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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi explains, "Why Killing Dodd-Frank Could Lead To The Next Crash."

Uri Avnery remembers, "A Very Intelligent Person."

Glen Ford reports, "California Leads The Way In Resistance To The Rule Of Bankers."

Ari Berman concludes, "Kavanaugh's Record Doesn't Bode Well For Voting Rights."

Jim Hightower remarks, "The New York Times Strikes Out."

John Nichols concludes, "Barbara Lee Would Make An Excellent Leader Of House Democrats."

James Donahue explores, "The Trump/Pruitt Destruction Of The EPA."

Frank Scott returns with, "Think Global, Act Local, And Hurry."

Heather Digby Parton explains, "MAGA For Dummies."

David Suzuki says, "Assessing Seafood Retailers' Progress Helps Consumers And Industry."

Charles P. Pierce says, "This President* Never Deserves The Benefit Of The Doubt."

David Swanson warns, "Silicon Valley Will Not Save You From The Surveillance State."

Jane Stillwater says it's, "No Joke."

Brett Kavanaugh wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "What We Can Do About Trump's Escalating Lies."

Chris Hedges explains, "The Con Of Diversity."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst sees, "Torches And Pitchforks" but first Uncle Ernie reveals, "America's National Embarrassment."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of R.J. Matson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Caroline Rojas, Rob Rogers, Chris Aluka Berry, Alex Brandon, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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America's National Embarrassment
By Ernest Stewart

"Donald Trump is a national disgrace and a international pariah." ~~~ Colin Powell

"It's so hot, I wore my wrinkled clothes outside, and got them steam pressed." ~~~ Johnny Carson

"President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will be a rubber-stamp for an extreme, right-wing agenda pushed by corporations and billionaires." ~~~ Sen. Bernie Sanders ~ I-Vt.

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." ~~~ Abraham Lincoln

Our "national embarrassment" is on the move in Europe to make enemies out of our friends and to kiss Putins ass. One might think that tRump's a Russian operative. Donnie's been running scared since at least 2013 when some say Putin got tapes of Donnie being peed on by Russian hookers/spys. So tRump trying to break up NATO is someting that Putin and his predecessors have been trying to do since NATO was invented. Must be just a coincidence, eh?

Other say that during Mr. Kennedy's tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump's most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.

And, of course, many news outlets have reported on the potentially suspect coincidence that right about the time Trump was sworn in as U.S. president, Deutsche Bank was fined an aggregate $630 million for their involvement in a $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme, and Deutsche Bank's records were later reportedly subpoenaed by special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

tRump] took out two mortgages against a resort in Miami and a $170 million loan to finish his hotel in Washington, D.C. According to Bloomberg, by the time Trump was elected president of the United States in November 2016, he owed Deutsche around $300 million, an unprecedented debt for an incoming president. His June financial disclosure showed he owes the bank $130 million, which is due in full in 2024.

The loans to tRump weren't the only abnormal behavior at Deutsche. Around the same time he received his new line of credit, the bank was laundering money, according to the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS). Russian money. Billions of dollars that flowed from Moscow to London, then from London to New York - part of a scheme for which European and American regulators eventually punished the bank.

And who was overseeing all of this? Why it was Justice Kennedy's son, Justin. As Justice Kennedy would have had to recuse himself from Mr. Muellers investigation because of Justin and tRumps new Extreme Court candidate Kavanaugh has stated many times that he doesn't believe a sitting president can be prosecuted, well, I'm sure you get the picture.

In Other News

Well, with the west burning down with temps in the low 100s many former rat-wing climate change deniers, whether paid or stupid are either changing their tunes or remaining silent. There are only so many cases of heat stroke you can have before you start to see the light!

I see where a recent study published in the British journal Nature Geoscience warns long-term global warming-and thus sea level rise-could be twice as bad as climate models project. I began noticing that the project models were obviously too low about ten years ago.

Study co-author Katrin Meissner of University of New South Wales said, "In terms of rate of change, we are in uncharted waters. While climate model projections seem to be trustworthy when considering relatively small changes over the next decades, it is worrisome that these models likely underestimate climate change under higher emission scenarios, such as a 'business as usual' scenario, and especially over longer time scales."

The Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research says, "This suggests the carbon budget to avoid 2 C of global warming may be far smaller than estimated. Accounting for the additional release of CO2 leaves even less room for error or delay as humanity seeks to lower its CO2 emissions and stabilize global climate within reasonable limits."

Meanwhile the west continues to burn down. First came the drought, then the summer heat -- the perfect formula for wildfires. And as of Tuesday night, there are some 50 large fires burning in 11 western states. Some of these states have been undergoing droughts for the last 17 years! Ya'll ought to move to one of the Great Lakes states where water abounds before it's too late!

And Finally

tRumps latest bright idea is Brett Kavanaugh who you may know is a little to the right of Darth Vader and who is a racist and an imperialistic bigot! Brett got started when he hooked his star onto Ken Starr and was the driving force behind the Starr Report an attempt to impeach slick Willy.

As soon as Dubya was selected he joined Bush's staff where he led the Administration's effort to identify and confirm judicial nominees. He got this post by leading the effort to stop the recount of the Florida votes with the help of the Extreme Court.

He was soon rewarded to the postion of Dubya's White House Staff Secretary. Dubya nominated him to the DC Court of Appeals in 2003 where his nomination was stalled by the Democratic Senate until 2006, where he stayed until now, voting against voting rights, especially black voters right. He's a firm supporter of the 1% rights, but not so much the middle, and working classes! He knows to how commit sedition at the drop of a hat.

Ergo, the perfect choice for tRump to stack the Extreme Court with right wing morons for the next 30 years. Are you still glad that you didn't vote in 2016, America? If you don't vote this time around it's going to get much worse, not only for yourself but for your children and grand children too!

Keepin' On

I have said that this is my second favorite thing to do every week, to come before you and beg for money, every week until we get our bills paid. My favorite thing is to drill small holes in my knee caps with an ancient brace and bit. Or would be, but I'm not a masochist; however, the show must go on; so here I am again.

Gone are those golden daze of yore when a couple of folks with money, not that "white money," but the folding kind, would step up and pick up our publishing tab for the year. Those indeed were the daze, but I fear those daze have come and gone; so it's up to all of you to step up and pay your fair share of keeping us active, fighting the good fight for you and yours. Can you name any other group that does what we do without taking a dime? Most take a six or seven figure salary. The difference is, all I owe allegiance to is to you, and not those who can afford to pay a 6 or 7 figure salary.

Ergo, please visit this site and follow the directions therein; and, against all odds, we'll be here for you every week with the latest news; whether good or bad, you can always deal with the truth; but you need to know what it is; and you'll find it here! Where else can you find it?


07-11-1931 ~ 07-08-2018
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So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

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

Three Democrats who co-sponsored the rollback of the Dodd-Frank financial
reform legislation were some of Senate's biggest recipients of Wall Street donations.

Why Killing Dodd-Frank Could Lead To The Next Crash
Eliminating the bill was a top priority for Trump. So why did any Democrats vote for it?
By Matt Taibbi

In the age of Trump, bipartisanship is considered a sin. So one would think that when Republicans and Democrats do pass a law together, it'd be for something so popular, it couldn't be questioned politically: a nonbinding resolution on the cuteness of puppies, maybe, or a national ice cream giveaway.

Nope. The rare bipartisan bill turned out to be a rollback of the Dodd-Frank financial-reform act. More than 80 percent of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans want tougher rules on banks. Yet this was our Trump-era kumbaya moment: a bank deregulation bill!

Ostensibly passed to address the causes of the 2008 crash, the Dodd-Frank Act has instead spent more than half a decade now as a hostage to a payola Congress, with both parties taking turns cutting it down and delaying its implementation. The latest indignity is S.2155, a.k.a. the "Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act." Supposedly designed to help some banks by reducing capital requirements and ending regular "stress tests," the act is really more like helping ships steam faster by allowing them to ditch their lifeboats.

But the bill isn't just unnecessary - the banking sector smashed records with $56 billion in profits in this year's first quarter - it's also a Wall Street handout disguised as an aid to "Main Street" banks.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a longtime critic of the "Too Big to Fail" banking system, opposed the bill. He pointed out upon passage that in one section of the act, "the change of just one word forces the Fed to weaken the rules even for the largest banks."

The microchange Brown refers to is a masterstroke of deregulatory trickery, one that should go in the Hall of Fame of legislative chicanery. The original Dodd-Frank Act said the Federal Reserve may consider weakening safety rules for a particular bank. The single word change of "may" to "shall" would mandate the Fed to consider every request for special treatment. If Bloodsucking Bank A thinks it deserves relaxed regulation, it could sue the Fed to consider its request.

Because the rules weakened under this section cover almost all the restrictions in Dodd-Frank, this "may-to-shall" trick could be the mother of all loopholes. "It's potentially the most damaging thing in the bill," is how one Senate aide put it.

But why did this bill even pass? Only 50 Republicans backed the rollback, meaning even a few members of a dependably craven Republican caucus hesitated to pull the trigger. That means they needed one Democratic vote to pass this foul thing. They got 17. Why? What made this bill the weak link in the battle line against Trump's agenda?

The 2008 crash was caused when financial companies, high on greed and the temptations of an irrationally exuberant economy, borrowed beyond their means. Leveraging themselves to the hilt, banks bet your kids' future on a losing roulette spin known as the subprime-mortgage market. Post-crash, the obvious reform was to make sure banks would have enough assets on hand that they wouldn't need bailouts the next time they ruined themselves at the tables.

Dodd-Frank told them they had to either borrow less ("reduce leverage") or have a bigger stack in reserve ("raise capital requirements"). They had to pass regular "stress tests," create contingency plans in case of collapse, and, through the so-called Volcker Rule, keep their depository and investment banking operations separate.

In recent years, however, lobbyists began to complain that the restrictions were hurting small regional banks. Currently, the rules apply to any bank with more than $50 billion in assets. The new bill raises that to $100 billion immediately, then, potentially, to $250 billion. If the carve-out goes to $250 billion in assets, roughly 99 percent of banks will be exempted from the Dodd-Frank safety provisions. So, yes, it helps out your local bank. And basically all the other banks too.

Still, Republicans and Democrats alike successfully pitched the bill as helping small business - what Elizabeth Warren described as using community banks as a "human shield."

It's a huge victory for Trump - eliminating Dodd-Frank was such an urgent need for His Orangeness that an executive order mandating the act's deconstruction was one of his first policy moves. Like his White House hirings of so many Goldman Sachs vets after loudly campaigning against the bank, Trump showed his true colors when he made killing Wall Street's most hated law a high priority.

Then again, the Democrats showed their colors when they gave him the win. Nobody will say so, but everyone on the Hill knows why this bill passed. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, three of the bill's Democratic co-sponsors, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana's Joe Donnelly and Montana's Jon Tester, are three of the Senate's biggest recipients of financial-services donations. Quelle surprise!

This would be merely politically disgusting, were it not for the consequences in an overheated economy. Remember how tossing the Glass-Steagall Act during the Internet boom worked out? We should be increasing safety standards, not eliminating them. "With debt levels higher than before the last crash, a stock market bubble and wage stagnation," says Dennis Kelleher, head of the watchdog group Better Markets, "now is the worst time to deregulate the financial industry."

We've been here before - in an economy that feels shakier than suspiciously swollen stock market numbers would indicate. Either Trump is an economic genius, or we're in for a correction soon. Who feels like taking off the life jacket?
(c) 2018 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

A Very Intelligent Person
By Uri Avnery

IN THE late 1980s, my secretary told me that the Deputy Chief of Staff wanted to see me.

That was rather surprising. The army command was not on friendly terms with my paper, Haolam Hazeh. For dozens of years we had been officially boycotted by the army, after publishing a story which the then Chief of Staff considered insulting.

So I was curious when I entered the Deputy's room. His name was Ehud Barak, and I had never met him before.

Our conversation turned quickly toward European military history. I was quite surprised. In general, Israeli military chiefs are technicians, not theoreticians. But, since military history happens to be a hobby of mine, I was glad to discover that Barak was quite an expert on the subject.

Thus, conversing happily about the 30-years war, I was waiting for him to bring up the matter for which he had invited me. But the time passed and no other matter emerged. There was no other matter.

EHUD BARAK was an unlikely soldier. Once his brother told me how Ehud became a commando soldier: he was short and fat as a boy, so his brother had to pull strings very hard to get him accepted by the elite unit.

The results were phenomenal. Barak was a daring commando soldier. He received several citations for personal bravery, commanded audacious exploits in enemy territory, advanced quickly in rank and in the end had filled almost every senior command post, including chief of intelligence, until he became Chief of Staff (the Commander in Chief of the armed forces).

After that it was natural in Israel for him to go into politics. In 1999, after joining the Labor Party and becoming its chief, he won the national elections against Binyamin Netanyahu.

Oh, joy! When the results were announced on the radio, there was a tremendous spontaneous outburst. Masses of people, overcome with emotion, converged on Tel Aviv's central square, the place where Yitzhak Rabin had been murdered four years earlier. I was there when Barak announced from the tribune: "This is the dawn of a new day!"

The joy was justified. Years before, Barak had told Gideon Levy that if he had been a young Palestinian, he would have joined a terrorist organization. Here was a new spirit.

But something went wrong. President Bill Clinton called for a peace conference at the Camp David resort. There the three of them - Clinton, Arafat and Barak - were to give birth to a historic peace agreement.

It did not happen. Instead of seeking the company of Arafat and airing the problems in private, Barak remained isolated in his cabin. When seated at dinner between Arafat and the young daughter of the President, Barak devoted himself exclusively to her.

True, at Camp David Barak offered peace terms which went further than those of earlier Prime Ministers, but they still fell far short of the minimum the Palestinians could accept. The conference broke up without results. A real statesman would have declared something like this: "We had a fruitful discussion. It would have been a miracle if, after a hundred years of conflict, we had reached an agreement at the first attempt. There will be more conferences, until we reach agreement."

Instead Barak made an incredible announcement: "I have offered concessions which went further than anything Israel has offered before. The Palestinians have refused everything. They want to throw us into the sea. There is no chance of peace."

Coming from the mouth of the "Leader of the Peace Camp", this turned failure into catastrophe. The Israeli peace camp collapsed. It has not recovered since. After Barak, Ariel Sharon took over, then Ehud Olmert, followed by Binyamin Netanyahu - seemingly for good. WHEN AN ordinary Israeli is asked these days "Who do you think can replace Bibi?" the almost automatic answer is: "Nobody". The voter sees no possible successor, neither in the Likud nor in the opposition.

The members of the present cabinet - male and female - are nobodies. Little politicians who are good at creating scandals and attracting public attention, but not much else. If there ever were talented leaders in the Likud, they have been removed by Netanyahu long ago.

Half the Israelis believe that "Bibi" is an excellent leader. And indeed, He looks good, is a very clever politician, a wizard of public relations. He makes a good impression abroad and manages the country's daily affairs in a passable way.

The most exact judgment about Bibi was passed by his own father, the history professor. He said: "Bibi can be an excellent Foreign Minister. But he cannot be Prime Minister!"

Nothing could be more true. Netanyahu has all the qualifications of a Foreign Minister, but he has none of the qualifications necessary for a Prime Minister. He has no vision. No answers for Israel's historic problems. No wish to overcome Israel's many internal divisions. Many Israelis hate his guts.

So who can replace him, even in theory?

THE POLITICAL field looks like a human desert. Politicians appear and disappear. The Labor Party (in its different guises) changes leaders regularly like clothes. The glamorous new boy, Ya'ir Lapid, the creator and sole chief of the "There is a Future" party, is losing his luster rapidly.

When somebody asks in a small voice: "What about....Ehud Barak?" a silence ensues. There is no easy answer.

Since leaving public life, Barak has become very rich. His main occupation seems to be advising foreign governments. He lives in the most luxurious building in the center of Tel Aviv. He has no political party. Perhaps he is waiting for The Call.

As a personality, there is no doubt that Barak stands out. He is far better qualified than any other Israeli politician. If a new young leader does not emerge from nowhere, Barak is the only person who could take Netanyahu on.

But one feels in the air a palpable hesitation. He has no following. People admire him, but do not love him. He does not inspire trust, as Rabin did. He has open contempt for people who are less talented than he, and that is a great disadvantage for a politician.

And then there is his record of past failures.

In Goethe's Faust, the outstanding work of German literature, Mephisto, the devil, introduces himself as "the force which always desires the bad and always creates the good." Similarly, Barak is an arch-angel who always desires the good and always creates the bad.

There is Camp David, of course. There was his hatred for Yasser Arafat, the only Palestinian who could have made peace with Israel.

His very superiority causes a problem. It does create suspicion.

One of Israel's two most pernicious problems is the deep-seated feeling of the immigrants from Eastern countries of having been discriminated against. (The second problem is the relationship between the Orthodox and the atheists.)

When he was Prime Minister, Barak did something unique: on behalf of the government he asked the forgiveness of the Easterners for the discrimination they had suffered. Somehow, it fell flat. No one even remembers the gesture. For Easterners, Barak looks like the typical overbearing Ashkenazi (Westerner).

Bibi Netanyahu, in contrast, is adored by most Easterners, though he is and looks as Ashkenazi as anyone can. Why? God alone knows.

SO, COME next election, would I vote for Barak?

The opportunity would arise only if Barak decides to accept the challenge and succeeds in uniting behind him all the opposition parties, which hate each other. That by itself would be a Herculean task.

If that happens, I would recommend voting for him. To be honest, I would recommend voting for anybody who seriously challenges Bibi. I believe that Bibi is leading Israel toward an abyss - an eternal war against the Palestinians, a war nobody can win.

WOULD I vote for Barak in spite of his record? Intelligent people can learn from experience (though few do).

Ehud Barak is a very intelligent person.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

California Leads The Way In Resistance To The Rule Of Bankers
By Glen Ford

When former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher set her nation on the path of wholesale privatization and austerity in the 1980s, she declared that "resistance is futile." "There is no alternative," she decreed, to the rule of "markets," not just in Great Britain, but for all of humanity and for all time. Thatcher found a soul mate in President Ronald Reagan, whose assault on the public sector in the U.S. -- packaged for a racist American electorate as a campaign to purge "welfare queens," and accompanied by a fierce anti-drugs and crime crusade -- was soon joined by the most shamelessly corporatist wing of the Democratic Party. President Bill Clinton completed Reagan's welfare and crime agenda and, as a final gift to Wall Street, deregulated the banks.

Thatcherism was firmly at the helm on both sides of the U.S. corporate duopoly. Democrat-based "resistance" was effectively confined to the "social issues" of abortion, gay rights and a vague quest for "diversity" -- questions whose resolution, either way, do not threaten the iron rule of capital. Barack Obama's answer to the 2008 financial meltdown was to pump at least $4.5 trillion into private finance capitalist coffers and declare, through his attorney general, that the surviving banks were "too big to fail." Although the system had come close to global collapse, an alternative remained unthinkable. Even the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011-12 dared not propose the nationalization of the banking sector. As I wrote in these pages last month, the Occupiers "walked right up to the edge of the pool, but they did not dive in."

With the rule of the rich unchallenged, is it any wonder that an arch-racist Republican oligarch sits in the White House, while the richest oligarch of all, Jeff Bezos, muses over which American metropolis he will grant the privilege of becoming his next company town? Or that Trump's Democratic opponent was Bill Clinton's partner in corporate crime, who used her husband's "foundation" to shake down the global oligarch class for tens of millions of dollars, and herself pocketed millions in speaking fees from bankers -- and who now contemplates a political comeback as the farcical queen of "resistance"?

There can be no reversal of the corporate "race to the bottom" unless the Lords of Capital are dethroned, through nationalization of their assets. Everything else is, ultimately, tinkering at the margins -- reforms that are worthwhile and necessary, but leave the "commanding heights" of political economy in the hands of the Lords of Capital.

The people would like to "break" the banks – indeed, many if not most would relish doing violence to the class that torments them to no end with fees and long ago ceased sharing even a small portion of their calculated usury with depositors. Everyone -- literally speaking -- knows that banker criminality was at the heart of the 2008 collapse, that the same institutions and thieves emerged from the debacle richer and more powerful than ever -- and everybody hates the banks. Black people despise entrenched capital most of all, and are most amenable to socialist solutions. But hatred of the banks cuts across all ethnic and most class lines. The only thing most Trump supporters hate nearly as much as their non-white fellows, is bankers. But, unless you are among the overwhelmingly white and rural residents of North Dakota, home to the only state public bank in the nation, you are not familiar with any public banking model and have never experienced a situation in which private bankers did not have the first and last word.

Fortunately, as a serendipitous consequence of the newly legalized cannabis industry, California is awash in reefer cash that cannot be deposited in federally-sanctioned banks -- a problem begging for an immediate socialistic solution. As crusading anti-banker Ellen Brown reports in a recent article, the majority of cannabis "businesses are operating on the black market without paying taxes." The state and cash-strapped municipalities want to tap these reefer-gotten gains, with Los Angeles "Mayor Eric Garcetti estimating it would bring in $30 million in taxes for the city."

Sincere reformers, having watched as private banks leached billions in profits from bond-financed public development and affordable housing efforts -- often adding 50 percent or more to the cost of the project -- got the Los Angeles City Council to agree last month to put on the November ballot a bill that would establish a public bank for the city, the largest cannabis market in the state. City Council president Herb Wesson says the lure of marijuana money has been a boon to public banking advocates, but the cannabis windfall is not "what's driving it." Anti-bankers from across the state have formed a California Public Banking Alliance to push for state-chartered banks that could handle the financing of a whole range of governmental functions and projects, saving municipalities and agencies billions in private banking fees and usurious interest rates.

These public banks will require state charters and other legal adjustments to operate outside the federally-sanctioned system, but the political prospects look good. Ellen Brown reports that state treasurer John Chiang backs public bank charters, as does Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Gavin Newsom, the current Lt. Governor. President Trump has signaled that he might not stand in the way, leaving such matters to the states.

On its Facebook page, the advocacy group Public Bank Los Angeles says getting out from under the Wall Street banks "can be a CORNERSTONE ISSUE for the progressive movement here at home and beyond." They continue:

"Right now, our taxpayer dollars are being held by private banks like Wells Fargo, who use our money to invest in immigrant detention centers, destructive fossil fuel pipelines, private prisons and other socially and environmentally harmful projects.

"The best way to DIVEST from these horrible investments is to move our money out of Wall Street and into a public bank!

"Are you an environmentalist? Join the movement and find out how a public bank can help the City of Los Angeles invest in a clean, green renewable future where solar and wind power our cities, not dirty and destructive fossil fuels.

"Are you fighting against homelessness and for affordable housing? Public banking can dramatically lower the costs of affordable housing and take control back from the too-powerful developers and private banks.

"Do you fight for economic justice, including supporting the needs of the unbanked and underbanked? Organize with us and find out how public banking can be a powerful solution to provide banking services to those in need, keeping people away from payday lenders and other predatory institutions.

"Why do we allow private banks to syphon off our taxpayer dollars and extract wealth from our communities, when real alternatives exist? Why does the power to create money lie in the hands of obscenely rich and powerful bankers, who gamble with our money and our livelihoods? Why does Wall Street take a 50% cut of our infrastructure spending, when we have such severe and pressing needs?"

Public Bank Los Angeles offers an online FAQ that explores the issues in depth. "Private housing developers," they write, "operate purely on a profit-motive and have no incentive to build affordable housing. A city-owned bank can extend the credit lines of community banks and credit unions to offer loans to low-income residents and help bankroll low-income housing, fund community land trusts, develop new short-term housing facilities, and rehousing programs to address solutions for the increasing homeless population." This is a project, not just to meet the material needs of the people, but to put a measure of democracy into the process. As the FAQ states, Los Angeles

"...currently banks with firms guilty of collusion, rigging, defrauding customers, predatory lending, money laundering, racketeering, graft and a host of other offenses that dramatically culminated in the fiasco of the financial crisis when 'too big to fail' oligarchy of banks took hundreds of billions of dollars in public sector money. Subsequently, not only were no perpetrators of the financial crimes punished, vast bonuses were paid out to bank executives. This is the opposite of 'efficiency.'"

Public banking on this scale will not overthrow the Lords of Capital, but it can provide the political model and vocabulary that will make the call for the nationalization of the private banks and their assets -- a revolutionary demand, by definition – both reasonable and palatable to a public that already hates the banks.

Americans live in a corporate-imposed political desert -- full of heat but starved of substance to guide popular left movements. Occupy Wall Street was the most dramatic response to the capitalist crisis of 2008, but the organizers were incapable of following the logic of their own rhetoric. Another meltdown, even more catastrophic, is brewing. This time, the people should be primed to act on their already existing, righteous hatred of the global financial class, the main enemies of all humankind.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, in the East Room of the White House on Monday.

Kavanaugh's Record Doesn't Bode Well For Voting Rights
He voted to uphold a law that threatened to disenfranchise tens of thousands of minority voters.
By Ari Berman

Donald Trump's new Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, could determine how the court rules on cases that shape the future of voting rights in the United States. And if his track record is any indication, many Americans could be disenfranchised as a result.

As a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh voted in 2012 to uphold a South Carolina voter ID law that the Obama administration said would disenfranchise tens of thousands of minority citizens. The Justice Department blocked the law, which required government-issued photo identification to vote, in late 2011 for violating the Voting Rights Act.

"The absolute number of minority citizens whose exercise of the franchise could be adversely affected by the proposed requirements runs into the tens of thousands," wrote Tom Perez, who was then assistant attorney general for civil rights and now leads the Democratic National Committee. The Justice Department found that more than 80,000 minority registered voters in South Carolina did not have DMV-issued identification, with African Americans 20 percent more likely than whites to lack such ID.

But when South Carolina then sought approval for its law from a three-judge court panel in Washington, DC, Kavanaugh wrote the opinion upholding it. He found that the controversial law "does not have a discriminatory retrogressive effect" and "was not enacted for a discriminatory purpose." He pointed to a Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana's voter ID law in 2008. "The Supreme Court's affirmation of the general legitimacy of the purpose behind a voter ID law is consistent with the fact that many States-particularly in the wake of the voting system problems exposed during the 2000 elections-have enacted stronger voter ID laws, among various other recent changes to voting laws."

From 2011 to 2012, 19 states controlled by Republicans passed laws restricting access to the ballot. These included voter ID laws, cutbacks to early voting, and restrictions on voter registration that disproportionately targeted Democratic constituencies, like voters of color.

South Carolina didn't present any cases of voter fraud to justify its law, but Kavanaugh wrote that such laws were constitutional despite an absence of evidence of fraud. "We conclude that South Carolina's goals of preventing voter fraud and increasing electoral confidence are legitimate; those interests cannot be deemed pretextual merely because of an absence of recorded incidents of in-person voter fraud in South Carolina," he wrote.

Kavanaugh's opinion suggests that when it comes to voting rights, he would reliably side with the Supreme Court's conservative majority, which in 2013 gutted the Voting Rights Act, ruling that states with a long history of voting discrimination no longer needed federal government approval for election changes. This year, the court's conservatives also upheld voter purging in Ohio and racial gerrymandering in Texas.

Kavanaugh downplayed the racially charged origins of South Carolina's voter ID law and its impact on voters of color. Members of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus walked out of the legislature when the bill was first considered. After the law passed, Ed Koziol, a Republican supporter of the law, wrote an email to the bill's author, Rep. Alan Clemmons of Myrtle Beach, saying that if African Americans were offered a $100 award for obtaining voter ID, "you would see how fast they got voter ID cards with their picture. It would be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon."

"Amen, Ed," Clemmons responded. "Thank you for your support of voter ID."

Though Kavanaugh said he was "troubled" by that racist email, he wrote that "one legislator's failure to immediately denounce those views in his responsive email, as he later testified he should have done - do not speak for the two Houses of the South Carolina Legislature, or the South Carolina Governor."

Voter disenfranchisement could get worse if Kavanaugh is confirmed to the court. Kavauagh would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's frequent swing justice. Chief Justice John Roberts would likely become the new swing justice, and he has tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act since his days as a young lawyer in Ronald Reagan's Justice Department. With Kavanaugh on the court, the five-member conservative majority will likely uphold new voting restrictions passed by Republican states and could kill the remaining sections of the Voting Rights Act. The days when minority voters could look to the nation's highest court for protection seem to be over.
(c) 2018 Ari Berman is a senior reporter at Mother Jones, covering voting rights. He's the author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.

The New York Times Strikes Out
By Jim Hightower

For more than a century, The New York Times has unabashedly bragged in a banner slogan that it publishes "All the News That's Fit to Print."

Really? Then why did it publish a June 25 front-page article that was neither news nor fit to print? It was gut-job attacking Our Revolution, the aggressively-progressive, grassroots political movement that sprang out of Senator Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential run. The Times scoffed that "fewer than 50 percent of the more than 80 candidates [OR] has endorsed have won elections this year."

Huh? News flash for clueless media cognoscenti: Winning anywhere near half of your campaigns is a stunning achievement! It's all the more stunning that it's being achieved by the feisty progressive rebels of Our Revolution, for nearly all of the candidates they endorse are unconventional, first-time contenders who start out with no name recognition, no fat cat money, and no support from establishment power brokers. I happen to be a board member of the upstart Our Revolution movement, so I know many of these gutsy mavericks personally, and I've seen their surprisingly successful campaigns from the ground level.

They are winning because they're bringing political integrity and Bernie's big policy ideas to voters hungry for both - and because, in less than two years, OR has organized hundreds of thousands of democratic populists into more than 600 active political networks all across the country, including grassroots organizing in red areas the party has long ignored.

Asked about the Times' mocking of the movement's win-loss record, Sen. Sanders deadpanned: "It's not a baseball game." In fact, though even the biggest of baseball superstars have never come close to a .500 batting average! Nor will the Times ever hit .500 on its pledge to cover all the news fit to print.
(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

Rep. Barbara Lee speaks at the Netroots Nation annual conference for political progressives in August 2017.

Barbara Lee Would Make An Excellent Leader Of House Democrats
The anti-war congresswoman could take the Democratic Party in a new direction. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez agrees.
By John Nichols

When the conversation turned to the question of whether Nancy Pelosi should be the next speaker of the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed an alternative.

Instead of maintaining the status quo in the House Democratic Caucus, the most talked-about Democratic congressional nominee of 2018 told a reporter, "I'd like to see new leadership, but I don't even know what our options are. I mean, is Barbara Lee running? Call me when she does!"

That was a knowing response from a savvy Democrat, who became the face of a progressive surge within the Democratic Party after her June 26 primary defeat of Congressman Joe Crowley, the party's fourth-highest-ranking leader in the House. Crowley was widely seen as a contender to replace House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and in the event of a Democratic takeover of the chamber, the speakership.

Crowley won't be climbing the leadership ladder.

That creates an opening for the party to move in a new direction, and Barbara Lee could take it there.

Lee, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, former co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and vice chair LGBT Equality Caucus who served as one of President Obama's appointees to serve as a US representative to the United Nations General Assembly, is fully prepared to take a leadership position in the party caucus. And the 20-year veteran of the House is exploring the prospect of making a run for the position Crowley held.

"I am talking to members now about the viability and the possibility of my running for the Democratic Caucus chair position," says Lee, explaining that her background as a single mother who once relied on food stamps would help her to expand the appeal of the party. "I think my leadership around issues [of] poverty, income inequality, racial justice really help broaden the message," she says, and argues that she can broaden "the base and the participation of constituents and voters who we want to be included in the party."

If she wins the leadership post after the November election, Lee could find herself on a fast track for more powerful positions-including, perhaps, the speakership. Lee is not trying to elbow aside Pelosi, a Bay Area ally whose whose long tenure as leader of the caucus has drawn increasing criticism from younger Democrats in the House and on the campaign trail. But Lee is thinking about putting herself in position for the changes in leadership that are likely to come.

Were Lee to join the leadership, it would be a powerful indication that congressional Democrats are beginning to recognize what the congresswoman from Oakland, Berkeley, and surrounding communities identifies as "signals that our base voters are very engaged and they want to see change." Lee would be the first African-American woman to serve in the leadership of either party in the House and told the San Francisco Chronicle: "It's time. African American women have been the smartest and most loyal voters for the Democratic Party, and often we don't get the recognition or the involvement at the highest levels."

Lee's advancement to a leadership position would also demonstrate an understanding that voters desire new approaches to both domestic and foreign-policy issues. "We have to [renew] our checks and balances because this administration is wreaking havoc on the country and on the world," says Lee, who earned national notice in September 2001 when she cast the only vote against the Bush-Cheney administration's request for a blank-check authorization of the use of military force in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Lee's 2001 vote was as courageous as it was lonely. Media reports sought to portray her as a radical and suggested that she would be vulnerable to defeat. They were wrong. Lee was easily reelected and bumper stickers and posters across the country read: "Barbara Lee Speaks for Me!"

As the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) has been used as justification for far-flung military interventions and ever more outlandish presidential overreach, more and more Democrats and Republicans aligned with Lee as she sought to repeal the AUMF.

Ocasio-Cortez's primary campaign sounded themes that echoed Lee's long advocacy, noting that "According to the Constitution, the right to declare war belongs to the legislative body, and yet many of these global acts of aggression have never once been voted on by Congress. In some cases, we've even acted unilaterally, without the backing of the United Nations. America should not be in the business of destabilizing countries. While we may see ourselves as liberators, the world increasingly views us as occupiers and aggressors. Alexandria believes that we must end the "forever war" by bringing our troops home, and ending the air strikes that perpetuate the cycle of terrorism throughout the world."

Ocasio-Cortez also called for transitioning to a "peace economy," arguing that, "In times when we're told that there's not enough money, Republicans and corporate Democrats seem to find the cash to fund a $1.1 trillion fighter jet program or a $1.7 trillion-dollar nuclear weapon 'modernization' program. The costs are extreme: the Pentagon's budget for 2018 is $700 billion dollars: to continue fighting an endless War on Terror and refighting the Cold War with a new arms race that nobody can win."

The New York Democrat is not alone. Hawaiian congressional candidate Kaniela Ing, a 29-year-old state representative who is competing for an open US House seat, asks: "When did 'peace' become a four-letter word?"

Ing says: "It's past time we stop all counterproductive re‍‍‍gime-change wars, reign in military spending and no-bid contractors, foster diplomacy around the world, restore sensible foreign policy, and invest more resources here at home.‍‍‍"

Lee's argument that it is necessary to avert undeclared wars and dial back the excesses of the military-industrial complex have popular appeal. She has become one of the most dynamic and necessary voices in the Democratic Party on foreign-policy issues. In 2012, she presented the party's platform proposal to the Democratic National Convention. Her anti-interventionist, diplomacy-focused worldview is gaining traction in a party caucus that now includes Lee allies such as Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA). And it is all but certain that the pro-peace, pro-diplomacy contingent will grow after the 2018 election to include an outspoken advocate for moving Barbara Lee into the leadership of the House: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The Trump/Pruitt Destruction Of The EPA
By James Donahue

The Organic Consumers Organization recently issued a disturbing newsletter pointing out the destructive impact of the Trump Administration's decision to cut staff, funding and the power of the Environmental Protection Agency on the nation's foods and consequently on public health. It also has withdrawn the federal Food & Drug Administration's control for labeling of organic and non-genetically modified foods so that buyers have a healthy choice in what they eat.

The letter warns that the nation's food industry is currently getting away with serving "a fatal harvest" caused by "water and air pollution, soil erosion, fertility loss, the obliteration of pollinator populations and biodiversity in general, food contamination, aquifer depletion and climate destabilization."

The organization notes that the United States currently spends an estimated $3.5 trillion a year on healthcare; more than any other nation on Earth, which is caused by over 84,000 "industrial and agricultural chemicals and a steady diet of cheap, unhealthy grub dished up in supermarkets, restaurants, schools and institutional settings."

While these statistics are well known to the EPA and government leaders, the Trump Administration is clearly more interested in protecting corporate profits than safeguarding public health. Not only has the Obama health care plan been under severe attack, but Mr. Trump and his Washington hoodlums have been busy stripping budget money designed to help do anything about it.

Scott Pruitt

The leader in what has become a general dismantling of the EPA has been Scott Pruitt, a man who made a name for himself as Oklahoma's Attorney General when he opposed abortion rights, same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act and environmental regulations. He sued the EPA an estimated 14 times before Trump nominated him to head that embattled agency. While Mr. Pruitt has now resigned from that important post under alleged scandal, it was not before he caused extensive damage that may take years to fix.

Pruitt denied the belief by science that carbon dioxide emissions are linked to climate change. He called for a roll back of the Obama Clean Air initiative and fuel efficiency standards for new cars and light trucks. He was busy reversing and delaying a vast number of environmental rules, relaxed the enforcement of existing rules, laid-off staff and literally halted the agency's efforts to combat climate change. He was busy dismantling the EPA at a time when its function of protecting the planet was a critical element in the world battle against climate change and the threat of looming human extinction.

Andrew Wheeler

Pruitt's deputy Andrew Wheeler, now serving as acting EPA chief, may not be much of an improvement. While thought to be more adept than Pruitt at managing the agency, Wheeler is a former lobbyist for coal magnate Robert Murray. He actively lobbied against the Obama Administration's environmental regulations, was an aide to U.S. Senator James Inhofe who denied climate change, and was an outspoken critic of limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Trump also picked Peter C. Wright to help lead the EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management deal with hazardous waste cleanup with the federal Superfund. But Wright is also compromised for this task. For years he served as the legal advisor that specialized in helping Monsanto and Dow Chemical avoid cleaning up their toxic pollution.

Politics and policy also are why the nation no longer places labels on genetically modified foods even though 90 percent of consumers want these labels. The Farm Bill now determines that taxpayers will subsidize the growing of GMO foods but not the growing of healthy, organic regenerative fruits and vegetables.

Most recently the Trump Administration has moved to weaken present auto emissions standards and Trump has publicly declared war against California's emissions standards, considered the toughest in the nation.

It all points to the Trump Administration's campaign to protect multi-billion dollar fuel, food and pharmaceutical industries at the expense of the taxpayers and public health.
(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.

Think Global, Act Local, And Hurry

By Frank Scott

"The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth" ~~~ Pope Francis, Laudato Si

The pope was referring to the physical garbage dump we have made of the planet but he might just as well have been speaking of the dominant western values which are the motivating factor in the creation of that filth. Our adherence to the market forces of capitalism has meant massive private profit in the creation of that "immense pile" which he criticized even if not using the C-word. And the supposed ethical or moral code that supports the system and enjoys a foundation built in part on diverse religious support is as much at fault as any political economic group which employs the professional government, media and religious workers that make its global reality accepted as the seemingly natural work of a market god.

The minority controlled systems that have dominated the world for centuries always created "immense piles of filth" while also allowing enough of their wealth to trickle down to make a professional servant class comfortable enough to maintain the system and control even larger suffering populations. This was and is done at the worst of times by killing people and at the best by clouding their minds with disinformation, legend and propaganda to make it seem that a better tomorrow was wishfully possible under the market divinity even if it wasn't materially probable given reasonably enlightened thought.

The environmental destruction alternately blamed on climate change, alternative systems or an evil leader or CEO is the outcome of treating humanity and our earthly home as commodities in a vast market place where profit accruing to minorities is, according to religious belief, supposed to lead to a better world for everyone when it trickles down to a majority anxiously waiting, hoping and praying that it will fall on them with the nicest among that group hoping that maybe, someday, a little later on, it will fall on everyone else. A system born in the 19th century, at least in its industrial form, which made a rich marketplace of some of the world while reducing most to poverty and degradation only known to its sufferers and tourists who made the wrong turn from their hotels and blundered into the ghetto, has become, at electronic speeds, visible and understandable to more people than ever before.

The mind boggling personal wealth that has grown to the billions of dollars each for a relative handful of people has brought millions below them to a previously unknown comfort level but reduced hundreds of millions more to sinking economic status with poverty and material inequality figures higher than at any time since they began being recorded.

The unbearable stench and deadly quality of the physical and moral filth has become too much for humanity to bear and while not yet reaching the point of direct simultaneous experience, growing numbers of people the world over are rising to say we've seen, breathed and felt enough, we fear the future not only for ourselves but later generations and cannot tolerate the status quo any longer. Growing national movements are becoming global and the threat of humanity rising up against minority control in a way far beyond previous revolutionary movements which were limited to nations alone and easier to destroy is causing a reaction from dominators that threatens even more than past destructions to maintain their control.

Nuclear weapons that helped devastate Japan in the Second World War now menace the entire planet, and near madness prevails among hired warriors who actually think of using them and getting away with destroying others while somehow protecting themselves from nuclear retaliation in a world with many powers so armed.

Only democracy can bring the minority owners of the garbage dump filth under control of the majority, but that near fictional experience for most of humanity, always dangled in front of them as a possibility under cosmetic and drug facades that made eating regularly seem a luxury, still only seems possible to a minority. But without increasing debt, what passes for a shrinking middle class would be skipping rent payments and even meals and as the threat grows greater, the need for a movement that demands equality is even more necessary lest the forces of fake news and phony individualism on which private profits before public good rely become dangerously stronger.

Present focus at the fading but still central office of global capital in America is on a president who represents newer dangers but only in style and hardly substance. The distractions that keep people's minds on him and not the system of capitalism are part of what could bring it to a point at which he means as little as the rest of us facing war with nations or nature that could spell doom for humanity and not simply one or another identity group among our divided race. Those divisions, based on warping minds to not only believe disinformation news but that there is more than one human race, stand between unity that could bring about a better world for all of us, instead of the diminishing returns guaranteed in a market under minority control that will ultimately destroy the same group: all of us.

They may have dominated us into the creation of the pile of physical and moral filth the system has become but we are responsible for creating the democracy necessary to clean it up for ourselves and future generations. No matter how minority owned consciousness control works to make that seem impossible, truly social consciousness can and must prevail to make it not only believable but materially achievable. The old adage to think and act as a planetary member of the human race rather than some isolated individual or small group was never more true, nor materially necessary, nor more possible.
(c) 2018 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears online at the blog Legalienate.

MAGA For Dummies
By Heather Digby Parton

Maybe these folks will be happy to be human sacrifices. But it's a big ask.

Greg Sargent has the latest:

With the exception of the big, beautiful wall that is already being built on the southern border (in President Trump's mind, anyway), the issue that taps most directly into the most visceral strains of Trumpism is his escalating trade war with China. Given how often he preens about his "toughness" toward China before roaring, worshipful rally crowds, it's hard to see how he'll back down, no matter what the consequences.

Numbers provided to me by the Brookings Institution suggest that those consequences will most directly impact the counties that voted for Trump. Indeed, the numbers show that China has taken aggressive steps to sharpen its targeting of Trump counties in the latest round of retaliatory tariffs it just announced.

This morning, Politico reports on the backstory leading up to Trump's trade war. Trump has been ranting for decades about other countries "ripping off" the United States on trade. Now that hostilities are escalating, Politico notes that Trump has "no clear exit strategy and no explicit plans to negotiate new rules of the road with China, leaving the global trade community and financial markets wracked with uncertainty." But Trump loyalists say he's playing a long game and won't buckle. As Stephen K. Bannon puts it, Trump "has preached a confrontation with China for 30 years," making this a "huge moment" that pits "Trump against all of Wall Street."

Despite this phony populist posturing about Trump targeting "Wall Street," Trump counties are the ones most likely to take a hit. The Brookings Institution, which keeps detailed county-by-county data on employment by industry, looked at all the counties that have jobs in industries that China is targeting, and broke them out by counties that voted for Trump and Hillary Clinton. Brookings provided me with this table showing the results:

Nearly two-thirds of the jobs in industries targeted by China's tariffs - a total of more than 1 million jobs - are in more than 2,100 counties that voted for Trump. By contrast, barely more than one-third of the jobs in China-targeted industries - just over half a million - are in the counties that voted for Clinton. (This is based on 2017 county/employment data.) This doesn't mean those jobs will definitely be lost; it means that they are in industries that are getting caught up in Trump's trade war, making them vulnerable, depending on what happens.

China's retaliatory tariffs are mainly aimed at U.S. exports of agricultural and food products such as soybeans, cereal, seafood, meats, fruits and nuts, and dairy, as well as intermediate goods and transport equipment, including vehicles.

Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings who compiled this data, tells me that the jobs targeted by Chinese tariffs include well over 200,000 in poultry processing; nearly 140,000 in other animal slaughtering; over 120,000 in automobile manufacturing; and tens of thousands apiece in industries involving the manufacture of light trucks, utility vehicles and construction machinery, among others. As maps compiled by The Post show, many of these industries are concentrated in the Midwestern heartland and in the South.

The rub here, Muro tells me, is that China's new retaliatory tariffs actually go further in targeting red counties than its previously threatened list did. "These tariffs will touch down in very specific places," Muro said. "They appear calculated to have that effect. In its final iteration the list became significantly more rural and agricultural and red." It's sometimes said that this trade war might have a negligible effect on the U.S. economy overall. But Muro points out to me that, by targeting industries that are particularly important in their geographic areas, the tariffs could have outsize impact in concentrated localities. "These counties rely pretty heavily on these industries," Muro says. "Certain places could be hit quite hard." Red places, to be precise.

As Paul Krugman points out, Trump's trade escalation is built on a foundation of delusions: the idea that trade wars are easy to "win" or that the country with the largest trade surplus has secured some sort of conquering status; the refusal to grasp that disrupting complex international supply chains hurts people on all sides, including U.S. companies and workers; the lie that the United States is getting "ripped off" by punishingly high tariffs. We don't know how far Trump's trade war will go. But given how deeply entangled it has become with Trump's own megalomania and with the simplistic, rage-addled vision he has nursed about international trade for decades, does anyone want to wager that Trump will find a way out anytime soon?

Nope. But it's always possible that they'll find a way to rationalize the whole thing as something Obama and Clinton did to them. Trump will almost certainly find a way to blame someone else, even aside from the Chinese or the Canadians or some other foreign country. It's how he rolls.
(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.

With programs like Seafood Progress, consumers can support retailers that follow best practices,
while retailers can demonstrate corporate responsibility and help the seafood industry progress toward sustainability.

Assessing Seafood Retailers' Progress Helps Consumers And Industry
By David Suzuki

A warm summer day, a cold drink and fish on the grill. It doesn't get much better. But how do you know if your fish is sustainable? It can be a challenge - especially considering SeaChoice found just 11 per cent of seafood available in Canada in 2016 was rated as a "best choice." Many retailers have sustainable seafood policies, but how good are they? To help consumers choose wisely, SeaChoice used to rank seafood using a traffic light system - red (avoid), yellow (some concerns) and green (best choice). U.S.-based Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program and Canada's Ocean Wise continue to offer similar rankings. SeaChoice recently launched its Seafood Progress online resource to shift the focus to retailers, but with consumers in mind.

Although all major Canadian retailers have made a commitment to sustainable seafood, their products and definitions of "sustainable" vary, which can make consumer choices difficult. Using information from retailers and public sources, SeaChoice - a Living Oceans Society, Ecology Action Centre and David Suzuki Foundation partnership - is applying 22 performance indicators to assess sustainable seafood commitments made by Buy-Low Foods, Costco, Co-op, Loblaws, Metro, Save-On-Foods, Safeway, Sobeys and Walmart Canada. The indicators are based on "six steps that form the vision for sustainable seafood developed by environmental groups across North America."

According to the Seafood Progress Year 1 report, "The average assessment scores show that while most retailers have detailed policies and are collecting important information about the seafood they source, they can do a better job increasing transparency by making that information public and supporting improvements to fisheries and fish farms." In other words, they may have policies, but without transparency, it's difficult to know if they're living up to them.

Although all major Canadian retailers have made a commitment to sustainable seafood, their products and definitions of "sustainable" vary, which can make consumer choices difficult.

On average, retailers did well on three of the six steps: Make a public commitment, collect data and source responsibly. Some needed improvement on two steps: Be transparent and educate. All scored lower on the sixth: Support improvements. The last is important in bringing about changes on the water. "If retailers are going to sell some of the more unsustainable seafood products available in Canada, they should be taking action to improve fisheries and farm practices," the report says. The assessments will help retailers strengthen their policies, give them more opportunities to work with suppliers to improve fisheries and aquaculture practices, and help consumers make better choices. As well as environmental issues, SeaChoice also analyzed retailer's social responsibility commitments and recommends that most retailers "take action to confirm that no human rights abuses or labour violations are taking place in their supply chain."

SeaChoice recommends retailers label products with "the species' scientific (Latin) name, country of origin, whether it is wild or farmed, and the gear type or farming method," but found that only one retailer, Metro, included such comprehensive information. It might seem like a lot to put on a label, but the European Union requires all retailers to meet these standards. To illustrate the need for comprehensive labelling, including the scientific name, SeaChoice found more than 200 rockfish species can be sold as snapper and 58 per cent of rockfish sampled from Canadian retailers was mislabelled.

The assessments will help retailers strengthen their policies, give them more opportunities to work with suppliers to improve fisheries and aquaculture practices, and help consumers make better choices.

Seafood Progress is designed in part to encourage retailers to live up to and improve their seafood procurement policies, and in doing so improve production practices overall. But it also allows consumers to click on a particular retailer to learn how ambitious its environmental sustainability, social responsibility and traceability aims are, and how well it's meeting its commitments.

Oceans and the life they support face many threats, from pollution and climate change to ever-increasing ship traffic and noise. Aquaculture has the potential to take some pressure off wild seafood stocks, but it also brings its own challenges, including escapes, pollution and parasite and disease transmission to wild fish.

Choosing fish, shellfish and seaweed products that don't add to the threats is made difficult by the many factors that determine sustainability. With programs like Seafood Progress, consumers can support retailers that follow best practices, while retailers can demonstrate corporate responsibility and help the seafood industry progress toward sustainability.

If we manage fisheries and aquaculture operations properly, we can continue to enjoy these important food sources for generations to come.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

This President* Never Deserves The Benefit Of The Doubt
Not in his actions, and not in whom he appoints to his administration* or the judicial bench.
By Charles P. Pierce

Over the weekend, there was some slanging and banging on the electric Twitter machine over a very interesting topic: whether or not it is Good Journalism to continue to cover extensively the president*'s gin-up-the-rubes rallies, at which he says the same stuff, over and over again, as though there is any real news value in anything said by this moldy bag of old resentments.

One side argued, with some logic, that, like it or not, the guy is the president* and what he says has inherent news value simply because he says it. The other side argued that he is still Donald Trump, and that, among our presidents, he is uniquely unqualified, uniquely uninformed, uniquely unoriginal, and, most important, uniquely compromised, although to what extent we won't know until Robert Mueller unleashes the hounds this fall. Therefore, goes this line of thinking, covering this guy as though he were Dwight Eisenhower, or W.H. Taft, or James K. Polk-which is to say, giving him the benefit of the doubts that accrue to his office-is to obscure the unique threat to our institutions that this president* embodies with a cloud of dangerous political banality.

Any action taken by this president* while in office should be considered prima facie as either corrupt or incompetent until proven otherwise. Anybody hired by this administration* should be considered prima facie unqualified for the job given to them. And any judges nominated should be considered prima facie unworthy of having been nominated simply on the basis of the president* who nominated them.

The phrase is, "sui generis." Get used to it.

I understand that, in practical terms, there are few ways to act on these assumptions. (Although I think it behooves major news organizations to rethink volunteering to get jerked around at the rallies week after week.) The government must be staffed. The courts must function. But we all must be aware that all of that is being done in the most radically different-and radically perilous-political context that the country has seen since the run-up to the Civil War, and we must insist that the institutions of government act on that awareness as best they possibly can. That means that every fight is worthy no matter how futile. Even if all you're doing is creating a historical record, that's worth doing. The institutions of government, and the people operating them, have to stand up just to stand up.

This is one way to do it: Doug Jones, the rookie Democratic senator from Alabama, declined the invitation to come to the White House and be one of the Democratic mooks standing with the president*. This is an even better way to do it, from Robert Casey, Jr., the pro-life Democratic senator from Pennsylvania:

I will oppose the nomination the president will makes tonight because it represents a corrupt bargain with the far right, big corporations, and Washington special interests. Casey announced his opposition to whoever the candidate was, based on both the president* who nominated said candidate, and the political apparatus to which the president* had subcontracted the job. Period. That's the real thing there.

Another horn of this dilemma is that it requires everyone to stop pretending that Trumpism is an aberration, a mutant form of Republicanism, instead of the perfectly predictable product of an evolutionary process deliberately begun in the late 1970s, when Republican conservatism absorbed the still-vital remnants of American apartheid and allied itself with newly politicized splinter Protestantism.

In this, the coming debate over the Supreme Court is utterly dispositive. The assault on reproductive rights, on voting rights, on environmental regulations, and on the rights of labor have been consistent Republican offensives for four decades. The legal underpinning of these assaults has been carefully developed and nurtured by a conservative legal establishment richly financed by corporate sugar parents. There is nothing being done as regards the judiciary by President* Trump that would not have been done by a President Cruz, a President Walker or, yes, a President Kasich.

This president* is nothing more than a grotesque exaggeration of processes that were underway long before he got to town. He merely built on a foundation already laid. He merely tapped into the energy that already was flowing. He merely shouted his slanders more crudely and through a bigger media megaphone than any ever granted to a politician of his era.

(Tell me, all you Bush Administration NeverTrumpers now d/b/a cable analysts, how loudly did you protest the slandering of John Kerry within the hierarchy of the 2004 re-election campaign? Thought so.)

However, all of that sad history does not mitigate the unique peril that this president* presents to the present and the future of the American republic. It has to stop, all of it, now, before it's too late.
(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...

"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
~~~ Isaac Asimov

Silicon Valley Will Not Save You From The Surveillance State
By David Swanson

There was something quite odd about the very welcome news that some Google employees were objecting to a military contract, namely all the other Google military contracts. My sense of the oddness of this was heightened by reading Yasha Levine's new book, Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet. I invited Levine on my radio show (it will air in the coming weeks) and asked him what he thought was motivating the revolt over at Google. Were they objecting to a particular kind of weapon, in the manner that some people rather bizarrely object to drones only if they are automated but not if a human pushes the murder button? Were they actually clueless about their own company?

Levine's answer requires investigation but certainly makes an interesting hypothesis. He said that all during the Obama years, the tech press and community aired no concerns whatsoever about militarism, whereas since the arrival of Trump such talk is to be heard and read. Levine maintains that Google employees do not object to militarism, they object to Trumpian militarism.

I had hoped for and wrongly predicted this phenomenon in the general public the moment Trump gained the throne. Is it possible that it's finally begun, but begun in Silicon Valley?

Levine's book describes Google and other internet corporations as major military and spy contractors from the beginning. Google partnered with Lockheed Martin on parts of the war on Iraq and is a major partner of the military, the CIA, the NSA, etc. Surveillance Valley goes back to the post-WWII origins of today's military madness. Military experiments as preparation for war, "field tested" in Vietnam, and supported by President Kennedy as appropriately hi-tech and modern, were actually war and developed into one of the worst wars ever seen. Vietnam was mass-surveilled - or the attempt was made and foiled with bags of urine and other low-tech tricks.

Tools developed in Vietnam were immediately applied against U.S. citizens, especially those trying to improve the United States in any way. And the overabundance of data drove the development of computers that could handle it. Spying on everyone is not an enterprise tacked onto the computerized world; it's why we have a computerized world. Arpanet is not a secretive predecessor of the internet that was used by the military and became known after the internet mushroomed. It's a project that was publicly reported on as a major mass surveillance threat in 1975. The connecting of computers with each other was feared as a tool of tyranny. Congressional hearings were held.

By the 1990s computer wizardry, which had been seen as an arm of a threatening military-police state was romanticized as rebellious "hacking," an image transformation the enormity of which has been overlooked because we're in it. Nowadays the supposed inability of certain computers to be hooked up together is used as an excuse for keeping refugee kids separated from their families, and our immediate reaction is to say: Well hook those computers together, already!

The internet was not just developed in large part by the military, but also privately for the military. It was privatized without much public debate, an enormous giveaway to which the destruction of net-neutrality is just a final scene. The search and advertising interests of companies like Google have long overlapped almost exactly the surveillance interests of the U.S. government, while so contradicting the public image desired by Google that Google has kept its basic functions tightly secret.

That changed in a way when Edward Snowden revealed that all our favorite internet companies were working with the NSA on its PRISM program to spy on us. But, as Levine recounts and objects to, Snowden chose for his libertarian ideological reasons not to support any legal regulation of these "private," contracted companies. He chose to blame only the government and to in fact promote private companies as the answer, technology as the ultimate solution.

But Levine shows that Tor and Signal and other companies that Snowden and many others promote as a means to protect your privacy from the government (as well as to hide all kinds of immoral and criminal enterprises) have themselves been U.S. military projects from the start, are themselves U.S. military contractors, and also do not work - at least not remotely to the extent that people tend to imagine. I'll leave debating the details of Tor to those capable of and interested in such matters, but will simply note a few obvious points.

First, nonviolent activist organizing succeeds when it is open and public and grows large. Secrecy has always been a danger to organizing, and technology doesn't change that.

Second, there has never been an arms or technology race in which one side achieved permanent eternal victory, and it makes no sense for well-intentioned whistleblowers and journalists to imagine they've achieved such a thing.

Third, even lacking such magical technological weapons (or what Levine calls the NRA solution to social problems: everybody get a good gun) we do have other tools at our disposal, including honesty, courage, factual and moral persuasion, community, inspiring models of caring and success, and of course the open internet to any extent that it remains open.
(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.

No Joke
Getting serious about Syria
By Jane Stillwater

Remember back to that very sad day when you finally found out that there wasn't any Santa Claus? That everything your parents had ever told you about Santa Claus was a lie? And not only that, but then you also found out that millions of other kids in America, just like you, had been systematically lied to as well? And that the culture of an entire nation has colluded to make YOU believe in cute little elves and Mrs. Santa and chimneys and cookies after midnight and some happy workshop at the North Pole....

And then one day your mean older sister gleefully told you, "Guess what? It was all a big fat lie. There is no Santa. Sucker!"

And we Americans have also been systematically taken in by that other fantasy myth about what is happening in Syria right now as well. "That evil Assad! America is saving the world for democracy! Good guys always wear White Helmets!" I hate to be the one to burst your bubble for you -- but none of that particular fairy tale is true either. And the really sad thing about all this myth-bedtime-story-lie about Syria that we've been coerced into believing is that we are no longer children. We are adults now. There is absolutely no excuse for us to still believe in Santa Claus -- or to still believe that whatever they tell us on the six o'clock news about Syria is even anywhere near true. "Mommy, please tell me that story again about Assad being a horrid boogieman in Syria -- please, Mommy?" And so Mommy once again tells us just what we want to hear

"Once upon a time..."

But the actually real truth is that the boogeyman in Syria is actually America. What a joke on us! Or at least it would be if the horrendous death toll in Syria doesn't keep growing and rising every single hour of every single day -- and not just on Christmas.

"But Jane," you might say, "have you any evidence?" Good grief yes! International news, social media, eye-witness accounts -- all of that stuff practically screams out at us "There is no Santa!" And also that "Assad isn't a dictator either. And Saudi Arabia and Israel are. And you've been had. And all this will cost you your future and your self-respect and you freaking belief in the Tooth Fairy too!"

But no. Americans still insist on teaching their children to believe in Santa Claus. "What harm does it do?" No harm at all. Have fun with it -- as long as we adults don't start believing it too. And vast amounts of harm does accrue when we adults still keep believing that America's "war" on Syria is anything but the sadistic, greedy and tragic misadventure that it actually is.

It's time for Americans to block up the Pentagon's chemical-factory chimney and put Lockheed's deadly milk and cookies away. And those are NOT benevolent Boeing reindeer out flying happily over sweet little Syria with sleighs loaded with Christmas presents for all. Those are American F16 bombers carrying billions of dollars worth of deadly "payloads". Those are American chemical attacks. Those are tons of American weapons found in the hands of ISIS. Over 600,000 Syrians are d-e-a-d because of this myth.

It is time to get serious about Syria.

PS: It is also time to get serious about America's reality too. We are currently over TWENTY TRILLION DOLLARS in debt. That would equal enough $100 bills to wallpaper the entire state of Idaho -- three inches deep. And at least a trillion of those mysteriously-disappearing dollars have been spent on deep-fat-frying Syrian babies and keeping ISIS afloat. Is this really the way that we want to squander America's money? Really?

I'm truly surprised that hordes of Americans carrying torches and pitchforks haven't descended on Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court already. But myths are powerful things -- nothing to joke around with. And Americans have been totally hooked on this myth.

PPS: A friend of mine just drove me through the heart of the horrific California-Oregon border fire destruction. It looked like a war zone. And if this is what "war" looks like, then America needs to be more careful what it pays for in the Middle East.

Lindsey Graham just gave his same old tired rehashed doggerel speech in Syria that I heard him give in Iraq ten years ago -- about how American forces need to stay in (fill in the blank) so that (add some cheesy reason here that involves weapons manufacturers and greed).
(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...

Brett gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Volksjudge Kavanaugh,

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 hatred of the poor, black and Mexicans, 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 Kavanaugh, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

What We Can Do About Trump's Escalating Lies
By Robert Reich

As the political season heats up, Trump is ramping up his lies through his three amplifiers: Fox News, rallies, and Twitter.

According to The Fact Checker's database, the average daily rate of Trump's false or misleading claims is climbing.

The problem isn't just the number or flagrancy of the lies - for example, that Putin and the Russians didn't intervene in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, or that the Mueller investigation is part of a Democratic plot to remove him.

And it's not just that the lies are about big, important public issues - for example, that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans, or trade wars are harmless.

The biggest problem is his lies aren't subject to the filters traditionally applied to presidential statements - a skeptical press, experts who debunk falsehoods, and respected politicians who publicly disagree.

The word "media" comes from the term "intermediate" - that is, to come between someone who makes the news and the public who receives it.

But Trump doesn't hold press conferences. He doesn't meet in public with anyone who disagrees with him. He denigrates the mainstream press. And he shuns experts.

Instead, his lies go out to tens of millions of Americans every day unmediated.

TV and radio networks simply rebroadcast his rallies, or portions of them.

At his most recent rally in Great Falls, Montana, Trump made 98 factual statements. According to the Washington Post's fact checkers, 76 percent of them were false, misleading or unsupported by evidence.

For example, Trump claimed that "winning the Electoral College is very tough for a Republican, much tougher than the so-called ‘popular vote,' where people vote four times, you know."

The claim ricocheted across the country even though countless studies have shown that Trump's of widespread voter fraud and abuse are simply not borne out by the facts.

Meanwhile, over 50 million Americans receive his daily tweets, which are also brimming with lies.

Recently, for example, Trump tweeted that Democrats were responsible for his administration's policy of separating migrant families at the border (they weren't), and that "crime in Germany is way up" because of migration (in fact, it's down).

Around 6 million Americans watch Fox News each day and relate what they see and hear to their friends and relations.

Fox News is no longer intermediating between the public and Trump. Fox News is Trump. Many of his lies originate with Fox News; Fox News amplifies the ones that originate with Trump.

Fox News's Sean Hannity is one of Trump's de facto top advisers. Trump has just appointed Bill Shine, the former number two at Fox News, as his deputy chief of staff for communications.

No democracy can function under a continuous bombardment of unmediated lies.

So what are we to do, other than vote November 6 to constrain Trump?

First, boycott Fox News's major sponsors, listed here. Vote with your wallet and starve the beast. Get others to join you.

Second, attend Trump's rallies, as distasteful as this may be. You're entitled to attend. He is, after all, the president of the entire country.

Organize and mobilize large groups to attend with you. Once there, let your views about his lies be heard and seen by the press. You can find out when and where his rallies will occur here. Third, sign up for his tweets, and respond to his lies with the simple: "b.s." You can sign up here.

Fourth, write to Twitter and tell its executives to stop enabling Trump's lies. Its contact information is here. In addition, as the Times' Farhad Manjoo suggested recently, Twitter's employees should be encouraged to make a ruckus - as did Amazon workers who pushed the firm to stop selling facial recognition services to law enforcement agencies, and Google employees who pressured Google not to renew a Pentagon contract for artificial intelligence.

Twitter defines its mission as providing a "healthy public conversation." Let them know that demagoguery isn't healthy.

Your vote on November 6 is the key, of course.

But as the political season heats up, Trump's lies are heating up, too. And they will sway unwary voters.

So you need to be active now, before Election Day - on behalf of the truth.
(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 Con Of Diversity
By Chris Hedges

In 1970, when black students occupied the dean's office at Harvard Divinity School to protest against the absence of African-American scholars on the school's faculty, the white administration was forced to respond and interview black candidates. It asked James Cone, the greatest theologian of his generation, to come to Cambridge, Mass., for a meeting. But the white power structure had no intention of offering Cone a job. To be black, in its eyes, was bad enough. To be black, brilliant and fiercely independent was unpalatable. And so the job was given to a pliable African-American candidate who had never written a book, a condition that would remain unchanged for the more than three decades he taught at Harvard.

Harvard got what it wanted. Mediocrity in the name of diversity. It was a classic example of how the white power structure plays people of color. It decides whom to promote and whom to silence. When then-Maj. Colin Powell helped cover up the 1968 massacre of some 500 civilians at My Lai in Vietnam he was assured a glittering career in the Army. When Barack Obama proved obedient to the Chicago political machine, Wall Street and the Democratic Party establishment he was promoted to the U.S. Senate and the presidency.

Diversity in the hands of the white power elites-political and corporate-is an advertising gimmick. A new face, a brand, gets pushed out front, accompanied by the lavish financial rewards that come with serving the white power structure, as long as the game is played. There is no shortage of women (Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Donna Brazile), Latinos (Tom Perez and Marco Rubio) or blacks (Vernon Jordan, Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson) who sell their souls for a taste of power.

Ta-Nehisi Coates in his book "We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy" writes that "Barack Obama is directly responsible for the rise of a crop of black writers and journalists who achieved prominence during his two terms." But this was true only for those black writers like Coates and Michael Eric Dyson who were obsequious cheerleaders for Obama. If, like Cornel West, you were black and criticized Obama you were isolated and attacked by Obama surrogates as a race traitor.

"For those who didn't support Obama it was the lonely time," said Glen Ford, the executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, when we spoke recently. "It's like A.D. and B.C. Before Obama time, my politics reflected that of a black commentator, probably within a respectable black political spectrum. I'm looking at a fax, 'NAACP September 8, 2007. NAACP regional leader.' I got this after giving a keynote speech in Little Rock, Ark., in commemoration of the events in Little Rock in '57. You see what I'm saying? I could do that, even as late as 2007. Then Obama happened. It was a wonderful time for people who endorsed Obama. If you didn't endorse Obama, you were verboten in the community. All of a sudden you were ostracized."

The absence of genuine political content in our national discourse has degraded it to one between racists and people who don't want to be identified as racists. The only winners in this self-destructive cat fight are corporations such as Goldman Sachs, whose interests no American can vote against, along with elite institutions dedicated to perpetuating the plutocracy. Drew G. Faust, the first woman president of Harvard University, whose appointment represented a triumph for diversity, upon her retirement was appointed to the board of Goldman Sachs, a role for which she will receive compensation totaling over half a million dollars a year. A new and "diverse" group of Democratic Party candidates, over half of whom have been recruited from the military, the CIA, the National Security Council and the State Department, is hoping to rise to political power based on the old con.

"It's an insult to the organized movements of people these institutions claim to want to include," Ford said. "These institutions write the script. It's their drama. They choose the actors, whatever black, brown, yellow, red faces they want."

"I don't think a black left should be investing any political capital or energy into getting Barack Obamas into a Harvard," Ford said, "or believing it can transform Harvard or any of these ruling-class universities from the inside out, any more than it can transform the Democratic Party from the inside out."

Ford points out that "diversity" has been substituted by the white power elites for "affirmative action." And, he argues, diversity and affirmative action are radically different. The replacement of affirmative action with diversity, he says, effectively "negates African-American history as a legal basis for redress."

Once the Supreme Court in its 1978 Bakke decision outlawed "quotas" for racial minorities, ruling institutions were freed from having to establish affirmative action programs that would have guaranteed a space for those traditionally excluded. The Trump administration's recent reversal of an Obama-era policy that called on universities to consider race as a factor in admissions is an attempt to eradicate even diversity. President Trump and his racist enablers, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are resegregating America.

"You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, 'You are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe you have been completely fair ... ," President Lyndon Johnson said in 1965 to the graduating class of Howard University. "This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity-not just legal equity but human ability-not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result."

Johnson's call, along with that of Martin Luther King Jr., was swiftly sabotaged by white, liberal elites, who divorced racial justice from economic justice. White liberals could live with laws prohibiting segregation but not with giving up some of their financial and social privilege.

"White liberals are not seeking justice," Ford said. "They're seeking absolution. Anything that absolves them of responsibility for what this society has done, they welcome it. They're hungry for it."

"The legal, as well as moral, basis for affirmative action lay in the culpability of the United States and all of its layers of government in the enslavement and Jim Crow 'hobbling' of African-Americans-a unique history of oppression of a specific people that requires institutional redress," Ford has written. "Otherwise, the legacies of these crimes will reproduce themselves, in mutating forms, into infinity. Once the specificity of the Black American grievance was abandoned, affirmative action became a general catch-all of various historical wrongs. Stripped of its core, affirmative action morphed into 'diversity,' a vessel for various aggrieved groups that was politically versatile (and especially useful to the emerging Black deal makers of electoral and corporate politics), but no longer rooted in Black realities. The affirmative action of Dr. King and President Johnson was a species of reparations, a form of redress for specific and eminently documentable harms done to African Americans, as a people. It was understood as a social debt owed to a defined class."

" 'Diversity,' " Ford wrote, "recognizes no such debt to a particular people, or to any people at all. Rather, its legal basis is the 'compelling interest' of public institutions in a diversified student body (or faculty)."

Diversity does not force the white power structure to address racial injustice or produce results within the black underclass. This feint to diversity was abetted, Ford points out, by black elitists who found positions for themselves in the power structure in exchange for walking away from the poor and marginalized.

Ford calls these black elitists "representationalists" who "want to see some black people represented in all sectors of leadership, in all sectors of society. They want black scientists. They want black movie stars. They want black scholars at Harvard. They want blacks on Wall Street. But it's just representation. That's it."

The plague of diversity lies at the core of our political dysfunction. The Democratic Party embraces it. Donald Trump's Republican Party repudiates it. But as a policy it is a diversion. Diversity has done little to ameliorate the suffering of the black underclass. Most blacks are worse off than when King marched in Selma. African-Americans have lost over half of their wealth since the financial collapse of 2008 because of falling homeownership rates and job loss. They have the highest rate of poverty at 27.4 percent, followed by Hispanics at 26.6 percent and whites at 9.9 percent. And 45.8 percent of black children under 6 live in poverty, compared with 14.5 percent of white children in that age group. Forty percent of the nation's homeless are African-Americans although blacks make up only 13 percent of our population. African-Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites.

Diversity does not halt the stripping away of our civil liberties, the assault on our ecosystem or the punishing effects of mandated austerity and deindustrialization. It does not confront imperialism. Diversity is part of the mechanics of colonialism. A genuine revolutionary, Patrice Lumumba, was replaced with the pliant and corrupt Mobutu Sese Seko. Both were black. But one fought the colonial tyrants and the other served them. A political agenda built solely around "diversity" is a smokescreen for injustice.

The victory by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over the powerful Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary in Brooklyn last month is not a victory for diversity, although Ocasio-Cortez is a woman of color. It is a victory of political substance over the empty rhetoric of the Democratic Party. Ocasio-Cortez defied the party establishment as an avowed member of the Democratic Socialists of America. She could not even get a pre-election endorsement from Bernie Sanders, her mentor. She calls for Medicare for all, the abolishment of ICE, a federal jobs program and an end to the wars in the Middle East and has denounced Israel's massacre of unarmed Palestinians. She stands for something. And it is only when we stand for something, including reparations for African-Americans, that we have a chance to dismantle corporate tyranny.

"I've always felt, in the early '60s when I was just a kid, that the silent partner, sometimes reluctant although still a partner, in the civil rights movement were the corporations who wanted a unified market," Ford said. "Jim Crow was a big anomaly in terms of creating a more unified market in the United States. You can't have an Atlanta skyline, with its magnificent elevators, with Jim Crow. Not only would Atlanta not be an international city, it couldn't be a national city with Jim Crow. The corporate forces wanted to break down Jim Crow and explicit color discrimination. It standardized the market. This is what capitalists do. The Democratic Party is not behaving any differently than the corporations over the past 50 years."

"I'm not worried by the Trump phenomenon," Ford said. "That doesn't scare me. It's disconcerting. But it doesn't scare me. I'm far more afraid of the space that it gives to the corporatists. It's to their advantage. Trump defines the white man's party's space. It's big. It's no joke. It can win presidential elections. It can win again. It needs money from corporate Republicans, but it doesn't need anything else from them. The white man's party more clearly defines the space the Democrats claim. It's everybody who is not an overt racist."

"I don't think Trump will ever beat Obama's records in terms of deportation," Ford went on. "We should be fighting U.S. immigration policy. But that isn't Trump. We should be organizing against Amazon taking over a whole city. But that isn't Trump. Will Trump's next pick for the Supreme Court be different from any pick that a Republican would make? In fact, because he's crazy, he might fuck up and make a bad pick for himself. He ain't deep enough to pick the worst guy. He hasn't read the Federalist Papers."
(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
~~~ R.J. Matson ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Torches And Pitchforks
By Will Durst

The Republicans attack with torches and pitchforks and the Democratic response is to introduce legislation to reform pitchfork safety standards.

You don't need 20/20 vision to see that the whole world is waiting for the Democratic Party to push back against the tyrannical tendencies of the Trump administration. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Those of you with weak stomachs need to avert your eyes and keep all children sequestered behind closed doors at least until after the midterms are over. Because the current state of the American Opposition Party, well, it ain't pretty.

These pitiable progressives have managed to combine ineffectiveness with indecision. Add a sprinkle of incipient infirmity and a soupcon of both inert and inept, and you end up with a recipe for impotency, irrelevancy and extinction. A message that their candidates are finding increasingly difficult to sell to concerned constituents. "Join the Democrats. Just like you, we're confused too."

Watching them desperately bumble about these days is scarier than finding scorpions in your underwear. Like a letter from the IRS with a big red "Urgent!" stamped on the outside of the envelope. Or the sound of a gun being cocked in the dark. Nearby.

If this current liberal narrative were being chronicled on the big screen, it would qualify as the most boring horror movie ever made: another "Saw" sequel but one in which everyone sits around talking to their detached limbs and absolutely nothing happens. They are "The Walking Dead" without all the light-hearted slapstick.

There is a growing consensus the Democratic Party should be stripped of the word "party" as it doesn't really apply anymore. Certainly doesn't fit in terms of celebration. There's no frolicking or joviality or joy. Just finger-pointing, recrimination, and whining. Lots and lots of whining. "We can't fight like him, we have morals."

Then again, if you mean "party" in terms of a gathering of like-minded individuals, that too, leaves quite a bit to be desired. More like a loose collection of misfits who cluster together for the sole purpose of claiming not to like President Donald Trump. Or each other. And that's about it. They don't really stand for anything, not even the National Anthem.

You can't even accuse Democrats of being afraid of their own shadow, because at this point they don't cast one. Besides, it's hard to see your shadow when your head is so far up your butt you can tickle your spleen with your elbow.

Not only are they not in the game, they don't seem to be aware that one is being played. The Republicans attack with torches and pitchforks and the Democratic response is to introduce legislation to reform pitchfork safety standards.

"You should put corks on those. Phosphorescent for nighttime visibility. And if you insist on carrying torches, they need to be flame-resistant. At least one and three-quarters inches long. Should come in for around $12 a piece. I know a guy who knows a guy that can knock them out for six."

So if you're waiting for Democrats to stand up to this wanna-be third world strongman and establish any sort of resistance at all, you'd best be advised not to hold your breath unless you enjoy that certain bluish look most often associated with people no longer eligible for social security benefits due to the fact they've become altogether much too skinny and dead.
(c) 2018 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former Pizza Hut assistant manager. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, "Durst Case Scenario," please visit:

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 27 (c) 07/13/2018

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