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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi concludes, "A Year After Trump's Election, Nothing Has Changed."

Uri Avnery recalls, "Two Meetings."

Glen Ford remembers when, "The Democrats Used To Love Russian Oligarchs."

William Rivers Pitt examines, "The Year Since Trump's Election, As Explained By Bad Pizza."

Jim Hightower asks, "Why Reward Bad Corporate Behavior With More Tax Breaks?"

John Nichols concedes, "The Best Way For Democrats To Show Their Disgust With Roy Moore Is By Going All-In For Doug Jones."

James Donahue considers, "The College Trap."

Bernie Sanders says, "We Need A Truly Grassroots Democratic Party: A Call for DNC Chair Tom Perez To Implement Findings Of #UnityReformCommission."

Heather Digby Parton finds, "Moore And Trump Both Had Eyes For The Young Ones."

David Suzuki reports, "U.S. Climate Report Leaves Little Room for Doubt."

Charles P. Pierce explains, "Roy Moore Is Exactly What The Republican Party Is All About."

David Swanson discovers, "U.S. Mass Shooters Are Disproportionately Veterans."

Medea Benjamin explores, "While Clinching Deals With Communist China, Trump Cracks Down On Trade And Travel To Cuba."

Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich considers, "Patriotism, Taxes, And Trump."

Chris Hedges with a must read, "RT America Torched In Witch Hunt '17."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz finds, "Mueller Immediately Closes Investigation After Hearing Putin Proclaim His Innocence," but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Alabama Prepares To Elect A Racist, Child Molester, To The United States Senate!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Dan Wasserman, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Daryl Cagle, Chip Somodevilla, Joe Raedle, Raja Sambasivan, Mikhail Klimentyev, RT America, TASS, Reuters, Shutterstock, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, 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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Alabama Prepares To Elect A Racist, Child Molester, To The United States Senate!
By Ernest Stewart

"I believe the women." ~~~ Mitch McConnell

"Global carbon dioxide emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period. This is very disappointing."
~~~ Corinne Le Quere ~ director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia

"...I no longer believe that we were able to conduct an appropriate investigation of the [Central Intelligence] Agency and its relationship to Oswald.... We now know that the Agency withheld from the Warren Commission the CIA–Mafia plots to kill Castro. Had the commission known of the plots, it would have followed a different path in its investigation. The Agency unilaterally deprived the commission of a chance to obtain the full truth, which will now never be known. Significantly, the Warren Commission's conclusion that the agencies of the government co-operated with it is, in retrospect, not the truth. We also now know that the Agency set up a process that could only have been designed to frustrate the ability of the committee in 1976–79 to obtain any information that might adversely affect the Agency. Many have told me that the culture of the Agency is one of prevarication and dissimulation and that you cannot trust it or its people. Period. End of story. I am now in that camp."
~~~ Robert Blakey, The Chief Counsel ~ The United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations.

"It is better to give than receive -- especially advice" ~~~ Mark Twain

Twice removed Alabama supreme court justice and five timed alleged child molester Roy Moore is looking like a shoo-in, in next months Senate election to fill Jeff Sessions old Senate seat.

Besides being a child molester Roy is a hard core religious nut case. You may recall his 2 1/2 ton statue of the 10 commandments he had installed in the Alabama supreme court building. All other religions are false, except for his, oh course. So Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and the like had to watch out in Roy's court. He got elected twice, and removed twice so I have my doubts that a qualified candidate like Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. Attorney who made his name prosecuting Klansmen and domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph, could pull out a win a-way-down-yonder in Alabama.

For those of you who aren't hip to Roy here are some of his thoughts:
"False religions like Islam who teach that you must worship this way are completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for." Actually Roy that's exactly what it stands for!

"But separation of church and state was never meant to separate God and government." Once again Roy that's exactly what it means!

"Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting." Red and Yellows, WTF Roy?

"Homosexual conduct should be illegal. Homosexual behavior is crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one's ability to describe it, and would render him or her an unfit parent." So no kids for gays and lesbians? As George Takei might say, "Oh my!"
I could go on, but life is short! The folks in Alabama are going to send Roy to the US Senate regardless of those thoughts and his penchants for little girls. Ergo, I say the next time Alabama wants to sucede from the union, we let them!

In Other News

I see where on Monday the Global Carbon Project released a report showing that 2017 saw about a 2 percent increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, with such emissions hitting an all time high.

This increase, the group found in a series of peer reviewed studies published Monday, is likely due to an uptick in emissions from China and other developing nations, including a rise in the use of coal worldwide compared to the preceding few years.

The bottom line message of the report is a sobering one. While policy makers are meeting in Bonn to hammer out the rules under the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, it turns out that the world is careening further and further away from the Paris temperature goals.

Global warming will also bring deadly storms to England and the United States by 2100, a study has found.

In warming climates, mid-latitude storms will travel further toward the poles before they reach their maximum intensity, and this, scientists say, will be the "new normal."

The study suggests that impacts on weather and climate will be strongest in regions close to the northeastern ocean boundaries, such as the United Kingdom and the US west coast.

The researchers say, "While the storms will not have the power of tropical cyclones like Hurricane Harvey, which hit Houston, Texas in August, or Ophelia, which hit the UK and Ireland in October, the weather events still have the potential to be deadly."

It just keeps getting worse and worse at a faster clip than what caring politicians can fix and Trump is far from caring. If you want him to do something about this nightmare you must show him how he can make more money fighting global warming than what the polluters can pay him to ignore it!

And Finally

It's that time of the year again when folks my age might stop and recall where they were when the Crime Family Bush murdered JFK in Dallas. I was in 9th grade and walking to the next class when our metal shop teacher, the very macho Mr. Marx came running down the hall crying like a baby shouting they killed the President! Two daze later, I was watching live TV of the transfer of Oswald with my grandmother when Ruby shot him. You just don't get live murder on TV anymore!

You may recall when Papa Smirk ran the two four man CIA hit teams that murdered Kennedy in Dealey Plaza back in 1963 and then set up CIA stooge Lee Harvey Oswald to take the fall, and then be murdered by Mafia hit man Jack Ruby. You recall just before the sanction went down, the Secret Service pulled all of their men from the Lincoln just before the hit and later planted the "magic bullet" on the stretcher in the hospital and then later stole the x-rays that showed Kennedy was killed by a shot from in front of the limo, proving conspiracy.

All this you'll remember was further covered up by the Warren Commission by the traitor, Gerald Ford, who was rewarded for his bit in the coverup by being made President, so he could pardon "The Trick," Allen Welsh Dulles former CIA head and good friend of the Crime Family Bush, and John J. McCloy, former President of the World Bank. These three kept the commission on track and any hint of a conspiracy off the table with Ford insisting again and again that it was a lone gunman. You may also recall that it was later found by the HSCA that there was a forth shot fired from the Grassy Knoll that blew out JFK's brains across the trunk of the limo. You may remember Jackie crawling out on the trunk to recover the brain matter as the lino sped off. All of which can be clearly seen in the Zapruda film.

You may also recall that the members of the conspiracy included Roger Blough of US Steel, Air Force General Curtis Lemay, and Lyndon Baines Johnson! Since then every President, including Trump, has gone along with whatever the ruling elite wants. You may recall that the Donald held back the evidence that would have proved the conspiracy. Isn't it great to be an, American?

Keepin' On

It's that time of week again when I'd rather under go dental work without the cocaine. A long, drawn-out session of drilling and poking is far more enjoyable than coming here every week to beg for a few alms to keep us afloat. Jack Nicholson in "The Little Shop Of Horrors" I am NOT! There's not a masochistic bone in my body, but that would be preferable to this, folks!

Be that as it may, here I am, cap-in-hand, appearing once again to try and convince you that it is certainly to your advantage to help keep us from going under. All those nightmares that we've been warning you about for the last 17 years are just beginning to come to fruition. As I'm sure you know, the revolution won't be televised, nor talked about on radio or discussed in the newspapers. All those sources have been taken over by the dark side, and every day you have less and less of a choice to find the truth. The truth is out there, Mulder; and we'll point it out to you, so you won't miss it!

The only way we can do that is for me to do this; ergo, if you can help us out, please do so asap, and as often as you can. The ugly truth is 79% of our readership thinks this is a free ride; hey, it's on the Internet, right? Then there is the 20% who are as broke as I am, or even worse; at least I have a roof over my head and food (of sorts) in my belly, when many of them don't. A lot of folks read us at the library, having no way to get on line or even a computer. That leaves the 1% of our readership to pick up everyone else's slack. If they were the evil 1%, I'd have no problem taking their money, but the truth is most of our donations come from folks just barely getting by. Where are the leftist millionaires and billionaires that could keep us going for a decade just on their chump change? We are all volunteers here, doing what we can for the benefit of everyone; help us if you can -- go to the donations page and follow the directions! Thanks!


01-26-1950 ~ 11-13-2017
Thanks for the read!

08-08-1934 ~ 11-15-2017
Thanks for the film!

12-20-1943 ~ 11-16-2017
Thanks for the music!


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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) 2017 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.

Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech as Vice president-elect
Mike Pence and Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, look on during his
election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City.
Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States.

A Year After Trump's Election, Nothing Has Changed
Polls show Trump would win a repeat of last year's election - a year later, we are dumber, and more divided, than ever
By Matt Taibbi

Exactly one year ago today, Donald Trump was elected president. For many Democrats, it was a trauma surpassed in their lifetimes only by 9/11. For some, it remains unsurpassed for sheer shock/horror value. And according to The Washington Post, not much has changed:

"Confronted with the events of the past 12 months and even Trump's unprecedented unpopularity - 59 percent disapprove of his presidency - a new poll shows that 2016 voters look as though they'd still pick Trump, albeit about as narrowly as they did before."

Yes, this is a poll, and polls are part of the reason we got into this mess in the first place. Reporters like myself believed in them too much last year, when we should have been reading the far clearer warning signs - like that the landscape between cities was wall-to-wall Trump signs, or that Trump rallies were massively attended and feverish, while Democratic rallies were more sparse and sluggish.

But polls still have some meaning, and the new one The Post cites should tell us a lot.

The Post piece argues the problem is a loss of enthusiasm among Democrats that is actually worse than the loss of enthusiasm among Republicans, who have about a million tweets worth of reasons to have lost faith since last November:

"Even as the Trump presidency has unified the Democratic Party against him and his policies, just 72 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Clinton in a rematch - vs. the 84 percent who said they did vote for Clinton last year. Trump's share of the Republican Party, meanwhile, dropped just five points from 89 percent who said they did vote for him to 84 percent who said they would do it again."

It's very possible a generic Democrat, and not Hillary Clinton with her unique issues, would do better. But it's also possible that isn't true.

Another recent poll, this one conducted by ABC News along with The Post, shows the Democratic advantage for the 2018 midterms narrowing to a dead heat among the most likely voters. As awful as Trump has been, and as near-total the chaos has been surrounding the Republican Party, the opposition has not been able to capitalize.

Maybe that's as it should be. In a divided country, Donald Trump makes perfect sense as a president. He's belligerent, unrepentant, unapologetic and creates seemingly irreparable conflict as a matter of professional habit.

If we're no longer one country but two, and that's the political format to which both sides are committed, he might as well be manning one side. He does a fantastic job at keeping the civil war going, and the interest in ending that war for some time now has seemed limited to one or the other side hoping to capture the flag for a while.

The Democrats have not gained ground on Donald Trump in the last 365 days for the simple reason that they have been too busy during that time trying to take political advantage of Trump's liabilities.

Cable TV for the blue-state crowd is one giant SCREW TRUMP! ad, and the progressive idea of a political discussion these days is a bunch of people sitting around comparing notes to see who is the most excited about "indictment day."

It wouldn't have seemed possible a decade ago, but behaviorally, culturally, Donald Trump has turned Democrats into Republicans.

Remember the Bush years? Remember that first experience with going to the house of some long-lost friend or family member, who had gone conservative in the intervening years?

Remember how you spent the entire time at that dinner trying to steer conversations away from politics, but your Republican counterpart kept trying to steer things back that way? Remember that peculiarly annoying form of needling?

"Bet you love the Clintons, huh? Bet you love Sean Penn, amirite? Bet you're worried about the rights of terrorists, huh? Huh? Huh?"

Remember that horseshit? Remember how much you hated it? That's us now. All we talk about is how much we hate Trump. And we don't shut up about it.

It's stupid. Not because Trump isn't awful, because he is, but because opposing Trump and what he stands for is the easiest and most obvious thing ever.

Is there any intellectual defect worse than obviousness? How about predictability? If you want a million-ton dose of either, turn on MSNBC sometime. It's a goddamned Sahara desert of obviousness. A Himalayan range of predictable messaging. And smart people watch it.

Jesus, what for? When was the last time you were challenged or presented with a surprising idea there? (And I know, I've been a guest. I've been part of this.)

All thought has been denuded in the past year. Trump should have been a boon to the comedy world, but he's actually sort of destroyed it, at least at the mainstream level, where jokes have devolved into one-liner versions of MSNBC messaging. (Look, there's Putin coming down Trump's chimney! HAR!)

Obvious sells, and it will make some careers, but it's a mental wasteland, and our continued appetite for this kind of thing is why absolutely nothing has changed in the year since the shock of last November 8th.

Despising Trump and his followers is easy. What's hard is imagining how we put Humpty Dumpty together again. This country is broken. It is devastated by hate and distrust. What is needed is a massive effort at national reconciliation. It will have to be inspired, delicate and ingenious to work. Someone needs to come up with a positive vision for the entire country, one that is more about love and community than blame.

Campaign signs for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump litter the floor of the
room where he celebrated his victory at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning
hours on November 9, 2016 in New York City. In a surprise victory, Trump beat his Democratic
opponent, Hillary Clinton, to become the 45th president of the United States.

That will probably mean abandoning the impulse to continually litigate the question of who is worse, Republicans or Democrats. As a progressive, this has never seemed to be a terribly difficult question for me to answer for myself. For some reason, though, people keep insisting that both the question and the answer must be included in any effort at punditry or any public political discussion, almost like a disclaimer, as if audiences might forget. It has become our version of a loyalty oath.

Division isn't an accident. It's not even just a by-product of a commercial scheme, though the pioneering work of Roger Ailes and Fox News played a crucial role in our current mess, by showing media companies they could make easy money through the politics of bifurcation and demonization.

Division does make money, but beyond that, it's highly political. It's an ancient technique of elites, dividing populations into frightened and furious camps so as to more easily control them. When people are scared enough and full enough of hate, they will surrender their rights more quickly.

It's not an accident that as the right-left divide has grown in this country, we've gradually given up on almost every principle that used to define us, collectively, as Americans. We surrendered our rights to privacy, failed to protest vast expansions of federal power (including to classify the inner workings of our own government - our government), stopped requiring due process to jail people and closed our eyes to torture and assassination and all sorts of other atrocities.

This was made easier first because conservatives were convinced liberals were in league with terrorists, and more lately because progressives have been told Trump and his like are in league with Russians. Mutual hatred and fear has made us much more easily disenfranchised.

A year after Trump's election - T-Day, we'll maybe call it someday, as it should have some kind of infamous nickname - we're no closer to solving the enormous problems of this country. We are on the brink of a kind of civil war, but even suggesting that this is an eventuality to be avoided is becoming almost treasonous in both camps.

That the Democrats haven't come up with this solution is no surprise. The party has for decades now been dominated by third-rate minds incapable of seeing beyond next week's poll numbers.

The people running the Democratic Party are opportunists and hacks, and for as long as the despicable and easily hated Trump is president, that is what these dopes will focus on, not realizing that most of the country is crying out for something different.

Among other things, if we hate the guy so much, why do we waste so much of our lives talking about him? Thinking about him?

If we were serious thinkers, and not obvious or malleable ones, we'd have spent this last year coming up with ways to improve this country, or make it more just, or more beautiful, or less violent, instead of obsessing constantly about Trump. Even making the country more funny would be a start. God, are we an unfunny people now!

T-Day was exactly one year ago. It was an awful day, one of the worst ever for a lot of people. But we haven't moved on. We're actually volunteering to stay stuck in that awful moment. Is this really necessary? Do we have to keep our faces stuck in that particular diaper? For God's sake, will this ever end?
(c) 2017 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.

Two Meetings
By Uri Avnery

DURING THE last few days, I met with two old friends: Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.

Well, the term "friends" may not quite be appropriate. Certainly, Arafat called me "my friend" in a recorded message for my 70th birthday, but Rabin called nobody "friend". That was not his character.

I am glad that I knew both from close up. Without them, my life would have been poorer.

I DON'T think I ever met two more different people than these two.

Arafat was a warm person. An emotional person. His embraces and kisses were ceremonial, but they also expressed real sentiment. I brought many Israelis to meetings with him, and they all recounted that after ten minutes in his company they felt as if they had known him for years.

Rabin was the exact opposite. Like me, he abhorred physical contact. He was remote. He did not exhibit feelings. Only on close acquaintance did he reveal himself as having quite strong feelings indeed.

But these two so different persons had one thing in common. Both were fighters throughout their lives. Rabin gave up academic studies in order to join the illegal Palmach ("shock troops") during the time of British rule. Arafat gave up a career as an engineer in Kuwait in order to set up the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). Rabin was six years older.

Both devoted the major part of their adult life to fighting for their peoples - and against each other. Both were not gentle in their wars. Rabin once ordered soldiers to "break their (the Palestinians') arms and legs!" Arafat ordered many cruel actions.

After a long life of war, both turned towards the way of peace. That was much more dangerous. Rabin was murdered by a Jewish fanatic. Arafat was murdered (as I believe) in a more sophisticated way by the agents of Ariel Sharon.

I WAS privileged to hear from both how and why they made their fateful turn towards peace.

Arafat's explanation was simpler. It went more or less like this (in my words):

I always believed that the Arab armies would in the end vanquish Israel on the battlefield, and that the Palestinians must only give the push. True, I was the commander-in-chief of the Palestinian forces, but I knew that the Palestinians by themselves could not succeed in defeating Israel.

Then came the October 1973 war (called the "Yom Kippur War" in Hebrew). The two strongest Arab armies attacked Israel. They achieved total surprise and on the first day obtained imposing results. The Egyptians overran the Israel Bar-Lev line, and the Syrians approached the Sea of Galilee.

And lo and behold, in spite of these initial successes, the Arabs were defeated in the war. When a cease-fire was imposed, the Israeli army was close to Damascus and their way to Cairo was open.

From that I drew the conclusion that there was no way to overcome Israel on the battlefield. Therefore I decided to attain the Palestinian aims by peaceful means.

So Arafat entered the path which began when his emissary, Sa'id Hamami, started secret talks with me in London, the path that eventually led to Oslo.

THE PATH of Rabin towards peace was more convoluted. He explained it to me at length one Shabbat afternoon at his home after the Washington handshake (to which he did not invite me, unlike Begin, who invited me to a dinner with Sadat in Egypt. Rabin was Rabin.)

Here is Rabin's story (in my words):

After the Six-Day War, I believed, like almost everybody else, in the so-called "Jordanian Option". Nobody believed that we could hold on to the territory we had conquered, and we thought that King Hussein would make peace with us if we returned all the territories, except East Jerusalem. After all, the king's capital was Rabat, so what did he need Jerusalem for? That was a mistake. One day the king declared that he no longer had any connection with the West Bank. We were left without a partner. Somebody invented an artificial partner, the "Village Leagues". Within a short time it became clear that this was nonsense.

I took the initiative and invited all the local leaders in the West Bank, one after the other. All of them expressed their readiness for peace with us, but in the end they concluded: our address is Yasser Arafat.

Then came the Madrid conference. The Israelis agreed to a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation, not including Faisal Husseini, who was a resident of East Jerusalem. The moment the deliberation reached the Palestinian issue, the Jordanian members stood up and said: "Sorry, this does not concern us." The Israelis were left in the room alone with the Palestinians.

Husseini sat in the adjoining room, and whenever the discussion reached a sticking point, the Palestinians said "now we must consult with Faisal". This soon became ridiculous, so Faisal was invited into the room.

At the end of every day of discussion the Palestinians said "Now we must phone Tunis to get instructions from Arafat." This situation looked ridiculous to me. When I returned to power, I decided that if this is the situation, let's talk directly with Arafat. That was the background of Oslo.

I WISH I could honestly say that I influenced Rabin in the long conversations we had, nearly all of which had one sole subject: peace with the Palestinians. But I am not sure that this is so. It was almost impossible to influence Rabin. He analyzed facts and drew conclusions. Both of them, Rabin and Arafat, the soldier and the engineer, were logical thinkers. They analyzed facts and drew conclusions.

My conversations with Arafat started in Beirut, when I entered the beleaguered city. The meeting attracted attention throughout the world. It happened after my long secret discussions with his emissaries, Sa'id Hamami and Issam Sartawi (who were both murdered by the agents of Abu Nidal, the leader of an extreme Palestinian group). I reported to Rabin about these conversations, after Arafat encouraged me to do so.

After the evacuation of the PLO from Beirut, I visited Arafat many times in Tunis and other places. When Arafat came back to Palestine, after Oslo, we met first in Gaza then in the Mukata'a (a former British police building) in Ramallah. Twice, when it seemed to us that his life was in immediate danger, my friends and I went to live there as a "human shield". Sharon later admitted that our presence there had deterred him from killing Arafat then and there.

My conversations with Rabin took place in his Balfour Street office, mostly on my initiative. In between we met at various parties, generally near the bar. Since he had attended the British academy for senior officers, Rabin was addicted to whisky (and only whisky). Several times we met at the place of my friend, the sculptress Ilana Goor, who arranged parties for the secret purpose of getting us two (and sometimes Ariel Sharon) to meet. After midnight, when all the other guests had gone home, Rabin - completely sober after innumerable glasses of whisky - gave me detailed lectures.

All these conversations were about the Palestinian problem (except one, when he chastised me for publishing damning exposures about his party members in my magazine.)

SOME DAYS ago I went to visit Arafat's tomb in Ramallah. Nobody stopped me on my way there, and to my surprise, nobody stopped me on my way back. It's not that I was recognized and waved through - it was just that the roadblocks were not manned.

The last time I had visited the place was at his funeral. Now the grave is a tasteful small building with two ceremonial guards. Behind it is Arafat's office, and the rooms where he used to meet the Israeli delegations which I brought to him, and even his small, spartan sleeping quarters. I paid my respects.

My meeting with Rabin was a few days later, at the annual mass event on the anniversary of his murder, at the same square which now bears his name.

It was the most curious event I ever took part in. This year it was not called by the Labor party, whose new leader wants to keep as much distance from peace as possible. By default, two groups - previously unknown to me - took over. One consists of former army officers, one is of obscure origin.

Their arrangements were bizarre. They decreed that the slogans would not touch the subject of peace, but only Rabin's military and party career. Within the peace camp, a violent discussion broke out - to attend or not?

I strongly advised attending. To my mind, the slogans of the initiators were immaterial - important was only the number of those coming to pay respect to the man and his heritage. Rabin and peace with the Palestinians are inseparably linked.

In the end, nearly a hundred thousand people attended, shouting peace slogans and completely ignoring the directions of the organizers. When a leader of the West Bank settlers (who was invited!) made a speech, the whistling of the crowd was deafening. I must admit, to my shame, that I whistled with the rest.

To my own surprise, it turned out that I am a pretty good whistler.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Democrats Used To Love Russian Oligarchs
By Glen Ford

The massive leaking of the so-called "Paradise Papers" detailing the myriad ways corporations and individual billionaires hide their money in tax havens around the world, provided news organizations a chance to make the case for reining in global capital. Unlike the 2015 leak of the so-called "Panama Papers," which detailed the offshore tax evasions of a sleazier class of capitalists, the "Paradise" disclosures reveal how the world's public sectors are starved for funding by billionaires and corporations from "the high end of town" -- the Lords of Capital that make up the "international oligarchy" whose spreading influence is "the major issue of our time," in the words of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Nearly 100 news media groups agreed to join with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to expose how the oligarchs avoid their responsibility to share in the cost of civilization, while simultaneously dictating the terms of life for most of the planet's people. The New York Times is part of this network, but instead of following the money wherever it leads, the paper chose, in the bulk of its own reporting, to make the Paradise Papers an extension of its Russiagate obsession.

To kick off the project, the Times highlighted Twitter and Facebook investments by Yuri Milner, an alleged recipient of "hundreds of millions of dollars in Kremlin funding" who has ties to Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner; and dealings by Wilbur Ross, Trump's commerce secretary whose money is invested in a shipping company "with business ties to a Russian oligarch facing sanctions and [with] President Vladimir V. Putin's son-in-law."

The Wilbur Ross story has been at the center of the Times coverage of the Paradise Papers ever since, solidifying the public's impression that the Russian oligarch connection to the U.S. is mainly a Republican affair -- or, more specifically, the result of relatively recent machinations within Donald Trump's circles. The truth is quite the opposite. It is the Democrats that have been in "collusion" with Russian oligarchs since the birth of that class out of the rubble of the Soviet collapse. And it was during the brief "reset" of U.S.-Russian relations, between 2009 and 2012 under President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that the most recent deals between American and Russian capitalists were consummated.

Donald Trump and his crowd arrived very late on the Russian scene, after relations between Moscow and Washington had been poisoned, and never got a chance to wheel and deal with ruling oligarchic circles -- which is why the Trump team's Russian interlocutors turned out to be so marginal, sleazy and ultimately useless. The party was over when Trump's people arrived on the Moscow scene; they met with hustlers, self-dealers and wannabes.

Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, on the other hand, took advantage of the "reset" that she and Barack Obama had initiated. In 2015, the New York Times headlined "Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal," detailing how Clinton's State Department and other U.S. and Canadian agencies had signed off on a 2012 deal that gave a Russian company control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. During that same period, the chairman of the Russian company kicked in $2.5 million to the Clinton Foundation, and former president Bill Clinton "received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting" the uranium company's stock, according to the Times.

During the thaw in U.S.-Russian relations Tony Podesta, the lobbyist brother of former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, won the contract to represent the then president of Ukraine, Viktor F. Yanukovych, who would later flee to Russia after U.S.-backed Nazi's ran him out of office. Podesta is now one of the rare Democratic targets of Robert Mueller's Russiagate investigation. However, it was logical that a "pro-Russian" politician hire a Democratic lobbyist to represent his interests in Washington under a Democratic president. Indeed, Democratic-identified lobbyists got most of the Russian contracts during the "reset" period, and Democratic businesses had the inside track on whatever deals were available. Had the reset occurred under President George W. Bush, Republican lobbyists and firms would have had the advantage -- as is well understood in Washington.

Is it any wonder that Trump turns an even redder shade of orange when he demands an investigation into Clinton's "Uranium to Russia deal"? The Donald was totally outclassed by a Democratic apparatus with far more experience in navigating the Kremlin. The Democrats were there at the birth of the Russian mafia-oligarchy, clucking and cooing like godmothers. Bill Clinton and platoons of Wall Street advisors guided the dissolution of the Russian state and redistribution of public assets among the new class of gangster-owners. They openly backed the drunken quisling Boris Yeltsin for president in 1996, and were assured by the nouveau gangster capitalist class of continued subservience to Washington. To this day, the U.S. government (and the New York Times) treats fallen Russian oligarchs like political prisoners, and exiled mafia as allies, and has installed an oligarch-run regime in Ukraine. They hate Putin because he "tamed" the most unpatriotic elements of Russian oligarchy, and put his country on an independent international path.

The Democrats don't hate oligarchs. How could they, when the United States is a world-strangling oligarchy, home to six of the planet's eight wealthiest men, three of whom -- Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett -- own more wealth than the bottom half of the entire U.S. population: 160 million people. Russia's oligarchs are bums compared to the Lords of Capital of the United States.

But Washington does deeply resent the loss of their special relationship with the Russian oligarchy. Putin's success in domesticating his country's mafia allowed Russia to reassert its national interests and, in the process, to resist Barack Obama's (Democratic) global military offensive, centered in Syria, beginning in 2015, and to forge a working partnership with China, which has reclaimed its ancient status as the center of the world economy. These are the events that will shape our world for the rest of this century.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Year Since Trump's Election, As Explained By Bad Pizza
By William Rivers Pitt

I would like to take a moment, here on this calamitous anniversary, to contemplate the political and cultural impact of bad pizza upon our zany little world. I am, of course, referring to the massive international chain restaurant called Papa John's, and to its wealthy owner, Mr. John Schnatter of St. Louis. The two entities -- the subpar pizza joint and the man with all the dough -- sit at the core of a small confluence of absurdity that explains nearly everything you need to know about Year One in the Age of Trump.

Ridiculous? Certainly. True? You tell me.

There are more than 5,000 Papa John's pizzerias in 45 countries around the world. It is the most widely recognized advertiser for the National Football League; if you watch the NFL on Sundays, like as not you'll see the face of "Papa" John Schnatter a dozen times mugging it up with the likes of Peyton Manning and the guy who mows the playing field. His connections to the NFL run deeper than TV commercials. Dallas Cowboys owner and billionaire oilman Jerry Jones owns more than 120 Papa John's franchises.

Schnatter played in Republican politics behind the scenes for a time, holding fundraisers for Mitt Romney in 2012 and donating to Donald Trump's campaign in 2016. He made his first ham-fisted entrance onto the public political stage about five years ago, when the passage of the Affordable Care Act motivated him to take out his rage on his customers and employees. If the ACA wasn't repealed, he said at the time, he would be forced to jack up the price of his pizza, and some of his franchises would have to cut workers' hours. Because this was nonsense, there was a fairly damaging backlash and Schnatter backed down.

Odds are Schnatter would have kept his head down for good after that mess, but then several things happened almost simultaneously: NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police violence against people of color, several players joined him, Donald Trump attacked them repeatedly and viciously, a whole slew of players then joined Kaepernick and the protest became a national thing, the NFL commissioner and ownership predictably redefined the term "clumsy reaction" in response, and somewhere in there a whole lot of people realized, for reasons having nothing to do with protests or presidents, that Papa John's pizza is just awful.

That last bit is important, because Schnatter recently announced that he is considering pulling his advertising from NFL games. Why? His sales are way down and, according to him, the NFL's refusal to come down hard on the anti-racism player protesters is the reason behind that decline. "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders," said Schnatter last week during a call with analysts. "This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago. Good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership."

"Good or bad," said Schnatter. An interesting choice of words, given the fact that he has amassed a tremendous fortune peddling food that can only be called "pizza" because it is round and has "cheese" on it. Any reputable consumer survey puts Papa John's product somewhere between sewer rat and used floss on the quality scale. To quote Deadspin writer David Roth, "It's pizza that tastes the way long-distance bus travel feels." Occam's Razor would suggest that protests seldom televised by the NFL are less to blame for Schnatter's woes than market oversaturation of a crummy product. P.S., NFL: That means you, too.

Hot on the heels of Schnatter's broadside against the NFL and its ownership came another proclamation: The Daily Stormer, the white supremacist website which gained notoriety after the horrific violence in Charlottesville and Donald Trump's subsequent reaffirmation of his embrace of Nazis and Klansmen, announced that Papa John's was now the official pizza of racists everywhere. To underscore their zeal for Schnatter's product, they published a photo of a pizza bearing a swastika rendered in pepperoni slices.

This forced the public relations wing of the Papa John's empire to release a statement requesting that white nationalists, white supremacists, Nazis, Klansmen and racists in general refrain from purchasing their product, which is exactly how you want to spend your Friday when you're the press office for a well-known multinational corporation that is already collapsing under the weight of its own inadequacies.

When the long tale of this dented era is finally unspooled, "Papa" John Schnatter and his serial woes will wind up as a footnote for an afterthought. Yet this dim little parable perfectly illustrates the time and place we find ourselves in, one long year down the line. At the bottom of it all sits an execrably unpalatable product with a swastika squished into the middle. I think it is safe to say we could all use some better ingredients.

My country, 'tis of thee I sing.

Three more years. Maybe.
(c) 2017 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Why Reward Bad Corporate Behavior With More Tax Breaks?
By Jim Hightower

Here's a question for our Trumpestuous President and his Trumpeteers in Congress: "Why are you even considering giving more tax breaks to corporate giants?"

First, the self-serving corporate class is wallowing in wealth, greedily hoarding it in offshore tax shelters and stock-buyback schemes, refusing to invest it to benefit the vast majority of people they've been knocking down and holding down.

Second, you shouldn't give away our public treasury when our nation has a budget deficit and faces huge needs for public investment - from our deteriorating infrastructure to our disappearing middle class.

Third, our people's sense of equality and social unity has been severely fractured by 30 years of gross wealth inequality, so intentionally widening the wealth gap is criminally stupid... and dangerous.

Fourth, why would you think over-paid, over-pampered CEOs deserve more pampering? They've become imperious potentates who feel entitled to gouge, cheat, defraud, lie, and otherwise run over us commoners.

Consider Jeff Immelt, the recently retired imperious CEO of General Electric. Not only was he a frequent flyer on GE's corporate jets, but we now learn that he often took two jets at once! One carried him, while a second jet, called a "chase plane," followed right behind him. Number Two Jet carried no passengers or equipment, it was just a spare in case his royal highness needed it for... well for what? GE offers no reasonable answer, for there isn't one. Immelt says he never used the spare, but there it was tagging along behind him, costing GE shareholders thousands of dollars for every hour it flew.

This wasteful extravagance cost you and me, too, for GE got a tax deduction for every flight Jeff's chase plane made. Why would Trump & Company reward such outrageous corporate ripoffs with more tax breaks?
(c) 2017 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

The Best Way For Democrats To Show Their Disgust With Roy Moore Is By Going All-In For Doug Jones
Moore's past just caught up with him-and it could beat him.
By John Nichols

Democrats have in recent decades developed a spotty record of waging serious Senate races in what was once the party's "solid South." Since Strom Thurmond, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan lured the region to the Republican ballot line with coded messages that were intended to exploit the racial divisions that President Lyndon Johnson sought to address when he signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, it is no secret that Democrats have had a harder and harder time gaining traction in the states of the Deep South.

The party has not won a contest for an open Senate seat in the region for years. In many states, it has struggled to recruit credible candidates. Indeed, things were so bad in 2014 that it barely made an effort to defend its last incumbent in the region, then–Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, in the runoff election that ultimately turned her out of office. "They just walked away from this race," said Landrieu as she strove to retain a historically Democratic seat.

After Landrieu was defeated, a New York Times headline read: "Demise of the Southern Democrat Is Now Nearly Complete."

So when Alabama Democrats and supporters of the national party's old "50-state strategy" started arguing over the summer that Democrats needed to get serious about the race to fill the Alabama US Senate seat that had been vacated by the region's most lamentable contribution to the Trump cabinet-Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III-the notion was not universally embraced. Yes, the Democratic nominee for the seat was an impressive man: Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor with deep roots in the state and impeccable law-enforcement credentials. But was Alabama really ready to elect a candidate who proudly prosecuted the extremists who targeted abortion clinics and went after the racists who were responsible for the 1963 bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham?

Now, however, the Alabama seat is clearly in play; not because the state is veering left (even if the results of the recent mayoral race in Birmingham represent an encouraging embrace of progressivism) but because the Republicans nominated a horrible person as their candidate to fill the Sessions seat.

Judge Roy Moore was the worst of the worst-a lawless scoundrel who kept getting bumped off the state's high court-even before he was accused this week of molesting teenage girls. With the shocking news reports that Moore "made sexual or romantic overtures to [girls] when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s," national Republicans who retain a shred of conscience are calling for their party's nominee in Alabama's December 12 special election to quit the contest.

"If these allegations are true, he must step aside," Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said after The Washington Post published a story based on interviews with women who recalled the days when a 30-something Moore was on the prowl for young girls in the late 1970s and early '80s.

Moore is not about to quit this contest. This scandal-plagued candidate is used to being controversial, and he has trained Alabama Republicans to distrust not just the news media that report on him but also the Republican establishment that sometimes objects to him. Moore is going to keep on running, issuing carefully worded denials of his sordid past, echoing Donald Trump's talk about "fake news," and enjoying the support of prominent Republican officials like Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who has offered a biblical defense of Moore: "Zechariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus."

"There's just nothing immoral or illegal here," drawls Zeigler. "Maybe just a little bit unusual."

On the chance that a silent majority of Alabama voters might think that what's going on with Moore is more than "just a little bit unusual," what was already a competitive race is going to become the most intense special election for a US Senate seat in years. It will matter even more because of the narrow divide within the Senate, where Republicans have the advantage but must wrestle with dissension within their caucus. The combination of factors could make the Alabama contest one of the most politically dynamic Senate special elections in decades-perhaps since the contest 60 years ago that flipped the late Senator Joe McCarthy's Wisconsin seat to insurgent Democrat Bill Proxmire, in a result that solidified Democratic control of the Senate and that moved the Senate Democratic Caucus to the left as the chamber was about to take final action on the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

At this point, national Democrats have to get serious about the Alabama contest. They can't play on the margins or hope to sneak up on Moore and the Republicans. This race is going to be a top news story from now until December 12. Moore will claim that Democrats in Washington are out to get him, no matter what Democrats in Washington do. So they might as well do something.

But what? Should they throw everything they've got into a campaign against Roy Moore? No, they should throw everything they've got into a campaign for Doug Jones.

The Democratic nominee for the Alabama Senate seat is a strikingly qualified and able contender. A former United States Attorney and onetime staff counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has decades of legal and political experience in Alabama. And Jones has a record of personal accomplishment and moral commitment that stands in stark contrast to Moore's dismal story.

The Democrat is best known for his efforts in the late 1990s and early 2000s to finally achieve a measure of justice in the case of the September 15, 1963, Birmingham bombing that left four little girls-Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair-dead in their church. Jones is credited with playing an essential role in winning murder convictions against two of the killers almost 40 years after the bombing-and after many other attempts to hold the racists to account had failed. Frequently honored for his work on not just civil-rights cases but also cases involving women's rights, workers' rights, and the environment, Jones is hailed by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author Diane McWhorter as "bold and aggressive, but also willing to take a risk to be on the right side of history."

Polls taken since the Republican runoff primary that nominated Moore have shown the race to be competitive. Moore's generally been ahead, but not generally by much. And the latest revelations, along with the prospect that there may be more trouble for the Republican, make this is going to be a real race in a deep-red state.

Jones said before the latest stories about Moore broke, "I think the people in this state are looking at themselves and are saying, 'we're tired of being embarrassed.'"

If Doug Jones is right about his native state's capacity for embarrassment, then Democrats in Alabama and across the country have every reason-and every responsibility-to make a major play for Alabama this fall. But that play should not be so focused on the embarrassment that is Roy Moore. It should be focused on telling Alabamans of all that Doug Jones has done to make them proud.
(c) 2017 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 College Trap
By James Donahue

There was a time not too many years ago when young people were encouraged to attend schools of higher learning so they could nab one of the many available opportunities in the American workplace. High schools were linked to specialized vocational schools so those lacking a desire for college could learn technical skills that filled the need for workers in their own communities. Colleges were cranking out engineers, physicians, mathematicians, teachers and a wide range of other skilled men and women to fill a tempting field of new opportunities.

When I attended college in the late 1950's both students and professors still clung to the old thinking that colleges and universities also taught higher levels of thought. We delved into philosophy, the arts and other aspects of higher learning. As a potential writer I studied proper grammar, the code of good journalism and read the works of the great authors of the past. What we were doing was considered an expansion of our personal perspective on the world.

What was grand in those days was that we could earn enough at summer jobs to cover our cost of tuition and books. Part-time work in and around campus helped us pay for room and board. Many of us graduated debt free.

That was then. So what has happened since? Non-stop war and a rising cost of new technology in building war machines appear to be a major factor. This has created a dramatic inflationary increase in the cost of everything. This is coupled with a world-wide competition for jobs, commerce and profit.

Needless to say the students have become the losers. Due to the extreme cost of tuition and the disappearance of middle-class families the quest by many of America's potentially gifted students to acquire a college degree has become a trap. Those who acquire even a four-year degree must find and maintain high-paying jobs for much of their lives to pay off the money they borrowed from the government's student loan program.

According to Wikipedia the total outstanding student loan balance now stands at nearly $1.4 trillion. And some 43 million Americans are now burdened with student loan debt with an average balance owned standing at $30,000 per student.

That might not be such a big issue except for three factors: There appears to be a shortage of good paying jobs so many college graduates find themselves struggling at minimum wage level positions and unable to pay off those monstrous debts. Also there is an accumulating interest rate that is constantly raising the balance owed. And federal law makes it impossible for student loan debt to be written off via bankruptcy.

College scholarships can be some assistance, but maintaining this financial assistance usually calls for demanding academic achievements that many students cannot meet. When this happens the scholarship is revoked.

Halah Touryalai, in a recent article for Forbes Magazine, noted that the student debt problem is the result of the rising cost of education and the relationship between the lenders and student borrowers. "Students without much of a credit score or credit history are being approved for thousands of dollars in loans by lenders who are betting they'll be able to pay it back after getting a college degree," Touryalai wrote.

But she added that "the wake-up call occurs after graduation when many students realize their loan debt exceeds any annual salary they're able to earn . . . if they can find a job, that is."

Touryalai wrote that about one-third of the millennials now say they would have been better off just taking whatever job they could find after high school instead of going to college.

Indeed, we have personally known physicians and lawyers who have privately admitted that they are forced to charge high prices for their services because they are burdened with both student loan debt and the high cost of liability insurance. Because they usually must remain in college for eight years or longer to acquire their degrees, their debt can more than double that of a graduate with a four-year degree. Consequently everyone who seeks professional services is caught up in the student indebtedness trap, either directly or indirectly.

The current interest rate on student loan debt ranges from 4.5 to 7 percent, depending on the level of learning that is being financed. Students seeking masters and doctoral level training are charged the higher interest. There also is a "loan fee" ranging from 1.06 to 4.27 percent withdrawn by the lender in each disbursement by the bank to the student. Thus the student never receives the full amount of the money loaned, but is responsible for paying the full amount back. These rates are set by an act of Congress. It will take an act of Congress to fix this problem.

Several attempts have been made to provide financial relief. President Barack Obama proposed tuition free junior college but that never got off the ground. Unsuccessful student loan reform bills in past years have flown through Congress but they never get on the floor for a vote. Now Senator Elizabeth Warren is carrying the torch for reform. With an extreme right-wing Republican-controlled House and Senate, however, Warren's efforts to get this issue fixed are also running into stone walls.

The economic consequences are being felt all across the board. Older Americans, still struggling to pay off those student loans, are staying in the workforce longer, making it harder for younger workers to fill those positions. Also workers burdened with delinquent student loan debt are showing low credit scores. Consequently they are unable to borrow to buy new cars and new homes. This is causing a chain reaction in an already sluggish economy.

Rich Rieder, Chief Investment Officer for BlackRock.Blog., noted in a recent report by the National Association of Realtors that over 70 percent of would-be first-time home buyers say student loan debt is stalling their decision to buy a home. The report noted that home ownership among college graduates by age 30 is much lower than ownership among workers who did not attend college.

While a college degree is still considered a must for ensuring good employment, many good students who cannot afford college without loans are discouraged from considering college. This is resulting in the possible loss of some of the best minds in the nation. It is looking more and more like college is available only for children of wealthy families rather than the finest students.

All of this is creating a worsening of the class divide that has resulted in the loss of the nation's Middle Class.

Rieder concluded in his report that "the growing student loan burden is a hardship for much more than just the borrowers. It's a major, long-term headwind to the broad U.S. economy that needs an elegant fiscal-policy solution, the sooner the better."
(c) 2017 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.

"We must fight President Trump's destructive efforts to divide us up by the color
of our skin, our gender, our religion, our sexual orientation or our country of origin."

We Need A Truly Grassroots Democratic Party: A Call for DNC Chair Tom Perez To Implement Findings Of #UnityReformCommission
Our job is to revitalize American democracy and bring millions of people into the political process who today do not vote and who do not believe that government is relevant to their lives.
By Bernie Sanders

In an email sent on Monday, November 6, 2017, Senator Bernie Sanders emphasized that we need to rebuild the Democratic Party. We need a Democratic Party that is as open, as inclusive, and as progressive as it can possibly be.

In the email, he also asked supporters to sign a petition calling on DNC Chairman Tom Perez to accept, support, and implement the findings of the Unity Reform Commission.

The text from the email in full follows:

Politics is not a baseball game, and it is not a soap opera.

People are hurting in this country, and our job is not to be distracted by political gossip and Donald Trump's tweets. Our job is to revitalize American democracy and bring millions of people into the political process who today do not vote and who do not believe that government is relevant to their lives. Our job is to create an economy and government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent and wealthy campaign contributors.

Here's the problem: the strategy the Democratic Party has been pursuing in recent years has failed. Since 2009, Democrats have lost more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures across the country. Republicans now control the White House, 34 out of 50 governorships as well as the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. In dozens of states, the Democratic Party is virtually non-existent. Too much is at stake for our country and our people for us not to learn from our past failures and move forward in a way that makes the Democratic Party stronger so we can take on and beat Trump and the right-wing Republican agenda.

What the recently released book excerpt from former interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile made clear is that unless we get our act together, we are not going to be effective in either taking on Donald Trump or in stopping the extremist right-wing Republican agenda. We have to re-establish faith with the American people that in fact we can make positive changes in this country through a fair and transparent political process that reflects the will of voters across this country.

In order to do that, we need to rethink and rebuild the Democratic Party. We need a Democratic Party that opens its doors to new people, new energy and new ideas. We need a Democratic Party that is truly a grassroots party, where decisions are made from the bottom up, not from the top down. We need a Democratic Party which becomes the political home of the working people and young people of this country, black and white, Latino and Asian and Native American ... all Americans.

And we need to make it abundantly clear that the Democratic Party is prepared to take on the ideology of the Koch brothers and the billionaire class - a small group of people who are undermining American democracy and moving this country into an oligarchic form of society. YES. We will take on the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, corporate America, the insurance industry, the drug companies, and the fossil fuel industry.

Now, what the Establishment (political, economic and media) wants us to believe is that real and fundamental changes in our society are impossible.

No. We cannot guarantee health care to all as a right. No. We cannot revitalize the trade union movement, raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour and provide pay equity for women. No. We cannot effectively compete in the global economy by making public colleges and universities tuition-free. No. We cannot lead the world in combatting climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels. No. We cannot reform our broken criminal justice system or finally achieve comprehensive immigration reform.

They want us to think that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, a nation which has more income and wealth inequality than almost any nation on earth, the best that we can do is to accept tiny, incremental change.

I could not disagree more.

Right now, a Democratic National Committee Unity Reform Commission, comprised of people who supported our campaign, people who supported Secretary Clinton's campaign, and people appointed by DNC Chair Tom Perez are working on a set of policies that will determine the future direction of the Democratic Party. In many ways, this Unity Commission will determine whether the Party goes forward in a dynamic and inclusive way, or whether it retains the failed status quo approach of recent years. It will determine whether the Party will have the grassroots energy to effectively take on Donald Trump, the Republican Party and their reactionary agenda or whether we remain in the minority.

In my view, this Commission must:

* Make the Democratic Party more democratic and the presidential contests more fair by dramatically reducing the number of superdelegates who participate in the nominating process. It is absurd that in the last presidential primary over 700 superdelegates (almost one-third of the delegates a candidate needed to win the nomination) had the power to ignore the will of the people who voted in the state primaries and caucuses.

* Make primaries more open by ending the absurdity of closed primary systems with antiquated, arbitrary and discriminatory voter registration laws. Republicans are the ones who make it harder for people to vote, not Democrats. At a time when more and more people consider themselves to be Independents our job is to bring people into the Democratic Party process, not exclude them. It is incredibly undemocratic that in some states voters must declare their party affiliation up to six months before the primary election.

* Make it easier for working people and students to participate in state caucuses. While there is much to be said for bringing people together face-to-face in a caucus to discuss why they support the candidate of their choice, not everybody is able to attend those caucuses at the time they are held. A process must be developed that gives everyone the right to cast a vote even if they are not physically able to attend a state caucus.

* Make the DNC's budget and decision-making processes more open and transparent. If we are going to build a Party that relies on working people who are willing to give $5, $10 and $27 donations, they deserve to know where that money is going and how those decisions are made.

I look forward to following the progress of the Unity Reform Commission, and I urge Chairman Tom Perez and the entire Democratic National Committee to develop policies which move the Democratic Party forward in a very different direction - a direction that will lead us to national and statewide victories. It's important that you do the same:

Please sign the petition calling on the Democratic National Committee and Chairman Tom Perez to accept, support and implement policies which make the Democratic Party more inclusive, more democratic and more transparent.

Right now, our job is to come together, and not be distracted by the political gossip and drama of the moment. We must fight President Trump's destructive efforts to divide us up by the color of our skin, our gender, our religion, our sexual orientation or our country of origin. We must rally the American people to oppose Trump's proposal to provide massive tax giveaways to billionaires while taking away the health care that millions now have.

But we must also make it clear - if we are going to elect Democrats who will move us forward as a country - that we must institute long-needed reforms in the Democratic Party. When we do that, we will not only create a dynamic and progressive party, we will be able to transform our nation and create a government that represents all of us, not just the people on top.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders
(c) 2017 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders or @BernieSanders

Moore And Trump Both Had Eyes For The Young Ones
By Heather Digby Parton

I'd forgotten about this one: Donald Trump appears to have a pattern of trying to charm young girls with a line about dating him.

In a December 1992 wire brief in the Chicago Tribune, Trump is described as having spotted a youth choir singing Christmas carols at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. He asked two girls how old they were. When they said they were 14, Trump, then 46, replied, "Wow! Just think - in a couple of years, I'll be dating you." On Wednesday, CBS News reported a similar scenario involving a 10-year-old girl around the same time, when Trump was between his first and second marriages.

In footage from the archives of CBS-owned "Entertainment Tonight," Trump asks the child if she is planning to ride the escalator at Trump Tower. After she says yes, Trump turns to cameras taping a Christmas special for the show and says, "I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?"

In both instances, the line appears to be somewhat in jest, though the girls' ages and recent accusations of sex assault against Trump call that into question.

What kind of man looks at a 10 year old and thinks about "dating" her? I guess we know ...

Update: There was also this really creepy comment:

(c) 2017 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.

Flooding in Port Arthur, Texas during Hurricane Harvey. SC National Guard

U.S. Climate Report Leaves Little Room for Doubt
By David Suzuki

It seems odd that a major U.S. government climate report released Nov. 3 didn't receive more media attention. But then, the main thing newsworthy about the Climate Science Special Report is that it was released at all, apparently without political interference. <> Although the U.S. government is required by law (enacted by President George H.W. Bush in 1989) to report to the public about "climate change and its physical impacts" every four years, the current administration is openly hostile to climate science and scientists. According to White House sources quoted in the New York Times, President Donald Trump was "barely aware of the report's existence."

The report, released by 13 federal agencies under the direction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), examines the available science. It was written by dozens of government and non-government scientists, reviewed by the independent National Academy of Sciences and approved by the National Economic Council.

It concludes we are living in the warmest period in the history of modern civilization, with the last three years being the warmest on record, that we are seeing more "record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes" and that all the evidence points to human activities, "especially emissions of greenhouse gases," as the main cause. Climate change should be in the headlines every day until everyone takes it seriously, but the report's conclusions are not new.

"Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapour," the reports says.

It's hard to imagine anyone could read this report, or read about it, and not be convinced we have an urgent problem and that failing to put everything we can into resolving it puts our survival at risk!

And yet, the government overseeing this report is filled with people who reject climate science. The president himself has called it a hoax. He's appointed climate science deniers to key positions, repealed and weakened environmental laws, had climate change references removed from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) website and barred EPA scientists from presenting climate change reports. Many delegates at the UN Climate Conference underway in Bonn, Germany, have condemned Trump's decision to pull the U.S. from the Paris agreement.

The official White House statement on the report was a rehash of tired climate science-denial talking points. White House spokesperson Raj Shah said, "The climate has changed and is always changing." He then went on to cast doubt regarding the climate's sensitivity to greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has denied the well-known connection between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, and Energy Sec. Rick Perry has argued the science isn't conclusive.

But the report also shows that, despite its apparent descent into a post-truth, anti-science dystopia, the U.S. still maintains sanity in some of its major institutions. Organizations like NASA, NOAA, the EPA and the Department of Defense, along with numerous non-governmental scientific institutions, are continuing to examine the real trends and risks of a planet warming rapidly because of human activities.

It also shows we must do all we can to work toward solutions-economic, technological, philosophical and more-and to only support politicians who demonstrate the foresight, imagination and courage to take on this crisis with the force and intensity it merits.

One frustration of studying and communicating about climate issues is knowing that so many solutions exist and are being developed, but that widespread denial of the problem prevents us from moving beyond outdated technologies and economic systems.

That people who profit from those outdated technologies would do everything they can to sow doubt and confusion is not surprising. That a government elected to serve the people would reject the findings of its own scientists and researchers from around the world to the detriment of human health, the economy and the environment is an intergenerational crime.

Christopher Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, told the New York Times, "This profoundly affects our ability to be leaders in developing new technologies and understanding how to build successful communities and businesses in the 21st century." It also puts human survival at risk.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Roy Moore Is Exactly What The Republican Party Is All About
Wake up and smell the white supremacist theocracy.
By Charles P. Pierce

I awoke this morning to the plaintive scream of a delicate desert dweller who apparently had been in a coma in the middle of a landfill and just now had awakened and noticed the smell. Tweeted Jeff Flake, soon-to-be ex-senator from Arizona:

The fact is that Roy Moore is very much who the Republicans are. He is representative of a fanatical splinter of American Protestantism that has accounted for a great deal of the success enjoyed by modern conservatism and the Republican Party for over four decades, and there always has been dark sin at the heart of that success.

The rise of what used to be known as "the religious right" did not begin with the legalization of abortion. That's a nice story that the various Bible-banging charlatans would like you to believe. No, the institutions that would nurture and produce the religious right were the white-only Christian academies and universities that sprang up in the South as part of the massive resistance to desegregation-the churchgoing end of that strategy. The religious right was not born out of opposition to Roe v. Wade. It was born out of opposition to Brown v. Board.

There was always something wretched in its founding that invariably asserted itself in our politics. Dishonesty and camouflage were its primary sacraments. As part of their bargain with these people, Republicans and conservatives agreed tacitly to overlook these things, and so they became accustomed to overlooking everything until, today, alleged pedophilia of the most grotesque sort is the latest thing to be overlooked in the cause of tax-cuts and the restriction of women's reproductive rights.

Without fastening itself to the enthusiastic remnants of American apartheid, modern conservatism and the modern Republican party never would have become the juggernaut they became, and the religious right was one of the more enthusiastic of those remnants. Small wonder, then, that so many Good Christian Men are either lining up behind Roy Moore, or if-thening themselves into incoherence trying not to talk about him. He has all the right positions on all the right issues that discomfort all the right people, and, given that, these people would vote for Satan himself.

He is you. He is all of you. Another monster out of the lab.
(c) 2017 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...

"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."
~~~ Harry S. Truman

U.S. Mass Shooters Are Disproportionately Veterans
By David Swanson

Are veterans of the U.S. military disproportionately likely to be mass killers in the United States? Asking such a question is difficult, first because of concerns of profiling, discrimination, etc., and second, because it's hard to answer.

It's important to answer because it's important for us to know whether military training is contributing to this epidemic, a fact that (one must rush to say) would not somehow eliminate the roles played by gender, guns, mental illness, domestic violence, a violent culture, the mass media, economic inequality, or anything else.

Looking at this list of mass shootings in the United States, one notices the following:

ninety-eight percent of the shootings were done by male shooters;
the vast majority had mental health problems;
the racial breakdown looks roughly equivalent to that in the population as a whole;
the creators of the list have not bothered to create a thorough record of which shooters had been in the military.
Beginning to sort out an answer, one quickly discovers that many mass-killings by veterans have been excluded from this list. World War II veteran Howard Barton Unruh killed 13 people in 1949 in New Jersey, but that was too early to make it onto this list. Persian Gulf veteran Timothy McVeigh killed 168 in Oklahoma City in 1995 but didn't use guns. Persian Gulf veteran Robert Flores shot his three nursing professors in Tucson, Arizona, in 2002, but only killings of four or more have been included. The same restriction keeps out U.S. Marine Corps veteran Radcliffe Haughton's killing of three women in Wisconsin in 2012. Even the D.C. sniper, Persian Gulf veteran John Allen Muhammad, who killed 17 in the Washington, D.C., area in 2002, with a partner, and using guns, is not included -perhaps because he didn't kill all of his victims at once.

Proceeding with this list nonetheless, we should be able to determine what percentage of the shooters on the list are veterans, and then compare that to the general population. But how exactly do we do that? It would be crazy to look at figures for the general population as opposed to those for men only, because the percentages of men and of women who are veterans are very different. And even looking at men only, the percentage who are veterans in the U.S. population varies dramatically by age group. Almost all of the shooters are men, and almost all of them are between ages 18 and 59. Above age 59, the percentage of men in the general population who are veterans leaps up dramatically. Between 18 and 59 -by averaging the percentages for each age year -about 14.76 percent of U.S. men are veterans.

What percentage of U.S. mass shooters who are men between 18 and 59 are veterans? Deleting two shootings from the list that were done by females, and one that was done by a man and a woman, and deleting eight done by men too old or young to fall into our sample, we're left with 83 mass shootings to look at. I then delete one that was an attack on the U.S. military by a foreign-born shooter, as it seems irrelevant to ask if that shooter had been in the U.S. military. That leaves a list of 82 shootings.

In quickly reading available news reports online about each shooting, I see that almost all of the shooters were born in the United States. And I am leaving in the sample list those few that were foreign born, even including some who could not legally have joined the U.S. military had they wanted to. And I am not attempting to find out which shooters received military training from some military other than the U.S. I am also leaving on the list those who said their motivation for shooting was revenge for U.S. wars. And I'm leaving on the list but not counting as veterans two men who tried to join the U.S. military and were rejected, as well as one who worked at a U.S. Navy base but apparently not as a member of the Navy. I am leaving on the list and counting one whose military training was in JROTC, and about whom I do not know whether he had further military training.

Following a quick search of 82 shootings on the internet, I've been able to find that at least 28 of the shooters had been in the U.S. military (again, including the JROTC in one case). On the other side, I've been able to confirm very few of the shooters as having not been in the military. In several cases I've had to read several articles before finding a mention of the military. In no case have I found a mention of having not been in the military. This leads me to strongly suspect that the number 28 undercounts the number of veterans in the sample. Nonetheless, that's 34% of U.S. mass shooters who are military veterans, as compared with 14.76% in the general population for the same gender and age. In other words, veterans are over twice as likely to be mass shooters, and probably more likely than that.

Needless to say, this is a statistic about a large population, not information about any particular individual. Needless to say, profiling and discrimination are counterproductive. But here's what else might be counterproductive: Training people in the arts of mass murder, launching wars, and dropping people trained for wars and having suffered through wars into a heavily armed society full of economic insecurity and the industrialized world's leading lack of healthcare.

Of course it's possible that people inclined toward mass shootings are also inclined to join the military, that the relationship is a correlation and not a cause. In fact, I would be shocked if there wasn't some truth to that. But it's also possible that being trained and conditioned and given a familiarity with mass shootings -and in some cases no doubt an experience of engaging in mass shooting and having it deemed acceptable -makes one more likely to mass shoot. I cannot imagine there isn't truth in that.

Here are the shootings by veterans on this list: Texas First Baptist Church massacre, Florida awning manufacturer shooting, Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, Baton Rouge police shooting, Dallas police shooting, Umpqua Community College shooting, Trestle Trail bridge shooting, Fort Hood shooting 2, Washington Navy Yard shooting, Sikh temple shooting, Seal Beach shooting, Fort Hood massacre, Carthage nursing home shooting, Northern Illinois University shooting, Damageplan show shooting, Wakefield massacre, Caltrans maintenance yard shooting, Fort Lauderdale revenge shooting, Air Force base shooting, Luigi's shooting, Watkins Glen killings, Royal Oak postal shootings, Luby's massacre, ESL shooting, United States Postal Service shooting, San Ysidro McDonald's massacre, Welding shop shooting, Xerox killings.

Here are the shootings on this list that I have not been able to determine were by veterans: Walmart shooting in suburban Denver, Edgewood business park shooting, San Francisco UPS shooting, Pennsylvania supermarket shooting, Rural Ohio nursing home shooting, Fresno downtown shooting, Excel Industries mass shooting, Kalamazoo shooting spree, Planned Parenthood clinic, Colorado Springs shooting rampage, Charleston Church Shooting, Isla Vista mass murder, Hialeah apartment shooting, Santa Monica rampage, Pinewood Village Apartment shooting, Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, Accent Signage Systems shooting, Aurora theater shooting, Seattle cafe shooting, Oikos University killings, Su Jung Health Sauna shooting, IHOP shooting, Hartford Beer Distributor shooting, Coffee shop police killings, Atlantis Plastics shooting, Kirkwood City Council shooting, Crandon shooting, Virginia Tech massacre, Amish school shooting, Capitol Hill massacre, Living Church of God shooting, Lockheed Martin shooting, Hotel shooting, Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting, Atlanta day trading spree killings, Connecticut Lottery shooting, R.E. Phelon Company shooting, Walter Rossler Company massacre, Chuck E. Cheese's killings, Long Island Rail Road massacre, 101 California Street shootings, Lindhurst High School shooting, University of Iowa shooting, GMAC massacre, Standard Gravure shooting, Stockton schoolyard shooting, Shopping centers spree killings, Orlando nightclub massacre, Binghamton shootings, Trolley Square shooting, Dallas nightclub shooting, Tucson shooting, Westroads Mall shooting, Cascade Mall shooting.
(c) 2017 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.

All the Cubans we talked to thought the sonic attack was a bunch of baloney. From taxi
drivers to government officials to dissidents, Cubans told our group that the whole
episode was concocted to justify turning back the clock on Obama's detente with Cuba.

While Clinching Deals With Communist China, Trump Cracks Down On Trade And Travel To Cuba
Our failed embargo against Cuba has been repeatedly and publicly condemned by the international community as ineffective and harmful to the people of Cuba.
By Medea Benjamin

On Wednesday, November 8, just as President Trump was clinching new business deals with the repressive Communist government of China, the Trump administration announced its new rules rolling back President Obama's opening with Cuba. The new regulations restricting travel and trade with the Caribbean island will make it once again illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba without a special license from the Treasury Department and will dramatically reduce the number of Americans traveling there.

The regulations, which include a list of 180 banned entities, are supposed to punish hotels, stores and other businesses tied to the Cuban military and instead direct economic activity toward businesses controlled by regular Cuban citizens. But during our visit to the island on a 40-person delegation organized by the peace group CODEPINK, we found that Cuba's small private businesses, the very sector that the Trump administration wants to encourage, are already feeling the blow.

In 2014 President Obama announced a new opening with Cuba. While the U.S. sanctions imposed on the island following the 1959 revolution can only be lifted by Congress, Obama used his executive power to renew diplomatic relations and relax restrictions on travel and trade. Cuba, which already has a large tourist sector with guests from Europe and Canada, geared up for a "tsunami" of American visitors coming on newly authorized commercial flights and cruise ships.

The Obama policy of engagement coincided with a new Cuban policy of allowing Cubans to leave their miserably paid state jobs to try their hand at starting up their own small businesses. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans jumped at the opportunity, many flocking to businesses catering to tourists. Cuba became the fastest growing site for AirBnB, as thousands of Cuban families spruced up extra bedrooms in their homes to accommodate foreign guests. Others took their life savings, or borrowed money from relatives abroad, to open small restaurants in their homes called paladares.

All over downtown Havana, we saw signs of this small business renaissance, with refurbished rooms for rent and boutique eateries boasting live salsa music and high-quality meals for about $10. State-run hotels and restaurants, notorious for bad food and bad service, now face competition from well-run, family businesses.

While Trump's roll back of Obama's opening just went into effect, he announced his plans back in June before a crowd of hardline anti-Communist Cuban-Americans. Then in September came another setback for U.S.-Cuba relations, when the United States said that US personnel in Cuba had been subjected to mysterious sonic attacks that affected the health of 24 diplomats. The U. S. government withdrew non-essential personnel and diplomat family members from the US Embassy in Havana. On September 29, the State Department put out a "Cuba Travel Warning." It said that because the U.S. Embassy employees' safety was at risk and the U.S. had been unable to identify the source of the attacks, "we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk and warm them not to travel to Cuba."

All the Cubans we talked to thought the sonic attack was a bunch of baloney. From taxi drivers to government officials to dissidents, Cubans told our group that the whole episode was concocted to justify turning back the clock on Obama's detente with Cuba. "Maybe they had hearing losses because the reggaeton music here is so loud," joked one taxi driver. "But to say Cuba is unsafe is a lie. Cuba is the safest country in the world. You can walk around here alone at 2a.m. in the morning and no one will bother you."

Between the new restrictions and the travel warning, Cuba's burgeoning private sector has already felt what Cubans call "the Trump effect." Jose Colome, owner of Starbien private restaurant in Havana that employs 35 people, shook his head in disgust. "We had 48 reservations from US tourist groups booked in the past three months; 30 of them cancelled. "

Proximity Cuba, a travel agency catering to U.S. university groups, lost half its business in one fell swoop. "We had developed wonderful programs for U.S. students in Cuba. Suddenly, the administrators read the travel warning, and got cold feet and cancelled," said Proximity Cuba's Director Rodrigo Gonzalez.

Even the non-tourist sector is feeling the effects. The agricultural cooperative we visited in Artemisa province was anxious to purchase US tractors to replace their ancient Russian models, but now worry that the deal will fall through. "It is only natural for us to buy agricultural inputs from the US market 90 miles away," said Maria del Carmen of the National Association of Small Farmers. "Trump's policies and the continuing blockade of Cuba are hurting our farmers."

On November 1st, for the 26th year in a row, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the US embargo against Cuba. The vote this year was 191 nations against the embargo vs two in favor: the United States and Israel. The embargo, which was first imposed in the 1960s, is seen by the overwhelming majority of the world's nations as an outdated and failed foreign policy that has only served to punish the Cuban people and isolate the United States internationally.

Just before the UN vote, ten U.S. Senators, led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), sent a letter to President Trump saying: "Our failed embargo against Cuba has been repeatedly and publicly condemned by the international community as ineffective and harmful to the people of Cuba. The longer we maintain this outdated Cold War policy the more our international and regional credibility suffers. The overwhelming majority of Americans, including Cuban-Americans, and Cubans, including Cuban entrepreneurs and many dissidents, oppose the embargo and favor engagement of the United States with Cuba."

"The United States is punishing Cuba because it says our government is undemocratic," Dr, Aduabez Tabiada Zamora, a member of Cuba's National Assembly, told our group. "Yet year after year, the entire world community condemns this mean-spirited policy. Is that democratic?"

The reversal of the Cuba opening is a victory for a small handful of southern Florida officials like Senator Marco Rubio and a small group of Cuban-Americans, but it is a major blow for diplomacy, people-to-people ties, and most of all, Cuba's new private businesses.
(c) 2017 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

The Dead Letter Office...

Jim gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Wirtschaftsprufer Ziegler,

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 comparing Roy Moore's molestation of little girls to Mary and Joseph, 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 "Republican 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 11-25-2017. We salute you Herr Ziegler, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Patriotism, Taxes, And Trump
By Robert Reich

Selling the Trump-Republican tax plan should be awkward for an administration that has made patriotism its central theme.

That's because patriotism isn't mostly about saluting the flag and standing during the national anthem.

It's about taking a fair share of the burden of keeping America going.

But the tax plan gives American corporations a $2 trillion tax break, at a time when they're enjoying record profits and stashing unprecedented amounts of cash in offshore tax shelters.

And it gives America's wealthiest citizens trillions more, when the richest 1 percent now hold a record 38.6 percent of the nation's total wealth, up from 33.7 percent a decade ago.

The reason Republicans give for enacting the plan is "supply-side" trickle-down nonsense. The real reason is payback to the GOP's mega-donors.

A few Republicans are starting to admit this. Last week, Gary Cohn, Trump's lead economic advisor, conceded in an interview that "the most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan."

Republican Rep. Chris Collins admitted that "my donors are basically saying, 'Get it done or don't ever call me again.'"

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that if Republicans failed to pass tax reform, "the financial contributions will stop."

Republican mega-donors view the tax payback as they do any other investment. When they bankrolled Trump and the GOP, they expected a good return.

The biggest likely beneficiaries are busily investing an additional $43 million to pressure specific members of Congress to pass it, according to The Wall Street Journal.

They include the 45Committee, founded by billionaire casino oligarch Sheldon Adelson and Joe Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs; and the Koch Brothers' groups, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners.

They're not doing this out of love of America. They're doing it out of love of money.

How do you think they got so wealthy in the first place?

As more of the nation's wealth has shifted to the top over the past three decades, major recipients have poured some of it into politics – buying themselves tax cuts, special subsidies, bailouts, lenient antitrust enforcement, favorable bankruptcy rules, extended intellectual property protection, and other laws that add to their wealth.

All of which have given them more clout to get additional legal changes that enlarge their wealth even more.

Forty years ago, the estate tax was paid by 139,000 estates, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. By 2000, it was paid by 52,000. This year it will be paid by just 5,500 estates. Under the House tax plan, it will be eliminated altogether.

Why do Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than the citizens of every other advanced economy? Because Big Pharma has altered the laws in its favor. Why do we pay more for internet service than most other nations? Big cable's political clout. Why can payday lenders get away with payday robbery? The political heft of big banks.

Multiply these examples across the economy and you get a huge hidden upward redistribution from the paychecks of average working people and the poor to top executives and investors. (I explain this in detail in the documentary "Saving Capitalism," airing next week on Netflix.)

All this is terrible for the American economy.

More and better jobs depend on increasing demand for goods and services. This must come from the middle class and poor because the rich spend a far smaller share of their after-tax income.

Yet the middle class and poor have steadily lost purchasing power. Partly as a result, a relatively low share of the nation's working-age population is employed today and the wages of the typical worker have been stuck in the mud.

The Republican tax plan will make all this worse by burdening the middle class and the poor even more.

A slew of analyses, including Congress's own Joint Committee on Taxation, show that the GOP plan will raise taxes on many middle-class families.

It will also require cuts in government programs that middle and lower-income Americans depend on, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

And the plan will almost certainly explode the national debt, eventually causing many middle class and poor families to pay higher interest on their auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards.

I don't care whether the top executives of big corporations, Wall Street moguls, and heirs to vast fortunes salute the flag and stand for the national anthem.

But they enjoy all the advantages of being American. Most couldn't have got to where they are in any other country.

They have a patriotic duty to take on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going. And Trump and his enablers in Congress have a patriotic responsibility to make them.
(c) 2017 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 website is

Chris Hedges in a screen shot from his RT America program, "On Contact"

RT America Torched In Witch Hunt '17
By Chris Hedges

In one of the most horrendous blows to press freedom since the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, the U.S. Department of Justice has forced the news broadcaster RT America to file under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The assault on RT America, on which I host the show "On Contact," has nothing to do with the dissemination of Russian propaganda. It is driven by RT America's decision to provide a platform to critics of American capitalism and imperialism, critics who lambast a system of government that can no longer be called democratic. And it is accompanied by the installation of algorithms by Google, Facebook and Twitter that divert readers away from left-wing, progressive and anti-war websites, including Truthdig. The World Socialist Web Site has seen its search traffic from Google fall by 74 percent since April. Google, in a further blow, this month removed RT from its list of "preferred" channels on YouTube. Twitter has blocked all advertising by the channel.

Put the censorship campaigns together and the message is clear: Left-wing critics, already marginalized by the state, must be silenced.

It would seem, given how we are locked out of the corporate media and public broadcasting, that the assault is overkill. But the ideology that sustains the corporate state, the "free market" and neoliberalism has lost all credibility. The corporate state has no counterargument to its critics. The nakedness of corporate greed, exploitation and repression is transparent across the political spectrum. The ideological fortress erected by corporate power and sustained by its courtiers in the press and academia has collapsed. All it has left is a crude censorship.

Complicit in this censorship is a bankrupt liberal class. The institutions tasked with defending press freedom-including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists and PEN-along with major news outlets such as The New York Times, have served as the corporate state's useful idiots. Only a handful of journalists, including Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer, grasp and decry the very real danger before us.

The charge that RT and these left-wing sites disseminate "foreign propaganda" is the beginning, not the end, of a broad campaign against press freedom. Once this precedent of state censorship is normalized, far more tepid and compliant media outlets will be targeted. Max Blumenthal wrote two good pieces on AlterNet about the puppet masters behind the censorship campaign. [Click here and here.]

The venom of the state toward its critics was displayed in a report by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections," issued Jan. 6. In the report seven pages were specifically directed at RT America, much of the language focused on the journalist Abby Martin. Martin became one of the best-known critics of the corporate state during the Occupy movement. Her show on RT, "Breaking the Set," which had been off the air for nearly two years when the report was published-a glaring error for an intelligence community awash in budgets of tens of billions of dollars-was denounced as a disseminator of "radical discontent." The report complained that RT gave airtime to third-party candidate debates. The document attacked RT hosts for asserting that the two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a sham. It excoriated the network for covering Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street and fracking.

The report charged:

RT's reports often characterize the United States as a "surveillance state" and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use.

RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT's hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and "corporate greed" will lead to US financial collapse.

The "Alice in Wonderland" quality of the report would be laughable if it was not so ominous. The United States, in fact, is a surveillance state. Civil liberties have been eviscerated. Police brutality is endemic. Our drone wars have made us state terrorists. The economic structure serves the wealthiest corporations and oligarchs. Wall Street is run by a criminal class. Our debt is unsustainable, especially once the dollar is no longer the world's reserve currency, and like all decaying empires we are headed for collapse. The DNI report clarifies what the ruling elites fear-not fake news but the truth. And the truth is that the elites have destroyed the country and are traitors to democracy.

The DNI report was followed by a congressional hearing on "Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online," held Oct. 31. Executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google were grilled about their roles in distributing fake news and extremist content that in the words of Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley included "spread[ing] stories about abuse of black Americans by law enforcement." The executives promised to double down on their censorship, and they did so.

The ruling elites are desperately trying to shift the focus away from the cause of the political insurgencies on the left and the right-extreme social inequality. It is for this reason that critics who highlight and explore the roots and causes of social inequality must be discredited or silenced. If social inequality is accepted as the driving force behind the decay of the American state and the mounting rage of much of the population, then the structures that profit from this inequality will come under assault. All the elites have left is to paint their critics as "agents of a foreign power."

The United States increasingly resembles a totalitarian state. Our anemic democracy is on life support. A reasoned debate about social inequality or the crimes and misjudgments of empire is becoming impossible. This presages a frightening future. There will be many "good" Americans who, when the history of this moment is recorded, will be responsible. And one day, to their surprise, they too will be victims.
(c) 2017 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
~~~ Dan Wasserman ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Mueller Immediately Closes Investigation After Hearing Putin Proclaim His Innocence
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-The special counsel Robert Mueller announced on Saturday that he was closing the Justice Department's Russia investigation, "effective immediately," after hearing that President Vladimir Putin, of Russia, said he was innocent of any election meddling.

Moments after learning about Putin's assertion, Mueller hastily assembled his staff of investigators to inform them that, now that Putin had fully exonerated himself, there was no point in continuing the probe.

"Vladimir Putin says he did nothing," Mueller told his staff. "That's good enough for me."

Speaking later to reporters, Mueller said that, by disbanding his investigation, he was following the time-honored law-enforcement tradition of taking a suspect's word for it.

"For the past several months, we've assembled tax records, cell-phone recordings, bank transfers, and e-mail communications that indicated Russia was involved in the election," a visibly shaken Mueller said. "Somehow, we got it wrong-very, very wrong."

As for his future plans, Mueller said that his first order of business was to write a hearfelt letter of apology to Putin.

"I feel terrible knowing that I've spent all this time investigating a person who did absolutely nothing wrong," he said. "Hindsight is 20/20, but I really should have called him first and asked him what really happened."
(c) 2017 Andy Borowitz

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 46 (c) 11/17/2017

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