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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi examines, "A Brief History Of Everything That Happened Because Of George H.W. Bush's Insecurity."

Medea Benjamin returns with a must read, "Why Green New Deal Advocates Must Address Militarism."

Glen Ford endorses, "An Electoral Strategy To Defeat Police Oppression - And It's Black Allies -- In Chicago."

Greg Palast returns with, "The Truth Buried Alive."

Molly Olmstead joins us with, "Trump Says 'The People Would Revolt' If He Were Impeached."

Alan Pyke reports, "GOP Quest To Shrink Food Stamps Thwarted As 'Clean' Farm Bill Passes Senate."

James Donahue concludes, "Human Origins Are Older (And Stranger) Than We Ever Dreamed."

William Rivers Pitt finds, "White Supremacy Apologists Are Having A Field Day."

Heather Digby Parton discovers, "Nearly Half Of Women Murdered Are Killed By An Intimate Partner."

David Suzuki says, "Politicians Who Deny Reality Aren't Fit To Lead."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "The EPA May Strip The Protections On Water That 1 In 3 Americans Drink."

Bill McKibben explores, "Climate Sanity-How We Get There From Here."

Jane Stillwater sees, "The G20's End-Game."

CNN's CEO Jeff Zucker, wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich concludes, "China Tariffs Are A Regressive Tax On Americans, And Risk A Recession."

Chris Hedges explores, "The Heresy Of White Christianity."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "GOP-Controlled Wisconsin Legislature Votes To Dissolve State Rather Than Let Democrats Have It" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "tRumps Folly!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Robert Ariail, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, The Onion, Jim Watson, Mark Wilson, Zach Gibson, Stephen Melkisethian, Sunrise Movement, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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tRumps Folly!
I'm having a deja vu
By Ernest Stewart

"A shutdown falls on the Presidents lack of leadership. He can't even control his party and get people together in a room. A shutdown means the President is weak." ~~~ Donald Trump ~ 2013

"In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year's Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!"" ~~~ Donald tRump

"We have to kill paid sick leave 'to keep people working'" ~~~ Michigan GOP

"Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves." ~~~ Horace Mann

Apparently der fuhrer is not only weak but proud of it too! Not to mention that Pelosi has finally grown a pair, imagine that! In a heated exchange that played out before TV cameras inside the Oval Office, tRump on Tuesday openly clashed with Democratic leaders over his government shutdown and funding for a border wall, declaring at one point that he would be "proud to shut down the government" to fund the wall.

"I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck," Trump told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer before adding, "I will take the mantle for shutting it down."

These heated remarks came during a planned meeting at the White House that quickly spiraled out of control as Trump argued with Schumer and soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the votes needed to pass funding for a $5 billion border wall. "One way or the other, it's going to get built," tRump said. "I'd like not to see a government closing, a shutdown. But the wall is a very important thing to us."

At another point, Trump said Pelosi was in a situation "...where it's not easy for her to talk right now."

Pelosi shot back, "Mr. President, please don't characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats who just won a big victory."

"Elections have consequences, Mr. President." Schumer added.

tRump later said that if he couldn't get money from the Congress that he would have the army build his wall. Someone should explain the Posse Comitatus Act to Donnie.

Am I wrong, or didn't tRump say on the campaign trail, that the Mexicans were going to pay for his wall? I seem to remember him saying that? Don't you? I say we name the wall "tRumps Folly!"

In Other News

I can hear the climate change deniers now, going on and on about the giant snow and ice storm down below that Manson/Nixon line. While us yankees in the mid-west are sunny with no snow. There's that global warming winners and losers thingie again!

Back when I lived a way down yonder I used to get a good laugh out of my neighbors buying out grocery stores every time they predicted an inch or two of snow. Most of the snow storms I encountered were an inch of snow in the morning that would be gone by noon but yet most every thing was closed including the schools.

I remember a similar storm as this weeks happening where we got 2 feet of snow just before Christmas. We lost power because it seemed that every evergreen tree in the Carolinas fell over and took the power lines with them. We were without power and trapped for 4 days as we lived in "West Carolina" in the Blue Ridge mountains outside of Asheville. It was two or three days before those with 4 x 4s or all wheel drive could venture out. This old yankee had never seen the like. We had a 4x4 Ford truck and an all wheel drive Subaru either of which could have easily handled the road but with all the trees down you couldn't have gone too far, in fact they were still working on fallen trees in April of that year. I hope they replaced those Pines with Oak trees and the like.

When I was a lad around Detroit we had one of those storms on average 3 or 4 times a month from October through April, and we didn't pay it any attention except to remake our snow forts and such. The schools never closed and the streets were clear when we got up after the storm had passed. In Dearborn, where I lived the city even shoved the sidewalks with small tractors.

As you know I now live a few miles south of the worlds larget body of fresh water, "Lake Michihuron" (as I used to say in my stand-up routine "a lake so nice they named it twice!") where today we had the highest temperature in the area with the warming influence from the lake. Global warming is obvious here as we haven't seen a storm like this in years when we used to get a couple of dozen a year. Yes, it has snowed here half a dozen times this season, but it either didn't stick or only stuck to the grass and was gone the next day.

As global warming is only going to get worse you folks that live in the Western states in the lands of wild fires and drought might want to consider moving to the Great Lake states who have an abundance of water, no drought and a warming climate!

And Finally

When it comes to lame-duck dirty tricks the Rethuglicans in Wisconsin have nothing on the Rethuglicans in Michigan. In Michigan Rethuglicans have already used the lame-duck session to try to gut sick leave, undercut the authority of incoming Democratic officials, and weaken already-passed ballot measures. It was inevitable that their next step would be to impair the ability of Michigan voters to band together to seek change.

Throughout 2018, Michigan voters used the power of ballot initiatives to back progressive goals. More than 380,000 people signed a petition to get a paid sick leave measure on the ballot. And more than 370,000 people signed a separate petition to get a measure on the ballot that would raise Michigan's minimum wage.

But the Michigan GOP made sure those measures didn't get on the ballot, passing their own versions of the laws only so they could water them down later during the lame-duck session.

Three more progressive initiatives - one legalizing marijuana, one creating an independent redistricting commission, and one strengthening voting rights - did appear on the 2018 ballot. In spite of that, or perhaps because of it, the Michigan GOP wants to make ballot initiatives much harder.

The Michigan GOP has been using the lame-duck session to undercut the will of the people comprehensively. They moved to weaken a voting rights initiative and to minimize the power of the incoming Democratic attorney general. They also engaged in a complicated political maneuver that allowed them to seriously damage the state's newly passed paid sick-leave law.

Now, one of the GOP senators behind the effort to strip sick leave from the workers of Michigan has offered an incredible explanation for why they did it:

"What we had was a ballot initiative and we're responsible for looking at it and we can within 40 days take it up and vote on it," said Republican Senator Rick Jones.

"Well we did that. Then that allows us to change it a little bit if we need to and we felt we needed to keep people working."

Jones went on to say that it was necessary to drastically minimize the reach of the sick leave law to stop employers from making job cuts or increasing automation.

I'm pretty sure their is nothing wrong with Rick and his Rethuglicans pals that being nail to a tree for a couple of weeks wouldn't cure! Ya think?

Keepin' On

Well the time has come and gone, and so some of our arthors and artists won't be available to us. We turned up $1160 short of paying our bills for this year. That's the first time in the magazines history since our beginning in 2000 that we failed to raise the "rent."

For once I'm at a loss for words, imagine that! That's the trouble with being a sooth sayer. When people ask me what is it that I do, I have been known to say, "I piss people off." You'd be amazed how mad you can make some people by just telling the truth, saying the sooth! The Matrix, I hear, is very warm and comfortable, and over the years while we did unplug this, or that person, we found ourselves, mainly, just preaching to the choir! C'est la guerre!"

We'll keep fighting the good fight until the rest of the money runs out. If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep saying the sooth!


04-17-1955 ~ 12-06-2018
Thanks for the music!

02-20-1937 ~ 12-13-2018
Thanks for the music!


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

Former President George H.W. Bush

A Brief History Of Everything That Happened Because Of George H.W. Bush's Insecurity
He was called a wimp. He overcompensated. People went to jail and died.
By Matt Taibbi

It's become fashionable in some circles this week to denounce the newly buried George. H.W. Bush as a war criminal, but that seems gratuitous. After all, from a technical standpoint, what American president isn't a war criminal? It's probably a short list.

Thanks to the invasion(s) of Iraq, the bombing of civilians in places like Cambodia and Laos, Guantanamo Bay/torture, the overthrow of numerous democratically elected foreign regime, and support of repressive states like Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, "war criminal" is kind of a weak accusation to throw at a commander-in-chief.

We've had a few presidents that would have proudly tattooed the term on their pecs or had it emblazoned on their limo flags. In this sense, George H.W. "Poppy" Bush didn't particularly stand out, compared to his son least of all.

If anything, the defining characteristic of the elder Bush is that he didn't really have one - at least, not as a politician. There's evidence that as a Navy pilot he showed considerable bravery and ingenuity. He came from a generation when children of the very rich still fought in the wars their parents arranged to enter, and Poppy flew real combat planes by the age of 19, escaping probable death by cannibalism in one remarkable episode. > He also supposedly had a legit 11 handicap, which isn't bad for a president. Only Jack Kennedy and, oddly enough, Donald Trump are said to have better scores. (Trump is actually a crack golfer despite an even-for-presidents bad rep for cheating.)

For most of his political life, George Herbert Walker Bush was basically the unimaginative proxy for other powerful interests. He was always the front man for the fellas at the club, be it Skull and Bones or the CIA (he retains the dubious distinction of being the only spy head to become president). He excelled in this brute-behind-the-scenes role.

But once fashioning himself as something other than Ronald Reagan's wingman, politics demanded he offer the national public glimpses of his personality. Sadly, he was president before he found out he didn't really have one.

This would have been fine, if he'd been a more confident person. But Bush was not satisfied to be remembered as a dull imperial steward, and his flailing efforts to carve out a macho personal myth on par with Reagan or Kennedy marred both his presidency and large swaths of the planet.

Unable to let insults stand, he dreamed up stunt after stunt in an attempt to counter Heathers-style media taunts that grew out of inside jokes circulated in Washington during the Reagan years.

His presidency turned into an endless cycle: Bush would do something goofy/out of touch, the press would bash his brains in for it and he'd overreact, often by having someone bombed or jailed.

Here are the top five moments in this progression:

1. The "manhood problem"

In the age of Trump, it looks like a misdemeanor, but people forget Poppy was a pioneer of fake news. A key moment came in his October 12th, 1984 debate against congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro.

Bush seemed to resent being thrust into the role of first male to debate a woman on the presidential stage. A Bonesman to the core, that wasn't the history he wanted to make. He was hyper-aggressive throughout, and in a key moment, over-reached factually. Referring to the deaths of Marines in Beirut at the hands of terrorists, Bush said:

"For somebody to suggest, as our two opponents have... these men died in shame - they better not tell the parents of those young Marines."

But neither Ferraro nor Walter Mondale had ever uttered anything of the sort. Ferraro pounced, saying, "No one has ever said that those young men who were killed through the negligence of this Administration and others ever died in shame."

Mondale labeled the accusation "unpardonable" and demanded an apology. The take-cornered Veep refused.

The day after the debate, Bush gave an address to a bunch of longshoremen in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was overheard saying, "I tried to kick a little ass." If you believe Kitty Kelley's account in The Family, this is what happened next:

Hours later his staff showed up on the press plane wearing buttons that said, "We kicked a little ass." Some reporters started calling the Vice President "Kick-Ass George," others wore hats made of jockstraps.

A few days later, Barbara Bush, while engaged in what the New York Times described as "banter" with reporters, said Ferraro was a "four-million-dollar - I can't say it, but it rhymes with rich." Poppy's press secretary, Peter Teeley, said Ferraro was "too bitchy."

It was absurd enough that the former Yale first baseman fled to the company of longshoremen after his debate with Ferraro, but things got even sillier when he told the press the "kick a little ass" remark was an "old Texas football expression" that he and his children (remember that part) used "all the time."

After all this, Mondale decided to take a shot at Bush, right in the jockstrap. He said Bush >"doesn't have the manhood to apologize."

A few weeks later, the Doonesbury comic strip - which was a big deal in an age when everyone read newspapers - ran a cartoon playing on the theme of Bush's "manhood problem." Cartoonist Garry Trudeau had newsman character Roland Hedley Jr. doing a standup outside the White House, announcing, "In a White House ceremony today, Bush will formally place his embattled manhood in a blind trust."

The legend of Bush's "manhood problem" had begun. It's impossible to tally the final consequences of this series of events, but it's not crazy to suggest that our ongoing bombing of the Middle East three decades later is due at last in part to it. Because of...

2. The "wimp factor"

The Bush family never got over the Doonesbury thing. "He's been reduced to a cartoon," fumed son Jeb in a 1987 Newsweek cover story called "BUSH BATTLES THE WIMP FACTOR" that, to be fair, was one of the all-time lows in campaign journalism. The Newsweek piece was one of the worst examples of a type of campaign reporting that involves pundits formalizing the inane Beltway caricatures of politicians.

Bush throughout Reagan's presidency had been the target of razzing depicting him as a lackey, Reagan's brown-nosing yes-man, or worse. There were a lot of jokes playing on the theme of Bush "serving under Ronald Reagan," and some suggested he should add Reagan UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick to his ticket to add "machismo" for his 1988 run.

President George H.W. Bush poses for photographers after making an address to the nation on the civil disturbances in Los Angeles, California following the Rodney King verdict from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC.

The Newsweek piece formalized all of this. It had some true observations ("His political identity was fuzzy from the start"), but mainly focused on a "problem" that Bush had an "image" of a "guy who takes direction," a character issue the magazine claimed 51 percent of the electorate heading into the 1988 election believed "poses problems for his candidacy."

After the "Wimp" cover, Doonesbury doubled down - among other things, depicting Bush as literally invisible, which caused the Bushes to overreact in historic fashion. Bush himself admitted in an interview that he wanted to "kick the hell" out of Trudeau dating back to 1984, and his sons George and Jeb actually reached out to the cartoonist, who was a Yale classmate of W. This is in Poppy's recollection:

″Trudeau says to our son, 'Well, I hope your family doesn't take this personally.' And George says, 'They don't take it personally, but my brother (Jeb) wanted to come up and kick your ass all over New York."

This all seems absurd now, but Bush spent the rest of his political career beating back the wimp/manhood thing.

He made sure the press saw him eating pork rinds on the campaign trail. He had himself photographed in a nuclear bomber. An infamous exchange with Dan Rather in January 1988 was informed by the "wimp" subtext. Rather was pursuing a legitimate line of questioning about why Bush had gone along with the monstrous Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages plan, when Bush lashed out.

"I don't think it's fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran," he said. "How would you like it if I judged your whole career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?"

Bush was referring to Rather's infamous tantrum-walkout after the CBS Evening News was shortened to finish a U.S. Open broadcast.

After the exchange with Rather, Poppy tore off his earpiece, but his mic was still on. "That guy makes Lesley Stahl look like a pussy," he barked, nonsensically, referring to the CBS journalist. He seemed to be reaching for some other insult.

Bush went on to get elected, among other things, thanks to the media deciding to launch an even more asinine "wimp" campaign against Mike Dukakis. The Duke's crime was being a small Greek man who allowed himself to be photographed in a tank.

Without the triple foils of Rather, Dukakis and "Veepette" Dan Quayle (Quayle was often depicted as a Himbo, which might have been part of the reason he was picked), George H.W. Bush might have struggled to get elected.

This was the ultimate example of how the press screws itself with its own phony narratives. Instead of answering questions about Iran-Contra and other serious issues, Bush got to run, successfully, against his own concocted "wimp" image.

In this, he was aided by speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who composed Bush's hyper-manly 1988 nomination acceptance address. Bush's speech was basically a long-winded promise to kick more little asses, but with real arms this time.

"Weakness tempts aggressors. Strength stops them," he growled. "I will not allow this country to be made weak again. Never."

His image rose with male voters after this address. Then he got elected, and started picking fights all over the place.

3. The "rite of passage"

After Bush's election, Doonesbury infuriatingly refused to stop depicting him as invisible. What the hell? Wasn't being president enough to end this intransigence?

In December 1989, Bush invaded Panama, ostensibly to capture former American client/human rights monster Manuel Noriega. The New York Times cheered Bush for going through the "rite of passage" of the presidency, which involved "a need to demonstrate the willingness to shed blood."

The paper was one of many to describe the invasion as a triumph over both Newsweek and Doonesbury:

For President Bush... a man still portrayed in the Doonesbury comic strip as the invisible President - showing his steel had a particular significance.

The Ottawa Citizen ran a typically Canadian series of articles about the military action, focusing as foreigners sometimes do on things like the deaths of actual people. "Fearful civilians run for cover," read one December 21st, 1989 headline, describing "women and children" out on the streets fleeing in terror during shoreline bombing. At the bottom of the page there was a blunt picture of Poppy over the caption: "Wimp label gone."

But bombing a few Panamanians wasn't enough. People simply refused to forget certain episodes, like the time Poppy was overheard asking for just another "splash" of coffee. His efforts to "rub off" what the New York Times euphemistically called "the Patina" never stopped.

Even within his own party, Bush was still getting it, even after Panama. In 1990, columnist George Will accused the Bush administration of "intellectual and moral flaccidity" and worried about "the sagging of America into a peripheral role abroad."

George Will using the words "flaccid" and "sagging" is about as profane as country club Republicanism used to get. In a later insult, Will's brother-by-another-overused-Thesaurus, William Safire, ripped an insufficiently aggressive Bush address about the collapse of the Soviet Union as the "Chicken Kiev" speech.

Bush then invaded Iraq. In an act of breathtaking pettiness and self-involvement, he chose Newsweek as the venue to explain to Americans why their sons and daughters were being sent to get shot halfway around the world. "Why We Are In The Gulf," was published in November 1990, about 10 months after George Will metaphorically accused him of having a soft penis. About half-a-year later, the president appeared at the Malibu home of Jerry Weintraub, producer of The Karate Kid. He also played a round of golf that day with his ex-boss Reagan at the Sherwood Country Club, where, as the Times noted, "the tee markers are little brass archers." After the game, he told reporters he was still pissed about the Newsweek thing.

"You're talking to the 'wimp,'" he said. "You're talking to the guy that had a cover of a national magazine, that I'll never forgive, put that label on me."

In the end, Bush finally got some pop culture credit for being a mean dirtbag. The Simpsons had him wrestling Homer in a drain pipe, with Bush saying: "If he thinks George Bush will stay out of the sewer, he doesn't know George Bush!"

4. Bush vs. crack

Bush once sent a poor black kid to a real prison for real years for the crime of being a political prop.

In the summer of 1989, while vacationing avec speedboat in his Kennebunkport, Maine, estate, Bush came up with the brilliant idea, or at least acceded to one dreamed up by aides. He would do a live address to the country while holding up a bag of crack that had been sold just outside the White House. The idea was to show that crack could "be bought anywhere."

The problem was, nobody sold crack in Lafayette Square near the White House, which is where Bush aides wanted the crack found. There is a long backstory here that involves administration officials tasking the DEA with securing a bust near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They ended up having an undercover agent contact an 18-year-old named Keith Jackson from a poor neighborhood in southeast Washington. He was asked to bring his wares to the White House.

"Where the fuck is the White House?" he asked.

"We had to manipulate him to get him down there," a DEA agent later admitted. "It wasn't easy."

Bush ended up doing his idiotic address to the nation about the dangers of crack. It had pretty much the opposite effect of what he intended.

Almost immediately, Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live did a mock Oval Office speech that savaged Bush, prefacing the crack tale by telling audiences he'd been "doing loop-de-loops" in his speedboat in Kennebunkport and not catching anything while fishing ("not... the... point!" Carvey quipped). Carvey then pulled out a giant bag of "coke" which, he joked, had been sold "three feet from this desk."

I had to research this incident for a book about the late Eric Garner called I Can't Breathe (Garner was also busted for crack dealing around that time), and one of the amazing and underreported aspects of this case was that Jackson, who was clearly entrapped in the most absurd fashion, ended up doing eight years in prison so that Bush could have his stupid photo op.

The federal judge in the case, Stanley Sporkin, wanted desperately to not impose a stiff sentence on Jackson, but - in a problem none of the Bush aides who cooked up this dumb scheme thought of - mandatory sentencing laws handcuffed Sporkin. So the kid was sentenced to 10 years (he was later paroled). Sporkin, a former CIA general counsel appointed by Reagan, suggested Jackson ask Bush for a pardon:

"He used you, in the sense of making a big drug speech... But he's a decent man, a man of great compassion. Maybe he can find a way to reduce at least some of that sentence."

Bush blew that off and instead issued pardons to six Iran-Contra defendants on Christmas Day in 1992.

5. The apple

It is absolutely logical to blame George H.W. Bush for the catastrophes of his son's presidency.

For one thing, Poppy surely helped get Bush The Younger elected, by being part of a narrative that made W look human. A lot of the male campaign reporters liked W because, as a reporter put it to me once in '04, "Hey, the guy had a dick for a father."

If you want an example of how that reality impacted the thinking of even Bush's harshest critics, watch Oliver Stone's W. By the end, the film has you rooting for the try-hard cheerleader forced by fate to swim upstream against King Daddy's sneering disdain over things like not being able to hold down a real job before the age of 40. The opening line of the W. trailer is Poppy's voice, played by master character actor James Cromwell, sneering at his disappointing heir, "If I remember correctly, you didn't like the sporting goods job."

George W Bush on Inauguration Day talking with his father, George HW Bush in the Oval Office of the White House.

The plot of that underrated movie:

"Hey, I can be a crappy president, too!"

As bitterly as W wanted to outdo his Dad - particularly by winning re-election and conquering all of Iraq - he had been even more offended by the "Wimp Factor" piece than his father. When the Rather episode happened in 1988, young W reportedly stormed into his Dad's campaign headquarters yelling, "Macho! Macho!"

When he himself became president, W basically set fire to the Middle East in defiance of "moderates" like Colin Powell, in order to show everyone how not-flaccid the Bushes were. The fact that Saddam Hussein "tried to kill my Dad" was somehow openly a factor in all of this.

W's belief that his father's failure to take Baghdad and topple Saddam had cost him re-election in 1992 - ironically, Bush's own son believed his Dad to be a wimp about that - was a major reason we ended up occupying the whole country, for years, at the cost of tens of thousands of lives at the very least.

The younger Bush - said to be aggrieved both by the "Wimp Factor" charge and by Daddy's vacillating stances between gunboat diplomacy and a "kindler and gentler" nation - made being "decisive" the cornerstone of his moronic presidency.

We now know his father disagreed with his son about Iraq. Characteristically he was too passive-aggressive to confront him head-on, reportedly using a Brent Scowcroft editorial to express his doubts about junior's military misadventures.

Years later, we not only are still in the Middle East, but have a Star Wars-style permanent garrison of bases with which we've droned and bombed the region more or less uninterruptedly since the early 2000s.

Poppy's last act, in death, was to be elevated to icon status by the same Democrat-neocon alliance that turned the funeral of John McCain into something like a national religious rite.

Since one of Donald Trump's defining characteristics is his lack of reverence for anyone who's not himself, the establishment-in-exile has made Trump's lack of public prostration before Poppy's corpse another unforgivable blow to the dignity of Washingtonhood.

Brian Krassenstein of the flying #Resistance Krassensteins notes that Poppy once cursed at the TV at the sight of Trump, so "I like George H.W. Bush even more now." (Why did you like him before?)

And the Washington Post went ape because Trump didn't recite the Apostles' Creed as part of the interminable Soviet-style funeral ceremonies of this week.

The paper said Trump stood, "lips not moving," while all the other dignitaries paid homage to the fallen patriarch. This was likely because Trump is an ignoramus and didn't know he was supposed to read, or maybe he's not actually religious, or maybe he was thinking about his next cheeseburger - whatever, it became a thing. Once again, Poppy was elevated by a less-popular foil.

Bush the elder had some decent qualities, or at least relatable ones. He served his country bravely and was famous for the thoughtful notes he sent to almost everyone, demonstrating a memory for people that would be commendable in the social director of a cruise liner, or the president of a charity.

Bush's problem was that he was totally ruthless about pursuing real power without much of a clue why - "the vision thing." To win an election he sank to Trumpian lows with the Willie Horton episode, even as his reasons for running seemed elusive.

He's being elevated this week, among other things as a way of taking a shot at Trump by comparison. But let's not confuse that with George H.W. Bush being a great president. He was kind of a hack, actually. In fact, maybe the most special thing about him was a lack of a sense of humor so extreme, people may have lost their lives to it.

(c) 2018 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

Why Green New Deal Advocates Must Address Militarism
Where is the call for the New Peace Deal that would free up hundreds of billions from the overblown military budget to invest in green infrastructure?
By Medea Benjamin

In the spirit of a new year and a new Congress, 2019 may well be our best and last opportunity to steer our ship of state away from the twin planetary perils of environmental chaos and militarism, charting a course towards an earth-affirming 21st century.

The environmental crisis was laid bare by the sobering December report of the UN Climate panel: If the world fails to mobilize within the next 12 years on the level of a moon shot, and gear up to change our energy usage from toxic fossil, nuclear and industrial biomass fuels to the already known solutions for employing solar, wind, hydro, geothermal energy and efficiency, we will destroy all life on earth as we know it. The existential question is whether our elected officials, with the reins of power, are going to sit by helplessly as our planet experiences more devastating fires, floods, droughts, and rising seas or will they seize this moment and take monumental action as we did when the United States abolished slavery, gave women the vote, ended the great depression, and eliminated legal segregation.

Some members of Congress are already showing their historic mettle by supporting a Green New Deal. This would not only start to reverse the damage we have inflicted on our collective home, but it would create hundreds of thousands of good jobs that cannot be shipped overseas to low wage countries.

Even those congresspeople who want to seriously address the climate crisis, however, fail to grapple with the simultaneous crisis of militarism. The war on terror unleashed in the wake of the 911 terrorist attack has led to almost two decades of unchecked militarism. We are spending more money on our military than at any time in history. Endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere are still raging, costing us trillions of dollars and creating humanitarian disasters. Old treaties to control nuclear arms are unraveling at the same time that conflicts with the major powers of Russia and China are heating up.

Where is the call for the New Peace Deal that would free up hundreds of billions from the overblown military budget to invest in green infrastructure? Where is the call to close a majority of our nation's over 800 military bases overseas, bases that are relics of World War II and are basically useless for military purposes? Where is the call for seriously addressing the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons?

Demonstrators highlighted the enormous and negative impact of the U.S. military during the 2014 People's Climate March in New York City.

With the crumbling phenomenon of outdated nuclear arms control treaties, it is unconscionable not to support the recently negotiated UN treaty, signed by 122 nations, to prohibit and ban nuclear weapons just as the world has done for chemical and biological weapons. The US Congress should not be authorizing the expenditures of one trillion dollars for new nuclear weapons, bowing to corporate paymasters who seek a larger arms race with Russia and other nuclear-armed countries to the detriment of our own people and the rest of the world. Instead, Congress should take the lead in supporting this treaty and promoting it among the other nuclear weapons states.

Environmentalists need to contest the Pentagon's staggering global footprint. The US military is the world's largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels and the largest source of greenhouse gasses, contributing about 5 percent of global warming emissions. Almost 900 of the EPA's 1,300 Superfund sites are abandoned military bases, weapons-production facilities or weapons-testing sites. The former Hanford nuclear weapons facility in Washington state alone will cost over $100 billion to clean up.

If climate change is not addressed rapidly by a Green New Deal, global militarism will ramp up in response to increases in climate refugees and civil destabilization, which will feed climate change and seal a vicious cycle fed by the twin evils militarism and climate disruption. That's why a New Peace Deal and a Green New Deal should go hand in hand. We cannot afford to waste our time, resources and intellectual capital on weapons and war when climate change is barreling down on all of humankind. If the nuclear weapons don't destroy us than the pressing urgency of catastrophic climate will.

Moving from an economic system that relies on fossil fuels and violence would enable us to make a just transition to a clean, green, life-supporting energy economy. This would be the quickest and most positive way to deal a death knell to the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about so many years ago.

(c) 2018 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

An Electoral Strategy To Defeat Police Oppression - And It's Black Allies -- In Chicago
By Glenn Ford

Chicago's movement against official lawlessness has found they have no choice but to challenge virtually the whole Black Democratic establishment for collaborating with police oppression.

Chicago plans to show the nation how to combine grassroots militancy and strategic electoral campaigns in the fight against police tyranny and impunity. It is a struggle that requires direct confrontation with an entrenched and infinitely corrupt Black Misleadership Class that, in Chicago as elsewhere in Black America, has shamelessly collaborated with the Mass Black Incarceration State.

Black activists and their allies aim to channel the momentum of their stunning success in gaining a second-degree murder conviction against the cop that killed 17-year old Laquan McDonald, into a renewed campaign for community control of the police. At present, only one member of the 50-person Chicago board of alderman -- Carlos Ramirez-Rosa - supports creation of C-PAC, an entirely Civilian Police Accountability Council to be elected by the people of the city's 25 police districts. But, rather than despair at the Black and Latino Caucus's betrayal, the mass movement is launching a campaign to eject them from office in next year's elections. "We're gonna change that city council," said Frank Chapman, head of the Chicago branch of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. "They are so entrenched, they are so corrupted by the system, that they don't believe it can be changed. They've been completely won over by the ruling class in this city. The only way to wake them up is by defeating them," Chapman told Black Agenda Radio.

Chapman's Alliance and its allies in Black Lives Matter and other grassroots mobilizers believe the time is ripe to throw out the collaborators and to "take the power from the police and put that power in the hands of the community." Officer Jason Van Dyke's October 5 conviction for pumping 16 bullets into Laquan McDonald "gives the people hope," said Chapman. "In the history of Chicago this is the first time that a white police officer has been charged and convicted for murdering a Black person, while on duty.... It lets people know that we can bring about a change in the power relationships in the system between the oppressor and the oppressed, if those of us who are oppressed get together, get united and fight. We needed a victory like this to give some encouragement and hope, so we can keep this motion going on."

The C-PAC legislation would empower the elected police district representatives to:

* Re-writing the police 'rulebook' deciding what Chicago police can do on the streets.

* Appoint the Superintendent of Police.

* Investigate ALL complaints, including all police shootings, all allegations of police misconduct and violations of the U.S. Constitution and Human Rights Law.

* Refer cases to U.S. Federal Grand Jury and U.S. Attorney seeking indictments of cops for the crimes they commit, circumventing the closed loop of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and the Chicago Police Department.

* Decide the rules of investigations and change the way police crime victims and family members are treated, increasing speed and transparency.

Most of the board of aldermen's 18-member Black Caucus and all but one member of the 11-member Latino Caucus have, instead, backed proposals that cobbled together various "reforms" borrowed from other cities to give the appearance of police accountability - but provide no real people-power to hire, fire, fund or defund, or shape the nature of policing. Therefore, says Chapman, these misleaders have to go -- all of them.

"As of right now we have over a dozen candidates for city council that are running as C-PAC candidates. We believe that by January we can have this number up to 70. There are 200 candidates running, all told. We think we can get 70 of them to support C-PAC."

The Chicago Teachers Union "is one of our big supporters." Said Chapman. "They endorse our campaign for C-PAC, and we endorse their campaign for community control of the board of education." The United Electrical Workers and SEIU Local 73 "have been behind us," but "there's a lot of others that are on the fence. The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists is behind us in words. I wish they would do more in terms of actually putting some pressure on the aldermen."

In general, Big Labor has been a disappointment to the Black movement. "In spite of what [AFL-CIO president Richard L.] Trumpka said during the Ferguson uprising, about how the unions should be supportive of the Black Liberation Movement, we haven't seen any evidence of that here in Chicago with the Chicago Federation of Labor," said Chapman. "They haven't come out in support of us because the Fraternal Order of part of that federation, and they're using that union card to paralyze the rest of the trade union movement from supporting us."

The Black grassroots movement takes credit for discouraging Mayor Rahm Emanuel from seeking another term in office. For 400 days, Emanuel hid the existence of video tapes that ultimately convinced the jury that Officer Van Dyke deserved to be convicted of murder. Chapman blames the bulk of the board of aldermen for collaborating in the mayor's cover-up. "We have one of the most corrupt city councils in this nation, and the Black aldermen are included," he said.

"There are 34 alderpeople who were all part of the conspiracy to hide the video," Black Lives Matter activist Aislinn Pulley told Black Agenda Radio. Black Lives Matter's Chicago chapter is committed to the electoral campaign. Some other Black Lives Matter chapters across the country have not joined with similar efforts to create community-empowering bodies to assert control over the police, instead advocating de-funding and abolition of the police. Chapman has a response to that position. "I'm a communist," he says, "so I believe in the abolition of the state. But that's not gonna happen right now, but they're killing us right now. And so, we can share the vision with them of abolition. But they need to share the struggle with us, right now, to shift the power relationship between the police and our communities, by demanding community control of the police. That's a democratic demand, and we can't put it off until the future. We've got to fight for it right now."

What Chapman and Pulley did not say, but is central to the dilemma, is that all of these collaborators and allies of the police are Democrats. The Black Mass Incarceration State, erected as the ruling class answer to the Black Liberation Movement's self-determinationist demands, has been relentlessly reinforced by a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats. In the cities where most Black people live, it is largely Black Democratic administrations that have enforced the mass Black incarceration regime for two generations, as documented by James Forman Jr's indispensable book, Locking Up Our Own. In 2014, just weeks before Mike Brown was murdered by a Ferguson, Missouri, cop, 80 percent of the Congressional Black Caucus -- all Democrats - voted to continue the Pentagon's infamous 1033 program that has funneled billions of dollars in battle-grade weapons and military gear to local police departments. Barack Obama, the nation's first Black president, increased the Pentagon's militarization of local police 24-fold between 2008 and 2014.

The advent of the Black Lives Matter movement had no meaningful effect on Black Caucus. In May of this year, 75 percent of the Black lawmakers voted for the Protect and Serve Act of 2018, a "Blue Lives Matter" bill that makes cops a "protected class" and defines assaults on police as "hate crimes" carrying additional prison time.

Donald Trump has branded himself the "law and order" president, but clearly, there can be no reversal of the mass Black incarceration regime -- a human rights abomination that has created the world's biggest police state and mangled social relationships beyond measure in Black America - without an all-out struggle against the enemy within the Black community. And they are all Democrats. If electoral strategies are to have any usefulness to the Black Liberation Movement, it must be understood that the white corporate ruling class has thoroughly infiltrated Black politics through the mechanisms of the Democratic Party, which has annexes in Black civic associations, fraternities and sororities, and the churches. You can't fight The Man or his police unless you neutralize and defeat his Black henchmen and women.

Frank Chapman gets it. If virtually the entire Chicago board of aldermen is in league with the enemy, then they all have to go. Liberation is an ambitious goal. The alternative is continued police impunity and community powerlessness. "So long as we allow police tyranny and terror to exist in our communities, for that period of time we will not be able to effectively organize the Black Liberation Movement. All we'll be doing is participating in nostalgia about how great it was yesterday." said Chapman. "If we don't stop this, it's gonna choke us out."

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

The Truth Buried Alive
By Greg Palast

From The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (Penguin 2003)

Of the thousands of bless you and f- you messages that arrived at The Guardian papers after we broke the Florida vote swindle story in November 2000, none ruffled my editors' English reserve but one: a letter demanding we retract the article or else. It was from Carter-Ruck, a law firm with the reputation as the piranhas of England's libel bar, a favorite of foreign millionaires unhappy about their press. Their letter stated they represented Barrick Corporation - a Canadian-American gold-mining operation that employed George Bush Sr. I apologize if this photo of a burial is not as pretty as the one afforded George H. W. Bush. The corpse was pulled from the Bulyanhulu gold mine in Tanzania where 50 "jewelry" miners were buried alive to clear the gold field for sale to Barrick Gold. Barrick had hired Bush Sr. to help seal this deal and others. This photo and video was provided by Tanzanian lawyer Tundu Lissu who risked his life to get it to me and The Guardian. Barrick particularly did not like my mention of the stomach-churning evidence that Sutton Resources, a Barrick subsidiary, had buried alive as many as fifty gold miners in Tanzania in August 1996, prior to Barrick's purchase of Sutton in 1999.

What set their complaint apart from the scores of others we receive from corporations bitching and moaning about my exposes was Barrick's extraordinary demand. They did not want their denial printed (I'd done that), nor their evidence the story was wrong (I would do that too, if they would provide it). They demanded my paper apologize and pay a tiny fortune for simply mentioning the allegations first reported by Amnesty International. And even that would not be enough. Barrick also demanded we print a statement vowing that my paper had confirmed that no one was killed at the Tanzanian site. Now, I would have been more than happy to confirm that - if I had evidence to that effect. The evidence was, in so many words, "We are billionaires-and you aren't."

Lacking a first amendment, Britain has become the libel-suit capital of the world. Stories accepted elsewhere draw steep judgments in London. The Guardian papers receive notice of legal action about three times a day - that's one thousand libel notices a year. This creates a whole encyclopedia of off-limits topics, including an admonition from our legal department not to disparage the marriage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman - sent the day after they announced their divorce. No paper can afford to defend against all these actions. The Guardian papers operate on a small budget from a not-for-profit foundation. No doubt about it, Barrick could break us in defense costs alone.

In Canada, where libel laws are similar to Britain's, Frank magazine had picked up my story. Frank swiftly grabbed its ankles by running that incredible retraction - that no one had been "killed or injured" in the mine clearance. The editor apologized to me; they simply had no resources to fight billionaires. Who could blame them? The first report of the alleged killings in Tanzania came from Amnesty International, whom I quoted. I called their headquarters in London. Courageously, Amnesty refused to help. The organization whose motto is "silence is complicity" announced that, on advice of lawyers, they would be silent. Barrick made good use of Amnesty's self-censorship. The company told the court - and the many news outlets around the world that were sniffing around the story - that Amnesty had conducted an investigation and had concluded that "no one was killed in the course of the peaceful removal of miners." If this were true, I would have retracted the story immediately. I'm not infallible, and nothing would have made me more joyous than to find out those miners were still alive. But Barrick could not produce the Amnesty clearance - no such report could be located. Amnesty said Tanzania had barred them from investigating, so the killings remained neither confirmed nor denied - in short they had never cleared Sutton Resources. But that was off the record. Publicly, the Nobel Prize-winning organization (despite several angry calls to them from Bianca Jagger) continued to hide under a desk, knees knocking.

One excellent reporter, chosen Britain's journalist of the year, told me just to sign whatever it took to get out of trouble. "That's just how it's done here." Floyd Abrams, who defends the New York Times in the United States and Europe, explained to my astonishment that the truth alone is not a defense in English courts. Photos of dead bodies and body parts in Tanzania meant nothing in our case.

I'm not a Man for All Seasons. Honestly, I was ready to go along with some kind of bum-kissing apology to Barrick, only because at the time I was living on Red Bull, potassium powder and no sleep trying to get out the Florida vote theft story, and I sure as hell didn't need another distraction.

But I had a problem. Our paper had encouraged an internationally respected expert on human rights and the environment, Tanzanian lawyer Tundu Lissu, familiar with the allegations, to go to the mine. If Lissu said no one died, I'd sign off as Barrick requested. Instead, over several missions to his home country, he sent back more witness statements, photographs of a corpse allegedly of a man killed by police during the clearing of the site, a list of the dead - and a videotape of bones, and a worker going into one pit to retrieve bodies buried, he says on the tape, by the "Canadians". (Barrick says the bodies were not from the subsidiary's mine site or, if from the site, the deaths were not the result of the clearance of the site.) In April 2001, when Barrick found out Lissu was asking questions inside the mine site, they sent him and his employer, the World Resources Institute of Washington, DC, a letter outlining a lawsuit if he repeated the allegations concerning the removal of miners.

Then it turned grim. The Tanzanian police, we learned, were hunting for Lissu. Lissu, while in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam, told officials that the allegations of deaths should be investigated. Hardly an inflammatory statement; but the Tanzanian government determined that was sufficient grounds to charge him with sedition.

That's when I lost all sense of reason. I hinted that if The Guardian fabricated a lie to save a few coins, I might take action against my own newspaper for defaming me as a journalist. I'd never do it; the threat was nuts (and not exactly a career maker), but I couldn't let Lissu go to jail by going along with an easy lie. The Guardian's good moral sense slowed the rush to the usual cheap exit from a suit. However, the money clock on legal fees was ticking, making me the most expensive journalist at The Guardian papers.

Bad news. In July 2001, in the middle of trying to get out the word of the theft of the election in Florida, I was about to become the guinea pig, the test case, for an attempt by a multinational corporation to suppress free speech in the USA using British libel law. I have a U.S.-based website for Americans who can't otherwise read my columns or view my BBC television reports. The gold-mining company held my English newspaper liable for aggravated damages for my publishing the story in the USA. If I did not pull the Bush-Barrick story off my U.S. website, my paper would face a ruinously costly fight.[1]

Panicked, The Guardian legal department begged me to delete not just the English versions of the story but also my Spanish translation, printed in Bolivia. (Caramba!)

The Goldfingers didn't stop there. Barrick's lawyers told our papers that I personally would be sued in the United Kingdom over web publications of my story in America, because the web could be accessed in Britain. The success of this legal strategy would effectively annul the U.S. Bill of Rights. Speak freely in the USA, but if your words are carried on a U.S. website, you may be sued in Britain. The Declaration of Independence would be null and void, at least for libel law. Suddenly, instead of the internet becoming a means of spreading press freedom, the means to break through censorship, it would become the electronic highway for delivering repression.

And repression was winning. InterPress Services (IPS) of Washington, DC, sent a reporter to Tanzania with Lissu. They received a note from Barrick that said if the wire service ran a story that repeated the allegations, the company would sue. IPS did not run the story.

I was worried about Lissu. On July 19, 2001, a group of Tanzanian police interest lawyers wrote the nation's president asking for an investigation - instead, Lissu's law partner in Dar es Salaam was arrested. The police were hunting for Lissu. They broke into his home and office and turned them upside down looking for the names of Lissu's sources, his whereabouts and the evidence he gathered on the mine site clearance. This was more than a legal skirmish. Over the next months, demonstrations by vicims' families were broken up by police thugs. A member of Parliament joining protesters was beaten and hospitalized. I had to raise cash quick to get Lissu out, and with him, his copies of police files with more evidence of the killings. I called Maude Barlow, the "Ralph Nader of Canada", head of the Council of Canadians. Without hesitation, she teamed up with Friends of the Earth in Holland, raised funds and prepared a press conference - and in August tipped the story to The Globe & Mail, Canada's national paper.

The Toronto-based newspaper was excited: This was big news about one of the richest men about town, Barrick CEO Peter Munk - not to mention their former prime minister Brian Mulroney, George Bush, repression, greed and blood. The rule in the news biz is, if it bleeds, it leads. So they promised Maude a front-page splash if she'd hold off on her public statement.

The Globe & Mail quickly put Mark McKinnon, their best reporter, on the case. Just as quickly, they yanked him off it and told him to fly home from Africa. From page one to page nothing. Barlow was incensed at the decision of the editor. According to Barlow, the editor pleaded that it wasn't his call - the spike came from "the highest levels."

While the big shots at The Globe & Mail dove to the mat, spunky little Frank magazine effectively retracted its retraction. They'd seen a videotape with bodies - spirited out of the country by Lissu - and would not stand silent. Barrick insisted the bodies in the films were not from the mine clearance - but Frank wasn't buying.

Meanwhile, not waiting on that palsied institution, the so-called free press, to act, I issued an alert to human rights groups worldwide. The Guardian's lawyers went ballistic: In the United Kingdom, one can't complain of being sued for libel, because under their law, a paper is guilty of defamation until it proves itself innocent. Therefore, publicly defending oneself "repeats" the libel and makes the paper and reporter subject to new damages and court sanctions. Kafka had nothing on the British court system.

The pressure was on. I'm pleased to say that my editor refused to sign the abject, lying retraction - just fifteen minutes before the court-imposed deadline. He told me these encouraging words: "We are now going to spend hundreds of thousands on some fucking meaningless point you are trying to make. I hope you are happy."

(c) 2018 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Dec. 11.

Trump Says "The People Would Revolt" If He Were Impeached
By Molly Olmstead

After a Friday memo from federal prosecutors appeared to implicate President Donald Trump in Michael Cohen's campaign finance crimes related to hush money payments to women who allegedly had affairs with the president, Trump has maintained that he is not concerned about the possibility of impeachment.

"It's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and who's created the greatest economy in the history of our country," Trump told Reuters in an interview Tuesday. He added: "I'm not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened."

Talk of impeachment appeared to boil up again after the release of the memo, which stated as fact that Trump appeared at a meeting with Cohen and National Enquirer President David Pecker to discuss a catch-and-kill payment to Karen McDougal. Cohen has also said that the president directed him to make a hush payment to Stormy Daniels. Both of these payments were found to be criminal. Some Democrats have argued that campaign finance violations could warrant impeachment, but other congressional leaders have expressed doubt that the crimes would be serious enough to justify impeachment proceedings.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday for his tax fraud and campaign finance crimes, as well as the charge brought by Mueller's team for lying to Congress over details of a Trump Tower deal in Moscow. Trump, who has maintained that the Mueller probe is a "witch hunt" and that Cohen is lying to investigators to deflect blame from himself, said on Tuesday that Cohen should have known about campaign finance laws. "Michael Cohen is a lawyer. I assume he would know what he's doing," Trump said. He then added that, setting aside his own innocence in Cohen's schemes, Cohen's actions for his boss were not criminal. "Number one, it wasn't a campaign contribution. If it were, it's only civil, and even if it's only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?"

More generally, he dismissed the special counsel investigation and called the Russia-related parts of the probe "peanut stuff." He also tried to turn the conversation to Hillary Clinton's vague and unspecified financial crimes and warned he would not work with Democrats if they continue to support the special counsel investigation and are "going to do presidential harassment."

(c) 2018 Molly Olmstead is a Slate assistant social media editor.


GOP Quest To Shrink Food Stamps Thwarted As 'Clean' Farm Bill Passes Senate
The food stamps program has always had work requirements.
By Alan Pyke

The Senate approved a new five-year Farm Bill on Tuesday that does not impose the additional, stricter conditions for food assistance that conservative politicians have sought for years.

The vote tees up the second straight defeat for hard-liners on the right who want to make the government's meager Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) even less generous. The prior Farm Bill fight came much closer to the doomsday scenario long feared among advocates for the poor and working class, as the House briefly broke the decades-old link between food assistance policy and farm aid policy. In the end, though, the outcome was much the same then as it is this winter: a modest bill that largely renews existing policy.

In each case, Republicans wanted to change eligibility rules for SNAP - commonly known as food stamps - in order to shrink enrollment over the coming years. The conservative movement typically portrays their policy preference as common-sense moderacy, explaining that it's only fair that a food aid program require enrollees to work.

But the food stamps program already has work requirements. Republicans just want to raise those bars - and make it harder or even impossible for state administrators to temporarily waive work rules when economic conditions tighten and jobs are hard to find.

Such temporary easing of work rules for able-bodied adults without dependents - ABAWDS in food policy wonk parlance - is still likely to face new restrictions even after legislative Republicans caved again on their preferred statutory changes. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has promised to use his regulatory authority to constrict the process by which states seek such ABAWDS waivers in the future.

Whatever steps Perdue's team takes to make food aid policy less responsive to future recessions, the legislative win for the poor captured in Tuesday's Senate vote is significant. A million families totaling more than 2 million individuals would have likely lost SNAP eligibility under the Republicans' preferred Farm Bill draft, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

At the same time, the compromise bill makes small strides toward improving a food stamps family's odds of clearing the existing requirement that recipient adults work, volunteer, or undertake job training for a minimum number of hours each week.

Though conservatives have traditionally defended their emphasis on stricter weekly work hours by noting that even a person who can't get hired can find the time to enroll in a training program, Congress has never funded such training and job search systems adequately to cover the need such restrictions would generate. The compromise bill steers just a few million new dollars into such training programs. But it changes guidelines for how that funding is directed in ways that should better steer that too-limited funding to job programs with proven results, CBPP's Robert Greenstein said.

The program will continue to provide too little assistance for many of the tens of millions of people who rely on it to feed families. SNAP benefit levels have been substantially below the threshold recommended by nutrition and poverty experts for years. The win recorded Tuesday - and enabled in large part by Republicans' fear of starting the process over next year with a Democrat-controlled House - is at best the protection of a too-thrifty program from growing even more inadequate to the needs of low-income Americans. But after almost two years when the GOP's years-long campaign to shrink the program seemed destined to succeed, Tuesday's vote sparked relieved celebration from some of those most directly involved in fighting hunger.

"This legislation is a win for the 46 million people across the United States served by the Feeding America network, as well as our nation's growers and producers," said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot of the national food bank network Feeding America. "For the millions of children, seniors, veterans and families who rely on the program for crucial nutrition assistance, this delivers welcome peace of mind."

(c) 2018 Alan Pyke is a reporter for ThinkProgress covering crime, police, the cannabis industry, drug policy, housing policy, and political rhetoric. Alan is also a film and music critic for fun. Send him tips at:

Human Origins Are Older (And Stranger) Than We Ever Dreamed
By James Donahue

Among the earliest recorded writings are found on clay tablets uncovered in the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia, the land now identified as Iraq. These are carbon dated at about 4,500 years BC. This in turn suggests that Sumerian writing was invented between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago. But the Sumerians created an advanced civilization which means there was an unwritten history that had its origins long before these dates.

The real origins of the human race have been the subject of intense archaeological research and scientific study for as long as anyone can remember. The best estimates of pre-history suggested that a type of humanoid, known as Homo erectus, existed in Eurasia about 1.8 million years ago. Modern humans, or Homo sapiens, first emerged in Africa between 60 and 70,000 years ago.

Researchers also have uncovered the fossilized remains of various other earlier type humanoids that offered a variety of appearances and sizes that existed before Homo sapiens. Some were literal giants standing over eight feet in height while others were short "hobbit" in size. No one knows the true history of these early "people" but it is clear from the tools and cut animal bones they left behind that they were hunters, capable of killing large animals, and they knew how to produce fire. They may also have been capable of building sea-going craft because their remains have been found all over the world as well as on various islands. DNA research also has revealed that those early types of humanoids mated with each other to produce cross-bred versions of their kind.

Some type of humanoid . . . possibly Homo erectus . . . occupied the Philippine Island chain an estimated 700,000 years ago. An archeological team has recently uncovered man-made tools and bones of various animals showing sharp cuts in them, revealing that the people living there were hunters. A team of researchers led by Thomas Ingicco of the Natural History Museum in Paris, uncovered 57 knapped stone tools and about 400 butchered bones of deer, lizards, turtles and even a rhinoceros, suggesting these were skilled hunters at that early time.

And if you think 700,000 years was a long time in the past, consider yet another recent discovery in Algiers by researchers from the National Research Center for Human Evolution in Spain. With extensive carbon dating this team believes it has uncovered stone tools and butchered bones dating back 2.4 million years. If they are right it means some kind of humanoid or intelligent beings were hunting animals long before Homo sapiens or even Homo erectus emerged from the jungles of Africa.

Now because of the warming earth and the melt-down of ice in Antarctica, research teams are discovering evidence that humanoids once lived on this long-hidden continent as well. Last February a team led by geologist Scott Amundsen from Wyoming State University discovered the remains of a stone building that they believe once stood about 30 meters high and was the size of the ancient amphitheater in Rome.

Harvey Sampson, a member of the Wyoming team, said intense work at this site uncovered coins with images of penguins and some type of reptile on them, seal-hide balls and wooden pieces carved to look like baseball bats. The research team has consequently dubbed the site "Doubleday Stadium."

After learning of the discovery Joe Konyu, of the Southwest Archaeological Institute, was quoted as saying: "Forget Noah's Ark and Atlantis . . . this is as good as it gets."

But no, Joe, the findings in Antarctica are getting even more interesting. Also this year the fossilized skeletal remains of what looks like extremely tiny humans . . . dated to be at least 600 million years old, were uncovered by a research team digging through sedimentary rock in search for possible remains of dinosaurs. This discovery was made in the rocks on Antarctica's Whitmore mountain range.

The fossils were flown to Washington D.C. for further analysis at the National Institute of Ancient Studies. Intense examination at the scene appears to prove the remains are "at least 600 million years old," stated a Doctor Marly, a Cambridge University researcher who was in on the discovery. "Six million years ago jellyfish first appeared," Marly said. "There were no human beings in the world and there wouldn't be any for nearly five hundred and 60 million years. There weren't even any dinosaurs around at that time.

"When we split the rock apart we were completely confused. Here was this fossil from an age when the appearance of the first vertebrates were still millions of years off and it was a complete skeleton. And not only that, it appeared to be human. It is quite obvious from our study of these skeletons that they are definitely human and not a species of primate. Who they were and how large their population was and if they were technologically advanced is a complete mystery," Marly was quoted as saying.

In studying photos of the fossils we found it difficult to determine if they were real. The story is so incredible we are waiting to read other research papers springing from this find. That the initial story appeared in Science Magazine and was copied verbatim in various other on-line journals has given the story some degree of legitimacy.

(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

President Trump delivers remarks at a rally in Biloxi, Mississippi, on November 26, 2018.

White Supremacy Apologists Are Having A Field Day
By William Rivers Pitt

The Washington Post popped a story Tuesday night describing yet another instance of the Trump administration going out of its way to coddle white nationalists. This version featured Georgia Coffey, chief diversity specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), who was shut down last year by Trump appointee John Ullyot when she tried to craft a statement on behalf of the department denouncing the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The issue was pressing to Coffey for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which was the definite need to represent the viewpoint of the VA staffers. "A statement from VA leaders was necessary, Coffey wrote in one email to Ullyot, because the agency's workforce was unsettled by the uproar caused by the Charlottesville violence," reports The Post. "Minorities make up more than 40 percent of VA's 380,000 employees, the federal government's second-largest agency."

The clash between Coffey and Ullyot came after President Trump's ham-fisted defense of the white nationalists, fascists and Klansmen whose Charlottesville rally exploded in violence, leaving Heather Heyer dead and many others injured. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms," said Trump, "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides." Trump refused to explain what "many sides" meant, but his refusal to condemn the actual agitators in Charlottesville was what poker players call a great big "tell." Coffey has since left the agency.

The silencing of Coffey by Ullyot was no accident, nor was it the act of a Trump appointee gone rogue. "Ullyot told Coffey to stand down," continues The Post report. "A person familiar with their dispute, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Post that Ullyot was enforcing a directive from the White House, where officials were scrambling to contain the fallout from Trump's comments, and they did not want government officials to call further attention to the controversy."

"Enforcing a directive from the White House." This is the same White House that continues to employ senior adviser Stephen Miller, whose gaudy white nationalist resume goes all the way back to his time at Duke University. The same White House that appointed Ian Smith to the Department of Homeland Security despite his having most of the leading lights of the white supremacy movement on speed dial. The same White House who employs Larry Kudlow as a top economic advisor despite his predilection for having white nationalist houseguests over for birthday parties and other social events. The same White House that thought hiring Steve Bannon, friend to neo-Nazis and racists everywhere, was a grand idea.

The same White House where the son of the president constantly retweets white nationalist memes. The same White House where the president himself retweets white nationalist videos.

It is difficult enough to encompass the unavoidable fact that the White House has become a brazen think tank for the promotion of white supremacy in the US and abroad. We must also contend with the fact that the nation's leading newspaper, The New York Times, is now lending its editorial page to the promotion of white supremacy in the gauzy guise of yet another George H.W. Bush hagiography.

On Wednesday, The Times let fly with a verbose defense of white power written by columnist Ross Douthat, who replaced Bill Kristol as the paper's conservative voice. His op-ed, titled "Why We Miss the WASPs," (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) is a long lament that mourns the loss of power and influence allegedly being suffered by old-guard prep-school Ivy League white men like himself, who were so well-represented by the departed 41st president.

It seems someone forgot to inform newly minted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that he and his ilk, according to Douthat, have run their race. The op-ed is a challenge to fathom on many levels; there are points where I felt I could craft a better argument by throwing my keyboard down a flight of stairs. Douthat's main beef seems to be with what he calls the "meritocracy," or the idea that simply having the proper white pedigree now takes a back seat to actually working to earn one's position. (Douthat's definition of meritocracy - and the notion that a meritocracy truly exists in this country - require a genuinely galactic suspension of disbelief.) For example:

[O]ne of the lessons of the age of meritocracy is that building a more democratic and inclusive ruling class is harder than it looks, and even perhaps a contradiction in terms. You can get rid of the social registers and let women into your secret societies and privilege SATs over recommendations from the rector of Justin and the headmaster of Saint Grottlesex ... and you still end up with something that is clearly a self-replicating upper class, a powerful elite, filling your schools and running your public institutions.

Not only that, but you even end up with an elite that literally uses the same strategy of exclusion that WASPs once used against Jews to preserve its particular definition of diversity from high-achieving Asians - with the only difference being that our elite is more determined to deceive itself about how and why it's discriminating.

An interesting argument, that. According to Douthat, any who come to be "elite" - be it through merit or old money - is going to wind up being as terrible as the WASPs, so we should put the WASPs back in charge because they are at least self-aware of their own loathsome qualities. That second paragraph deserves a spot in the Gibberish Hall of Fame, but it is left in deep shade by the brazen white male privilege packed within Douthat's windy closing argument:
So as an American in the old dispensation, you didn't have to like the establishment - and certainly its members were often eminently hateable - to prefer their leadership to many of the possible alternatives. And as an American today, you don't have to miss everything about the WASPs, or particularly like their remaining heirs, to feel nostalgic for their competence.
Indeed, their competence at keeping the status quo running was noteworthy. The old white guard was crackerjack at maintaining separate but equal drinking fountains, lynching, sanctioned police violence and all the other touchstones of enforced systemic racism, along with institutionalized misogyny, violent disdain for workers who dared to organize, and obliteration for LGBTQ people - or anyone else who dared to peek out from under the gray felt fedora of WASP-power conformity and think maybe, just maybe, these white prep school "elites" are only in it for themselves.

"What he's talking about is literally a form of white supremacy," argues Splinter News journalist Libby Watson regarding Douthat's op-ed, "just one that he considers more palatable. It's helpful, really, for those of us who have been arguing since Trump was elected that his differences with the conservative elite are stylistic and not substantive. This is white supremacy, just in boat shoes."

They're not hiding anymore. White nationalist messages are broadcast from the White House, white supremacist laments bleed on the pages of the public prints, and all in broad daylight.

We see you.

(c) 2018 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Nearly Half Of Women Murdered Are Killed By An Intimate Partner
By Heather Digby Parton

Since I've been aware of this for some time, I'm not sure why this article shook me as much as it did. But man, this is awful:

The Washington Post found that nearly half of the women who were murdered during the past decade were, like Parnell and Cisneros, killed by a current or former intimate partner. In a close analysis of five cities, about a third of the male killers were known to be a potential threat ahead of the attack.
Some details:
Slayings of intimate partners often are especially brutal, involving close encounters such as stabbings, strangulation and beatings, The Post's analysis found.

Nearly a quarter of the 2,051 women killed by intimate partners were stabbed, compared with fewer than 10 percent of all other homicides. Eighteen percent of women who were killed by partners were attacked with a blunt object or no weapon, compared with 8 percent of other homicide victims. While a gun was used in 80 percent of all other murders, just over half of all women killed as a result of domestic violence were attacked with a gun.

Violent choking is almost entirely confined to fatal domestic attacks on women - while fewer than 1 percent of all homicides result from strangulation, 6 percent of women killed by intimate partners die in this manner, The Post found. It's also a warning sign. Those who attempt to strangle an intimate partner are far more likely to later commit extreme acts of violence, police and researchers say, and many in law enforcement believe it to be a strong indicator that an abusive relationship could turn fatal.


Authorities - and those who work with victims of intimate-partner violence - say the most glaring signs that a relationship could turn fatal are often elusive to law enforcement, including things that are obvious to those around them but rarely make the public record: death threats behind closed doors, easy access to guns, jealousy, separation or a breakup.

"We have a lot of repeat victims and repeat offenders because, for example, it may be the victim's only source of a babysitter. It may be the victim's only source of income," said Lt. Amy Parker-Stayton, commander of the family violence and sex crimes unit in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. "The victim comes back and says, 'I love him; I don't want to prosecute,' and unfortunately, if it happens again, we revisit it again. And it may be too late. On the second or the third time, they may be dead."

Tracy Prior, chief deputy district attorney in San Diego County, said about 40 percent of the defendants in the domestic homicide cases her office prosecuted from 2007 to 2017 had a prior criminal record.

"You wish you had a crystal ball, because no prosecutor wants to see the same perpetrator doing that again," Prior said.

But the most basic step authorities instruct abused women to take - filing a restraining order - can lead to fatal violence because involving the legal system often is a flash point. One prosecutor tells women who request an order to do so with a backpack and a plan.

"It's not a bulletproof vest," said Karen Parker, president and CEO of Safe Alliance, which helps abused women in Charlotte, where half, or 60, of 119 women killed from 2007 to 2017 were murdered by an intimate partner, according to The Post's analysis. "He can still come after you. It's a legal tool."

And legally, there is not much that can happen until an order is violated.

"That's what people think they are supposed to do when they feel as though they are threatened or they are in danger. We tell them, 'Get an order of protection,' " said Travis Partney, chief trial attorney in the St. Louis circuit attorney's office, which prosecuted Whittier.

"And she did," he said of Jackson. "And she's dead."

Read the whole thing. It's really chilling. I don't know exactly what the answer is but it's certainly important to drill into women that living with a physical abuser of any kind is life-threatening and they should get out at the beginning. I know it's emotionally complex and there are economic barriers but no relationship is worth dying over. And men ... well, I don't know what to do about this.

This habit of men killing the women in their lives is nothing new of course. It goes back to cave days I'm sure. They still do honor killings all over the globe. But it's time society recognized it for the crime against humanity that it is.

(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby,"is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Politicians Who Deny Reality Aren't Fit To Lead
By David Suzuki

When faced with conclusive evidence of a major threat to citizens, a true leader would do everything possible to confront it.

So, what was the U.S. president's reaction to a U.S. scientific report compiled by more than 300 scientists and endorsed by a dozen different agencies, including NASA, NOAA and the defence department, that warned climate change poses a dire threat to the American economy, way of life and human health? "I don't believe it," Trump told reporters. Should we believe a president who displays profound ignorance about climate science and claims he has "a natural instinct for science"? Or should we believe those who rely on research, evidence and facts rather than "instinct"?

The president, who also claimed a recent cold spell showed global warming couldn't be happening, isn't the only one in his administration who tries to hide and deny facts and evidence. The White House released the report late on Black Friday, when many Americans were caught up in the country's celebration of rampant consumerism. Politicians who receive huge amounts of money from the fossil fuel industry have ignored climate science for decades, downplaying or outright denying the massive scientific evidence for human-caused climate disruption.

The report should be enough to rouse everyone to action, especially those whose job it is to serve the people. It opens with a clear warning: "Earth's climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities." It goes on to show that if greenhouse gas emissions are not brought under control, the U.S. can expect "growing losses to American infrastructure and property"; hundreds of billions in economic impacts; catastrophic rising sea levels; increasing extreme events such as heavy rains and floods; more wildfires, crop and livestock failures leading to food shortages; continuing ocean acidification; and thousands of deaths.

It also emphasized the need to reduce emissions immediately: "Because several GHGs, in particular carbon dioxide, reside in the atmosphere for decades or longer, many climate-influenced effects are projected to continue changing through 2050, even if GHG emissions were to stop immediately."

Those who stand in the way of protecting people and countless other species from the worst consequences of climate disruption, especially those with the power to do something, are committing crimes against humanity. They aren't fit to lead.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times, argues that we're facing something far beyond the tobacco industry's attempts to deny and downplay risks from its products: "Indeed, it's depravity, on a scale that makes cancer denial seem trivial. Smoking kills people, and tobacco companies that tried to confuse the public about that reality were being evil. But climate change isn't just killing people; it may well kill civilization. Trying to confuse the public about that is evil on a whole different level."

Denial in the face of overwhelming evidence is pathological, but is it any better when politicians talk about the need to confront the climate crisis while arguing out of the other side of their faces that we need more pipelines, expanded oilsands production and increased drilling? When they claim to be committed to protecting people from climate change but have no viable plans to do so? Canada is among the top offenders, along with China, Russia, the U.S. and Australia, for inadequate climate change strategies, according to a recent study.

Lack of action from governments and industry has left little recourse outside of the courts. State and city governments, young people and others have launched lawsuits against industry and governments for failing to act on climate change and for putting people at risk. These take time and money and are often unsuccessful. Nobody should have to go to such lengths to get the people who are supposed to represent us to do their jobs and protect the planet from corporate excess. But many government representatives behave as though their responsibility is to the industrialists who line their pockets rather than citizens.

In the face of an overwhelming crisis that threatens our very future, it might be time for an overhaul of our democratic and political systems, which are clearly failing the people they were designed to serve.

(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The EPA May Strip The Protections On Water That 1 In 3 Americans Drink
While they're at it, they've neatly summarized the Republican regulatory philosophy since Reagan.
By Charles P. Pierce

That there are still some Republicans doing Republican things out in the world while the administration* goes through its regularly scheduled implosion is a rather overlooked aspect of our current political condition. For example, the administration is preparing to do some serious monkey business with the water supply, probably because corporate interests are once again getting what they paid for, and probably also because the rules being shredded were promulgated by the previous administration, and we all know that erasing the previous administration's achievements is one of the current president*'s only animating political principles. From the Los Angeles Times:

The administration's plan for a vastly scaled-down Clean Water Rule is expected to be released as soon as Tuesday. Officials said nearly two years ago that they had begun the process of reversing the rule President Obama put in place, and internal talking points laying out its case were disclosed late last week by the environmental media outlet E&E News.

The talking points signal that the Environmental Protection Agency intends to strip federal protections from many of the nation's wetlands and streams that do not flow year-round. The administration has not challenged the accuracy of the talking points. "The previous administration's 2015 rule wasn't about water quality," the draft talking points said. "It was about power - power in the hands of the federal government over farmers, developers and landowners."

"The Environmental Protection Agency intends to strip federal protections..."

Great clause. Fairly defines the entire Republican regulatory philosophy since the Reagan Administration.

Under the administration's plan, the Clean Water Act's protections would no longer apply to most seasonal ponds, wetlands and streams, including those that form major parts of drinking-water systems and fisheries throughout the nation, particularly in the arid West. As many as 1 in 3 Americans drink water derived in part from seasonal streams that may no longer get protections, according to scientific studies the Obama-era EPA relied on in writing the original rule.

In California, where many significant stretches of fresh water dry up in the summer, as much as 66% of the state's freshwater streams could lose federal protection. The waters would continue to have protection under state law, but few states are in position to replace the regulatory systems currently run by federal officials.

I'm reasonably confident that California will be able to handle its own business, although there was a story in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday about how Harvard is stealthily buying up great gobs of agricultural land atop deep aquifers in order to plant vineyards that makes me wonder even about that. From the WSJ via Fortune:

Instead of making the land purchases in its own name, Harvard is using a wholly owned subsidiary-named Brodiaea after the scientific name for the cluster lily-to buy vineyards. Harvard created Brodiaea in 2012, and by 2015 the unit had already purchased 10,000 acres in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties for about $60 million, according to an earlier report by Reuters.

Earlier this year, the Harvard Crimson reported that Brodiaea had continued to buy up land in the area, especially vineyards with good access to ground water. Unlike many California vineyards, the ones owned by Harvard don't welcome tourists to tastings but instead feature "no trespassing signs" on the properties, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday.

California's central coast has, like much of the state's farming region, suffered a long and serious drought since 2011. The drought has led many farms and vineyards to draw from ancient aquifers, making land rights to their underground water an increasingly precious resource. According to UC Berkeley's California magazine, more than 100 water basins throughout the state have reached critical levels of overdraft. While some local farmers say they aren't worried about Harvard's purchases of vineyards, others-as well as some local politicians-are expressing concern that the groundwater will be used to benefit landowners who are based far away.

California needs clean water and California is running out of it. Now we see landowners facing the crunch of a corporate-owned EPA, and a non-profit institution with a $39 billion endowment an entire continent distant buying up the land-and the water underneath it-so that it can make its own wine and, in the process, short-sell the mounting effects of the climate crisis.

As Michael Burry, one of the main characters in The Big Short, who made his previous fortune betting against the housing market, put it three years ago to New York magazine, according to the WSJ:

"What became clear to me is that food is the way to invest in water. That is, to grow food in water-rich areas and transport it for sale to water-poor areas."

And, of course, there's data stating that this is all a terrible idea, but, of course, the administration* doesn't believe the data because it inconveniences the administration*'s real owners, and because the president* knows nothing about anything.

Again, from the L.A. Times:
Trump administration officials reject the federal data that show as many as 66% of the freshwater streams in California - and 81% in the arid Southwest overall - could lose Clean Water Act protection, saying the Obama EPA lacked enough specifics to back up that estimate. "The premise ... is wrong," EPA spokesman John Konkus said an email. "The previous administration did not have enough information to accurately or responsibly quantify changes in federally regulated waters. That means there are no data to support the 80% estimate."

The Trump administration's plan would preserve protections for some seasonal streams that regulators would classify as "perennial and intermittent tributaries to traditional navigable waters." Protections would also be preserved for wetlands adjacent to navigable waters. Administration officials have declined to specify how many streams fall into the "intermittent" category...

"You can't protect the larger bodies of water unless you protect the smaller ones that flow into them," said Ken Kopocis, who was the chief EPA water official under Obama. "You end up with a situation where you can pollute or destroy smaller streams and bodies, and it will eventually impact the larger ones." All of the historic federal water cleanups have involved repairing damage that was done to intermittent streams flowing into a major navigable river or lake, he said.

Water flows. This is not a complex problem in liquid hydraulics. Even the president* should understand it. Our politics already are something of a desert. There is no need for the country to go that way, too.

(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"The essence of Christianity is told us in the Garden of Eden history. The fruit that was forbidden was on the tree of knowledge. The subtext is, 'All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your fucking mouth shut and hadn't asked any questions."
~~~ Frank Zappa

Climate Sanity-How We Get There From Here
The path out of this nightmare is relatively clear-and communities on the frontlines are leading the way.
By Bill McKibben

The climate crisis is so troubling because we know the dimensions of the problem and we know the outlines of the solution-but we don't know how to get from one to the other past the obstacles that politics and greed have scattered on the path. Our most crucial job as a species is to figure out that route.

We should spend a minute considering the dangers we're facing, because the scale and the pace of the crisis determines the scale and the pace of the solutions. By this point, most people are aware that the danger is no longer theoretical or abstract-four-fifths of Americans live in counties that have had a federally declared disaster in recent years, almost all of them related to the windstorms, floods, droughts, and wildfires that a warming climate makes more common.

As we burn coal and oil and gas, the carbon that combustion emits steadily raises the global temperature: We're closing in on two degrees Fahrenheit, which doesn't sound like much. So say it another way: the heat equivalent each day of 400,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs.

That's why, say, California had the largest fire in its history in 2017-and why the record was broken again in the summer of 2018, with the most deadly and destructive wildfire following in November. It's why Hurricane Michael raked across the Florida Panhandle with winds thirty miles per hour faster than the region had ever seen before. It's why Hurricane Harvey brought more rain to Houston than any storm in American history, and why Hurricane Florence this year broke all the rainfall records for the East Coast-it literally dumped the equivalent of all the water in Chesapeake Bay on the Carolinas.

The answer to this nightmare is relatively clear: We need to stop burning coal and oil and gas, and replace them with other sources of power. Other steps would help, too: Factory farming, for instance, contributes its share of greenhouse gases. But fossil fuels are the motherlode.

A decade ago, it wasn't entirely clear what would replace it, but that mystery has been solved. The engineers have done their thing, dropping the cost of solar power nearly 90 percent over the last decade. Now sun and wind are the cheapest ways to generate power across most of the globe, even before you charge fossil fuels a price for the damage they're doing to the climate. (If you did that, the economics would be astonishingly clear even to the hardest-headed.)

The answer to this nightmare is relatively clear: We need to stop burning coal and oil and gas, and replace them with other sources of power.

Batteries are dropping in price on the same plummeting curve, so storing all that renewable energy is no longer an insurmountable task. New appliances like air-source heat pumps offer cost-effective ways to replace old oil furnaces. Electric cars aren't just cleaner-they're also cheaper to operate since they have so few moving parts. E-bikes and scooters offer ways to make cities quieter and more serendipitous. Electric trains and buses are spreading fast across China. In fact, the eventual shape of the future is as clear as it is delightful: a world running on the power that comes from that giant nuclear reactor hanging in the sky, the one we've learned how to tap simply by pointing a sheet of silicon skyward.

But the trouble in that vision is the word "eventual."

On the current trajectory, we won't get to this visionary future until well past the point that we've heated our Earth to-well, if not to hell, then to a place with a similar temperature.

Even if every country on Earth kept the promises they made in the United Nations Paris Agreement, the temperature of the planet will still go up 6 or 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. That is to say, seventy-five years from now the world will run on sun and wind (they're free-that's a hard business proposition to beat). It's just that the Earth they power will, on our present trend, be a scorched one.

If we want to avoid that, we have to figure out how to speed up that transition-how to move with the speed that economies and political systems rarely move. The best equivalent might be how America industrialized at the entry to World War II-but this effort will have to be sustained longer, and it will have to be global.

The fine articles in this issue of The Progressive give some sense of the efforts now underway around the world to raise concern and force change. Let's look at the obstacle that such campaigns must somehow overcome.

That obstacle is not so much inertia, or human psychology-these play a role, as they do in all human affairs. But the nub of the problem here is the power of the richest industry in the history of the planet.

The fossil fuel industry has been the backbone of our economy since the nineteenth century-we can give it credit for much of the growth that we have enjoyed. But it is now the force that stands in the way of urgent change, because it cannot bear to give up its business model.

If you're Exxon or Chevron or Saudi Aramco, you may know that renewable energy makes more sense for the planet (indeed, good investigative reporting has made clear that the oil majors knew everything there was to know about global warming back in the 1980s). You may even know you could make good money building solar panels and wind turbines. But not as much money. Because once the solar panel is on your roof, the power comes for free. You don't need tankers plying the seas, and pipelines criss-crossing the continents. You just need the clouds to part so you can fill your battery again. And if you're an oil company or a utility, that's the nastiest possible business plan.

And so you fight. You fight by organizing against the wave of propaganda that for a generation has kept alive the completely ridiculous debate about whether global warming was "real"-a point that science had decided by the mid-1990s but which still perplexes our President. You fight by pouring money into every campaign to do something about it. When voters in California's San Luis Obispo County this fall tried to ban fracking, the oil industry spent $8 million to beat them-that's nearly $100 per voter. Even larger sums were spent prior to November 6 to defeat proposed fracking regulations on the ballot in Colorado, and kill a modest carbon tax in Washington State that was even backed by that dangerous radical Bill Gates.

And so we need to fight, too. In fact, we are fighting.

Across the nation and the world there is widespread resistance, led by communities on the frontlines of climate change and energy extraction. As you'll read in this issue, these tend to be poor communities, communities of color, indigenous communities-and they've found allies in scientists, and in an increasingly politicized environmental movement that understands human solidarity is as important as scientific studies.

Beginning with the battle over Keystone XL, people went to jail in large numbers. Now every single new fossil fuel proposal faces a battle, many of which they lose, and all of which exact a cost from the industry. But never underestimate the industry's power. It's been enough to keep even a supposed environmental stalwart like California Governor Jerry Brown issuing permits for new oil wells, including in the middle of his state's crowded cities.

So the battle needs to be engaged on many fronts. Given the slowness of political change (and remember, delay is the main goal of the powers that be), campaigners are increasingly targeting the financial networks that keep us on the carbon-burning path.

A divestment campaign modeled on the one that helped end South African apartheid has now become the largest of its kind in history, passing $6 trillion in endowments and portfolios. In the past year New York City has pledged to pull its $200 billion pension funds out of fossil fuels, and in July they were followed by the entire nation of Ireland.

Across the nation and the world there is widespread resistance, led by communities on the frontlines of climate change and energy extraction.

But divestment is only the beginning. Activists are also targeting the banks that provide loans for new fossil fuel development and the insurance companies that underwrite the projects. They're demanding not only that the flow of dollars for dirty energy cease, but that the money be diverted into clean energy under the control of local communities.

This transition is not easy for anyone. The unions that represent, say, pipeline builders have been nearly as obstinate as the oil companies when it comes to blocking change. But political leaders have begun to sense the possibility of large-scale change-that's why Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have been championing a Green New Deal, creating millions of useful and new, good-paying jobs in the course of weaning the country off fossil fuels at rapid speed. We desperately need to see that kind of change, in part because it will help galvanize action around the world.

The mire of the moment is all too clear-Trump has made it safe for others to follow his dangerous lead, and fascists, like Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, threaten the rainforests that keep the planet habitable. But the engineers have given us a chance, if we can figure out how to seize it. Job one is breaking the political power of the fossil fuel industry. Before it breaks the Earth.

(c) 2018 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

The G20's End-Game
Destroy humanity then buy a bunker? Seriously?
By Jane Stillwater

Holy cow, it clearly sucks eggs to be a Honduran refugee in Tijuana these days. What the freak do they possibly have to look forward to? And, good grief, how I would hate to spend my short miserable life scrounging for blood diamonds in Africa right now. Or being a starving two-year-old living under the Saudi cross-hairs in Yemen? Who the freak would want to do that?

Or I'd even hate to be one of those poor unfortunate souls currently going to Harvard on a student loan. What kind of shite-show future do they have in store?

But worst of all, I would truly hate to be a card-carrying member of the G20. Those people gots no future at all.

"But, Jane," you might say, "those guys all stay in twelve-star hotels, live on steak and truffles and have French maids to wipe them after they poop. They are wealthy beyond belief."

Too true.

But what exactly is their fabulous wealth actually based on? War-profiteering? Price-gouging? Stock-market ponzi-schemes? Stealing lunch money form school children? Nah. The bottom line for these guys is that their eye-popping wealthiness ultimately comes from only one thing. "Interest rates."

These blind fools have all become slaves to interest rates.

If something pays a high rate of interest, then they will always cling to it like Saran Wrap -- never ever ever ever considering if there are moral costs too. They will never let go of collecting student-loan debts. They will never let go of permanent "war". They will never let go of receiving government bailouts, creating pollution, drug and human trafficking, "eminent domain," fond memories of that wonderful 2008 housing crash, hopes for the next huge economic crash about to hit us, big-box stores paying slave wages, privatization, 9-11, whatever. If it creates interest, go for it.

Even if the G20's latest interest-creating gambit destroys the world? Nuclear explosions? Genocide? Rampant wildfires? Chainsaws? Sure. Why not. These guys can always earn interest by selling new and better bunkers to each other.

But here's a word of advice. "You need to get over yourselves, G20." Yours is just not a viable plan. Your insatiable vampire-like lust for interest-rate payback is gonna murder the rest of us for sure. And sadly it will also strangle you in the process too -- down there in your well-guarded, well-stocked and elegantly glorified tombs.

(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Heil Trump,

Dear Geschaftsfuhrer Zucker

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your hatred of the Palestinians and your roll of being an Israeli 5th columnist stooge, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker,"formally the "White House,"on 01-05-2019. We salute you herr Zucker, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

China Tariffs Are A Regressive Tax On Americans, And Risk A Recession
By Robert Reich

"I am a Tariff Man," Trump tweeted last week. "When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so.... We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN."

I'm sorry, Mr President, but you got this wrong. Tariffs are paid by American consumers. About half the $200bn worth of goods you've already put tariffs on come almost exclusively from China, which means American consumers are taking a hit this holiday season.

These tariffs function exactly like taxes. By imposing them, you have in effect raised taxes on most Americans. You have made Americans poorer.

Worse yet, they're regressive. The middle class and poor pay a larger percentage of their incomes on these tariffs than do the rich.

I needn't remind you that your Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed last year, slashed taxes on big corporations and the rich by about $150 billion annually. You claimed it would cause companies to invest more in America and thereby create more American jobs. They didn't. (See General Motors.)

They spent most of their tax savings buying back their own shares of stock. This gave the stock market a steroidal boost. Not surprisingly, the boost was temporary. Last week the stock market erased all its gains for 2018, and worse may be in store. The whole American economy is slowing.

Your tariffs could put us into a recession. The world's other big economies are slowing, too. In 1930, congressmen Smoot and Hawley championed isolationist tariffs that President Herbert Hoover signed into law. They deepened the Great Depression.

Your economic advisers are trying to put the best possible face on all this, arguing that your tariffs are designed to improve your bargaining leverage with China.

The middle class and poor pay a larger percentage of their incomes on these tariffs than do the rich

But your recent US-China trade deal is already unraveling. More accurately, the deal never happened. Your claims about Beijing agreeing to buy more US agriculture and natural gas weren't backed up by your own administration or the Chinese government. Sort of like your "great" deal with Kim Jung-un.

Some of your advisers say your real aim isn't about trade at all. It's to get China to stop stealing American technology. This presumably was the reason behind last week's arrest of the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technology. (Hint: That arrest won't make it any easier to reach an agreement with China.)

I'm not sure why you're so interested in helping American corporations protect their technology, anyway. That technology doesn't belong to the United States. It belongs to those corporations and their shareholders. They develop and share it all over the world.

Most of these corporations have been willing to share their technology with China in joint ventures with Chinese companies, because that's the price of entering the lucrative Chinese market. They still come away making lots of money.

Of course, they could make even more if the Chinese didn't take the technology. So maybe, as with the tax cut, you just want to make big corporations richer.

But let me give you the benefit of the doubt. I'm going to assume your real concern is America's national security, and that this whole "tariff man" blunderbuss is designed to prevent China from racing ahead of us in technologies that are critical to national defense.

John Bolton, your national security adviser, has said the real issue is "a question of power," and the theft of intellectual property has "a major impact on China's economic capacity and therefore on its military capacity.. Bolton advises you, right?

But if this is your real motive - and, quite frankly, I can't come up with another reasonable one - might I suggest a better way to protect national security?

You have the authority to stop foreign corporations from buying any American corporation whose technology is critical to national security. So why not prohibit American corporations that possess such critical technology from sharing it with China, even if that's the price of gaining access to China's lucrative market?

Bar them from entering into joint ventures with Chinese corporations, prevent them from teaming up with Chinese state-owned companies, and demand that they guard their technology, under penalty of law.

Sure, these America corporations would have to sacrifice some profits, but so what? Your job isn't to make them more profitable. It's to protect the United States. And isn't this a better way to protect American security than to impose a hugely regressive tax on average Americans and risk a global recession?

(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The Heresy Of White Christianity
By Chris Hedges

There are, as Cornel West has pointed out, only two African-Americans who rose from dirt-poor poverty to the highest levels of American intellectual life-the writer Richard Wright and the radical theologian James H. Cone.

Cone, who died in April, grew up in segregated Bearden, Ark., the impoverished son of a woodcutter who had only a sixth-grade education. With an almost superhuman will, Cone clawed his way up from the Arkansas cotton fields to implode theological studies in the United States with his withering critique of the white supremacy and racism inherent within the white, liberal Christian church. His brilliance-he was a Greek scholar and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Swiss theologian Karl Barth-enabled him to "turn the white man's theology against him and make it speak for the liberation of black people." God's revelation in America, he understood, "was found among poor black people." Privileged white Christianity and its theology were "heresy." He was, until the end of his life, possessed by what the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called >"sublime madness." His insights, he writes, "came to me as if revealed by the spirits of my ancestors long dead but now coming alive to haunt and torment the descendants of the whites who had killed them."

"When it became clear to me that Jesus was not biologically white and that white scholars actually lied by not telling people who he really was, I stopped trusting anything they said," he writes in his posthumous memoir, "Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian," published in October.

"White supremacy is America's original sin and liberation is the Bible's central message," he writes in his book. "Any theology in America that fails to engage white supremacy and God's liberation of black people from that evil is not Christian theology but a theology of the Antichrist."

White supremacy "is the Antichrist in America because it has killed and crippled tens of millions of black bodies and minds in the modern world," he writes. "It has also committed genocide against the indigenous people of this land. If that isn't demonic, I don't know what is ... [and] it is found in every aspect of American life, especially churches, seminaries, and theology."

Cone, who spent most of his life teaching at New York City's Union Theological Seminary, where the theological luminaries Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr preceded him, was acutely aware that "there are a lot of brilliant theologians and most are irrelevant and some are evil."

Of the biblical story of Cain's murder of Abel, Cone writes: "... [T]he Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' He said, 'I don't know; am I my brother's keeper?' And the Lord said, 'What have you done? Listen: your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground!' " Cain, in Cone's eyes, symbolizes white people, as Abel symbolizes black people.

"God is asking white Americans, especially Christians, 'Where are your black brothers and sisters?' " Cone writes. "And whites respond, 'We don't know. Are we their keepers?' And the Lord says, 'What have you done to them for four centuries?' "

The stark truth he elucidated unsettled his critics and even some of his admirers, who were forced to face their own complicity in systems of oppression. "People cannot bear very much reality," T.S. Eliot wrote. And the reality Cone relentlessly exposed was one most white Americans seek to deny.

"Christianity is essentially a religion of liberation," Cone writes. "The function of theology is that of analyzing the meaning of that liberation for the oppressed community so they can know that their struggle for political, social, and economic justice is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor is not Christ's message. Any theology that is indifferent to the theme of liberation is not Christian theology. In a society where [people] are oppressed because they are black, Christian theology must become Black Theology, a theology that is unreservedly identified with the goals of the oppressed community and seeking to interpret the divine character of their struggle for liberation."

The Detroit rebellion of 1967 and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. a year later were turning points in Cone's life. This was when he-at the time a professor at Adrian College, a largely white college in Adrian, Mich.-removed his mask, a mask that, as the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote, "grins and lies."

"I felt that white liberals had killed King, helped by those Negroes who thought he was moving too fast," he writes. "Even though they didn't pull the trigger, they had refused to listen to King when he proclaimed God's judgment on America for failing to deal with the three great evils of our time: poverty, racism, and war. The white liberal media demonized King, accusing him of meddling in America's foreign affairs by opposing the Vietnam War and blaming him for provoking violence wherever he led a march. White liberals, however, accepted no responsibility for King's murder, and they refused to understand why Negroes were rioting and burning down their communities."

"I didn't want to talk to white people about King's assassination or about the uprisings in the cities," he writes of that period in his life. "[I]t was too much of an emotional burden to explain racism to racists, and I had nothing to say to them. I decided to have my say in writing. I'd give them something to read and talk about."

Cone is often described as the father of black liberation theology, although he was also, maybe more importantly, one of the very few contemporary theologians who understood and championed the radical message of the Gospel. Theological studies are divided into pre-Cone and post-Cone eras. Post-Cone theology has largely been an addendum or reaction to his work, begun with his first book, "Black Theology and Black Power," published in 1969. He wrote the book, he says, "as an attack on racism in white churches and an attack on self-loathing in black churches. I was not interested in making an academic point about theology; rather, I was issuing a manifesto against whiteness and for blackness in an effort to liberate Christians from white supremacy."

Cone never lost his fire. He never sold out to become a feted celebrity.

"I didn't care what white theologians thought about black liberation theology," he writes. "They didn't give a damn about black people. We were invisible to their writings, not even worthy of mention. Why should I care about what they thought?"

"After more than fifty years of working with, writing about, talking to white theologians, I have to say that most are wasting their time and energy, as far as I am concerned," he writes, an observation that I, having been forced as a seminary student to plow through the turgid, jargon-filled works of white theologians, can only second. Cone blasted churches, including black churches that emphasize personal piety and the prosperity gospel, as "the worst place to learn about Christianity."

His body of work, including his masterpieces "Martin & Malcolm & America" and "The Cross and the Lynching Tree," is vital for understanding America and the moral failure of the white liberal church and white liberal power structure. Cone's insight is an important means of recognizing and fighting systemic and institutionalized racism, especially in an age of Donald Trump.

"I write on behalf of all those whom the Salvadoran theologian and martyr Ignacio Ellacuría called 'the crucified peoples of history,' " Cone writes in his memoir. "I write for the forgotten and the abused, the marginalized and the despised. I write for those who are penniless, jobless, landless, all those who have no political or social power. I write for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and those who are transgender. I write for immigrants stranded on the U.S. border and for undocumented farmworkers toiling in misery in the nation's agricultural fields. I write for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, on the West Bank, and in East Jerusalem. I write for Muslims and refugees who live under the terror of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. And I write for all people who care about humanity. I believe that until Americans, especially Christians and theologians, can see the cross and the lynching tree together, until we can identify Christ with 'recrucified' black bodies hanging from lynching trees, there can be no genuine understanding of Christian identity in America, and no deliverance from the brutal legacy of slavery and white supremacy."

The cross, Cone reminded us, is not an abstraction; it is the instrument of death used by the oppressor to crucify the oppressed. And the cross is all around us. He writes in "The Cross and the Lynching Tree":

The cross is a paradoxical religious symbol because it inverts the world's value system, proclaiming that hope comes by way of defeat, that suffering and death do not have the last word, that the last shall be first and the first last. Secular intellectuals find this idea absurd, but it is profoundly real in the spiritual life of black folk. For many who were tortured and lynched, the crucified Christ often manifested God's loving and liberating presence within the great contradictions of black life. The cross of Jesus is what empowered black Christians to believe, ultimately, that they would not be defeated by the "troubles of the world," no matter how great and painful their suffering. Only people stripped of power could understand this absurd claim of faith. The cross was God's critique of power-white power-with powerless love, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Present-day Christians misinterpret the cross when they make it a nonoffensive religious symbol, a decorative object in their homes and churches. The cross, therefore, needs the lynching tree to remind us what it means when we say that God is revealed in Jesus at Golgotha, the place of the skull, on the cross where criminals and rebels against the Roman state were executed. The lynching tree is America's cross. What happened to Jesus in Jerusalem happened to blacks in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Kentucky. Lynched black bodies are symbols of Christ's body. If we want to understand what the crucifixion means for Americans today, we must view it through the lens of mutilated black bodies whose lives are destroyed in the criminal justice system. Jesus continues to be lynched before our eyes. He is crucified wherever people are tormented. That is why I say Christ is black.

Every once in a while, when Cone expressed something he thought was particularly important, he would say, "That's Charlie talking." To know Cone was to know Charlie and Lucy, his parents, who wrapped him and his brothers in unconditional love that held at bay the dehumanizing fear, discrimination and humiliation that came with living in Jim and Jane Crow Arkansas. He, like poet and novelist Claude McKay, said that what he wrote was "urged out of my blood," adding "in my case the blood of blacks in Bearden and elsewhere who saw what I saw, felt what I felt, and loved what I loved."

The essence of Cone was embodied in this radical love, a love that was not rooted in abstractions but the particular reality of his parents and his people. The ferocity of his anger at the injustice endured by the oppressed was matched only by the ferocity of his love. He cared. And because he cared, he carried the hurt and pain of the oppressed, the crucified of the earth, within him. As a boy, after dark, he waited by the window for his father to return home, knowing that to be a black man out on the roads in Arkansas at night meant you might never reach home. He spent his life, in a sense, at that window. He wrote and spoke not only for the forgotten, but also in a very tangible way for Charlie and Lucy. He instantly saw through hypocrisy and detested the pretentions of privilege. He never forgot who he was. He never forgot where he came from. His life was lived to honor his parents and all who were like his parents. He had unmatched courage, integrity and wisdom; indeed he was one of the wisest people I have ever known.

Cone was acutely aware, as Charles H. Long wrote, that "those who have lived in the cultures of the oppressed know something about freedom that the oppressors will never know." He reminded us that our character is measured by what we have overcome. Despair, for him, was sin.

"What was beautiful about slavery?" Cone asks in his memoir. "Nothing, rationally! But the spirituals, folklore, slave religion, and slave narratives are beautiful, and they came out of slavery. How do we explain that miracle? What's beautiful about lynching and Jim Crow segregation? Nothing! Yet the blues, jazz, great preaching, and gospel music are beautiful, and they came out of the post-slavery brutalities of white supremacy. In the 1960s we proclaimed 'Black is beautiful!' because it is. We raised our fists to "I'm Black and I'm Proud,' and we showed 'Black Pride' in our walk and talk, our song and sermon."

He goes on:

We were not destroyed by white supremacy. We resisted it, created a beautiful culture, the civil rights and Black Power movements, which are celebrated around the world. [James] Baldwin asked black people "to accept the past and to learn to live with it." "I beg the black people of this country," he said, shortly after "Fire" ["The Fire Next Time"] was published, "to do something which I know to be very difficult; to be proud of the auction block, and all that rope, and all that fire, and all that pain."

To see beauty in tragedy is very difficult. One needs theological eyes to do that. We have to look beneath the surface and get to the source. Baldwin was not blind. He saw both the tragedy and the beauty in black suffering and its redeeming value. That was why he said that suffering can become a bridge that connects people with one another, blacks with whites and people of all cultures with one another. Suffering is sorrow and joy, tragedy and triumph. It connected blacks with one another and made us stronger. We know anguish and pain and have moved beyond it. The real question about suffering is how to use it. "If you can accept the pain that almost kills you," says Vivaldo, Baldwin's character in his novel Another Country, "you can use it, you can become better." But "that's hard to do," Eric, another character, responds. "I know," Vivaldo acknowledges. If you don't accept the pain, "you get stopped with whatever it was that ruined you and you make it happen over and over again and your life has-ceased, really-because you can't move or change or love anymore." But if you accept it, "you realize that your suffering does not isolate you," Baldwin says in his dialogue with Nikki Giovanni; "your suffering is your bridge." Singing the blues and the spirituals is using suffering, letting it become your bridge moving forward. "For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard," Baldwin writes in his short story "Sonny's Blues." "There isn't any other tale to tell, and it's the only light we've got in all this darkness."

"I would rather be a part of the culture that resisted lynching than the one that lynched," Cone writes at the end of the book. "I would rather be the one who suffered wrong than the one who did wrong. The one who suffered wrong is stronger than the one who did wrong. Jesus was stronger than his crucifiers. Blacks are stronger than whites. Black religion is more creative and meaningful and true than white religion. That is why I love black religion, folklore, and the blues. Black culture keeps black people from hating white people. Every Sunday morning, we went to church to exorcize hate-of ourselves and of white racists."

There will come difficult moments in our own lives, moments when we are faced with an impulse, driven by fear or self-interest or simple expediency, to turn away at the sight of suffering and injustice. We will hear the cries of the oppressed and want to shut them out. We will count the cost to our careers, our reputations and perhaps our security, for to truly stand with the oppressed is to be treated like the oppressed. But a force greater than our own will compel us to kneel down and pick up the cross. The weight will cut into our shoulders. Our step will slow. Our breathing will become labored. We will be condemned by the powerful and ignored or reviled by the indifferent. But we will demand justice. And when we do, we will say to ourselves, "That's Cone talking."

(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

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To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

GOP-Controlled Wisconsin Legislature Votes To Dissolve State Rather Than Let Democrats Have It
By The Onion

MADISON, WI-Passing the measure along party lines, the GOP-controlled Wisconsin legislature voted Tuesday to dissolve the 30th state admitted to the union rather than let governor-elect Tony Evers and other members of the Democratic Party have it.

"This essential legislation officially dismantles the State of Wisconsin, thereby ensuring Democrats, who won every statewide executive office on the ballot last month, will have no legal authority within its borders," said Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, explaining that it would be reckless to honor the fair election of Democrats to the state's executive branch and far preferable for Wisconsin to cease existing and become instead a lawless wasteland of snow and ice.

"While we cherish the past 170 years of statehood, there is simply too much at stake right now to allow the clear will of the people expressed at the polls to ruin Wisconsin by putting Democrats into positions such as governor and attorney general."

At press time, the Republican-led legislature had passed a follow-up resolution naming outgoing Governor Scott Walker the Eternal God-King of the former state of Wisconsin.

(c) 2018 The Onion

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