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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi says, "Trump's Consumer Victory Officially Makes A Joke Of Financial Reform."

Uri Avnery explores, "King And Emperor."

Glen Ford examines, "Blacks, War And The Phony 'Resistance.'"

Amy Goodman with a must read, "The Doomsday Machine In Donald Trump's Hands."

Jim Hightower asks, "Why Is The GOP Pushing Such A Stinky Tax Bill?"

John Nichols wants to know, "Can Our Revolution Build a Blue Texas?"

James Donahue warns, "The Grand Aerial Display In Night Sky Is Disappearing."

Norman Solomon returns with, "The Ghost Of Hubert Humphrey."

Heather Digby Parton wonders, "If You Like Trump Why Wouldn't You Like Roy Moore?"

David Suzuki concludes, "Renewable Energy Isn't Perfect, But It's Far Better Than Fossil Fuels."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "Our School Systems Deserve Better Than This."

David Swanson sees, "Trump In Exile."

Ralph Nader exposes, "The Republicans' Devious Tax Attack On The People."

Senator John McCain wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich is on, "The True Path To Prosperity."

Chris Hedges uncovers, "A Women's Revolt That Targets Far More Than Sexual Abuse."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Scribbles By Mitch McConnell's Grandchild Accidentally Incorporated Into G.O.P. Tax Bill" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "...And Those Are His Good Points!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Ed Wexler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Ed Wexler, J. Scott Applewhite, Chip Somodevilla, Alan Levine, Gary Tramontinamariordo59, Pin Head, Kheel Center, 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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...And Those Are His Good Points!
By Ernest Stewart

"Any American step related to the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, or moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, represents a threat to the future of the peace process and is unacceptable for the Palestinians, Arabs and internationally." ~~~ Mahmoud Abbas ~ The Arab League and Palestinian Authority President

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." ~~~ Donald Trump

"Mr. President, I have not the slightest doubt as I have said before, that after the Republicans pass this huge tax giveaway to the wealthy and large corporations, they will be back on the floor of the Senate. And when they come back, they'll say, 'oh, my goodness, the deficit is too high. We have got to cut social security, medicare, medicaid, education, and nutritional programs.'

In other words, in order to give tax breaks to billionaires and to large, profitable corporation, they're going to cut programs for the elderly, the children, working families of this country, and the poor. This legislation will go down in history as one of the worst, most unfair pieces of legislation ever passed. But I say to my Republican colleagues, as you saw on November 7, the American people are catching on. ~~~ Bernie Sanders

"How would your life be different if... You decided to give freely, love fully, and play feverously? Let today be the day... You free yourself from the conditioned rules that limit your happiness and dilute the beautiful life experience. Have fun. Give - Love - Play!" ~~~ Steve Maraboli

I just finished watching Trump starting WWIII on TV. I know I should be proud of myself, because I didn't throw a brick through the screen on at least a dozen occasions. A good lesson in self restraint. However, I did tweet him this:
Dear president shit-for-brains, you are not only the dumbest but the worse president in our history and with people like the Bush's, Nixon and Jackson that's really saying something!
Well, we have another first, we're the only country in the world that recognizes Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, I bet that makes the Palestinians happy, not to mention the rest of the entire world.

This according to der fuhrer this will bring peace to the world, yeah! Yes, it will be peaceful, once the radiation settles down! As George Carlin said: (We're) "Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake, an evolutionary cul de sac."

As the above phototoon says:

"The 45th president of the USA is arguably the most unpleasant character in America: jealous, petty and greedy, an unforgiving narcissist; a vindictive ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobe racist; a serial liar, sexual predator and proud of it, an islamophobic, sociopathic, megalomaniacal, demagogue; a capricious bully and self-serving nepotistic con artist without a shred of conscience." ...And those are his good points - compared to what's coming next folks! So fasten your seatbelts, America, it's going to be a bumpy night!

In Other News

It just keeps getting worse. For example, 2016 saw a record surge in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, according to the World Meteorological Organization. This means that last year's increase was a stunning 50 percent higher than the average over the last decade. That's half again as bad in one year! Scientists said this makes "obtaining global temperature targets -- such as the often-mentioned 1.5 C and 2 C limits -- largely unattainable. The combination of the increase of CO2 and El Nino have driven atmospheric CO2 to levels not seen for 800,000 years." Let that sink in for a minute!

The Arctic Ocean is now starting to look more and more like the Atlantic Ocean. This is due to the fact that the summer Arctic sea ice is melting rapidly and the waters are warming, leading to encroachment by animals from warmer climates and a reorganization of Arctic biodiversity. The Oceanliner Crystal Serenity which is the size of the Battleship Bismark is still making summer cruises through the North West Passage from Alaska to New York City. It used to be that it took one of those gigantic Russian ice-breakers to get through those same waters that the Crystal Serenity cruises with ease!

As I've said many times before the fact that planetary warming of just 3 C (a level we are currently on a trajectory to easily exceed before 2100) will be enough warming to lock in irreversible sea-level rise that will impact hundreds of millions of people. Tens of millions of them in the United States.

This year is already on track to be in the top three hottest years ever recorded, bearing in mind that the last three years have been the warmest three years ever recorded for the planet. We've been averaging around 15 degrees warmer than average in this neck of the woods throughout November and into December.

2017 has already seen some of the warmest temperatures ever recorded at many places around the world, in addition to unusually low Antarctic and Arctic sea ice levels, along with several instances of extreme droughts and wildfires. Guess what? You can look forward to more of the same, only steadily getting worse and worse as time goes on! Aren't you glad that Trump is doing everything in his power to make all of this worse, America?

Oh, and this just in, California continues to burn to the ground. It used to be that fire season in California ran from June to August now fire season is year round. But, cheer up folks, soon there will be nothing left to burn! That means when it rains, the folks living on the top or the sides of hills will soon be sliding down to land on the folks that live on the bottom of the hills!

And Finally

Truth is I've never been a fan of John McCain. From his screwing around and almost sinking the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal, killing 134, injuring 161, to becoming a stooge for North Vietnam. Cooperating with them making radio show tapes confessing his war crimes in order to get a luxury apartment in Hanoi, equipped with two hookers/North Vietnamese handlers instead of spending time with other American POWs in their cages. Since John's daddy was a top US Navy admiral John Sidney McCain Jr.. You may recall daddy gave the orders that stopped inbound US aircraft from rescuing the sailors on the USS Liberty which was under attack by Israel gun boats and aircraft. Yes, treason runs in the family. John escaped punishment for his crimes. Just a swell guy, huh?

While it maybe impossible to know McCain's true motives, (But boy-oh-boy can I guess!)the tax bill does differ from the attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in one key aspect: It directly benefits McCain and his family. His wife Cindy McCain's estimated $100 million fortune is largely based in her ownership of liquor distributor Hensley Beverage, which would gain from the bill's cut to alcohol taxes by millions of dollars. Did I mention the McCain children will inherit an extra $11 millon dollars or $22 million tax free, from the exemption under current law, with new bill.

One of the way the Rethuglicans plan to pay for this $1.5 trillion dollar giveaway to our 1% masters is by cutting medicare programs like the one that pays for chemo-therapy for poor cancer patients. So you know what I did, right? I wrote this little note to John...

Hey John,

I see you voted to keep poor cancer patients from getting their treatments so you could give a trillion dollar tax cuts to the 1%, so I know you'll stop your cancer treatments too, as it would only be fair since you have condemned millions of Americans to a slow, horrible death so that you can save millions on your taxes. But cheer up John, you've just won this week's Vidkun Quisling Award, our weekly award for the biggest traitor in America! I bet your mama would be proud of your actions! This may even top those 33 radio tapes you made for Radio Hanoi during the war? Ya think, John!


Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis magazine

If there is something you'd like to tell the Sinator you can reach him here on Facebook:

Or if you're from Arizona here in Washington:

And if you do, tell him Uncle Ernie sent you!

Keepin' On

Got dem ole, "Mother Hubbard Blues" again, ya'll! Went to the cupboard to fetch another bone; but the cupboard like our PO Box was empty again; and it couldn't happen at a worse time! We're still $1000 short of paying the bills for the year and time is running out; so, needless to say, a little help, if you would be so kind!

We've had to raise money since my bank account ran out back in 2004 to the tune of about $12,000 a year -- half of which is picked up from our sponsors, which leaves the other half of the bill to ya'll. So far, we've just gotten by because the readership is behind what we do. No one here, including yours truly, makes a nickel out of anything connected to the magazine and its archives. Most of us do it because we have to, because nobody else will; and it needs to be done!

If knowing what the truth is is important for you and yours in this day and age, as this country goes to hell in a hand-basket, then you might want to keep us fighting for the truth, and for you. We are not owned or operated by any 1% puppet masters; there is no spin -- no song and dance, no smoke and mirrors, just the unvarnished, un-polished truth -- deal with it. If that peaks your interest, then please send us what-ever you can, when-ever you can, and we'll keep fighting the good fight for you!


06-12-1930 ~ 11-30-2017
Thanks for the laughs!

06-15-1943 ~ 12-06-2017
Thanks for the music!

01-03-1926 ~ 12-06-2017
Thanks for the film!


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

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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 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.

Mick Mulvaney, pictured in September, is Trump's new pick to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Trump's Consumer Victory Officially Makes A Joke Of Financial Reform
Nearly a decade after the crash, Trump makes a mockery of one of the few meaningful checks on the financial services industry
By Matt Taibbi

Earlier this year, when researching a story on Donald Trump's executive appointments, I talked to current and former Hill staffers about Mick Mulvaney. The humorless debt truther from South Carolina was the man His Orangeness wanted to put in charge of the Office of Management and Budget, and the mention of Mulvaney's name generated a lot of adjectives.

"Dumb even by congressional standards," was one description. "A moron's moron."

Mulvaney was most famous for wanting to solve the national debt by deploying his sweeping ignorance of global economics as budget policy. Putting him in charge of the OMB was therefore like putting the Baader-Meinhof gang in charge of Lufthansa.

Like the rapturist preachers who spend their Sundays rooting for the end of the world, Mulvaney believes in a paradise that apparently rests somewhere just beyond the smoldering catastrophe that would follow a default on the national debt.

"I have yet to meet someone who can articulate the negative consequences [of defaulting]," he said during the debt-ceiling debate in 2010.

Congress is home to a lot of third-rate lawyers and between-jobs bowling buddies of regional rich folk who got pushed into public service almost by default.

Even in this crowd, Mulvaney has always been thought of by his peers as overmatched. When Trump made him OMB chief, the move was widely interpreted on the Hill as a Bannonite sabotage ploy, a short-cut to crushing government from within.

Now this same policy cooler is going to be put in permanent charge of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This, after a Trump-appointed judge denied the request for an emergency restraining order against his appointment sought by deputy CFPB Director Leandra English.

Donald Trump, for one, is happy!

Mulvaney is a ghoulish pick for the CFPB post for a variety of reasons, the worst probably being that he appears to be an enthusiastic supporter of the payday lending industry. Payday lenders are the exact reason you need an agency like the CFPB.

They are pure human scum. Even by the rock-bottom standards of the American service industry, the payday-loan profit model is indefensibly exploitative. Your average flasher or school-zone meth dealer wouldn't be caught hanging out with a payday lender.

The payday loan business depended for ages upon the absence of any requirement that such lenders investigate the borrower's ability to repay. The typical payday operation set up shop in low-income, impoverished areas, forking out small cash loans, ostensibly against their destitute customers' next salary checks.

While federal bank examiners practically live in bigger banks, ruthlessly examining the viability of the bank's portfolio of loans, payday lenders have traditionally not had to run so much as a credit check on borrowers.

There were new rules coming - from the old head of the CFPB - that that would have forced payday lenders to run credit checks. It took the CFPB five years of research to come up with the new system. But who knows what will happen to that effort now.

Payday lenders in Alabama.

Incidentally, the reason payday lenders didn't want to have to check on borrowers' repayment ability is that that information was irrelevant to their business model. These outfits didn't really want the small profits that came when the customer actually repaid the "payday" loan on time.

The real money was earned when borrowers got stuck rolling the loans over once, then twice, then over and over in an endless loop of killer fees. Once borrowers fall into that particular blender, they can find themselves paying far more interest than principal, hit with rates as high as 350 percent.

In a civilized country such "debt traps" would be illegal, but in America they're barely even disreputable. Why, the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mulvaney, can accept $26,000 in donations from such people in just the 2016 election cycle alone - and not even feel embarrassed about it! And when talking to the previous CFPB chief in a House hearing about payday lenders, Mulvaney in 2014 could offer this opinion without shame:

"I share your understanding that small-dollar lending serves an important function for many borrowers, especially those who may not utilize traditional banking services, and hope the Bureau will work to ensure the continued viability and availability of these products," Mulvaney said.

The dark irony of Mulvaney being put in charge of the CFPB by, of all people, Donald Trump, is that it shows how totally we've bullseyed the worst-case scenario that could have been imagined, when the country was considering a policy response to the financial disaster of 2008.

The formation of the CFPB was one of the key features of the Dodd-Frank Act, crafted in the wake of that crash. The reform was designed at a time when taxpayers had just shelled out a fortune to rescue the economy from larger-scale versions of payday-style financial predation.

Many subprime loans were no-money-down pipe dreams pushed on similar populations of economically vulnerable people, particularly minorities and the elderly. As with payday loans, subprime borrowers were often sucked into years of spiraling penalty payments by unscrupulous lenders.

A government agency dedicated to spotting and preventing such snake-oil consumer scams might have been able to prevent the 2008 crash. That none existed was amazing to begin with. Government officials came to similar conclusions after the 1929 crash, when they created agencies like the SEC to help protect until-then unprotected investors.

That was the thinking behind the founding of the CFPB. Most of the financial regulatory system until then had been focused on larger economic questions like soundness and liquidity, and there was virtually no one on the beat to protect individual consumers.

Still, it took a fierce fight during the Dodd-Frank negotiations just to get the CFPB at all, as Republicans were fiercely opposed to its creation and especially anxious to prevent Elizabeth Warren from heading it.

Now the agency is being taken over by a politician subsidized by predatory lenders, and nominated by as infamous a scam artist as has ever graced the halls of the White House. Giving the founder of Trump University and projects like Trump SoHo the power to nominate the head of the nation's leading consumer protection agency is a punch line stupid enough to make even Dennis Miller groan.

As Trump always finds a way to up the media ante, the next step is surely something like putting someone like Angelo Mozilo in charge of HUD. Whatever the worst move you can imagine might be, it's coming. What a joke this country has become.
(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.

King And Emperor
By Uri Avnery

ZIONISM IS an anti-Semitic creed. It was so right from the beginning.

Already the founding father, Theodor Herzl, a Viennese writer, penned some pieces with a clear anti-Semitic slant. For him, Zionism was not just a geographical transplantation, but also a means of turning the despicable commercial Jew of the Diaspora into an upright, industrious human being.

Herzl traveled to Russia in order to win the support of their anti-Semitic, pogrom-inciting leaders for his project, promising to take the Jews off their hands.

Indeed, it was always a main plank of Zionist propaganda that only in the future Jewish state will Jews be able to live a normal life. The slogan was to "overturn the social pyramid" - putting it on a sound basis of workers and farmers, instead of speculators and bankers.

When I was a schoolboy in (then) Palestine, everything we learned was soaked with a profound contempt for "exile Jews", those Jews everywhere who preferred to stay in the Diaspora. They were definitely much inferior to us.

The climax was reached by a small group in the early 1940s, who were nicknamed "Canaanites". They proclaimed that we were a new nation altogether, the Hebrew nation, and that we had nothing to do with Jews anywhere. When the full scope of the Holocaust became known, these voices were lowered, but not silenced.

THE ANTI-SEMITES, on their part, always preferred the Zionists to other Jews. Adolf Eichmann famously declared that he preferred to deal with the Zionists because they were more "biologically valuable."

Even today, Jew-haters everywhere loudly applaud the State of Israel, as evidence that they are not anti-Semites. Israeli diplomats are not averse to utilizing their support. They love the alt-right.

This never prevented the State of Israel from exploiting the support of world Jewry. Long ago there used to be a joke: God Almighty divided his bounty justly between the Arabs and the Israelis. He gave the Arabs oil, which provided them with economic and political clout, and He provided the Israelis with world Jewry, for the same purpose.

In the early days of the State of Israel, it desperately needed the money of American Jews - literally to buy next month's bread. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was persuaded to go to the US to woo them. But there was a problem: Ben-Gurion, an arch Zionist, was determined to tell them to leave everything and come to Israel. His aides had a hard time convincing him please not to mention aliyah (immigration, literally "to go up").

THE UNEVEN relationship prevails to this very day. Israelis secretly despise American Jews for preferring the "fleshpots of Egypt" to living like upright people in the Jewish State, but demand their unconditional political support. Most American Jewish organizations do provide this. They wield huge power in Washington DC, where AIPAC, the Zionist lobby, is considered the second most powerful political organization after the National Rifle Association.

Unfortunately, the relationship creates more and more problems which cannot be hidden anymore.

THE LATEST outburst came from an unexpected source. Its bears an unusual name: Tzipi Hotovely. Hers is a Georgian name. Her parents did indeed emigrate (or "make aliyah") from that former Soviet republic. (Since in the Hebrew script vowels are not written, few Israelis know how to pronounce this name correctly.)

Tzipi (diminutive of Tzipor, bird) is both an intelligent and beautiful woman of 39. She is also an extreme rightist. Her outlook is a combination of radical nationalism and orthodox religion,. She is, of course, a member of the Likud. This helped her to reach the high position of Deputy Foreign Minister.

So who is the foreign minister? Nobody. Netanyahu is much too clever to appoint anyone to this high position, lest he or she become a competitor. This elevates Tzipi's standing.

Generally, Hotovely keeps quiet. But a few weeks ago, she threw a virtual bomb.

In an interview with an American outlet, the Israeli deputy foreign minister viciously attacked American Jewry, repeating old anti-Semitic slogans. Among other things, she blasted the American Jews for not sending their sons to the US army. As a result, she said, they are unable to understand Israelis, whose sons are fighting every day.

This is an old accusation. I remember seeing a Nazi leaflet dropped from German planes over the American lines in France during World War II. It showed a fat, cigar-puffing Jew sexually molesting a pure Aryan American woman, with the inscription: "While you are shedding your blood in Europe, the Jew is raping your wife back home!"

The accusation itself is, of course, nonsense. The draft has long since been abolished in the US. The US army consists of lower-class volunteers. Jews generally do not belong to these.

Hotovely has been widely condemned, but was not dismissed. She continues to be in charge of all Israeli diplomats.

THIS INCIDENT was only the latest in a long series of troubles in the relations between the two communities.

Right from the beginning, the State of Israel has sold many religious privileges to the Israeli Orthodox establishment, whose votes in the Knesset were and are essential for putting together a governing coalition.

In Israel, there is no civil marriage. All marriages are religious. If an Israeli Jewish man wants to marry a Christian or Muslim woman - a rare occurrence - they must go to neighboring Cyprus marry. Foreign marriages are recognized.

But in modern Judaism, there are several religious communities. In the US, the main communities are liberal - Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism. These are hardly recognized in Israel. All marriages are strictly Orthodox. So is the overseeing of kosher establishments, a hugely lucrative enterprise.

This means that the main streams of American Judaism have practically no rights in Israel. They hardly exist here.

As if this was not enough, there is a vicious conflict about the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site. It is considered the only remnant of the Jewish temple, which was destroyed by the Romans some 2100 years ago. (Actually, it is only a remnant of an outer supporting wall.)

While belonging in theory to all Jews, the Israeli government has turned this holy place over to the Orthodox establishment, which allows only males to approach it. The reform community and women's organizations protested, and at long last a compromise was reached, which reserves the main part of the wall for the orthodox, but leaves a separate part to women and reform Jews. Now the government has annulled this compromise.

THE BASIC trouble is that the entire relationship between Israelis and Diaspora Jews is built on a lie: the belief that they are the same people. They are not.

Reality separated them long ago. The real situation is that Israeli "Jews" are a new nation, created by the spiritual, geographical and social realities in the new country - much as US Americans are different from the British or the British are different from Australians.

They have a strong feeling of belonging to each other, of a joint heritage and of family ties. But they are different.

The sooner the two sides recognize this officially, the better it is for both. American Jews can support Israel, as - say - Irish Americans can support Ireland, but it's up to them. They don't owe allegiance to Israel and are not obliged to pay us tribute.

Israel, on its part, can help Jews anywhere when they are in trouble, and allow them to join us. Welcome.

But we do not belong to a joint nation. We in Israel are a nation composed of Israeli citizens. American and other Jews are part of their respective nations and of the world-wide Jewish ethnic-religious community.

Netanyahu would like to be, like Queen Victoria, "king and emperor" - King of Israel and Emperor of the Jews.

Well, he ain't.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Blacks, War And The Phony "Resistance"
By Glen Ford

Democratic Party "resistance" to Donald Trump is a sham that has succeeded only in increasing the likelihood of nuclear war and the certainty of massive impoverishment. The two corporate political parties have, in reality, forged an even deeper alliance since the 2016 election, guaranteeing an epochal transfer of wealth to the rich. Although Democrats rail against the colossal thievery of impending Republican tax cuts -- a multi-trillion dollar boondoggle for corporations and the rich that rivals Ronald Reagan's overhaul of taxes, almost two generations ago -- they have already ensured the destruction of what remains of the social side of government spending through their support for the biggest war budget in human history: $700 billion.

There is a price tag attached to every mindless anti-Russia rant. In their crazed zeal to scapegoat Vladimir Putin for Hillary Clinton's defeat, the Democrats became the most maniacal faction of the imperial War Party. If the Kremlin is really "at war" with "American democracy," as the demented chorus goes, then no expense can be spared in "defense" of the "homeland" and its sacred institutions. Democrats were logically compelled to back up their anti-Russia "woof tickets" with mega-bucks for "defense."

This year, the Democrats are "all in" for the Pentagon, including a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus -- despite the absence from the White House of the war-mongering Barack Obama. Led by Democratic House honcho Nancy Pelosi, the "opposition" party showed its flaming imperial colors in a July 14 vote on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. Of the 41 voting Black members, 23 supported the nearly $700 billion bill -- $57.4 billion more than the Pentagon had asked for. Sixty percent of House Democrats as a whole voted in favor. A companion bill later passed the U.S. Senate with only five Democrats voting against it.

There will be no rollback of this gargantuan commitment to U.S. imperial wars, but there will inevitably be vast cutbacks on the social side of the ledger to make up for the trillion dollar deficits incurred by the Republican tax giveaways. The shortfalls will suck up the remaining vestiges of the social legislative legacy that is the last rationale for supporting the Democratic Party.

Below is the breakdown of the Black Caucus vote on the war budget.

Aye Votes: 23

Joyce Beatty, (OH)
Sanford Bishop (GA)
Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE)*
Anthony Brown (MD)*
William Lacy Clay (MO)
James Clyburn (SC)
Davis, Danny (IL)
Val Butler Demings (FL)
Dwight Evans (PA)*
Al Green (TX)
Alcee Hastings (FL)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)
Al Lawson (FL)*
A. Donald McEachin (VA)*
Bobby Rush (IL)
Bobby Scott (VA)
David Scott (GA)
Terri Sewell (AL)
Bennie Thompson (MS)Marc Veasey (TX)
Waters, Maxine (CA)
Frederica Wilson (FL)

Nay Votes: 18

Alma Adams (NC)
Karen Bass (CA)
G.K. Butterfield (NC)
Andre Carson (IN)
Yvette Clarke (NY)
John Conyers (MI)
Keith Ellison (MN)
Marcia Fudge (OH)
Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
Hank Johnson (GA)
Robin Kelly (IL)
Brenda Lawrence (MI)
Barbara Lee (CA)
John Lewis (GA)
Gwen Moore (WI)
Donald Payne (NJ)
Cedric Richmond (LA)
Watson Coleman (NJ)

Not Voting: 3

Emanuel Cleaver (MO)
Elijah Cummings (MD)
Gregory Meeks (NY)

Asterisks (*) denote the new members of the Black Caucus that entered Congress in 2016 and 2017: Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), Anthony Brown (MD), Al Lawson (FL) and Donald McEachin (VA). All of them voted for the war budget, in line with their leader, Nancy Pelosi. They are the operative "new Negro leaders" of the Democratic Party.

Maxine "Auntie" Waters, the Los Angeles congresswoman who was once a fixture in the (relatively) "progressive" faction of the Black Caucus, has talked her way into the Pentagon's camp. Bobby Scott, a once dependable "progressive" from Virginia, now votes with David Scott, the Atlanta troglodyte who is among the bankers' and generals' best Black friends on The Hill.

Back in July of 2011, Bobby Scott and Maxine Waters were among the only six members of the Black Caucus that voted to cut off funds to President Obama's war against Libya. We at Black Agenda Report called these members "The Good." Sadly, Waters and Scott have now thrown in their lot with the imperial war-makers ("The Hopeless"). Insanely, these erstwhile progressives do so, not in some misguided solidarity with the First Black President, but as part of the anti-Trump/anti-Russia crusade.

There is no stopping the rot in the Democratic Party. When the elected representatives of Black America, historically the most pro-peace and social justice-oriented constituency in the country, enlist en mass in the War Party, it is obvious that they are answerable to outside forces. The Democratic Party is the managing agent for their treachery, and is incapable of reform from within. Rather, it produces eager imperialists in blackface, such as the Caucus' newest members: Rochester, Brown, Lawson and McEachin.

Russiagate may be the bane of Donald Trump's existence, but it has been a remarkably useful tool in the hands of the military industrial complex and the national security state.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Doomsday Machine In Donald Trump's Hands
By Amy Goodman

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, thousands of pages of the Pentagon's secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, exposing the government's lies and helping to end the war. President Richard Nixon's national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, called Ellsberg >"the most dangerous man in America."

Now at 86 years old, Ellsberg is revealing for the first time that the Pentagon Papers were not the first classified documents that he removed from his secure workplace. In his new book, "The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner," he details his early years at the Pentagon, and why he took thousands of pages of U.S. nuclear war plans describing the lunacy of the U.S. nuclear war policy over 55 years ago. What he discovered is frighteningly relevant today.

Last July 20 at the Pentagon, President Donald Trump reportedly shocked the military staff gathered to brief him on national security issues by suggesting he wanted to increase the nuclear arsenal tenfold. It was after that meeting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is said to have called Trump a "fucking moron." In August, NBC's Joe Scarborough, citing an unnamed source, said Trump asked a foreign-policy adviser about using nuclear weapons. Scarborough said: "Three times [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point if we had them why can't we use them?" For over 70 years, the president has held the enormous power to launch nuclear weapons, but only one has used it: Harry Truman, ordering the dropping of two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Trump, who seems to relish saber rattling and antagonizing opponents like the supreme leader of nuclear-armed North Korea, Kim Jong Un, may be pushing us to the brink of nuclear war.

Describing President Dwight Eisenhower's nuclear war plans, which Ellsberg was tasked with improving in the early months of the Kennedy administration, the whistleblower told us on the "Democracy Now!" news hour: "They were insane. They called for first-strike, all-out war ... for hitting every city - actually, every town over 25,000 - in the USSR and every city in China. ... The captive nations, the East Europe satellites in the Warsaw Pact, were to be hit in their air defenses, which were all near cities, their transport points, their communications of any kind. So they were to be annihilated as well."

Ellsberg recalled how, in 1961, the Joint Chiefs of Staff matter-of-factly predicted casualties of over 600 million people globally, when the world population was only 3 billion. "Six hundred million, that was a hundred Holocausts. And when I held the piece of paper in my hand that had that figure, that they had sent out proudly, to the president - 'Here's what we will do' - I thought, 'This is the most evil plan that has ever existed. It's insane.'"

Ellsberg was summoned to the Pentagon to help manage the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, considered the closest humanity has come to nuclear annihilation. His personal experience there informs his opinion on Trump's antagonism toward North Korea. The nuclear arsenals of both countries, he says, are "being pointed by two people who are giving very good imitations of being crazy. That's dangerous. I hope they're pretending. ... But to pretend to be crazy with nuclear weapons is not a safe game. It's a game of chicken. Nuclear chicken."

Despite widespread concern with Trump's mental stability, he remains in control of the world's most powerful nuclear arsenal. He has promised to rain "fire and fury" on North Korea. U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, who oversees the entire nuclear arsenal, assured the audience at a public forum in November that "we're not stupid," that he would reject an illegal order from Trump to launch a nuclear attack.

Not satisfied to leave the check on Trump to the generals, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing Nov. 14 to consider changing the law to forbid the president, alone, from being able to launch a nuclear attack. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has publicly stated his fear that Trump may start World War III, chaired the hearing. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut summed up the hearing's intent, saying, "We are concerned the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapon strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests."

We are closer to nuclear war than we have been in many decades, which is why Daniel Ellsberg's example as a whistleblower and his call for people in government to expose current doomsday plans are more important than ever.
(c) 2017 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co"author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

Why Is The GOP Pushing Such A Stinky Tax Bill?
By Jim Hightower

Sam Rayburn, a legendary Speaker of the US House in the 1940s and '50s, offered this piece of ethical advice for lawmakers who were conflicted over whether to vote for the People or the lobbyists: "Every now and then," he said, "a politician ought to do something just because it's right."

Wow, ethics - how quaint! Today's House Speaker, Paul Ryan, has perverted Rayburn's ethics, advising his Republican majority to vote for anything just because it's right-wing. Along with Donald Trump and Senate leader Mitch McConnell, Ryan is now trying to push America's tax law so far to the right that it's horribly wrong.

Tax proposals can be complex, but this 429-page monster is shockingly easy to understand: The Trump-Ryan-McConnell triumvirate intends to take money from millions of working families and give it to the world's wealthiest people and richest multinational corporations.

Of course, when they talk publicly about their proposal, they claim it's all about "helping" you working stiffs. It's "real tax reform for everyday hardworking Americans," trumpeted our president. In private, though, they reveal to their biggest campaign donors that the plan lets them "help themselves" to the People's money, giving these corporate elites a huge windfall - "the biggest ever," bragged Trump. In fact, the 400 richest families in America would average $5.5 million in new tax breaks. Meanwhile, if your income is under $75,000 a year, you'll end up worse off.

Forget trickle-down economics, the GOP is practicing tinkle-down economics! Why would they push such an evil, shameful policy? Because it's not you common voters they care about, it's the moneyed elites who fund their re-election campaigns. As one Republican pusher of this tax giveaway to the rich put it: "My donors are basically saying: 'Get it done or don't ever call me again.'"
(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

Can Our Revolution Build a Blue Texas?
It's encouraging a new generation of Lone Star progressives to run for office.
By John Nichols

When Jim Hightower, Nina Turner, and the Our Revolution road show rolled into Tyler, Texas, Ed Moore liked what he heard. "This is basically what we've all been needing," explained the retired factory worker and union leader, who lives in a town where factories and unions have taken a lot of hits in recent years. Moore, a city councilman who represents working-class neighborhoods shaken by deindustrialization, nodded in agreement as Hightower channeled old-school Texas populism into a warning: "The powers that be...are knocking down the middle class. They are holding down the poor" and attacking "the essential ethic that holds America together-and that is the notion that we are all in this together."

Our Revolution is the national group created by backers of Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential run with the goal of transforming the Democratic Party. When Turner, a former Ohio state senator who now leads the organization, finished her address by declaring, "We can change the world-one community at a time, one state at a time.... Tyler, Texas, can we do this?," Moore joined the enthusiastic multiracial, multiethnic crowd, which was packed into an activity center on the local college campus, in answering: "Yes!"

It was an optimistic response to a tough question. Texas Democrats haven't won a single statewide race since 1994, and they've had a harder and harder time winning congressional, legislative, and local races in places like Tyler, an East Texas city of 105,000 where the party once called most of the political shots but in recent years has struggled to pull together slates of candidates. Even Hightower, who has long preached that a populist coalition could rejuvenate the state Democratic Party-and who is well aware of the argument that demographic shifts are helping parts of Texas get out of their right-wing rut-says it'll take time, and a lot of organizing, to tip the state.

But he has faith. Hightower argues, with the experience of a Texan who knows what has been lost and what might be found, that Our Revolution can renew the kind of progressive-populist politics that once elected Democrats like him to statewide office. "There's an energy-you can feel it," says the author and activist, who has argued for years that the party must unshackle itself from big money and reconnect with working people in places like Tyler. "You felt it in the Sanders campaign. So many people came into politics, in Texas and across the country: young people, working people, people who had given up on the Democratic Party but who started to think that maybe we could make this a party that appeals to people everywhere." And Hightower really does mean everywhere-"not just in the blue areas, but in the reddest areas of the reddest states. Now that the presidential election is over, the Bernie people are coming from the outside and crashing the gates of state parties and saying, 'You have to get better at this.'"

Of the many resistance and rebuilding groups that are working on the ground to renew Democratic fortunes in the states, Our Revolution has made a notable decision: It's betting big on Texas. As soon as the Sanders campaign gave way to the organization-with its slogan "Campaigns End, Revolutions Endure" and its promise to "transform American politics"-Hightower and a new generation of Lone Star populists vowed that they would make Texas Our Revolution's most engaged, active, and, they hope, politically successful state branch. And after a shaky start, Our Revolution is developing into a muscular grassroots organization with nearly 500 chapters in 49 states and a burgeoning capacity to organize on behalf of issues and to help win elections. This is about the recognition of a need: Political movements that evolve out of presidential campaigns often have a hard time defining themselves as more than a reflection of a particular candidate and a particular moment in history. To get to that broader definition, groups that seek to fundamentally change parties and politics must deliver successful examples of how the politics of an insurgent presidential campaign can elect candidates in other races.

That's no easy endeavor. There are still plenty of Democrats who aren't ready to change, at least not as much as they need to. But in an era when everything seems up for grabs, when frustration with Donald Trump's fill-the-swamp presidency is rising, and when the Democratic Party is looking for the pitch-perfect response that might undo not just Trump but the politics that produced his presidency, there's an openness to new approaches. This means that models can be tested and proved-especially in a state as big, politically vital, and rapidly diversifying as Texas.

Texas progressives say there's no time to waste. As the results from this fall's elections indicate-not just in Virginia and New Jersey, but in states like Georgia and Oklahoma as well-the 2018 off-year election cycle could be the best since 2006 for red-state Democrats. They say it's time to rethink dismissals of the Lone Star State as uncompetitive, noting that Hillary Clinton ran as well in Texas last year as she did in Ohio. They point out that Republicans hold three congressional districts that were won by Clinton. They note that one of the state's most dynamic Democrats, Congressman Beto O'Rourke, is mounting an audacious "no PAC money" challenge to Republican Senator Ted Cruz. They point to a memo from Dave Carney, a political adviser to GOP Governor Greg Abbott, in which Carney explained after the 2017 midterms, "It would be easy for us to say Texas is not Virginia. It would be easy for us to say the Democrats in Texas aren't that well organized. That would be a huge mistake.... The enthusiasm gap that we face is real." Informed of the Carney memo, Texas Democratic Party official Manny Garcia told the Houston Chronicle: "We agree."

There's hope for Texas Democrats. But there has been hope before-as recently as 2014, when Wendy Davis's gubernatorial run started strong but ended in a 59-39 defeat. Progressive populists now say hope must be coupled with persistent grassroots organizing, and they argue that the promise of a $15-an-hour minimum wage may do more to increase turnout than a $15 million TV ad campaign that repeats failed talking points. So Our Revolution Texas is moving fast, racing to create the next politics for a state, and a nation, that desperately needs it. "I think people know that if we break through in Texas, anything is possible," says Turner, a Sanders surrogate in 2016 whose dynamic speaking style and unapologetic advocacy for emboldening the Democratic Party have made her a hero among millennial activists. "We have to do the work here if we are going to renew the Democratic Party."

Designated by Our Revolution's national board as the organization's first state affiliate, the Lone Star group has hired staff; used Sanders-campaign lists to connect with grassroots activists; and begun organizing chapters at the local, county, and regional levels. It has spelled out a progressive agenda-a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, worker rights, support for immigrants, policies to address climate change, and a commitment to get big money out of politics-and it is encouraging political newcomers who came of age in the Sanders campaign, as well as the worker-rights, immigrant-rights, and Black Lives Matter movements, to start running in Democratic primaries and nonpartisan local elections.

Some of these newcomers have already won. Activist La'Shadion Shemwell, 30, was elected in June to the McKinney City Council in conservative Collin County, north of Dallas. "If I can do it," Shemwell says, "having been arrested, being a minority, having tattoos and dreadlocks, being a poor person with all the odds against me-if I can do it, then anybody can do it." In San Antonio, history teacher John Courage surprised nearly everyone by winning his uphill run for a City Council seat. "We can't overstate how huge an upset this is," said Our Revolution, which backed him. "Education activist John Courage has won his race in San Antonio's most conservative district!"

The group plans to endorse candidates in 2018 for posts like state commissioner of agriculture-where Kim Olson, a retired Air Force colonel and rancher who has become a dynamic advocate for sustainable food production, seeks the Democratic nod-as well as in hundreds of down-ballot contests that have often been neglected in recent years. And it's exploring the possibility of endorsing for governor and US Senate. There will be some primary fights, but in many parts of Texas, Our Revolution activists are working with local Democrats and stepping up as candidates supported not just by Sanders backers but by 2016 Clinton backers. "They're bringing energy and a lot of young people into the party," says Lorraine Broll, president of the Circle-C Area Democrats club in Central Texas. She isn't a member of Our Revolution, but she's pleased the group is organizing in places like Hays County, an area between Austin and San Antonio where Trump narrowly won in 2016 but where Democrats hope to make dramatic progress in 2018.

Part of the Our Revolution Texas strategy is to run in places where Democrats aren't supposed to have a chance. To that end, it's organizing not just frustrated Democrats but also independents and members of the largest political group in the state: nonvoters. This emphasis on expanding the voter roll and the candidate list intrigues Texans who have grown cynical after years of hearing that the demographics of this minority-majority state will soon make Democrats dominant.

It's true that Texas is rapidly diversifying, with substantial Latino, African-American, and Asian-American communities. But voter suppression and gerrymandering by the GOP-and lethargy on the part of establishment Democrats-still give Republicans the upper hand. Activists argue that the TV ads and tepid talking points favored by too many Democratic strategists won't undo the GOP's advantage anytime soon. Pushing instead for intense organizing and messaging, Our Revolution leaders and organizers have taken to the old-fashioned populist circuit, driving county highways before dawn and after dark to get to towns that haven't experienced much political excitement in recent years. The meetings fuse activist energy with practical politics, pulling in labor, civil-rights, and immigrant-rights groups, as well as young people who have never identified as Democrats. "There are people who haven't trusted the Democratic Party, but they trust Our Revolution," says Julie Ann Nitsch, who won a seat on the Austin Community College district board of trustees last December with strong support from the group. There are also plenty of Democrats who have stuck with the party through thick and thin but have grown tired of waiting for something new.

"This really is exciting," said Ed Moore, as the "Revolutionize Texas" rally concluded on a Sunday night almost a year after Trump swept East Texas and obliterated Hillary Clinton in Tyler's Smith County by a 70-26 percent margin. "The Democrats," Moore confided, "have been bypassing East Texas for so long that I wondered if they knew we were still here." It wasn't just that Hightower, Turner, and the Our Revolution crew showed up. It was what they preached: the sort of red-hot populist, strong-for-workers, tough-on-billionaires gospel that Democrats used to embrace in these parts. "Hightower talks about yellow-dog Democrats," Moore said of the old-time loyalists who backed the party's ticket no matter who was nominated. "That got me wondering if, maybe, some of the yellow rubbed off on the Democrats."

That's "yellow" as in "scared of their own shadow." In conversations with Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents from towns across Texas this fall, I was struck by just how profoundly frustrated the base is with a national party that couldn't beat Trump and a state party that has been on a losing streak longer than any in the country. There's a sense that the party has, in the words of veteran Texas labor organizer Paula Littles, "lost its way" by advancing a campaign-donor-defined agenda that appeals to elites in Dallas and New York rather than an economic-populist agenda that speaks to folks on Tyler's Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Objections that Democratic strategists, donors, and candidates have narrowed the party's appeal with "Third Way" platforms and policies that fail to excite much of America aren't new. Sanders carried that complaint into the 2016 presidential race with considerable success, emerging as the most popular politician in America, according to recent Harvard-Harris polls. Even Hillary Clinton now admits that her campaign "lacked the sense of urgency and passion that I remember" from her husband's successful presidential run in 1992.

Most Texas Democrats I spoke with on my 1,000-mile trip around the state recognized that their party's problems in Texas-and the nation-run deeper than personalities and last year's election results. The party has become uncompetitive in much of America. In 2016, it won just 487 of the more than 3,100 counties nationwide (and just 27 of the 254 counties in Texas). The big, bold, contentious, and yet strikingly competitive party that controlled Congress for most of the 60-year period from Franklin Roosevelt's election in 1932 to Bill Clinton's in 1992, and that dominated statehouses for much of that time, now struggles to compete in vast stretches of the country. According to Hamline University professor David Schultz, "Democrats are in the worst shape they've been in since the 1920s."

Nowhere has the decline been so dramatic as in Texas, a state once so solidly Democratic that the great political battles played out in the primaries, because Republicans weren't competitive enough to make November contests matter. Into the early '90s, Democrats were so dominant that the state's political stars-people like Hightower, once the Texas agriculture commissioner, and then-Governor Ann Richards-became leading progressive voices on the national stage. Hightower was defeated in 1990, the victim of a slimy campaign engineered by Karl Rove. Richards lost four years later to Rove's gubernatorial candidate, George W. Bush. The party lost the Texas Senate in 1996 and the Texas House in 2002, and as the years passed, it lost courthouse posts at such a steady rate that in recent years, contests for local, county, legislative, and even statewide offices have often been conceded to the Republicans without much of a fight.

The change has occurred in the lifetime of many of the Texans who have joined Our Revolution. Before the "Revolutionize Texas" rally in Tyler, Hightower and I drove around the surrounding region. "I used to win this county, Smith County," Hightower recalled. He finished his 1982 race for agriculture commissioner with more than 60 percent of the vote statewide, running on a Democratic ticket that swept every state office, and he finished equally strong in 1986. In those days, says Littles, the union organizer who grew up south of Tyler in Groveton and now directs the Texas efforts of National Nurses United, "I loved working elections in East Texas. Everyone understood what it was about. You had steelworkers, rubber workers, oil and chemical workers, all these unions, all these union families. We elected a lot of populists and progressives. We had a saying: 'We elect people and then we collect from them.' Everyone knew what that meant-it meant that elected officials didn't just respond to the big money and the bosses; they listened to us, they responded to the needs of working people."

Then things started to fall apart. First came the layoffs, then the factory closings. The sprawling Goodyear plant that once employed more than 1,000 tire workers on Tyler's west side closed a decade ago; a Carrier Corporation plant closure cost another 400 jobs four years ago-long before Trump made a show of trying to save the company's facility in Indiana. Union locals dwindled and disappeared-not just in Tyler but in much of East Texas. Democrats started looking elsewhere for support: to wealthy donors and campaign consultants who argued that the best way to win elections was by pouring money into TV ads rather than local parties and grassroots organizing. "The party turned into a club," says Littles. "People didn't feel so connected to it. They stopped showing up for meetings, stopped answering calls to knock on doors."

Now they're showing up. On a Monday night in early October, I drove out of Austin to a candidates' forum sponsored by the Circle-C Area Democrats club, which works part of the sprawling, and absurdly gerrymandered, district of retiring Republican Congressman Lamar Smith. When I arrived, I couldn't find a parking spot. The club has moved its meetings to larger and larger halls as the crowds have grown in recent months. Trump's election shook a lot of folks into action. They're not all Our Revolution members, but many are, including club vice president Hatem Natsheh, who says Our Revolution Texas has "reactivated" the party in many parts of the state. That certainly seemed to be the case as the congressional candidates spoke; as Natsheh notes, "A lot of them were sounding the Bernie Sanders themes: Medicare for All, $15 an hour."

One of the leading contenders at the Circle-C forum, former congressional aide Derrick Crowe, told the crowd that Texas Democrats must spell out an agenda that excites not just the party faithful but also the great mass of nonvoters who must become engaged in order to tip Texas. Crowe wasn't just talking the talk. A few days before the forum, when the group organized a rally for universal health care, Crowe showed up, held his "Medicare for All" sign aloft, and tweeted that he was "Proud to stand with @OurRevolutionTX & @OurRevolution for #Medicare4all in San Antonio!"
(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 Grand Aerial Display In Night Sky Is Disappearing
By James Donahue

Some years ago when we lived in a rural Michigan home with a large picture window facing east across a vast open field, I used to marvel at the panorama of stars visible on clear nights. Later when we lived briefly on the high plains of Arizona, the aerial display was so grand my wife and I spent hours studying the sky with a fine set of binoculars. We were rewarded that winter by an eclipse of the moon, a passing comet and a rare alignment of the planets.

Even before we left the western states the smog was moving in. You could see it; a murky pale brown fog hanging low on the horizon. One day when driving into Albuquerque, New Mexico, which rests in a valley between surrounding mountains, we were shocked to clearly notice that as we descended, we were passing through various layers of industrial fog that was visible to us and began smarting our eyes. Once in the city the smog was no longer noticeable, but we knew it was there. The sky was not as bright blue to us as it had been before we arrived.

Star gazing is not a lost art, but those who do it must leave the lights of civilization and move to high ground, above the layers of smog now encompassing much of our planet, to get a good view. They marvel at the same things we easily watched from the yard of our Navajo hosts on the high desert. Some enthusiasts drive for miles to find the right place to view the sky.

Now researchers for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are saying that weather satellite data is showing that artificial night lighting from all over our planet is bouncing off those layers of smog and making it more and more difficult to observe the stars. Light pollution is also affecting sleep patterns and having other ecological effects on people and especially nocturnal animals, the research report states.

Christopher Kyba, of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, in a research paper on this subject published in the journal Science Advances, noted that the increased night-time lighting is obscuring stars that people have witnessed for millennia.

That statement caused me to think about the vast number of interesting archaeological digs, and the studies of ancient stone structures like Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza, that clearly show that these mighty construction projects by the ancients hinged on the movement of the stars. The stars and solar events were so clear to those distant ancestors that their lives were guided by the lights they observed in the night sky.

They knew when to plant, when to harvest, and set dates of celebration for the Winter and Summer Solstice, marking the shortest and longest day of each year. The calendar we still use today somewhat follows those ancient celebrations, marking the start of each new year and the shift from spring to summer. They also marked the shift from winter to spring and from summer to autumn as the two equinoxes. The ancients watched the stars that closely, celebrated those special days, and they told stories based on various patterns that looked to them like great animals and gods moving through the sky.

Imagine how brilliant the stars in the night sky would look to people who had no smog and artificial light to blind their observations. It is small wonder that so many celebrations and observations shared the world over are the result of things seen and the stories told around the ancient camp fires.
(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.

Hubert H. Humphrey gives a speech during his 1968 presidential campaign.

The Ghost Of Hubert Humphrey
By Norman Solomon

He was one of the most acclaimed-and ultimately destructive-liberal icons in American history. Four decades after his death, Democratic politicians rarely mention his name. Yet Hubert H. Humphrey haunts the Democratic Party.

The ghost of HHH is hovering over a party led by people who support endless war abroad while claiming to be champions of humane policies at home.

Fifty years ago, Humphrey was a major cog in the U.S. war machine as it inflicted mass carnage in Vietnam. Today, he's a prototype for conformist Democratic politicians who go along to get along with the warfare state.

"I did not become vice president with Lyndon Johnson to cause him trouble," Humphrey said in 1965, shortly after reaching the nation's second-highest office. Expediency and party unity were top priorities. Decency was gone. And escalation of the war in Vietnam went on ... and on ... and on.

Like countless Democratic officeholders since then, Humphrey relied on his image to induce the party faithful to cut him some slack. After all, he was known to be a real good guy.

Of course, Humphrey tried to coast on his reputation. He had spoken out for civil rights before it was popular, while exuding an avuncular devotion to progressive social change. From the time of his stirring speech at the 1948 Democratic National Convention-telling the party to "get out of the shadow of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights," infuriating Dixiecrats in the process-Hubert Humphrey seemed to personify the virtues of American liberalism.

HHH was a beacon of that liberalism in the U.S. Senate from 1949 to 1964. And then, after the landslide triumph of the Johnson-Humphrey ticket, he soon became a beacon of craven ambition. At the start of the 1960s, he'd represented the best of the Democratic Party. Midway through it, he was well on his way to representing the worst.

Humphrey could not, would not get off the war train. His party loyalty and ambition were too great. He had plenty of company in Washington. Year after year, hundreds of Democrats in Congress, along with Republicans, kept selling their souls to aid the slaughter of the Vietnamese people.

Today, in the Senate, there are many Democrats akin to Hubert Humphrey. They can be heard demanding protection of civil rights and calling for more funds on behalf of social programs, safety nets, education and housing. The routine is to tout support for such domestic programs while fueling militarism.

So, in September, when the Senate voted 89-8 for a $700 billion military budget, boosting largesse for the Pentagon by $80 billion, only four Democrats-Kirsten Gillibrand, Patrick Leahy, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden-joined with independent Bernie Sanders and three Republicans to vote against the measure. Little attention went to the fact that such lavish spending could instead be applied to actually helping people instead of further revving up the United States' killing engines.

Perpetual war-like its twin, mass surveillance-became normalized as bipartisan during the eight years of the Obama presidency. Even the strongest anti-war voices in Congress among Democrats tended to tamp down the outrage while one of their own was in the Oval Office. Most, in effect, were echoing the Hubert Humphrey of 1965. They were not in the Senate or House under party leader Barack Obama "to cause him trouble." Very few congressional Democrats have stood up to the pro-war avalanche from the mass media. The ritual is to go with the kind of hand-wringing statements favored by the likes of The New York Times editorial board (which Adam Johnson deconstructed in a piece for the media watchdog group FAIR, headlined "NYT Laments 'Forever Wars' Its Editorials Helped Create").

Throughout the mid-1960s and even later, members of Congress willing to raise their voices unequivocally against the Vietnam War were scarce, and the same was true of the mass media. The submissive moral cowardice of politicians and journalists mirrored each other. A survey conducted by The Boston Globe in early 1968 found that-out of 39 major American daily newspapers-not a single one had editorially called for U.S. military withdrawal from Vietnam.

Now, few members of Congress are willing to clearly speak out against the self-perpetuating madness of the "war on terror." And this year, one of the most overwhelming-and dangerous-party lines among Democrats on Capitol Hill has been the vilification of Russia. The corrosive conformity is stunning.

Even the brave congresswoman who was the only member of Congress to vote against the blank-check war resolution three days after 9/11, Barbara Lee of California, drifted with the partisan anti-Russia tide. While she has rightly joined with other Democrats in calling for the U.S. government to negotiate rather than escalate with North Korea, she has voiced condemnation instead of encouragement for top-level diplomacy between the United States and Russia-countries that both have arsenals with several thousand nuclear weapons.

From the era of Hubert Humphrey's avid support for the U.S. war on Vietnam to the current era of diffuse U.S. warfare on several continents, much has changed. And yet, a timeworn truism applies: History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes an awful lot.

A recently released report, "Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis" (which I co-wrote as part of a task force), includes a section on "War and the Party." It points out: Given that the all-volunteer U.S. military gains recruits in a social context of extreme income inequality, a de facto "economic draft" puts the heaviest burdens of war on the working class. Those burdens have largely worn out their welcome. Yet Democratic Party leaders have rarely made an issue out of the spiraling military costs or the long-term consequences of what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism." While frequently invoking the legacy of Dr. King, the Democratic leadership has had no use for his cogent warnings about the home-front ravages of war. In a landmark 1967 speech at New York's Riverside Church, Dr. King deplored the priorities of a bipartisan establishment demonstrating its "hostility to the poor"-appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."

Fifty years later, the vast majority of Democratic leaders go along with such warfare-state priorities. Hubert Humphrey wanted to pretend that war abroad could be compatible with a great society at home. Today, at the top of the Democratic Party, the pretense is similar, as if continual U.S. warfare overseas can coexist with some kind of decent social policy at home. The mix of delusion and deception continues to cause vast human suffering.
(c) 2017 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

If You Like Trump Why Wouldn't You Like Roy Moore?
By Heather Digby Parton

They love a handsy man:

Just a year ago over 60 million Americans voted for a man who was caught on tape bragging that he could assault women and get away with it, not to mention that he endorsed torture and other war crimes, mass deportation and jailing his political opponents so this really should not be a surprise. There are many millions of deplorables:

A new CBS News poll finds 71 percent of Alabama Republicans say the allegations against Roy Moore are false, and those who believe this also overwhelmingly believe Democrats and the media are behind those allegations.

The poll found 92 percent of Republicans who don't believe the allegations against Moore say the Democrats are behind the charges, and 88 percent say newspapers and the media are behind them.

The Senate contest looks to be highly dependent on turnout. Moore has a lead over Democrat Doug Jones, 49 percent to 43 percent, among the likely voters who are most apt to vote on Dec. 12. Among all registered voters, the contest is even. And nearly a quarter of voters still describe themselves as "maybe" or "probably" going to vote.

A majority of Alabama Republican voters (53 percent) say the allegations against Moore are a concern, but that other things matter more. One-third of Republicans say the allegations are not a concern to them.

The poll describes a picture of many Republican voters choosing based on other issues: Half of Moore's supporters say they are backing him mainly because they want a senator who will cast conservative votes in the Senate, rather than because they think Moore is the best person for the job.

The poll also found 49 percent of Moore voters say their Senate vote is in support of President Trump, and 23 percent of Moore voters say the president's comments about the race, specifically, have made them more likely to back Moore.

Among all registered voters, the president has a 57 percent approval rating in the state. Among Moore's voters, it is an astounding 96 percent approval.

Doug Jones does not appear to be drawing many crossover Republicans, which he would almost surely need in order to gain ground. Only 9 percent of Republicans say they're voting for him.

More than eight in Republicans are planning to vote for Moore, and a higher number of Moore's backers call themselves definite voters than do Jones' backers.

Looking for signs of what could happen in the final week, the race could still change, as 12 percent of Republicans say they could change their minds. Moore, in turn, could potentially benefit from voters who say they're unsure about their vote choice or backing "someone else" at the moment, as this group looks like they're usually Republican: two-thirds voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

Alabama remains a deeply conservative state: most registered voters believe that abortion should be illegal (58 percent) and that same-sex marriage should not be legal (56 percent). Moore draws nearly nine in 10 voters who believe abortion should be illegal. Only 19 percent of registered voters call themselves liberal.

Mitch McConnell has backed off his criticism and now says that it's up to the people of Alabama. If Moore wins, and he likely will, I can hardly wait to see all these Republicans including the president welcome this freak into the fold. They are now officially the underage pussy grabbing party. Woo hoo. .
(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.

A bicycle leans against an electric vehicle charging station in Amsterdam.

Renewable Energy Isn't Perfect, But It's Far Better Than Fossil Fuels
By David Suzuki

In their efforts to discredit renewable energy and support continued fossil fuel burning, many anti-environmentalists have circulated a dual image purporting to compare a lithium mine with an oilsands operation. It illustrates the level of dishonesty to which some will stoop to keep us on our current polluting, climate-disrupting path (although in some cases it could be ignorance).

The image is a poor attempt to prove that lithium batteries and renewable energy are worse for the environment than energy from oilsands bitumen. The first problem is that the "lithium mine" is actually BHP Billiton's Escondida copper mine in Chile (the world's largest). The bottom image is of an Alberta oilsands operation, but it's an in situ underground facility and doesn't represent the enormous open-pit mining operations used to extract most bitumen.

Lithium is used in batteries for electric cars, cellphones, computers and other electric devices, as well as power-grid storage systems, because it's light and highly conductive. Most lithium isn't mined. More than 95 per cent comes from pumping underground brine into pans, allowing the liquid to evaporate and separating out the lithium using electrolysis.

Any real comparison between oilsands and lithium batteries shows that oilsands products, from extracting and processing to transporting and burning, are by far the most destructive. Extraction and production destroy habitat, pollute air, land and water and produce greenhouse gas emissions. Burning the fuels causes toxic pollution and wreaks havoc with Earth's climate.

Does that mean batteries are environmentally benign? No. All energy sources and technologies have some environmental impact - one reason energy conservation is crucial. A 2010 study comparing the environmental impacts of electric cars to internal combustion vehicles found the latter are far more damaging, taking into account global warming potential, cumulative energy demand and resource depletion. Battery components, including lithium, can also be recycled, and used electric car batteries can be repurposed to store energy for homes, buildings and power grids.

Lithium wasn't found to be a major environmental factor for electric car batteries, but copper, aluminum, cobalt and nickel used in the batteries have high impacts. Materials used to make other car components, for electric and internal combustion vehicles, also come with environmental impacts.

The energy sources used to charge car batteries also determine the degree of environmental impact. If coal is the main source, negative effects are much higher than if the power comes from hydroelectric or renewables such as wind and solar. But the impacts are still lower than fuelling cars with gas.

One study found using lithium for a rapidly expanding electric vehicle market, as well as numerous other products and devices, could cause supplies to become scarce. As with fossil fuels, this means more destructive methods, such as mining, would be required. But these arguments are more against private automobiles than batteries. Electric vehicles are part of the short-term solution, but reducing environmental damage from transportation, including climate disruption, will require shifting as much as possible to better alternatives such as public transit, cycling and walking.

We still need batteries, though. Storage systems are essential to making the best of renewable energy. They make power available when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing. Finding ways to make them - and other renewable energy components such as solar panels and wind turbines - with minimal environmental impact is a challenge. Some components in electric vehicles and solar panels use "rare metals," which are often mined in ways that damage the environment and endanger miners. But these materials are frequently used in newer internal combustion vehicles, too.

Part of the solution is to improve labour and environmental standards in mining operations - a challenge considering many materials are mined in Africa by Chinese companies that put profit above human health and the environment.

The good news is that renewable energy and storage technologies are advancing rapidly, with attention paid to the environmental impacts of materials used to make them. The ability to recycle batteries and their components is also improving but needs to get better.

Renewable energy is already far better environmentally than fossil fuel energy. It's time to shift from current massive fossil fuel support and subsidies to making renewable energy as clean and available as possible.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Our School Systems Deserve Better Than This
Despite what Betsy DeVos may tell you.
By Charles P. Pierce

Very often, people who express doubts about the value of public charter schools are criticized for being unsympathetic to minority and poor students that these schools allegedly are designed to help. (That the charter movement is awash in fraud and deceit, to say nothing of educational and disciplinary policies that wouldn't be out of place in Tom Brown's School Days, is another issue entirely.) The Associated Press went out and discovered that, for one reason or another, if you're nostalgic for the days of racially segregated education, charter schools can deliver the goods there, too.

National enrollment data shows that charters are vastly over-represented among schools where minorities study in the most extreme racial isolation. As of school year 2014-2015, more than 1,000 of the nation's 6,747 charter schools had minority enrollment of at least 99 percent, and the number has been rising steadily. The problem: Those levels of segregation correspond with low achievement levels at schools of all kinds. In the AP analysis of student achievement in the 42 states that have enacted charter school laws, along with the District of Columbia, the performance of students in charter schools varies widely. But schools that enroll 99 percent minorities - both charters and traditional public schools - on average have fewer students reaching state standards for proficiency in reading and math. "Desegregation works. Nothing else does," said Daniel Shulman, a Minnesota civil rights attorney. "There is no amount of money you can put into a segregated school that is going to make it equal."
The sanctimony underlying the sales pitch for charter schools can undermine even the most well-intentioned supporters. There's nothing quite like some gazillionnaire parachuting into an underfunded public school system and telling the teachers who've been buying pencils out of their own pockets that, mostly, they're layabouts who get summers off. Too often, poor and minority students get used as moral bludgeons on behalf of profiteers on the order of, well, the people for whom the current Secretary of Education has been fronting for her entire public career.
The Obama administration and some states created programs to promote racial and ethnic diversity in charters, but they have been applied unevenly, said Erica Frankenberg, an education professor at Penn State. School choice, she said, leads to stratification unless it is designed in a way to prevent it.
Public education, embattled though it is, and as disrespected by this administration* as it ever has been by any administration, remains one of the most fundamental American ideas that Americans ever had. Looked at honestly, and over the span of centuries, it may be among the most lasting contributions this country has made to civilization. It deserves better than what it's getting. It deserves honesty.
(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...

"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it."
~~~ John Lennon

Trump In Exile
By David Swanson

SHIP'S LOG, February 15, 2018 - How the Earthlings have survived is a mystery. Ever since the United States impeached and removed Donald Trump for accidentally live-streaming himself sexually assaulting a tourist (or was it really for refusing to bomb Moscow? unclear) events have spiraled out of control.

Trump is now residing on a private island, making offers by tweet of trillions of dollars to various nations in exchange for their willingness to bomb the United States. No nation is known to have yet accepted. Nor has anyone yet seen Trump's tax returns. He may or may not have, or have access to, trillions of dollars.

Some of the earthlings believe the impeachment process drove Trump out of his mind, while others blame the water supply on his island abode. But 92% in a scientific survey conducted in 43 countries this week actually volunteered or wrote in: "When was he not out of his mind - WTF?"

This situation has put pressure on U.S. lawyers to concoct reasons why it would be illegal for countries to bomb the United States, while it was legal for the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf kingdoms to bomb Yemen, blockade Yemen, starve Yemen, and end up murdering millions of people in the worst disaster on Earth in decades.

The former president of Yemen, in exile, reportedly approved of attacking his former country. He did not have the power to overturn the U.N. Charter or the Kellogg-Briand Pact. War remained illegal. But he approved of the war, thereby making it a civil war, which is not a war. About two people and three dogs were located in Yemen who considered the former president legitimate, but he was exiled as the result of violence, thereby making him a legal party to a civil war. The country versus one guy (and his trillion dollar imperial allies).

That's the legal story, and the lawyers are sticking to it, even as it utterly fails to help them in the cases of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, et alia. But Trump maintains on Twitter, to the extent that sense can be made of his tweets, that he would not have been exiled if "the Antifa Terrorist Organization" had not smashed a bank window, and that more Trump supporters still exist in the United States than "the entire population in Yemen, if in fact that is a real place."

So, the lawyers would seem to have legalized a non-war civil war between Donald Trump (and anyone he can recruit) and the entire United States.

Or so it seemed until today. This morning at a widely publicized event in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Ann Wright announced the following immediate steps being taken by her department.

Re-affirming commitment to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and understanding "international controversies" to be any conflicts involving at least one nation.

Re-affirming commitment to the U.N. Charter, and recognizing the absence of either self-defense or U.N. Security Council authorization for any Trumpian war on the United States or for any of the wars fought by the United States in recent decades.

Recognizing murder to be a crime that does not vanish or diminish as it increases in number.

Joining and committing to support the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Criminal Court, the nuclear weapons ban, the Paris climate agreement, the convention on the rights of the child, the conventions on land mines and cluster bombs, a ban on uranium weapons, and a ban on weapons in space.

Ending all weapons sales and gifts as U.S. exports or by U.S. companies.

Proposing a plan to provide foreign aid of five percent of current U.S. military spending annually for every 10 percent the U.S. military budget is reduced, recommending a 10-percent reduction annually.

If these creatures now end up surviving, it will remain a story of incredible luck and mystery. But if they do not, it will now widely be viewed as a damn shame.
(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.

If this shameless lack of transparency proves successful, Congressional Republicans will succeed in driving
Capitol Hill further under the dictatorship of the oligarchs, using the people's delegated power against them.

The Republicans' Devious Tax Attack On The People
Slashing and burning in every direction, this legislation endangers the financial security of regular Americans of every age and every occupation.
By Ralph Nader

Have the Republican greed-hound toadies gone too far? How much are the American people going to take before they replace the reckless Republicans in the next election? Low and middle-income Americans are bracing for the likely passage of a Trump-supported tax bill that deviously redistributes even more of the people's income to the richest one percent (including a big tax cut for Trump) and the unpatriotic giant corporations.

Greased through Congress with the support of Republican mega-donors, over the inept opposition of the Democrats who astonishingly offered no tax plan of their own, this tax legislation does exactly the opposite of what House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and their prevaricator-in-chief, Donald Trump, are declaring.

Namely, this utterly complex brew of greed and handouts for the super-rich gives a gut punch to the masses, including people making below $30,000. Far from a tax cut the Republicans are trying to Peddle to the people, the Senate bill is projected to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over ten years to pay for the huge tax cuts enriching the corporate plutocrats who are laughing all the way to the bank. Such unsustainable losses in revenue sets the stage for cutting Medicare, Medicaid and other critical services to vulnerable Americans, with Republicans using the ballooning deficit they created as their excuse.

Slashing and burning in every direction, this legislation endangers the financial security of regular Americans of every age, every occupation and, by ending many deductions for local sales and income taxes, hurting state and local budgets.

Ryan and McConnell undermined the integrity of the legislative process by banning public hearings on this tax legislation in the House and Senate. In doing so, they denied the American people, including honest tax experts, the opportunity to adequately examine these dangerous proposals, especially the huge giveaways to multinational corporations at the expense of working class families. No Congress has ever gone this far. If this shameless lack of transparency proves successful, Congressional Republicans will succeed in driving Capitol Hill further under the dictatorship of the oligarchs, using the people's delegated power against them.

To make matters worse, Senate Republicans prevented their Democratic colleagues from even seeing clean portions of the bill until just before the final vote at 1:25 am on Saturday, December 2. When faced with such hyper-partisan foul play, the Democrats should have shut the Senate down with a sit-in until they were given a reasonable amount of time to read this raid on the regular taxpayers, before the final vote.

Here are some malicious items from the House and Senate bills:

1. The Senate bill widens the double standard of favoring corporations over individuals, with a top corporate tax rate of 20% compared to a highest tax rate of 38% for individuals. Such blatant corporate favoritism shows which "people" the Republican Congress truly represents. Chalk one up for corporate supremacy for further inequality.

2. The House bill retains business entertainment deductions for hard liquor but takes away deductions from teachers who use their own money to buy needed classroom materials for their students, along with taxing fellowships for graduate students.

3. The Senate bill repeals the individual mandate for buying health insurance, setting the stage for higher health insurance premiums and 13 million more people going without health insurance over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

4.The House bill repeals the medical expense deduction used by millions of ailing citizens. The Senate bill does not.

5. The House phases out the estate tax, while the Senate bill exempts more rich people from that tax, which only applied to less than 5000 estates a year, according to the Tax Policy Center. These measures were vigorously opposed by 400 very rich Americans, in a public letter to Congress and by another responsible organization called Patriotic Millionaires.

6. There is a new tax on university and college endowments and tax breaks for parents to send their elementary students to private schools. And this massive piece of legislation is full of escape hatches, such as credits, for preferred vested interests in commercial arenas. Cash register politics.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that beginning in 2021 taxpayers with incomes of only $10,000 to $30,000 will be worse off, paying nearly $6 billion more in taxes. The Committee also concluded that by 2027, taxes will go up for taxpayers with income below $75,000 by over $27 billion.

Increase a standard deduction here, get rid of an exemption there, cause the increase in deductibles for health insurance policies here, but decrease deductibles used by consumers there - this cruel deception produces a mind shattering complexity and bonanza for accountants and lawyers.

The last minute gifts to monied interests emerged as usual from the darkness at the last minute - what the New York Times called "Last-Minute Breaks for Developers, Banks and Oil Industry" plus tax breaks for offshore profits by the likes of Pfizer, Google and Apple, lower taxes for the top one percent, benefits for car dealers and other goodies for people dealing with speculative security derivatives on Wall Street.

The Republican leadership justifies everything they are doing to the powerless people back home by claiming the tax bill will increase wages, investment and economic growth. This trickery could spark the voters to say "enough" and send the Republican scoundrels packing.

Dozens of impartial experts laugh at the fanciful Republican predictions about the "benefits" of the tax bill, citing historical evidence, and the existing economic growth, enabled by low inflation and low interest rates.

Nothing was more embarrassing for Donald Trump and the Republicans than when Gary Cohn, Trump's chief economic advisor, asked a business audience how many of them would increase jobs and wages due to what he called this "tax reform." Almost nobody raised a hand.

The corporate bosses in the audience knew what the Republicans don't want us to know. These big companies are already neck-deep in massive uninvested capital, so they're wasting trillions of dollars on stock buybacks which don't produced any jobs. They don't need more tax breaks for any more capital.

It is time for a voter's revolt!

Tell your members of Congress there is still time to reject the Republican attack on the working class. A shift of just two more votes in the senate (e.g. Senators McCain, Collins and Flake) will defeat the existing legislation.
(c) 2017 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is Unstoppable, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

The Dead Letter Office...

John gives the corporate salute.

Heil Trump,

Dear Uberfuhrer McCain,

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 helping us get rid of the old, sick and poor giving those funds to our 1% masters, 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 12-31-2017. We salute you Herr McCain, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The True Path To Prosperity
By Robert Reich

It's often thought that Democrats care about fairness and not economic growth, while Republicans care about growth even at the cost of some fairness.

Rubbish. Growth and fairness aren't opposites. In reality, Democrats are the party of economic growth and fairness. Republicans are the party of neither.

The only way to grow the economy is by investing in the education, healthcare, and infrastructure that average Americans need in order to be more productive. Growth doesn't "trickle down." It rises up.

Consider the two biggest legislative initiatives over past decade - the Affordable Care Act, achieved without a single Republican vote, and the current Trump-Republican tax overhaul, speeding ahead without a single Democrat.

The ACA extends coverage to 21 million mostly lower-income Americans, including millions of children.

It's largely paid for by two tax increases on the rich - a 3.8 percent increase on their capital gains taxes and other investment-related income, and a 0.9 percent surcharge on their Medicare taxes. Those tax increases are a major reason why Republicans have wanted to repeal it.

But the ACA isn't just about fairness. Healthier Americans are also more productive workers. Children who receive health care are better learners. The Act thereby fuels economic growth and widens prosperity.

Republicans say their tax overhaul will promote growth by increasing the profits of American corporations and investors. This is trickle-down nonsense.

Every major study (including Congress's own Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation) finds that its benefits would go mainly to big corporations and the wealthy.

Share prices may rise for a time. They're already at record highs in anticipation of the tax cut. But higher share prices don't trickle down, either. The richest 1 percent owns almost 38 percent of the stock market. Eighty percent of Americans together own just 8 percent of all shares of stock.

This won't fuel growth. Corporations expand and invest only when customers are eager to buy what they produce. And most of these customers are middle-income and below, who spend just about all they earn. The rich spend only a small fraction.

Profits are now at record levels but corporations aren't investing them. They're using them instead to pump up share prices and executive pay.

After the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, economic growth stalled and then dissolved in recession. After the 2004 corporate tax holiday for bringing foreign profits home, corporations didn't invest or expand. The Reagan tax cut of 1981 didn't cause wages to rise; they flattened.

What's the real formula for growth? Better access to education, healthcare, and transportation, all of which make workers more productive.

These more productive workers command higher wages. With higher wages, they purchase more goods and services. These purchases motivate companies to expand and invest, and create more and better jobs.

American experienced this virtuous cycle for thirty years after World War II. We invested unprecedented sums in education, healthcare, and infrastructure. We financed these investments through higher taxes on the rich and on big corporations.

The economy boomed and wages shot upward. The wages of the bottom fifth rose even faster than the wages of the top fifth. This unleashed consumer spending, which generated more growth.

The Clinton administration tried this formula on a much smaller scale in the 1990s, raising taxes on the top and investing in education and infrastructure. The economy boomed, 23 million new jobs were created, and for the first time since the late 1970s the typical American's wage rose.

The Trump-Republican tax overhaul would take us in the opposite direction. It raises taxes on the middle class, which would reduce their purchasing power. The Senate version would cut the Affordable Care Act, causing millions to lose coverage.

It also explodes the federal debt, which will stymie growth. Debt service itself would likely require cuts in other programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, education, and transportation.

Senator Orrin Hatch warned last week that the Children's Health Insurance Program may not be refunded "because we don't have money anymore."

The current tax proposal would also eliminate the state and local tax deduction, which would likely cause states to cut back spending, including education and infrastructure.

All of this would slow economic growth.

For years, Republicans have been selling tax cuts by lying that they spur growth, which trickles down to average Americans.

For just as long, Democrats have been selling fairness, but without explaining why a fairer economy is also more productive and prosperous.

It's time for Democrats to make the case. It has the virtue of being true.
(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

A Women's Revolt That Targets Far More Than Sexual Abuse
By Chris Hedges

The press, trumpeting the lurid and salacious details of the sexual assault charges brought against powerful men, has missed the real story-the widespread popular revolt led by women, many of whom have stood up, despite vicious attacks and the dictates of legally binding nondisclosure agreements, to denounce the entitlement of the corporate and political elites. This women's revolt is not solely about sexual abuse. It is about fighting a corporate power structure that institutionalizes and enables misogyny, racism and bigotry. It is about rejecting the belief that wealth and power give the elites the right to engage in economic, political, social and sexual sadism. It challenges the twisted ethic that those who are crushed and humiliated by the rich, the famous and the powerful have no rights and no voice. Let's hope this is the beginning, not the end.

"Women are carefully choosing the men who are at the pinnacles of power to address race and class and sex," the feminist Lee Lakeman told me when I reached her by phone in Vancouver. "[These women] know what they are doing. You can't take down someone like Harvey Weinstein without affecting a whole industry. Feminism has never been just about protecting our individual self. It is a collective resistance. It has a vitality we need to use to deal with these hierarchies."

"We need to get ourselves behind these women who are taking on the potentates," she said. "...We need to draw attention to the structures of power. Clearly, women don't want only an end to sexual harassment on the job. They want meaningful, secure jobs. They want respect for their work. They want to be believed when they speak. They want credit for their ideas. There is a focus now on the jobs. There was a moment when we focused on husbands. Now we are focused on our place in the public sphere. This is a structural attack. And this is an alliance of younger women and older women. This alliance sends men a message. It may take us 20 years, but we will get to you. It says this behavior will not go unmonitored. We may not get every guy, but you could be the one we get. It allows women to experience an uprising, what it feels like. This feeds the revolt."

The pathology of men who force women to watch them masturbate in the shower or who close their office doors so they can drop their pants or grope terrified and humiliated job applicants, interns or co-workers is emblematic of the narcissism and unbridled self-adulation that come with excessive power. These assaults are expressions of the widespread objectification of women mainlined by a pornified culture. Eroticism is not mutual in pornography or prostitution. The men get off by humiliating, degrading, insulting and physically violating women. The current revelations are not, in the end, even about sex. They are about the solipsistic auto-arousal that the humiliation and physical abuse of women, a staple of porn and prostitution, have conditioned many men to confuse with sex.

Those who engage in this behavior, and Donald Trump is the poster child for this cultural sickness, are so atomized and narcissistic that to themselves they alone exist. They are stunted, deformed human beings. They are incapable of genuine relationships. They lack the capacity for empathy or self-reflection. Their abuse of women, however, is only one example of the myriad abuses they feel entitled to carry out in their professional and personal interactions. And, sadly, surrounding them are many enablers, including some women, who bow before the same idols of power and wealth to perpetuate this cruelty.

"All men benefit from this gender hierarchy and these systems of oppression," Alice Lee, the co-founder of Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution, based in Vancouver, told me. "Individual men collude in this oppression together, knowingly or unknowingly. The public discussion has yet to acknowledge this. 'Nice' men, or 'progressive' men, are trying to ignore their own complicity. This makes it harder to institute real systemic change. We will have to fight harder. Women are revolting and supporting each other to expose this collusion. They are demanding systemic change. But those men in power will never give up power unless they are forced to do so. [Women and the men who genuinely support them] need to work together to make systematic change in the workplace, in the justice system, in civil society and at home."

Women activists have mounted a campaign to pressure NBC to release outtakes from Trump's reality television show "The Apprentice" in which he allegedly repeatedly used racial or ethnic slurs, including against African-Americans and Jews. He also is accused in a defamation lawsuit of sexually harassing Summer Zervos, who appeared on the show as a contestant.

Trump was host of the show and one of its executive producers for 14 seasons. Those who worked on the series, which created the fictional public persona that Trump used to get elected to the presidency, signed nondisclosure agreements forbidding them to detail Trump's behavior or remarks.

Trump's attorneys on Tuesday will attempt to have the Zervos suit dismissed in the New York State Supreme Court. Zervos has accused Trump of "very aggressively" kissing her, groping her breasts and thrusting his genitals at her during a 2007 meeting at The Beverly Hills Hotel. She brought the defamation action after Trump called her and more than a dozen other women "liars" after they said he had sexually assaulted them. Presidents, according to the 1997 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Clinton v. Jones, are not immune from civil law litigation for actions carried out before they assumed office.

The powerful men engaging in sexual predation live in a rarified universe where they own everyone around themselves. They demand unquestioned obedience. They must be the center of attention. Their opinions alone count. Their feelings alone are important. They cannot discern right from wrong and lies from truth. They are modern slave masters. Those who work for them are forced to sing, dance and provide physical pleasure or get the whip. And they have the power, granted to them by corporate and political institutions, to persecute and discredit any who defy them. This pathology captures not only the bleak inner core of Trump but also many of his political rivals, including Bill Clinton.

"We have been told for over 25 years that all that matters is wealth," said Lakeman. "All that matters is what neoliberalism says matters. We have been told our movements are ineffective. They can't make anything happen, whether that is peace on a global scale or peace between men and women. What's going on right now tells women maybe we can make a difference."

"This is a particular kind of politics," Lakeman said. "It is women saying the left has not taken sexism seriously, has not taken women's oppression seriously, and it won't get away with this. Women are leading. It would be smart for anyone who wants transformation in the world to help us, help us fight class and race and sex bigotry."

College fraternities are breeding grounds for sexual harassment and the objectification of women. The fraternities often ship their men-children straight into corporate offices and other institutions that wield power. The cult of the self defines corporate culture. It celebrates the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation; a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation; and an inability to feel remorse or guilt. The higher one rises in the corporate hierarchy, the more power and money one amasses, the more these traits are pronounced and rewarded. Hedonism and greed become insatiable. There is no sense of proportion, propriety or limits. It is a culture in which you use others or be used, where you seize as much as you can as fast as you can and ignore the consequences to yourself, those around you, your community and the planet. It is at once infantile and evil. It is also a path to collective self-destruction.

"These are men who profit from other people's work," Lakeman said of the celebrities and business and political elites. "Their jobs barely exist as independent. It is the nature of hierarchy to rip off the people below."

"We are dealing with a global behavior," Lakeman went on. "This women's action is pointing out the behavior of powerful men throughout the industrial West. Women are deciding to tell bosses, liberal institutions and managers this behavior has to stop. They are going public immediately. No one trusts the liberal institutions, the owners or the managers to handle this."

"Part of this tactic is to say that whether you like it or not we are going to oppose this, whether we win or not we will oppose this, whether we get the proper results or not we will oppose this," Lakeman said. "This is spectacular. This is what it takes to make a difference. Collectively we seem to have agreed on whom to go after-the men who are holding economic, social and cultural power. It is astounding how these guys are being selected. Sexual harassment is only one face of this. We hate these men for their profiteering, their representation of what it means to be a man, their abuses of power. And even the 'good guys' who slide into this behavior have to be shown up. It has to stop. I don't think it will end with men who hold this kind of power. But there is a very wise consensus that says we should go after the men we all agree on and behavior that is at once menacing and pathetic."

The women's revolt understands that our institutions, including those on the left, will not defend us. We must defend ourselves.

"We are looking at the end of the Roman Empire," Lakeman said. "We are looking at people grasping in all manner of disgusting ways for power. Women are looking for a way out. They are looking for a way to address some of this. We have been denied all the promised ways. This is the result of 50 years of feminist work against violence. Those who hold positions of corporate and political power are very nervous. They can't control this. There is a genuine uprising, and no one can find the leader to shut it down."
(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
~~~ Ed Wexler ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Illustration by Vivienne Luo, age three

Scribbles By Mitch McConnell's Grandchild Accidentally Incorporated Into G.O.P. Tax Bill
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-The version of the tax bill that Republican senators voted for early Saturday morning included scribbles in the margins by Mitch McConnell's grandchild, the Senate Majority Leader has confirmed.

The scribbles, which the three-year-old drew when his grandfather left a copy of the bill unattended during Thanksgiving, were mistaken by Republican staff members for the work of McConnell himself and were hurriedly incorporated into the bill.

McConnell struck a philosophical note when he disclosed to reporters that the random crayon squiggles were on the verge of becoming the law of the land. "Laws are like sausages-it's better not to see them being made," he chuckled.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the toddler's scrawl would add one trillion dollars to the budget deficit and result in ten million Americans losing their homes, but said that the scribbles were the most coherent passage in the bill.
(c) 2017 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 49 (c) 12/08/2017

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