of voted fraudulently and pushing for laws that make it harder for blacks and Latinos to vote.

True patriots don't inundate government with industry lobbyists, attack the freedom of the press, criticize judges who disagree with them, or fill the airwaves with lies. They don't direct employers to fire employees who exercise their freedom of speech.

True patriots don't court foreign dictators, and don't excuse tyranny by denigrating America.

When asked whether Vladimir Putin is a killer, Trump responded "you think our country's so innocent?" When asked about Turkish strongman Erdogan's disdain for civil liberties, Trump said "when the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don't think we're a very good messenger."

True patriots don't fuel racist, religious or ethnic divisions. They aren't homophobic or sexist. To the contrary, true patriots seek to confirm and strengthen and celebrate the "we" in "we the people of the United States."

Trump is the first United States president to use the term "we" to refer only to his supporters. "My supporters are the smartest, strongest, most hard working and most loyal that we have seen in our countries history," he tweeted recently. "As we get stronger, so does our country."

A majority of today's Americans do worry that the nation is losing its national identity. But that identity has never been centered on our support for a particular president or his policies.

Nor, more fundamentally, has our identity depended on the whiteness of our skin or the uniformity of our ethnicity.

Our national identity has been our shared ideals.

If we are losing our national identity it is because we are losing those ideals: a commitment to the rule of law, to our democratic institutions, to truth, to tolerance of our differences, to equal political rights and equal opportunity, to participating in our civic life and making necessary sacrifices for these ideals we hold in common.

We must share these ideals if we are to have a functioning society. Without them, there is no America.

Trump is doing everything he can to destroy these ideals. We must do everything we can to strengthen them.

This is the true test of our patriotism.
(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 Soldier's Tale
By Chris Hedges

The troops live under
The cannon's thunder
From Sind to Cooch Behar
Moving from place to place
When they come face to face
With a different breed of fellow
Whose skins are black or yellow
They quick as winking chop him into
Beefsteak tartar
-"The Cannon Song" from "The Threepenny Opera"

The soldier's tale is as old as war. It is told and then forgotten. There are always young men and women ardent for glory, seduced by the power to inflict violence and naive enough to die for the merchants of death. The soldier's tale is the same, war after war, generation after generation. It is Spenser Rapone's turn now. The second lieutenant was given an "other than honorable" discharge June 18 after an Army investigation determined that he "went online to promote a socialist revolution and disparage high-ranking officers" and thereby had engaged in "conduct unbecoming an officer." Rapone laid bare the lie, although the lie often seems unassailable. We must honor those like him who have the moral courage to speak the truth about war, even if the tidal waves of patriotic propaganda that flood the culture overwhelm the voices of the just.

Rapone enlisted in the Army in 2010. He attended basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. He graduated from airborne school in February 2011 and became an Army Ranger. He watched as those around him swiftly fetishized their weapons.

"The rifle is the reification of what it means to be infantrymen," he said when I reached him by phone in Watertown, N.Y. "You're taught that the rifle is an extension of you. It is your life. You have to carry it at all times. The rifle made us warriors dedicated to destroying the enemy in close personal combat. At first, it was almost gleeful. We were a bunch of 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds. We had this instrument of death in our hands. We had power. We could do what 99 percent of our countrymen could not. The weapon changes you. You want to prove yourself. You want to be tested in combat. You want to deliver death. It draws you in, as much as life in the Army sucks. You start executing tactical maneuvers and battle drills. You get a certain high. It's seductive. The military beats empathy out of you. It makes you callous."

He was disturbed by what was happening around him and to him.

"When you get to RASP [the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program], you're told you not only have to understand Ranger culture and history, you have to adopt what's called an airborne Ranger in the sky," he said. "They make you go online and look at Rangers who were killed in action. You have to learn about this person and print out a copy of their obituary. It's really unsettling, the whole process. This was a class leader acting on behalf of the cadre, he said something to the effect of 'I'll give you a hint, don't pick Pat Tillman.' "

Rapone began to read about Pat Tillman, the professional football player who joined the Rangers and was killed in 2004 in Afghanistan by friendly fire, a fact that senior military officials, including Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who at the time was the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, covered up and replaced with a fictitious Hollywood version of death in combat with the enemy. Rapone watched the 2010 documentary "The Tillman Story" and would later read the 2006 Truthdig essay "After Pat's Birthday," written by Pat's brother Kevin, who was in the Rangers with Pat. Pat Tillman, who had been in contact with Noam Chomsky, had become a critic of the war. In addition to lying to the Tillman family about Pat's death, the Army did not return, and probably destroyed, Pat's papers and diary.

"Pat Tillman showed me I could resist the indoctrination," he said. "I did not have to let the military dehumanize me and turn me into something monstrous. When I learned how his death was covered up to sell the war, it was shocking. The military wasn't interested in preserving freedom or democracy. It was only interested in protecting the profits of those in power and expanding the U.S. hegemony. I was not a Hollywood freedom fighter. I was a cog in the imperialist machine. I preyed on the poorest, most exploited people on the planet."

"We were told to 'shoot, move, and communicate,' " he said of his Ranger training. "This became our entire existence. We did not need to understand why or the larger implications. These things did not concern us."

By July 2011 he was in Khost province in Afghanistan. He was 19 years old. He was an assistant machine gunner on an Mk-48, an 18-pound weapon that is mounted on a tripod and has a fire rate of 500 to 625 rounds per minute. He carried the spare barrel, along with the ammunition, which he fed into the gun. When his fellow Rangers cleared dwellings at night he set up a blocking position. He watched as the Rangers separated terrified men, women and children, treating them "as if they were animals." The Rangers spoke of the Afghans as subhumans, dismissing them as "hajjis" and "ragheads."

"A lot of the guys would say, 'I want to go out every night and kill people,' " he told me. "The Rangers are about hyper-masculinity, misogyny, racism, and a hatred of other cultures."

His platoon sergeant had the hammer of Thor, a popular symbol among white supremacists, tattooed on his arm. The sergeant told new Rangers that if they saw something that upset them and wanted to speak out about it they were "in the wrong fucking place."

Rapone left the Rangers to attend West Point in 2012. Maybe, as an officer, he could make a difference, infuse some humanity into his squads of killers. But he had his doubts.

"When I started West Point in July 2012 I encountered a lot of similar themes I noticed in the Ranger regiment," he said. "Officers and NCOs relished the idea of being able to kill people with impunity. It's Rudyard Kipling. It's the young British soldier mentality we've seen for hundreds of years. Its hyper-masculine. Even female cadets have to assimilate themselves. Any display of femininity is considered weakness. This is combined with the structural racism. They still honor [Confederate Gen.] Robert E. Lee at West Point. There's a barracks named after him. There's a portrait of him in the library in his Confederate uniform. In the bottom right of the portrait, in the background, is a slave."

Rapone watched with growing anger as black cadets were kicked out for infractions that did not lead to the expulsion of white cadets.

He majored in history. But he read outside of the curriculum, including authors such as Howard Zinn and Stan Goff, a former Special Forces master sergeant who had been in Vietnam, Haiti, Panama, Colombia and Somalia and who wrote "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the U.S. Invasion of Haiti."

"I realized we are the muscle for those with wealth and status," Rapone said. "I also realized I was a socialist. It was jarring."

His outspokenness and criticism saw him reprimanded.

"I almost got kicked out my senior year at West Point," he said. "At that point, I was a socialist. When you study political economy, when you study critical theory, it informs your analysis and your work. It started off as an academic position. But I thought there has to be more to this. There has to be some kind of an action to back up my theories."

He was derided as the "communist cadet." He sought out those at the military academy who suffered from discrimination there, including people of color, women and Muslims. He joined the Muslim Cadet Association, although he is not Muslim.

"I wanted to help Muslim cadets find a platform," he said. "I wanted them to know they were not forgotten. At West Point, there weren't too many people who understood or appreciated Islam or how the U.S. has ripped Islamic countries to shreds."

He helped organize an effort to provide Muslims at the academy with a proper prayer space, something that led him into heated arguments with senior administrative officials.

One professor confronted him: "I've been watching you for the past three, four years-you think you can do whatever you want." "Yes, sir," Rapone answered, a response that resulted in his being written up for speaking back to an officer.

The professor examined his social media accounts and found Rapone was posting articles from socialist publications and criticizing U.S. policy on Syrian refugees. The teacher sent a file on Rapone to the Criminal Investigations Division and G2, or military intelligence. Rapone was interrogated by senior officers. He was issued a "punishment tour" lasting 100 hours. He was forced to walk back and forth in the central square at West Point in his full dress uniform each week until the required hours were fulfilled. "It looked like something out of a Monty Python sketch," he said.

He was stripped of his privileges for 60 days. His spring break was canceled. He spent spring break doing landscaping and other menial tasks to "pay off" his punishment debt. He was required to train cadets who had not passed a required event.

"At West Point, they'll maintain that hazing doesn't exist," he said, "at least the kind that was around in the '50s or '60s. But it's still hazing. You're considered a plebe when you first get to West Point. You take out upper classmen's trash every night. You're not allowed to talk when you're outside as a plebe. You have to keep your hands balled up and walk in position of attention. If you're caught talking to a classmate, you'll get in trouble. The worst part is that those who move on from their plebe year enforce the same dehumanizing behavior, which they despised, on the new plebes."

He had experienced hazing in the Rangers, too. New Rangers were forced to fight each other and do numerous push-ups or were hogtied and their stomachs were smacked repeatedly.

"The hazing weeds out people who won't embrace it," he said. "To resist total assimilation, a lot of people create an ironic detachment. But this ironic detachment is really another form of assimilation. It runs pretty deep. There was a guy in a leadership position who tried to kill himself when I was overseas. There were cadets who committed suicide when I was at West Point and others who tried to commit suicide. I spent eight years in the Army. Suicide was a very tangible reality. A lot of suicides were the result of the combination of hazing and military culture, which in a sense is a form of hazing. Your drill instructor can't beat the shit out of you the way he used to, but the military still has methods to torture you emotionally."

When he graduated from West Point he was sent back to Fort Benning, where he had been a young recruit six years earlier.

"Every other Friday a basic training class graduates," he said. "I would see these buzzed-cut teenaged boys, who had barely progressed out of puberty, being sent into the meat grinder. It was unsettling. I was being trained to lead these guys, to tell them the mission we were doing was just and right. I could not in good conscience do that. I searched for an opening. I looked for ways to leave or speak out. When the whole national anthem thing was starting up with Colin Kaepernick, putting his skin in the game, risking himself to fight against systemic racism, I thought I could at least do my part."

He posted a picture of himself in uniform with the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick.

"Everything snowballed from there," he said. "Colin Kaepernick, for me, was linked to Pat Tillman. He too was willing to risk himself and his status to speak truth to power."

His public support of Kaepernick-along with his social media posts of photos of himself at his 2016 graduation at West Point wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt under his uniform and holding up his fist as he showed the words "Communism will win" on the inside of his cap-led to an investigation. Afterward, the Army's 10th Mountain Division accept his resignation.

"The United States is almost religious about its patriotism," he said. "Military personnel are seen as infallible. You have someone like [Secretary of Defense] James Mattis, who is a bona fide war criminal. He dropped bombs on a wedding ceremony in Iraq. He's responsible for overseeing many different massacres in Iraq. Or [general and former national security adviser] H.R. McMaster. These people can't do any wrong because they've served. This reverence for the military is priming the population to accept military rule and a form of fascism or protofascism. That's why I felt even more compelled to get out."

"The public doesn't understand how regressive and toxic military culture is," he went on. "The military's inherent function is the abuse and degradation of other people. It is designed to be a vehicle of destruction. It's fundamental to the system. Without that, it would collapse. You can't convert the military into a humanitarian force even when you use the military in humanitarian ways, such as in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The military trains soldiers to see other human beings, particularly brown and black human beings, as an imminent threat."

"Of course, the military prides itself on being apolitical, which is oxymoronic," he said. "The military is the political muscle of the state. There are few things more dangerous than a soldier who thinks he or she doesn't have a political function."

"I want to implore other soldiers and military personnel, there's more to being a soldier than knowing how to fire a weapon," Rapone said. "You can take a lot of what you've learned into society and actually help. At West Point, they say they teach you to be a leader of character. They talk to you about moral fortitude. But what do we see in the military? I was blindly following orders. I was inflicting violence on the poorest people on earth. How is there any morality in that?"
(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
~~~ Jimmy Margulies ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Political Scientists Baffled By Trump's Ability To End Something He Had No Control Over Just Days Ago
This Destroys All Previous Knowledge About The Power Of The Presidency
By The Onion

NEW HAVEN, CT-At a loss to explain the mysterious nature of the president's powers, political scientists were reportedly baffled Wednesday by Donald Trump's ability to end the practice of separating families who cross the U.S. border seeking asylum mere days after stating that he had no control over it.

"Just yesterday, he was explaining that his hands were tied and there was nothing he could do to stop children and infants from being forcibly torn away from their parents and put into cages-but then today, out of nowhere, he suddenly issued an executive order doing just that!" said Bruce Ackerman, a constitutional law professor at Yale University, remarking that this inexplicable development will fundamentally upend how the presidency is understood, because there is no theory in the entire field of political science that explains how it could be possible.

"No new amendments to the Constitution have been passed, so the powers vested in the Executive Branch should be the same today as they were yesterday, right? And yet somehow, they have changed! Decades of research will be required before we can even begin to comprehend such a phenomenon. In the meantime, we can only sit back and wonder if there are any other powers the president has yet to discover.

At press time, sources confirmed Ackerman and his colleagues had flipped over an original copy of the Constitution and found a list of previously unknown executive powers that appeared to have been hastily scrawled in with a ballpoint pen.
(c) 2018 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 25 (c) 06/29/2018

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non_profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."