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In This Edition


Juan Cole explains, "Yes, America, There Is A Class War, And You Just Lost It."

Uri Avnery observes the, "Children Of Stones."

Glen Ford concludes, "The 1% Will Earn the People's Hatred."

Dan Rather reminds us, "For Humans, Fat Is As Essential As The Heart Or Liver. Why Do We Hate It?"

Jim Hightower explores, "The Great Scamazon."

John Nichols presents, "The 2017 Progressive Honor Roll."

James Donahue considers, "The Tillerson Proposal For Solving N. Korean Threat."

Norman Solomon reveals, "The Real Story Behind Katharine Graham And 'The Post.'"

Heather Digby Parton exclaims, "The War On Christmas Is Finally Over! It's Holiday Fundraiser Time!"

David Suzuki wants us to, "Shine A Light During Dark Times."

Charles P. Pierce can't believe that, "Bob Corker Is Shocked-SHOCKED!"

David Swanson remembers, "Gorbachev Was Promised No NATO Expansion."

William Rivers Pitt demands that we, "Dig In: This Must Be The Winter Of Our Discontent."

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

Robert Reich gives, "A Guide To Why The Trump-Republican Tax Plan Is A Disgrace (for When you Confront Your Republican Uncle Bob During the Holidays)."

Chris Hedges with a must read, "The Permanent Lie, Our Deadliest Threat."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst says, "Washington Kept Us Laughing In 2017" but first Uncle Ernie sings, "When Derr Fuhrer Says We Ist The Master Race...."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Andy Marlette, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Simone Brunozzi, Kent Rasmussen, Alex Wong, Mother Jones, Bloomberg, Pew, Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, Bloomberg, Reuters, Shutterstock, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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








The Donald give the corporate salute!




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When Derr Fuhrer Says We Ist The Master Race...
We heil, heil, right in the Fuhrer's face!
By Ernest Stewart

"Pretending we are at peace and vowing to preserve it by diverting even more of our resources to the military industrial complex is not a national security strategy. It is an Orwellian deception taken straight from the pages of 1984." ~~~ Nicolas J.S. Davies

"Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today." ~~~ James Mattis

"This is not a bill that is designed primarily to benefit the wealthy and the large businesses." ~~~ Senator John Cornyn

Help! I need somebody
Help! Not just anybody
Help! You know I need someone
Help!
Help ~~~ The Beatles



I'm very proud of myself. I sat through another of the Donald's campagne speech's this week and I didn't throw a brick through the TV screen, imagine that! I read similar speechs that he made from the sumer of 2016, ergo, nothing was new. To be honest, I did shout "Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil" every time he paused! For the most part those in attendance politely applauded, except for a few times when it went deathly quiet. One of those times was when he brought up the Rethuglicans motto, and a plank in their platform since 1980 "peace through strength."

Of course, I started flashing, as did those in the audience on similar phrases like, 1984's "Ignorance is Strength" and Hitler's "Strength through Joy." Or the Navy's "America's Navy - a global force for good!" No, don't get me started on that last one!

When you cut through the rhetoric and bullshit we come down to his so called "four pillars." Or "A New National Security Strategy for a New Era."
Protect the homeland

Promote American prosperity

Preserve peace through strength

Advance American influence
Again, points he made throughout his campaigns, plus "America is willing go it alone against the world." A phrase that our partner in crime, Israel is fond of saying about itself. Although it depends on whether Big Brother America keeps draining it's treasury to support the Zionazis in Tel Aviv and with Trumps assurances, Jerusalem. You could hear the heavy sighs and the shaking of heads throughout our allies in Europe and the world!

In Other News

Exceptionally unusual weather conditions across Southern California have encouraged continued growth of the massive Thomas Fire, which will soon rank as the largest wildland fire in modern California history.

As of Monday afternoon, the fire had swelled to 271,750 acres, making it virtually certain that the fire will eclipsing 2003's Cedar Fire to become the biggest blaze since detailed record-keeping began in 1932. The Cedar Fire burned just over 273,000 acres in 41 days; the Thomas fire took just 15 days to nearly surpass it and did so during what is normally the peak of the rainy season. A possibly bigger fire, as large as 300,000 acres, burned in 1889.

At last report, the Thomas Fire was 45 percent contained and will almost surely continue to grow given the dire weather forecast: Significant rain is still at least two weeks away, and forecasters anticipate at least three additional high wind events in the next week. The National Weather Service in Los Angeles maintains a Red Flag Warning for the region, warning of "very rapid fire spread, long range spotting, and extreme fire behavior."

Currently Cal Fire says that there has been 18,000 structures threatened with 1,024 structures destroyed, 250 structures damaged! Meanwhile Trump denies global warming is any threat to America, strategic or otherwise, while reality says just the opposite. California use to say that it had sunshine 300 days a year but with fires now burning the year around you could say the same thing about wild fires!

And Finally

Some say that we've seen the last of democracy, I say when did we ever have democracy? We have been a republic of sorts, from time to time, whenever the 1% found it to their advantage. We've pretty much been a plutocracy and oligarchy, in other words, a fascist state since before the revolution!

Sure Trump has given us a new gilded age, with the help of the oligarchy, and working class stooges like Paul Ryan whose next goal will be to dismantle the very programs that made his rise to the Speaker of the House possible!

Once he stopped giggling and jumping for joy he said his next step was going to be throwing everyone he could off welfare. They'll wait till after the new year to start destroying Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They seem unaware of the bloodbath they have coming at the polls next November. Trouble is that won't stop the pain, suffering and outright murder that will occur thanks to Ryan and his goons.

Paul says he thinking of leaving the house next year to spend more time with his family, of course, he's said that before when he lost the vote in 2012 when he ran for the Vice Presidency. He'll take his 33 pieces of silver from his puppet masters the Koch brothers and head on back home, providing that the sick, elderly and poor don't get their hands on him first! We can but hope, America, we can but hope!

Keepin' On

Well imagine that! With our backs to the wall and time running out, a couple of you stepped up and joined the fight! We'd like to think "first timer" Karen from Atlanta and "newbie" Jack from Altoona for sending a couple of nice checks! Between the two of them they've reduced our 2017 bills to $250!

Of course, we aren't out of the woods quite yet, but at least I can see a light in the distance. If one of our "usual suspects" would step up and let us know that you still care we would be ever so grateful!

While 2017 was a complete disaster of a year, 2018 may be the year we take it all back. At least for now it's up to you, America. There still is some hope for an America, that we can all be proud of but you got to get up off that couch and raise Hell America, and have no doubt we'll be there right beside you as we have been since the 12-12-2000 coup d'etat went down. If what we do for you is worth it, won't you please join your brothers and sisters and send us whatever you can as often as you can and we'll keep fighting the good fight for you and yours! Come, and join the resistance!

*****


03-09-1928 ~ 12-16-2017
Thanks for the music!



09-12-1957 ~ 12-18-2017
Thanks for the film!




*****

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

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

*****

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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2017 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.




The Republican Party mainly represents the rich. It also reaches out to rural people and claims to help them, but it is all lies. It mainly represents the rich.



Yes, America, There Is A Class War, And You Just Lost It
The economy has grown enormously since 1970. So if workers did not get a share in the newly created wealth, who has it? Easy: The top 1%.
By Juan Cole

The Republican Party did not just overhaul the tax code and they did not cut "your" taxes. They engineered a coup against the middle and working classes and they threw enormous amounts of public money to private billionaires and multi-millionaires.

Americans do not understand this sort of con game because mostly they don't understand social class. They often don't even believe in the latter. But really, not all households in the US are equal. Some have more income than others. Some have more power than others. And as with the Trumps, that wealth and power can be passed on to the next generation.

We're not all middle class. That would make a mockery of the word "middle," which implies that there are lower and upper classes. Some of us are working class, some are middle class, some are upper middle class, and some are rich. Policies that help the rich by cutting their taxes do not help the working and middle classes. They actively harm the latter by making less money available for government services and by devaluing the dollar. The Republican Party mainly represents the rich. It also reaches out to rural people and claims to help them, but it is all lies. It mainly represents the rich.

Alabama routinely votes Republican. Alabama is one of the poorest states in the country. The Republicans aren't actually doing anything for Alabama, except maybe making them feel good about themselves by buttering them up, or indulging them in their weird idea that fundamentalist Christianity should dictate social policy to 320 million Americans, who do not share those values.

The rich in the United States use American highways, and American wifi, and depend on the FBI to keep them from getting kidnapped. But they don't want to pay for those things. They want you to pay for them even though they use them much more. I get angry when I see those trucks on the highway with the sign that they payed $9277 in tolls and fees last year to be on the highway. Trucks are the ones that tear up the highways and force us to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild. Their fees and tolls don't come close to paying for the damage they do. So the costs are offloaded.

Onto us?

Onto us.

There are about 126 million households in the United States. One percent of them would be 1.26 million households. That is about the size of the city of Los Angeles. There are one hundred groups of 1.26 million households in the US, i.e. 100 Los Angeleses worth of households. Those one hundred groups are not equal in wealth. The bottom 100th of American households doesn't have a pot to pee in.

The Republican Party slavishly serves the top 1.26 million households. That's who they report to. That's who sent them to Congress, through their campaign donations. They don't care about you and they did not just now do you any favors.

The wealthiest one percent owns about 38 percent of the privately held wealth in the United States. In the 1950s, the top 1% only owned about 25 percent of the privately held wealth. A Republican was in the White House, Dwight Eisenhower. He was not a left wing guy. But he worried about corporations combining with government officials to become way more powerful. The last time wealth inequality was this high was just before the Great Depression. Think about that.

Americans' wealth amounts to about $88 trillion. If you divided up all the privately held wealth equally, every household in the US would be worth $698,000. That is, they'd all have their own home plus substantial investments.

But needless to say, the wealth isn't divided up equally. The top ten percent of households, 12.6 million households own 76% of the privately held wealth. That is, 10 of our notional 100 Los Angeleses own three-fourths of the wealth.

So just to be clear, of our 100 Los Angeleses worth of households, 90 of them own only 24 percent of the wealth.

So how did the top one percent go from having 25% of the privately held wealth to having 38%?

In some large part, it was tax policy. In the Eisenhower administration the top marginal tax rate was 91%, and the highest bracket of earners paid 90% in income tax. Progressive income tax was intended to keep the society from getting too out of kilter and to prevent wealth from becoming concentrated in a few hands.

There is no evidence, zero, that these tax policies hurt economic growth or hampered job creation.

Eisenhower's tax policy was repealed over time, especially by Ronald Reagan. Reagan pulled the familiar scam of promising that tax cuts would pay for themselves by encouraging entrepreneurs to invest and to hire.

Instead, the government deficit ballooned (that's what happens if you cut taxes but leave spending programs in place).

And not only were all boats not lifted by Reagan's rising tide, most of them were sunk. The average wage of an average worker is not higher now than it was in 1970.

The economy has grown enormously since 1970. So if workers did not get a share in the newly created wealth, who has it?

The 1%.

Think about tax policy as a snowblower aimed at a single point. Snow builds up at the point where the snowblower is facing. If you keep aiming at that point as you clean the snow, you'll get an enormous hill of snow. There will be no snow to speak of on the driveway. There will just be an artificial mountain.
(c) 2017 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.





Children Of Stones
By Uri Avnery

FOR GOD'S SAKE, are they crazy?

They congregate in the marketplace, boys of 15, 16 years, take stones and throw them at our soldiers, who are armed to the teeth. The soldiers shoot, sometimes over their heads, sometimes straight at them. Every day there are wounded, every few days there are dead.

What for? They do not have the slightest chance of changing the policy of the Israeli occupation. Only very rarely do the boys hit a soldier and cause him a slight injury.

Yet they go on. Why?

A FRIEND of mine sent me an article by a respected Palestinian. He described his first demonstration, many years ago.

The way he tells it, he was 15 years old, living in a village under occupation, hating Israeli soldiers. With a group of friends of the same age, he went to the center of his village, where a line of soldiers was waiting for them.

Each of the demonstrators picked up a stone - no lack of stones in an Arab village - and threw it at the soldiers. The stones fell far short, causing no harm.

But - and here the adult man grew ecstatic - what a wonderful feeling! For the first time in his life the boy felt that he was hitting back! He was no longer a despised, helpless Palestinian! He was upholding the dignity of his people! The old leaders may be subservient! Not he, not his friends!

For the first time in his life he was proud, proud to be a Palestinian, proud to be a courageous human being.

What a wonderful feeling! For this feeling he was ready to risk his life, again and again, ready to become a Shaheed, a witness, a martyr.

There are many thousands like him.

READING THIS description was exciting, because it reminded me of something in my own remote youth. When I was exactly the same age, 15.

It was in May, 1939. The British rulers of Palestine had just published a White Paper, putting the dampers on our Zionist vision. The world war was drawing close, and the British Empire needed the support of the Arab world.

A few months earlier, I had joined the National Military Organization (commonly called the Irgun), the most militant underground organization devoted to the fight against the British colonial regime. The last push for me was a disturbing event: for the first time the British had hanged a Jewish "terrorist". I was determined to fill his place.

In the evening I received an order: tomorrow noon we shall start a demonstration against the White Paper. Be ready in Allenby street, near the Mugrabi cinema.

Long before the time, I was there, waiting with growing excitement. At noon exactly, a bugle sounded. I ran to the assembly point, together with hundreds of other Irgun members. Repeating slogans that someone shouted, we started to march along the street, then Tel Aviv's main thoroughfare.

Halfway down the street there stands the Great Synagogue, with its external staircase. Somebody ran up it and delivered an impassioned speech, ending with the Biblical verse "It I forget thee, oh Jerusalem / May my right hand wither..."

From there we marched to our destination: the district offices of the British administration. Some daring fellows ran up, broke open the doors and started to throw down heaps of official papers. We burned them in the street. Suddenly British soldiers appeared on the scene. Shots were fired, either over our heads or at us. It was the first time in my life I was shot at. We ran away, through a hole in the fence by the railway line. After a few hundred meters we found each other again. We were ecstatic, happy beyond measure. We had shown those bloody British that Jews can fight back. We had risked our lives for our fatherland. We had made our people proud of us.

That was 79 years ago. I remember it as if it were yesterday. And I completely understand the ecstasy of the Palestinian boys, the "children of the stones", who today risk their lives, throwing stones in futile demonstrations.

OUR LEADERS treat the children-of-the-stones with disdain, much as the British authorities treated us then. What can they achieve? Nothing. Our - and their - pitiful demonstrations were/are ridiculous.

But a boy of 15 is a powerful force. His pride in fighting back grows with the years. It is a force that cannot be subdued. The more of them are killed, the stronger they get. The heavier the hand of the oppressor, the stronger the determination of the oppressed. It's a law of nature.

In today's Hebrew Empire, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, there is already a slight Palestinian majority - something like 8.2 million Arabs to 7.8 million Jews. This fact is generally hidden in official statistics. Since the Palestinian birthrate is much higher than the Jewish one (except for Orthodox Jews), the Arab majority will inexorably grow. Greater Israel will become more and more an apartheid state.

What is the answer of the Israeli Right to this? There is no answer. Some on the fringes dream of a mass exodus of the Arabs, like the one of 1948. But no people makes the same mistake twice. Whatever happens, the Palestinians will cling to their soil. They call this steadfastness "sumud".

I have in my head a poem by one of our national poets from before 1948: "No people retreats from the bulwarks of its life." The Palestinians are like all other peoples. Like us.

LATELY, A NEW political fashion has emerged, especially among Arabs. They declare that there is only one choice: either Two States or One State. If the Israeli leadership, aided and abetted by President Trump, rejects the Two State solution, the One State solution will take its place. Jews and Arabs will live in one joint state, from the sea to the river. End of the Zionist dream.

This is nonsense. If some Arab politicians think that this prospect will frighten Israelis into accepting the Two State solution, they are sadly mistaken. True, some right-wing Israelis talk about this possibility, but they know that this would be hell.

One State? What would the army look like? Who would command it, who would be the soldiers? With an Arab majority in the Knesset (which would presumable change its name to Majlis) fighting a daily battle against the Jewish factions? With the standard of living of the Jews vastly higher than that of the Arab citizens? Who will control the police? Endless questions without answers.

The simple fact is that there is no choice between a Two State and a One State solution, because One State is no solution at all, but a pipe-dream. Or a nightmare.

So is there no choice? Of course there is. There always is.

The choice is between the Two State solution and No Solution. Eternal war.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom







The 1% Will Earn the People's Hatred
By Glen Ford

Senate Republicans passed a tax bill that House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi described as "simply theft - monumental, brazen theft from the American middle class and from every person who aspires to reach it." The measure fulfills every corporate wish list compiled in the 30 years since Ronald Reagan last overhauled the tax code. Pelosi, who once co-chaired the Congressional Progressive Caucus, corralled majority Democratic support for a $700 billion war budget -- by far the largest in human history and nearly $100 billion bigger than President Trump requested. It, too, is a "brazen theft" that will be paid for with future social spending cuts.

Polls show the American people oppose both the oligarchic tax code and the apocalyptic war budget, but such facts are of no legislative consequence, because the U.S. political machinery hears only the voice of Capital, as expressed by both corporate parties. If Congress does not undo the war budget -- which means dismantling imperialism -- then the decimation of social programs will continue. But the Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, will not abandon the imperial project. The rich prevail in virtually every contest because their political monopoly matches their monopoly on economic power -- both of which are ultimately secured by force of arms, domestically and in international relations.

The rich rule, not because they are smart or even competent, but because there are no organized domestic forces strong enough to stop them -- not even a viable social democratic opposition to temper their obscene excesses with the discipline of common decency. Two generations ago, Black folks tried mightily to rescue America's "soul" from its origins in slavery and genocide, but no enduring social contract has yet been forged across lines of race and class -- only tentative and conditional arrangements of "tolerance" and "diversity" that are now under Trumpian assault. Black Democrats in Congress follow Pelosi on the warpath, sell their votes to banksters and internet-stealing telecom giants, and eagerly endorse the transfer of Pentagon weapons to local police departments. The transformative yearnings of the Black Radical Tradition strain against the dead weight of a bought-out Black Misleadership Class that won't pursue any kind of liberation that they can't wear or spend.

The Movement for Black Lives, endowed with millions from capitalist philanthropy, will discover -- as did a previous generation -- that the revolution will not be subsidized. But they will probably have to exhaust their endowments before the lesson is learned.

With nobody to stop them, the 1% are free -- for the time being -- to multiply the contradictions of their existence. In the near term, until an effective, genuine "resistance" to the rule of the rich can be galvanized, the plutocrats and their minions will be their own worst enemies, accelerating the process of their own decline.

The orgy of class thievery just completed on Capitol Hill has alarmed and outraged three-quarters of the public, including much of Donald Trump's racist electoral base -- and the full import of the crime has not yet set in. The oligarchs have no shame, and revel in the ease with which the system allows them to plunder. The ghouls of Wall Street believe they are basking in the glow of the ultimate "creative destruction" -- the elimination of all constraints on capital -- and that they are invincible. Donald Trump tweets that this is so from his hegemonic toilet seat. The rich cannot help but push the rest of our noses in the dirt, and that -- plus the inherent contradictions of capitalism in fatal decline -- will be their undoing.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.







For Humans, Fat Is As Essential As The Heart Or Liver. Why Do We Hate It?
By Dan Rather

What do you think of when you hear the word "fat"? Would you be surprised to learn that scientists consider fat to be a vital organ, like the heart and liver?

These are some of the mind-expanding ideas at the heart of a fascinating short film on fat shared here. I highly recommend you watch it. I think you will learn a lot, and also be entertained.

I am dedicated to telling the stories of science. They are captivating, important, and a reminder that there is much more to this world than the news of the day. Being around science and scientists is inspiring. So sit back, relax, and be prepared to think about fat like never before, as you nibble at that Christmas cookie.

It's really important for us to get feedback on what you liked and didn't like about this approach to science storytelling. We also want to build a movement, so if you like content like this, please share it with others and on your own Facebook page so we can get the message out.

This film is the first of a series of three (produced by my longtime colleague Elliot Kirschner). More to come, and I will be announcing other science projects soon.

Thanks for your support.
(c) 2017 Dan Rather is an American journalist and the former news anchor for the CBS Evening News. He was most recently managing editor and anchor of the television news magazine Dan Rather Reports on the cable channel AXS TV.







The Great Scamazon
By Jim Hightower

As you're doing your holiday shopping this season, think about this: While big brand names travel hither, thither and yon to play Milk the Taxpayer, Amazon is totally rewriting the rules of the taxpayer subsidies game, super-sizing their piles of public money without even having to go door to door.

In September, the $136-billion-a-year, multi-tentacled monopolist sparked a prairie fire of excitement among state and local economic development officials when it coyly announced its intention to build a second corporate headquarters in Someplace, North America.

CEO Jeff Bezos baited his location-subsidy trap with red meat, announcing that Amazon "expect[ed] to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs."

Then Bezos & Co. made a bold move: They sat still and waited. Stretching corporate overreach to new lengths, the Amazonian royals bid public officials to approach the Seattle throne with all the jewels, bars of gold, frankincense, myrrh and any other tribute they could muster to show their worthiness for HQ2 (Amazon's name for the proposed co-headquarters). In one stroke, Amazon switched its corporate role from asker to askee and instantly pitted taxpayers, like you and me, across Mexico, Canada and the U.S. against each other in a no-limit bidding war.

Amazon then issued a seven-page directive listing some specific "incentives" that each supplicant should offer. First was a "business-friendly environment." Then, urging hopefuls to "think big" when offering freebies, the directive listed specific incentives that would be "Decision Drivers," including contributions of "land, site preparation, tax credits/exemptions, relocation grants, workforce grants, utility incentives/grants, and fee reductions."

Oh, and also a highly-educated labor pool; an international airport with direct daily flights to key cities; quality of life where "our employees will enjoy living"; and, most important, "elected officials eager and willing to work with the company."

Surely no self-respecting civic official would willingly play the sucker in such a demeaning, sell-out-the-public scam.

Ha! Officials from 238 cities, regions, and states have so far rushed to Bezos' corporate castle to grovel, dance, beg, and stage dog-and-pony spectacles in the perverse hope that Amazon might choose their taxpayers to rip off.

-Tucson showed its love by shipping Amazon's prickly CEO a 21-foot Saguaro cactus.

-New York City lit up the Empire State Building and other iconic landmarks in Amazon Orange.

-Seattle, already a company town, pleaded with His Majesty Bezos to locate HQ2 adjacent to HQ1.

-Stonecrest, Georgia, voted to annex 35 acres to create a new city to be named - yes - Amazon.

All this for a tacky PR stunt with one purpose: To get the handful of actual contenders to jack up their offers. Amazon' data-driven, hard-nosed "economic development department," set up five years ago, will decide among the few locations it has already deemed most profitable.

Not every city jumped at the chance to dance with Jeff Bezos. The mayor and top county official of San Antonio, Texas, for example, sent a "Dear Jeff" letter in October, politely-but-firmly rejecting his offer to let them stuff his pockets with their community's wealth. They rightly questioned the integrity of the bidding war process he initiated for choosing a second headquarters city: "It's hard to imagine that a forward-thinking company like Amazon hasn't already selected its preferred location," they wrote. Their missive then explained that while San Antonio can compete on its merits with any city, "giving away the farm isn't our style."

San Jose, California's Mayor Sam Liccardo went a step farther. His city, he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, wouldn't offer special incentives to Amazon or any giant corporation. Why? "Because they are a bad deal for taxpayers."

And Little Rock, Arkansas had the most creative "no" of all. Like a love affair breakup letter, it began with "Hey Amazon, we need to talk." The city's human scale and non-hectic quality of urban life, it explained, "would be totally wrecked" by Amazon's demands and, "we can't sacrifice that for you. ...Amazon, you've got so much going for you, and you'll find what you're looking for. But it's just not us."
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.








The 2017 Progressive Honor Roll
Resistance was the watchword this year. These honorees not only refused to go backward; they challenged old orthodoxies.
By John Nichols

"Resistance" was the watchword for 2017. Resistance not just to Donald Trump, but to a status quo that gave our most powerful bully pulpit to an actual bully. Progressives not only refused to go backward in 2017; they demanded a new conversation that challenged old orthodoxies. The hashtag #MeToo became the bellwether for a national dialogue about sexual abuse, workplace discrimination, and equal rights that is opening the way for societal transformation. The stunning electoral victories of nontraditional candidates in unexpected places signaled that a new politics really is possible. What began as a frightening and frustrating year ended with Alabama voters rejecting one of Trump's most vile allies in favor of a decent Democrat, Doug Jones, who claimed his victory in that state's senatorial contest by citing one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s favorite quotations: "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Here are some of the progressives who bent the arc in 2017.

Most Valuable Senator
ELIZABETH WARREN

When Steve Bannon declared last February that the Trump administration was working toward "the deconstruction of the administrative state," Warren recognized precisely what was at stake. The senator from Massachusetts knew that while the Trump agenda might frequently be hobbled by GOP disarray in Congress and judicial pushback, it would be advanced by the president's appointees to cabinet posts and regulatory panels. Warren made it her mission to challenge Trump's picks. Her diligence (along with that of the unions) helped prevent one of Trump's worst nominees, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, from becoming labor secretary. Her probing questions in confirmation hearings and searing speeches on the Senate floor so rattled Republicans that they tried to shut her down.

When Warren opposed Trump's nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general by reading, from the Senate floor, a 1986 statement by Coretta Scott King opposing Ronald Reagan's nomination of Sessions to serve on the federal bench, majority leader Mitch McConnell rushed to silence her. Charging that she had "impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama," the Republican got his colleagues to bar Warren from participating in the remainder of the debate. "She was warned," McConnell announced. "She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted." The majority leader had unwittingly created a meme; the "she persisted" line, which now adorns T-shirts, posters, and bumper stickers, became the preeminent rallying cry of 2017.

Warren plays defense brilliantly, as was evident when she shredded administration moves to derail the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But she's best on offense: making monopolization of the economy a political issue, working with Senator Bernie Sanders to get Democrats on board for single-payer health care, and successfully amending the National Defense Authorization Act to require an annual report detailing civilian casualties resulting from US military operations.

Most Valuable Reading of the Constitution
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND

Gillibrand started 2017 by opposing 20 of Trump's 22 major cabinet and White House picks-more than any other Democrat. In a year that saw the New Yorker take more than her share of courageous stands-as scrutiny of sexual harassment mounted, she was well ahead of the curve in calling for the resignations of both Democratic Senator Al Franken and President Trump-Gillibrand bravely cast the sole vote against confirming James Mattis as defense secretary. Objecting to easing the ban on recently retired generals taking charge at the Pentagon, she declared: "I still believe that civilian control of our military is fundamental to the American democracy." That dissent may have been lonely, but it was based on a proper reading of the Constitution that too many of her fellow senators neglect when issues of war and peace arise.

Most Valuable Senate Watchdog
SHERROD BROWN

Sherrod Brown spent 2017 calling out senators who did not share-or, in some cases, even understand-his economic populism. When the Senate moved in October to prevent the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from banning "mandatory arbitration clauses" that favor big banks and credit-card companies, the Ohio Democrat let rip. "What Congress is trying to do today is, frankly, outrageous," he thundered. "Our job is to look out for the people we serve-not Wall Street banks and corporations trying to scam consumers." A few weeks later, as Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch was engineering a late-night vote on the GOP's tax-overhaul plan, Brown said: "I just think it would be nice, just tonight, before we go home, to just acknowledge, 'Well, this tax cut really is not for the middle class-it's for the rich.'" Hatch was furious. Brown was right.

Most Valuable House Progressive
JAN SCHAKOWSKY

The Illinois Democrat finished 2017 by ripping GOP tax policies with seasonally appropriate verse ("'Twas the Night Before Tax Scam") that concluded by warning Paul Ryan, "There's nowhere to hide, / There's no 'cover your ass,' / When you choose to take sides / Against the middle class." A product of the Prairie State's rough-and-tumble politics, Schakowsky knows how to fight-but she does so with a humor and humanity that's often missing from congressional clashes. This has made her a leading figure in both the House Democratic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She kept her party united on votes to preserve the Affordable Care Act and to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. But Schakowsky didn't stop there; she waded into every debate, leading the charge to protect the Children's Health Insurance Program, cut prescription-drug prices, preserve net neutrality, defend immigrants, and expand protections for women in the workplace.

Most Valuable House Newcomer
RO KHANNA

Capitol Hill's steadiest champion of congressional oversight on war-making, Representative Barbara Lee always needs allies. She got a great one when Khanna arrived in January. Lee's fellow California Democrat jumped into a leadership post with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (as did two other outstanding newcomers, Washington's Pramila Jayapal and Maryland's Jamie Raskin) and emerged as a savvy champion of net neutrality. But the law-school instructor made his boldest mark as an advocate for the restoration of constitutional checks and balances. Khanna decried the use of tax dollars to "bomb and starve civilians" in Yemen and-working with CPC co-chair Mark Pocan and libertarian-leaning Republicans-drafted legislation to block US support for Saudi Arabia's brutal assault on that country. In November, Khanna and his allies forced a debate on the issue, getting the chamber to vote 366'30 for a nonbinding resolution stating that US military assistance for the Saudi war was not authorized by Congress. That was a small step. But with support growing for Lee's effort to overturn the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which has served as an excuse for military adventurism, Khanna says the Yemen vote signals that the project of "re-orienting our foreign policy away from our Saudi alliance and away from neocon/neoliberal interventionism" is finally beginning.

Most Valuable House Speech
JOE KENNEDY III

Infuriated by the empty statements and inaction of House Republicans after the October 1 massacre in Las Vegas that left 59 dead and more than 500 injured, Representative Kennedy took to the floor of the chamber as the grandson of a presidential contender who was murdered by a gun-wielding assassin, as the great-nephew of a president who was felled by bullets from another assassin, and as an ardent advocate for all families who have lost loved ones to guns. "Ending gun violence isn't political. This is personal," said the Massachusetts Democrat. "We are not powerless. We are not helpless. We are not hostages to some political organization. We are not bystanders, as bullets tear through concerts and prayer circles and elementary-school classrooms and nightclubs and military compounds and quiet neighborhoods. This is up to us-to every single American. This is our country and our home and our families. We can decide that one person's right to bear arms does not come at the expense of a neighbor's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Most Valuable New Governor
PHIL MURPHY

The headlines reporting off-year Democratic election wins highlighted Ralph Northam's important victory in Virginia's gubernatorial contest. But Northam held a Democratic seat, while New Jersey's Phil Murphy flipped one. And he did so by running as a progressive on a host of issues. Chris Christie's replacement describes gun violence as "a public health crisis," calls for "ending the era of high-stakes testing" in public schools, and promises to defend immigrants' rights by opposing "any efforts to use state and local police to assist in mass deportations." He also wants to create a state-run public bank. "It is time to bring the money home so it can build our future," says the former banker. "We will do this by redirecting resources to a bank that is committed to making investments in and for New Jersey because it will be owned by the people of New Jersey."

Most Valuable Legislators
GILDA COBB-HUNTER AND OTHER WOMEN WHO SAY "WE, TOO..."

"It's apparent that leadership to address sexual violence and harassment will not come from the federal level under the current administration," read an October 31 letter by South Carolina state legislator Gilda Cobb-Hunter, along with Colorado's Daneya Esgar, California's Cristina Garcia, Oregon's Sara Gelser, Georgia's Renitta Shannon, Rhode Island's Teresa Tanzi, and Illinois's Litesa Wallace. "But in the states, there are concrete steps we can take to support survivors, hold offenders accountable, and prevent this behavior in the first place."

The legislators explained that "we, too, have experienced harassment or assault. And we are saying enough. We, too, want to see change. And we are taking action to transform #MeToo from a social media movement into real change." They proposed specific legislative initiatives, but they also suggested an electoral response: "Today, women make up just 24.8 percent of all state legislators in the nation, but after the 2016 election, more than 20,000 women are considering running for office. We have faith that these women can win and will join those of us who are working every day to demand solutions."

Most Valuable Mayor
CARMEN YUL√ćN CRUZ

Puerto Rico is not allowed to send voting representatives to the US Congress. But after Hurricanes Irma and Maria swept through the Caribbean, San Juan's mayor refused to allow the federal government to neglect the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Her objection to claims that bumbling recovery efforts were somehow going smoothly drew the ire of President Trump, but Cruz did not back down. "The Trump administration can't handle the truth," she declared. Addressing the president directly, Cruz said: "Mr. Trump, do your job. Lives are at stake. This is not about politics. This is not about your ego. This is about the people of Puerto Rico and the [Virgin Islands]." Her advocacy got national attention and helped secure vital aid, as officials recognized the truth of Cruz's assertion that "survival cannot be our new way of life."

Most Valuable Inside/Outside Progressive
BERNIE SANDERS

Polls identify him as the nation's most popular prominent political figure, and Sanders used that popularity to build movements in 2017. The Vermonter did plenty of work in the Senate: introducing Medicare for All legislation that drew unprecedented support, and grilling Trump cabinet picks like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whom he asked: "Do you think, if you were not a multibillionaire, if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the Republican Party, that you would be sitting here today?" Outside Washington, Sanders rallied red-state voters against Trump's agenda, defending the Affordable Care Act at "Care Not Cuts" rallies in Kentucky and West Virginia; barnstormed across Pennsylvania and Ohio on a "Protect Working Families" tour sponsored by MoveOn.org and Not One Penny to oppose the GOP tax bill; and helped Indiana steelworkers expose the administration's failure to advance fair trade. Sanders also marched in favor of union rights in Mississippi with thousands of United Auto Workers activists, civil-rights campaigners, and members of the new Good Jobs Defenders coalition.

Most Valuable Protest (National)
WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON

January 20 was the most dispiriting day of 2017. Donald Trump didn't just assume the presidency; he did so with an ominous rumination on "American carnage" that confirmed the worst fears about him. But within hours of his swearing-in, Trump was checked and balanced. The Women's March-brilliantly organized and promoted by a network of activists that included co-chairs Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland-filled the capital's streets with crowds dramatically larger than those drawn by the new president. Sister marches stepped off from Maine to California and from Florida to Alaska, as millions joined what political scientists called the largest single-day protest in US history. The massive, multicity uprising so unsettled Trump that he is still sputtering about crowd sizes. Marchers maintained momentum by pulling together more than 5,000 huddles to advance their "10 Actions for the First 100 Days" agenda-putting women at the center of a nationwide resistance.

Most Valuable Protest (Local)
MAYOR CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA

After his landslide election in June as mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Lumumba announced that he planned to make his hometown "the most radical city on the planet." He has kept that promise with an ambitious agenda that includes cooperative development, citizen budgeting, and social and economic policies inspired by the activist movements of the 1960s and '70s. So when Trump arrived in Jackson in December to attend opening ceremonies for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Lumumba was not on the dais but outside with NAACP leaders. "It is my appreciation for the Mississippi martyrs not here-the names both known and unknown-that will not allow me, that will not allow many of us standing here today, to share a stage with a president who has not demonstrated a continuing commitment to civil rights, a continuing commitment to human rights, a continuing commitment to women's rights," explained Lumumba, who spoke of his desire to "write a new narrative" for Mississippi, America, and the world. By refusing to appear with a president who keeps reading from the old script, Lumumba did just that.

Most Valuable Union
AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION

If you want to see solidarity in action, consider the response of the union that represents more than 200,000 US Postal Service employees and retirees to last summer's Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. APWU president Mark Dimondstein explained to his members that rallying "for equality and against the hate-mongers" is essential union work. "What does all this have to do with the APWU? Everything!" argued Dimondstein. "Fascists are bitter enemies of workers and our unions. Their race and religious bigotry, intimidation, and violence are a direct threat to our unity and ability to stand up and fight back to save the public Postal Service, win good contracts, gain better working conditions, enjoy a better life, and live in a more just society."

Most Valuable Grassroots Activism
ADAPT AND DISABILITY ACTION FOR AMERICA

The greatest credit for blocking repeated attempts by congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid goes to disability-rights activists, who rely on the ACA and Medicaid for their survival and for that of their families. They traveled to Washington at great physical and economic expense to save the ACA-and to argue for a health-care system that provides all Americans with the care and dignity they deserve. Called to action by ADAPT, a grassroots disability-rights organization with chapters in more than 20 states, as well as Disability Action for America and other groups, and supported by passionate allies such as Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org, they took the lead. "While it's important to work with our allies fighting against [ACA repeal], the importance of disability-led efforts cannot be overstated," ADAPT said. "We are the ones who will be harmed first, and most, by this bill. We are responsible for getting our message through. Nothing about us without us!" These activists were everywhere in Washington, and they never backed down. In saving the ACA, they taught us all a lesson in resistance.

Most Valuable Arts Publication
CINEASTE

Founded 50 years ago, Cineaste provides cutting-edge commentary regarding filmmaking and smart, incisive reviews of new movies. But that's just the beginning of the contribution this magazine makes to the broader discourse in the United States. Cineaste editor in chief Gary Crowdus has assembled a team of editors and writers who are determined to explore the role that films play in shaping our understanding of race, class, gender, and more. For decades, this journal has challenged the status quo in the film industry and in our culture-celebrating mavericks and independents, objecting to stereotyping and dumbed-down commercialism, and highlighting the contributions of women and people of color in Hollywood and around the film world. As the lines between entertainment and politics blur, Cineaste provides clarity.

Most Valuable Media Intervention
PUBLIC NEWS SERVICE

When journalist Dan Heyman was arrested at the West Virginia State Capitol in May after he questioned visiting Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on whether victims of domestic violence would be protected under one of the GOP's "repeal and replace" health-care schemes, we were all reminded of the essential role of statehouse reporters. Heyman was able to fight back against the charge of "willful disruption of governmental processes"-which was eventually dropped-because he is part of a network of state-based reporters organized by the Public News Service. Developed to fill the void created by declining newspaper, radio, and television coverage of public-policy issues, PNS gets coalitions of organizations to fund journalism that covers neglected state issues. The reports are aired by commercial and community radio stations and often end up in print and online. PNS manages news services in 37 states, including West Virginia-where Heyman is still on the beat.

Most Valuable Local Radio Show
ROSE AGUILAR'S YOUR CALL

Every weekday morning on San Francisco public-radio station KALW, Rose Aguilar hosts one of the finest hours of political and cultural discussion in the country. An accomplished journalist and author, Aguilar comes prepared with probing questions and deep analysis. This is smart, serious radio that emphasizes new voices and new issues-with regular appearances by activists, authors, and callers from around the world. Aguilar's Media Roundtable program (which features many Nation writers) highlights the work of journalists who are on the ground from the Midwest to the Middle East, and she's never afraid to ask why other outlets aren't covering the stories that matter most.

Most Valuable Song
"I GIVE YOU POWER," BY ARCADE FIRE & MAVIS STAPLES

Protest music made a comeback in 2017. Fiona Apple wrote an anthem for the Women's March ("We don't want your tiny hands anywhere near our underpants..."). Bruce Springsteen and former Iron City Houserockers leader Joe Grushecky ripped the new president on "That's What Makes Us Great" ("I never put my faith in a con man and his crooks..."). Joey Bada$$ spoke truth to power with "Land of the Free" ("And Donald Trump is not equipped to take this country over..."). Eminem delivered a freestyle anti-Trump rap that declared: "Any fan of mine who's a supporter of his / I'm drawing in the sand a line: You're either for or against." But there was something epic-and refreshingly optimistic-about the collaboration between Mavis Staples, who's been singing freedom songs since the civil-rights era, and indie rockers Arcade Fire on "I Give You Power." Released on the eve of Trump's inauguration (with proceeds directed to the American Civil Liberties Union), the song asked, "Who gives you power? Where do you think it all comes from?" It answered: "I give you power. I can take it all away."

Most Valuable Book
DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS, BY NANCY MACLEAN

Donald Trump did not turn the Republican Party into the debacle it has become, and Paul Ryan did not squeeze the conscience out of conservatism. They simply took advantage of the dirty work done by the Koch brothers and their co-conspirators. The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America-as MacLean's book is subtitled-puts today's crisis in context, describing the six-decade project of the elites who have used their billions to warp academia, the media, and democracy itself. MacLean, a professor of history and public policy at Duke University, explains how the far right created the conditions in which it's become easier for billionaires to buy elections and harder for voters to cast ballots in them. Her book is a powerful indictment-and an even more powerful call to action.

Most Valuable Modern Pamphleteer
BILL MOYERS

When no one else seemed to get it, Moyers embraced and amplified the work that Bob McChesney and I have done on media issues; his support for reform was a huge boost to groups like Free Press. Countless other movements could say the same. Moyers, 83, announced in December that the last of his many media platforms, BillMoyers.com, would "go into archive mode." It's a good bet he'll keep speaking out, but his decision inspired an outpouring of appreciation, reminding us that, as his pamphleteering hero Tom Paine did in the 18th century, Moyers has popularized revolutionary ideas, radical proposals, and transformational movements that will come to be seen as the common sense of the 21st century.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.








The Tillerson Proposal For Solving N. Korean Threat
By James Donahue

A proposal by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for attempting to resolve the troublesome nuclear standoff between the United States and North Korea caught the world's attention this week. Other leaders advocating world peace welcomed the Tillerson idea according to various news reports.

What did Tillerson suggest? Simply for both sides to put away their swords and sit down and talk like two government leaders should.

For all of the bravado expressed by dictator Kim Jong Un, his threats against Japan and the United States after successfully launching Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and testing what appears to be powerful nuclear and hydrogen bombs, few Americans short of basketball star Dennis Rodman have ever made an effort to address President Kim as the leader of North Korea.

It has struck us that all that Kim really wants is a place at the world table; an equal position among leaders of the nuclear band of nations. And this is something that the United States has been loath to give him.

Tillerson, a former chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil from 2006 to 2016, probably knows more than America's playboy president about dealing with world power figures, even those with radical ideas. There is little doubt that he was picked for the job of Secretary of State was for this very reason. Trump, however, has apparently enjoyed an allegiance with the fossil fuel brokers with dollar signs on their eyelids and little else.

While Tillerson has proposed a real and possibly the only winning route to reaching a peaceful agreement with the maverick Kim Jong Un, Trump and his war hawk cronies in Washington are not having it. An immediate "anonymous" news source from within the White House offered a negative response to the Tillerson plan. That "source" told the New York Times that "Tillerson's conciliatory tone had alarmed" officials within the administration.

The Trump position has been and remains one of "maximum pressure" on North Korea to surrender that nation's bid to be a nuclear power. Anyone who understands the culture of the North Koreans would understand that Kim would never respond to that kind of pressure tactic. To remain in leadership he must never lose face in front of his people.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued this statement in rebuttal to the Tillerson comments: "The President's views on North Korea have not changed. North Korea is acting in an unsafe way not only toward Japan, China and South Korea, but the entire world. North Korea's actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea."

Sanders, a professional journalist, transposed Trump's words to sound more presidential. The way Trump recently expressed it in one of his peculiar tweets: "I told Rex Tillerson . . . he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man . . . Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!"

In an apparent effort to offer a compromise plan Tillerson on Friday urged North Korea to carry out a "sustained cessation" of weapons testing as a prelude to peace talks. But the White House has rejected that idea as well. Trump has been in consultation with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the North Korean problem. The official word from his office is that now is not the time for negotiations.

Trump appears to be pushing Kim Jong Un into a nuclear confrontation that nobody in the world, except possibly Trump, could wish for in their wildest dreams. We understand why Tillerson referred to Trump as a "moron," if he really said it.
(c) 2017 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.




"To Graham, men like McNamara and Kissinger - the main war architects for Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon - were wonderful human beings."



The Real Story Behind Katharine Graham And "The Post"
The Washington Post was instrumental in avidly promoting the lies that made the Vietnam War possible in the first place.
By Norman Solomon

Movie critics are already hailing "The Post," directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. Millions of people will see the film in early winter. But the real-life political story of Graham and her newspaper is not a narrative that's headed to the multiplexes.

"The Post" comes 20 years after Graham's autobiography Personal History appeared and won enormous praise. Read as a memoir, the book is a poignant account of Graham's long quest to overcome sexism, learn the newspaper business and gain self-esteem. Read as media history, however, it is deceptive.

"I don't believe that whom I was or wasn't friends with interfered with our reporting at any of our publications," Graham wrote. However, Robert Parry -- who was a Washington correspondent for Newsweek during the last three years of the 1980s -- has shed some light on the shadows of Graham's reassuring prose. Contrary to the claims in her book, Parry said he witnessed

"self-censorship because of the coziness between Post-Newsweek executives and senior national security figures."

Among Parry's examples: "On one occasion in 1987, I was told that my story about the CIA funneling anti-Sandinista money through Nicaragua's Catholic Church had been watered down because the story needed to be run past Mrs. Graham, and Henry Kissinger was her house guest that weekend. Apparently, there was fear among the top editors that the story as written might cause some consternation." (The 1996 memoir of former CIA Director Robert Gates confirmed that Parry had the story right all along.)

Graham's book exudes affection for Kissinger as well as Robert McNamara and other luminaries of various administrations who remained her close friends until she died in 2001. To Graham, men like McNamara and Kissinger -- the main war architects for Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon -- were wonderful human beings.

In sharp contrast, Graham devoted dozens of righteous pages to vilifying Post press operators who went on strike in 1975. She stressed the damage done to printing equipment as the walkout began and "the unforgivable acts of violence throughout the strike." It is a profound commentary on her outlook that thuggish deeds by a few of the strikers were "unforgivable" -- but men like McNamara and Kissinger were lovable after they oversaw horrendous slaughter in Southeast Asia.

Graham's autobiography portrays union stalwarts as mostly ruffians or dupes. "Only a handful of [Newspaper Guild] members had gone out for reasons I respected," she told readers. "One was John Hanrahan, a good reporter and a nice man who came from a longtime labor family and simply couldn't cross a picket line. He never did come back. Living your beliefs is a rare virtue and greatly to be admired."

But for Hanrahan (whose Republican parents actually never belonged to a union) the admiration was far from mutual. As he put it, "The Washington Post under Katharine Graham pioneered the union-busting 'replacement worker' strategy that Ronald Reagan subsequently used against the air-traffic controllers and that corporate America -- in the Caterpillar, Bridgestone/Firestone and other strikes -- used to throw thousands of workers out of their jobs in the 1980s and the '90s."

The Washington Post deserves credit for publishing sections of the Pentagon Papers immediately after a federal court injunction in mid-June 1971 stopped the New York Times from continuing to print excerpts from the secret document. That's the high point of the Washington Post's record in relation to the Vietnam War. The newspaper strongly supported the war for many years.

Yet Graham's book avoids any semblance of introspection about the Vietnam War and the human costs of the Post's support for it. Her book recounts that she huddled with a writer in line to take charge of the editorial page in August 1966: "We agreed that the Post ought to work its way out of the very supportive editorial position it had taken, but we couldn't be precipitous; we had to move away gradually from where we had been." Vast carnage resulted from such unwillingness to be "precipitous."

Although widely touted as a feminist parable, Graham's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography is notably bereft of solidarity for women without affluence or white skin. They barely seemed to exist in her range of vision; painful realities of class and racial biases were dim, faraway specks. Overall the 625-page book gives short shrift to the unrich and unfamous, whose lives are peripheral to the drama played out by the wealthy publisher's dazzling peers. The name of Martin Luther King Jr. does not appear in her star-studded, history-drenched book.

Katharine Graham's decision to publish the Pentagon Papers was indeed laudable, helping to expose lies that had greased the wheels of the war machinery with such horrific consequences in Vietnam. But the Washington Post was instrumental in avidly promoting the lies that made the Vietnam War possible in the first place. No amount of rave reviews or Oscar nominations for "The Post" will change that awful truth.
(c) 2017 Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."







The War On Christmas Is Finally Over! It's Holiday Fundraiser Time!
By Heather Digby Parton

I've been writing this little blog for 14 years now, if you can believe that. We must live in very interesting times to say the least if it can keep me blogging every day and keep you reading what I write. But for all the challenges we've faced during that period from the Iraq war on, I have to say that the last 13 months have been the most tumultuous and frightening of my adult lifetime. And I've been around a while.

There was the presidential inauguration, of course, and from that much else flows. "American carnage" indeed. It seems that every month every week, every day presents some new horror.

His relentlessly reckless rhetoric and behavior is wearying. His third rate staff and refusal to listen to experts is more than worrying.

The overall corruption of his administration and the explosion of all norms and rules that make a civilized system is alarming.

The tax cut he and his GOP millionaire cronies have devised is a perfect illustration of Trump's credo: "to the victors belong the spoils."

The destruction of American credibility abroad may be irreparable. The Russia connection and threat of cyberwarfare is downright nightmarish and the existential dread of a North Korean nuclear confrontation between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un is overwhelming.

And on top of the disaster of Donald Trump the US also suffered three devastating hurricanes, one of which the president treated as if it was one of the foreign countries he so despises and which is still barely recovering. And California has been on fire for months.

We had the worst mass shooting in American history this year when some nut with a cache of easily obtained semi-automatic weapons shot 600 people at a country music concert.

And then there was the shock of seeing torch wielding Nazis marching in the streets and the president of the United States issuing the chilling statement that they were "very fine people."

We are ending this annus horribilis with the revelation of an epidemic of sexual harassment by powerful men across every profession in America.

Like I said, it's been quite a year.
(c) 2017 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.








Shine A Light During Dark Times
By David Suzuki

Before he died on November 7, 2016, the great poet Leonard Cohen offered a moving, prophetic warning in his final album's title song: "You want it darker / We kill the flame." As we near the Northern hemisphere's longest night of the year, it seems like a monumental challenge to keep the flickering flame from being extinguished.

In the U.S., human rights, environmental protections and social services are being snuffed out by executive order. Angry rhetoric from an administration that appears to thrive on division is fuelling racial tensions. As drought-fuelled fires rage, storms become more intense and unpredictable, and flooding devastates communities, and as much of the world plans how to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement, the fossil fuel industry and its government sycophants continue to destroy ecosystems in their race to exploit every bit of climate-altering product they can before shrinking markets halt their rampage.

Even governments that say they're committed to tackling climate change continue to promote pipelines, fracking and other fossil fuel projects and infrastructure. We also face the spectacle of two mad nuclear-armed heads of state trading childish insults, inching us closer to catastrophic confrontation.

Another great poet, William Butler Yeats, wrote presciently in 1919: "The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."

It's not really true that the "best lack all conviction." But as the days get darker, it sometimes feels overwhelming, hopeless.

We must keep the flame burning.

The light will return to this part of the world and the days will get longer, but we must act to make our lives brighter. The "passionate intensity" (or maybe just banal indifference to suffering) of those who would impose misery on many for the benefit of the few may be little more than the death throes of an outdated, destructive order. But it's no time to be complacent. We must show that we shine brighter. Knowledge, kindness and solidarity can overcome ignorance and fear.

This truth is coming to light as more and more people reject the forces of darkness. #MeToo. Black Lives Matter. Idle No More. Women are speaking out against those who have oppressed them through rape, abuse and systemic sexism. People of colour are standing up to the violence, hatred and inequality they have faced in countries claiming to value freedom and equality. Indigenous Peoples are demonstrating their knowledge and power and demanding an end to colonial oppression. Business people, religious leaders, politicians and citizens are demanding action on climate change and other environmental challenges. People everywhere are developing solutions to the problems we have caused through ignorance and avarice.

We must also work for better education, at home and throughout the world. Stabilizing population growth requires education for women and families, along with access to birth control and family planning. Democracies function best when people cast their votes and base their decisions on facts, critical thought and understanding rather than tribalism and rigid ideology. Those who have learned how to critically assess the overabundance of information that floods our daily lives are in a better position to contribute to positive change.

For many cultures, the winter solstice is a time to reflect, regroup and rededicate. As the light slowly returns, it's a period of renewal and eventual rebirth. It's a good time to celebrate that which holds true meaning and brings real happiness in life: friends, family, nature, connection. It's also a time to reach out to help those who are less fortunate.

Every good deed, every positive act, helps the flame burn a little bit brighter. No matter how small or insignificant our contributions may seem, when we do good in the world, it adds up - and it will eventually overcome the darkness. Even an unconditional smile given to a stranger can cheer that person, who may then offer smiles to others, multiplying the effect and spreading joy.

As we near the solstice and enter the holiday season, I and the David Suzuki Foundation staff wish you peace and happiness for this year and the days to come. Let us all shine our lights to make the world a brighter, better place for all.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.








Bob Corker Is Shocked-SHOCKED!
By Charles P. Pierce

I still think the Abomination of Desolation is going to pass and that the president* will sign it, the latter because, at this point, he'll sign anything they put on his desk. But word's got around about how bad this bill really is-when you've got a bill being compared to the Fugitive Slave Act, you've got a really dead fish on your hands-and the Republicans are now looking like such big fools in the gyrations they're doing trying to pass it that they're pretty much writing the Democratic commercials for 2018 every time they get in front of a microphone. Monday's carnival act was Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, who's retiring after this term and who, apparently, would like us to believe that he's already checked out.

Corker, you may recall, opposed the original Senate tax bill because it will send the deficit spiraling into the Van Alen Belt, and he is what the pundits like to call a "deficit hawk." Late last week, though, he came around and announced that he would be voting for the bill, which pretty much put paid to any Democratic attempt to jam things up, Lisa Murkowski having already been swayed by the vision of oil derricks against the Arctic sky and Susan Collins being god knows where from one moment to the next. However, at the last minute, a number of people-most notably, David Sirota and the crew at the International Business Times-noticed that a late revision in the bill would stand to make both Corker and the president* a pile of dough. From Bloomberg:

The change, which would allow real estate businesses to take advantage of a new tax break that's planned for partnerships, limited liability companies and other so-called "pass-through" businesses, combined elements of House and Senate legislation in a new way. Its beneficiaries are clear, tax experts say, and they include a president who's said that the tax legislation wouldn't help him financially. "This last-minute provision will significantly benefit the ultra-wealthy real estate investor, including the president and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, resulting in a timely tax-reduction gift for the holidays," said Harvey Bezozi, a certified public accountant and the founder of YourFinancialWizard.com. "Ordinary people who invest in rental real estate will also benefit." James Repetti, a tax law professor at Boston College Law School, said: "This is a windfall for real estate developers like Trump."
As it happens, Corker also is heavily invested in real-estate holding companies, so cynical souls like me, and like anyone else who has a pulse, have begun to notice that Corker clipped his own wings as a deficit hawk to support a bill that will make him even richer than he is now. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn then went on This Week With The Clinton Guy Shocked By Blowjobs and middle Corker quite nicely.
STEPHANOPOULOS: [This provision] apparently was added at the last minute. Why was that done? Why was it necessary to include that provision?

CORNYN: Well, we were working very hard. It was a very intense process. As I said, the Democrats refused to participate. And what we've tried to do is cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.

OK, so Cornyn didn't say flat-out that they were trying to tempt Corker off his perch but, as I always say, a nod is as good as a wink to a blind trust. Naturally, on Monday, Corker pronounced himself shocked-SHOCKED!-at the suggestion that he might have changed his position because he stood to profit handsomely from doing so. To his credit, he got back to the IBT. What he told them, however, depends mightily on your personal faith in coincidence.
In a series of rapid-fire telephone interviews, Corker asked IBT for a description of the provision, and then criticized it. But minutes later, he called back to walk back that criticism, saying he wanted to further study the issue, and that it was more complex than he initially understood it to be. Despite potentially holding the fate of the entire tax bill in his hands, Corker told IBT that he has only read a short summary of the $1.4 trillion legislation. "I had like a two-page summary I went through with leadership," said Corker. "I never saw the actual text." Despite not reading the bill -- and having time to read it before the final vote scheduled for this week -- he reiterated his support for the bill to IBT, support he announced hours before bill's full text was publicly released on Friday.
Looked at in the best possible light, Corker's conundrum illustrates the unseemly haste with which this transformational adjustment of the tax code was cobbled together in order to get the president* and the congressional Republicans a "win" before Christmas. At worst, it looks like Corker got bought off. (#CorkerKickback started trending almost immediately on your electric Twitter machine.) Corker's current position is to loudly demand a probe into how this dubious provision that will enrich him found its way into the bill. To quote a film that seems to be all the rage:

"Your winnings, sir."


(c) 2017 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.






The Quotable Quote...



"How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?"
~~~ Howard Zinn









Gorbachev Was Promised No NATO Expansion
By David Swanson

For decades the pretense has been maintained that there is some doubt as to whether the United States really promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that if Germany reunited, then NATO would not expand eastward. The National Security Archive has put such doubts to rest at least until the de-neutering of the internet succeeds.

On January 31, 1990, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher made a major public speech in which, according to the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, he made clear "that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an 'impairment of Soviet security interests.' Therefore, NATO should rule out an 'expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.'"

On February 10, 1990, Gorbachev met in Moscow with West German leader Helmut Kohl and gave Soviet assent, in principle, to German unification in NATO, as long as NATO did not expand to the east.

U.S. Secretary of State James Baker said that NATO would not expand eastward when he met with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, and when he met with Gorbachev the same day. Baker told Gorbachev three times that NATO would not expand one inch eastward. Baker agreed with Gorbachev's statement that "NATO expansion is unacceptable." Baker told Gorbachev that "if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO's present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction."

People like to say that Gorbachev should have gotten this in writing.

He did, in the form of the transcript of this meeting.

Baker wrote to Helmut Kohl who would meet with Gorbachev the next day, February 10, 1990: "And then I put the following question to him. Would you prefer to see a united Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no U.S. forces or would you prefer a unified Germany to be tied to NATO, with assurances that NATO's jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position? He answered that the Soviet leadership was giving real thought to all such options [....] He then added, 'Certainly any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.'" Baker added in parentheses, for Kohl's benefit, "By implication, NATO in its current zone might be acceptable."

Kohl told Gorbachev on February 10, 1990: "We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity." NATO secretary-general Manfred Woerner, in July 1991, told Supreme Soviet deputies "that the NATO Council and he are against the expansion of NATO."

The message seems to have been consistent and repetitive and completely dishonest. Gorbachev should have gotten it in marble 100-feet high. Maybe that would have worked.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.




Activists stage an anti-Trump protest in front of the US Supreme Court January 23, 2017, in Washington, DC.
The group, Refuse Fascism, called for a "must stop business as usual this week" to "stop the Trump/Pence regime."




Dig In: This Must Be The Winter Of Our Discontent
By William Rivers Pitt

Pretend I'm reading this right now in my very best Boris Karloff voice, because I have to play the Grinch for a bit. Yes, I know, everyone is still justifiably thrilled after all the hard work that brought about the Doug Jones victory in Alabama, and I am no exception; my first act on Tuesday was to wager any takers I could find that Roy Moore would win by eight points, but tellingly, no one wanted the bet.

I think I've never been so happy to be wrong in my life, and not just because I would have gotten cleaned out like the lint screen on the dryer. But why? Why was I and so many others so thoroughly convinced that a decent man like Doug Jones was doomed to defeat at the hands of an Old Testament carny huckster pedophile like Roy Moore? Lack of knowledge regarding Alabama politics doesn't explain it, not even by half.

Why? Because scars are instructive. With only a precious few notable exceptions, this past year has been seamless in its belligerent horror, so of course Moore was going to win. Par for the course, right? This is what we've come to expect since that undercrowded DC day last January, so being wrong about losing in defiance of all well-earned expectations is the psychological version of having Handel's Messiah suddenly come blaring out of your fillings. Hallelujah.

The only way Roy Moore could have been a worse candidate was if he had actually been on fire during the entire campaign. Doing his stump speeches, having a quick burger, riding that silly horse, all of it while swaddled in flames with little charred bits of himself falling off every time he shook someone's hand.

Even so, even with his barge of inexcusable baggage in tow, Moore only lost by two points. Had the sexual misconduct charges not been aired before the election, and had Black organizers not exerted a massive effort to turn out the vote, like as not he would have won in a walk, and Mitch McConnell would be presently seeking the largest Ten Commandments monument on Earth so he can throw himself off it.

It was a huge win that went a long way toward saving Social Security and Medicare from the Paul Ryans of the world. However, it does not signal any significant sea change in US politics or government. Everything is not going to be OK now because Doug Jones won Jeff Sessions' old seat. Everything, in fact, is incredibly terrible and getting worse. In the short span of days since Jones was declared the winner, the blustering orange fascism currently tinting the national windshield got a whole hell of a lot darker.

Benito Mussolini invented fascism in a barn about 100 years ago, defining it as the union of state and corporate power. On Thursday, three people on the Federal Communications Commission went a long way toward cementing that union when they voted to strip the internet -- a public utility created with taxpayer money and available to all -- of all regulations designed to protect the very taxpayers who paid for it.

In short, they corporatized the sum of human knowledge, making it a great deal easier for corporations to block the flow of information, disrupt political discourse and make more money. The most extraordinary expression of free speech ever seen on the planet is now a wholly owned subsidiary of massive multinationals like Comcast and Verizon.

The last time an attack of this size against free speech and the flow of information took place was when the Fairness Doctrine -- which limited the number of media outlets a single entity could own in order to guarantee a diversity of perspectives -- was disposed of by the FCC in 1987. Soon after, the content available on virtually every TV channel, specifically the news content, was controlled by a small handful of corporate owners. How's that been working out for democracy so far? Oh, P.S., the FCC also just made it easier for those corporations to own even more TV stations and print publications.

Speaking of state and corporate power, the US Congress is about to deliver a trillion dollars of your money to a cadre of corporations and wealthy benefactors, a move that is guaranteed to shatter the federal government's ability to help tens of millions of people because ... well, because screw you, that's why. The delivery of this vast fortune to its paymasters has been the core mission of the Republican Party since long before Reagan and his minions coughed up those first rhetorical hairballs about "trickle-down economics." With this tax bill, their mission is all but accomplished.

Public hesitation from Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Corker made the math on the bill's passage theoretically interesting until just before sundown Friday evening, when both of them fell in line. No surprise there; Mitch McConnell didn't drag this stinking boar's carcass of a tax bill so far to see it fall to offal at the finish line. Rubio and Corker will wake up Christmas morning with a new Xbox under the tree and all the secret donor dark money they can count. With their votes secured and no other defections on the horizon, the bill will sail to final passage very soon. Thank you, Supply-Side Jesus. God bless us every one.

I am afraid of spiders, sharks, cancer and clowns, not necessarily in that order. Nothing terrifies me more, however, than the sneaking suspicion I have that all this is getting normalized. It is an unavoidable fact of human nature: the urge to cope. Wretched leaders for millennia have taken great advantage of the fact that many people will put up with an incredible amount of terrible crap for way longer than they should. They do this because they have to. Gotta work, gotta eat, gotta feed the family if you can, and if the roof caves in, at least the view will be different.

That's when the dangerous music starts. We are well beyond "It can't happen here." It has happened here, is happening, and will happen even more tomorrow. The militarization of police forces, the resurgence of white nationalism and the racist right, the hoarding of control over information, the labeling and culling of "undesirables," a state-inflicted climate of fear and, of course, the looting of the Treasury ... take a high school world history textbook and throw it against the wall. When it lands, odds are it will open on a page describing a regime that did these very things on its journey down a highway littered with corpses.

This is what fascism looks, smells and sounds like before it breaks out of its egg and spreads its wings. This, right down to the clownish strongman screaming from the podium. They laughed at Mussolini, too, until it became a crime to do so. After that, the joke was on the world.

I know you are dispirited, spent, offended, exasperated and mortally tired. This is the point when normalization of the intolerable takes root, the moment when the coping skills come out just to get through the day, and you find yourself doing the trigonometry of the damned just to make sense of it: A is worse than B but not as bad as C. Trump just ordered the deportation of millions of innocent people? Oh well, at least we didn't die in a pillar of nuclear fire today.

This, right here, is where we have to dig in. It is so bad and promises to get worse and we have to dig in. We cannot allow any of this to become even the tiniest bit normal, no matter how much it may cost us in body, mind and spirit. This must be the winter of our discontent. So much good work is being done to resist, so much more can be done and must be done, but it will all come to nothing if any of this mayhem is allowed to seem routine.

Stout hearts. Dig in. Embrace the winter. The alternative can be found in that history book you threw. It does not have a happy ending.

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring -- What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here -- that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

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





The Dead Letter Office...





John and his wife Sandy give the corporate salute.

Heil Trump,

Dear Uberfuhrer Cornyn,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your helping us sell the billionaires tax cut package, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2017. We salute you Herr Cornyn, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump






A Guide To Why The Trump-Republican Tax Plan Is A Disgrace (for When you Confront Your Republican Uncle Bob During the Holidays)
By Robert Reich

Here are the 3 main Republican arguments in favor of the Republican tax plan, followed by the truth.

1. It will make American corporations competitive with foreign corporations, which are taxed at a lower rate.

Rubbish.

(1) American corporations now pay an effective rate (after taking deductions and tax credits) that's just about the same as most foreign based corporations pay.

(2) Most of these other countries also impose a "Value Added Tax" on top of the corporate tax.

(3) When we cut our corporate rate from 35% to 20%, other nations will cut their corporate rates in order to be competitive with us - so we gain nothing anyway.

(4) Most big American corporations who benefit most from the Republican tax plan aren't even "American." Over 35 percent of their shareholders are foreign (which means that by cutting corporate taxes we're giving a big tax cut to those foreign shareholders). 20 percent of their employees are foreign, while many Americans work for foreign-based corporations.

(5) The "competitiveness" of America depends on American workers, not on "American" corporations. But this tax plan will make it harder to finance public investments in education, health, and infrastructure, on which the future competitiveness of American workers depends.

(6) American corporations already have more money than they know what to do with. Their profits are at record levels. They're using them to buy back their shares of stock, and raise executive pay. That's what they'll do with the additional $1 trillion they'll receive in this tax cut.

***

2. With the tax cut, big corporations and the rich will invest and create more jobs.

Baloney.

(1) Job creation doesn't trickle down. After Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush cut taxes on the top, few jobs and little growth resulted. America cut taxes on corporations in 2004 in an attempt to get them to bring their profits home from abroad, and what happened? They didn't invest. They just bought up more shares of their own stock, and increased executive pay.

: (2) Companies expand and create jobs when there's more demand for their goods and services. That demand comes from customers who have the money to buy what companies sell. Those customers are primarily the middle class and poor, who spend far more of their incomes than the rich. But this tax bill mostly benefits the rich.

(3) At a time when the richest 1 percent already have 40 percent of all the wealth in the country, it's immoral to give them even more - especially when financed partly by 13 million low-income Americans who will lose their health coverage as a result of this tax plan (according to the Congressional Budget Office), and by subsequent cuts in safety-net programs necessitated by increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion.

***

3. It will give small businesses an incentive to invest and create more jobs.

Untrue.

(1) At least 85 percent of small businesses earn so little they already pay the lowest corporate tax rate, which this plan doesn't change.

(2) In fact, because the tax plan bestows much larger rewards on big businesses, they'll have more ability to use predatory tactics to squeeze small firms and force them out of business.

***

Don't let your Uncle Bob be fooled: Republicans are voting for this because their wealthy patrons demand it. Their tax plan will weaken our economy for years - reducing demand, widening inequality, and increasing the national debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

Shame on the greedy Republican backers who have engineered this. Shame on Trump and the Republicans who have lied to the public about its consequences.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is www.robertreich.org.









The Permanent Lie, Our Deadliest Threat
By Chris Hedges

The most ominous danger we face does not come from the eradication of free speech through the obliteration of net neutrality or through Google algorithms that steer people away from dissident, left-wing, progressive or anti-war sites. It does not come from a tax bill that abandons all pretense of fiscal responsibility to enrich corporations and oligarchs and prepares the way to dismantle programs such as Social Security. It does not come from the opening of public land to the mining and fossil fuel industry, the acceleration of ecocide by demolishing environmental regulations, or the destruction of public education. It does not come from the squandering of federal dollars on a bloated military as the country collapses or the use of the systems of domestic security to criminalize dissent. The most ominous danger we face comes from the marginalization and destruction of institutions, including the courts, academia, legislative bodies, cultural organizations and the press, that once ensured that civil discourse was rooted in reality and fact, helped us distinguish lies from truth and facilitated justice.

Donald Trump and today's Republican Party represent the last stage in the emergence of corporate totalitarianism. Pillage and oppression are justified by the permanent lie. The permanent lie is different from the falsehoods and half-truths uttered by politicians such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The common political lie these politicians employed was not designed to cancel out reality. It was a form of manipulation. Clinton, when he signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement, promised "NAFTA means jobs, American jobs and good-paying American jobs." George W. Bush justified the invasion of Iraq because Saddam Hussein supposedly possessed weapons of mass destruction. But Clinton did not continue to pretend that NAFTA was beneficial to the working class when reality proved otherwise. Bush did not pretend that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction once none were found.

The permanent lie is not circumscribed by reality. It is perpetuated even in the face of overwhelming evidence that discredits it. It is irrational. Those who speak in the language of truth and fact are attacked as liars, traitors and purveyors of "fake news." They are banished from the public sphere once totalitarian elites accrue sufficient power, a power now granted to them with the revoking of net neutrality. The iron refusal by those who engage in the permanent lie to acknowledge reality, no matter how transparent reality becomes, creates a collective psychosis.

"The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world-and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end-is being destroyed," Hannah Arendt wrote in "The Origins of Totalitarianism."

The permanent lie turns political discourse into absurdist theater. Donald Trump, who lies about the size of his inauguration crowd despite photographic evidence, insists that in regard to his personal finances he is "going to get killed" by a tax bill that actually will save him and his heirs over $1 billion. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claims he has a report that proves that the tax cuts will pay for themselves and will not increase the deficit-only there never was a report. Sen. John Cornyn assures us, countering all factual evidence, that "this is not a bill that is designed primarily to benefit the wealthy and the large businesses."

Two million acres of public land, meanwhile, are handed over to the mining and fossil fuel industry as Trump insists the transfer means that "public lands will once again be for public use." When environmentalists denounce the transfer as a theft, Rep. Rob Bishop calls their criticism "a false narrative."

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, after ending net neutrality, effectively killing free speech on the internet, says, "[T]hose who've said the internet as we know it is about to end have been proven wrong. ...We have a free internet going forward." And at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, phrases such as "evidence-based" and "science-based" are banned.

The permanent lie is the apotheosis of totalitarianism. It no longer matters what is true. It matters only what is "correct." Federal courts are being stacked with imbecilic and incompetent judges who serve the "correct" ideology of corporatism and the rigid social mores of the Christian right. They hold reality, including science and the rule of law, in contempt. They seek to banish those who live in a reality-based world defined by intellectual and moral autonomy. Totalitarian rule always elevates the brutal and the stupid. These reigning idiots have no genuine political philosophy or goals. They use cliches and slogans, most of which are absurd and contradictory, to justify their greed and lust for power. This is as true on the Christian right, which is filling the ideological vacuum of the Trump administration, as it is for the corporatists that preach neoliberalism and globalization. The merger of the corporatists with the Christian right is the marrying of Godzilla to Frankenstein.

"The venal political figures need not even comprehend the social and political consequences of their behavior," psychiatrist Joost A.M. Meerloo wrote in "The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing." "They are compelled not by ideological belief, no matter how much they may rationalize to convince themselves they are, but by the distortions of their own personalities. They are not motivated by their advertised urge to serve their country or mankind, but rather by an overwhelming need and compulsion to satisfy the cravings of their own pathological character structures. The ideologies they spout are not real goals; they are the cynical devices by which these sick men hope to achieve some personal sense of worth and power. Subtle inner lies seduce them into going from bad to worse. Defensive self-deception, arrested insight, evasion of emotional identification with others, degradation of empathy-the mind has many defense mechanisms with which to blind the conscience."

When reality is replaced by the whims of opinion and expediency, what is true one day often becomes false the next. Consistency is discarded. Complexity, nuance, depth and profundity are replaced with the simpleton's belief in threats and force. This is why the Trump administration disdains diplomacy and is dynamiting the State Department. Totalitarianism, wrote novelist and social critic Thomas Mann, is at its core the desire for a simple folktale. Once this folktale replaces reality, morality and ethics are abolished.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities," Voltaire warned.

The corporate elites, who even in the best of times stacked the deck against people of color, the poor and the working class, no longer play by any rules. Their lobbyists, bought-and-paid-for politicians, pliant academics, corrupt judges and television news celebrities run a kleptocratic state defined by legalized bribery and unchecked exploitation. The corporate elites write laws, regulations and bills to expand corporate looting and plunder while imposing a crippling debt peonage on the public, including college graduates burdened by huge loans. They ram through austerity measures that dismantle state and municipal services, often forcing them to be sold off to corporations, and slash social programs, including public education and health care. They insist, however, that when we have grievances we rely on the institutions they have debased and corrupted. They ask us to invest our energy and time in fixed political campaigns, petition elected representatives or appeal to the courts. They seek to lure us into their schizophrenic world, where rational discourse is pitted against gibberish. They demand we seek justice in a system designed to perpetuate injustice. It is a game we can never win.

"Thus all our dignity consist in thought," wrote Pascal. "It is on thought that we must depend for our recovery, not on space and time, which we could never fill. Let us then strive to think well; that is the basic principle of morality."

We must pit power against power. We must build parallel institutions and organizations that protect us from corporate assault and resist corporate domination. We must sever ourselves as much as possible from the vampire state. The more we can create self-contained communities, with our own currencies and infrastructures, the more we can starve and cripple the corporate beast. This means establishing worker-run cooperatives, local systems of food supply based on a vegan diet and independent artistic, cultural and political organizations. It means obstructing in every way possible the corporate assault, including the blocking of pipelines and fracking sites, and taking to the streets in sustained acts of civil disobedience against censorship and the attack on civil liberties. And it means creating sanctuary cities. All of this will have to be done the way it has always been done, by building personal, face-to-face relationships. We may not ultimately save ourselves, especially with the refusal by the elites to address the ravages of climate change, but we can create pods of resistance where truth, beauty, empathy and justice endure.
(c) 2017 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/chris-hedges.




The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Andy Marlette ~~~








To End On A Happy Note...





Have You Seen This...






Parting Shots...





Washington Kept Us Laughing In 2017
By Will Durst

Put down the nog. Let in the dog. Delay your spouse's jog. Buy a mask for the smog. Alert the press in Prague. Because the eagerly awaited list of Top Ten Comedic News Stories of the Year has finally arrived. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

But first, a word of caution: These stories are not be confused with the Top Ten Legitimate News Stories of 2017. No. No. No. They are as dissimilar as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and strip poker. Like aluminum snow shovels and chocolate lava cakes. Oxblood wing-tips and tufted wrestling mats.

These are the events that most lent themselves to jocularity. The ones with a comedic angle. You will find no mention of snipers, Nazis, hurricanes, wildfires, terrorism, Democrats or sexual assaults. Those may have been major occurrences during the past year, but in terms of mockability, not a match. So, here they are:

The Top Ten Comedic News Stories of 2017.

10. SEAN SPICER. Donald Trump's proxy punching bag. I kept waiting for him to show up at a press briefing with his tie around his forehead and a knife clenched in his teeth sputtering "Who wants a piece of me?" He resigned in order to spend more time lying to his family.

9. SECRETARY OF STATE REX TILLERSON. He refuses to deny he called the president a moron, becoming the new hero of millions. Afterwards the president challenged him to an IQ test even though it is not a slam dunk he could spell IQ if you spotted him the I.

8. INAUGURATION. The 45th president called it the most well-attended inaugural in the history of ever, despite photographic evidence to the extreme contrary. I'm still amazed he put his hand on the Bible and it didn't burst into flames.

7. PRESIDENT FEUDS WITH NORTH KOREA. Imminent nuclear warfare is usually not that amusing. Hopefully this schoolyard tussle between two grown adolescents with weird hair and daddy issues is not the beginning of the sequel to Dr. Strangelove. Every day without a mushroom cloud has to be counted as a victory.

6. ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI. For 10 wonderful days, this train wreck with the name of a 16th commedia dell'arte villain spun out of control like a gyroscope through four magnetic fields on its path to a black hole.

5. RUSSIAN PROBES. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III says the reason he keeps giving different answers to congressional committees is because he remembers more whenever he learns there is evidence.

4. DONALD TRUMP JR. The Fredo of the Trump Crime Family. He's going to make us an offer we can't understand.

3. SPECIAL PROSECUTOR. Robert Mueller was appointed in middle of May, which means in four short months, Donald Trump went from zero to Nixon.

2. PRESIDENT FEUDS WITH NFL. Tweeted 24 times about players not standing for national anthem and not once about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. That's leadership like two bottles of Jagermeister are dinner.

1. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP. The man has single handedly done for political comedy what legalized marijuana did for Cheetos. George W Bush may have been a Wheel of Fortune president in a Jeopardy world, but Donald Trump looks to be more of a Chutes & Ladders kind of a guy.
(c) 2017 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former Pizza Hut assistant manager syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Click here for videos and a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, Elect to Laugh: 2016, appearing every Tuesday at The Marsh in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter: @willdurst and click here to read previous columns




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The Gross National Debt


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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 51 (c) 12/22/2017


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