Deep Politics Forum

Full Version: USA under presidency of a know-nothing, neo-fascist, racist, sexist, mobbed-up narcissist!!
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.

The Artist as Prophet

Posted on May 28, 2017
By Chris Hedges
[Image: Artist_Prophet_590.jpg]
Mr. Fish / Truthdig
The Israeli writer and dissident Uri Avnery asked an Egyptian general how the Egyptians managed to surprise the Israelis when they launched the October 1973 war. The general answered: "Instead of reading the intelligence reports, you should have read our poets."
The deep malaise, rage and feelings of betrayal that have enveloped American society are rarely captured and almost never are explained coherently by the press. To grasp the savage economic and emotional cost of deindustrialization, the destruction of our democratic institutions, the dark undercurrent of nihilistic violence that sees us beset with mass shootings, the attraction of opioids, the rise of the militarized state and the concentration of national wealth in a tiny cabal of corrupt bankers and corporations, it is necessary to turn to a handful of poets, writers and other artists. These artists, who often exist on the margins of mass culture, are our unheeded prophets.
"What Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, and most other prophets have in common is a strong ethical outlook and a heightened sensitivity to attitudes and moralsthe obvious ones as well as those that lurk beneath the surface," the painter Enrique Martinez Celaya said in an essay. "They also share urgency. Prophets are not inclined to wait for the right time. Their prophetic vision demands action, leaving little room for calculation and diplomacy. Truth, for the prophets, is not merely a belief but a moral imperative that compels them to speak and act with little regard for convenience or gains. But prophets need to do more than speaking and acting, and it is not enough to be apocalyptic. Something must be brought forward."
All despotisms, including our own, make war on culture. They seek to manipulate or erase historical memory. This assault on memory, Martinez Celaya said, is "philosophical violence." It leaves us with a "sense of being a stranger, displaced, a sense of having no way to check where one comes from because something has been cut and removed."
When I recently interviewed Russell Banks, the novelist said, "It's remarkable to me, the speed which memory gets lost in America and perhaps elsewhere. The world has been so decentralized. No one lives with anyone older than they are, generally. It's only through memory that we can compare the present to anything else, to take its measure.""If you can't take its measure then you can't judge it," he said. "You can't evaluate it. You can't take a moral position with regards to it."
Randall Jarrell in his essay "A Sad Heart at the Supermarket" calls our consumer culture "periodical."
"We believe that all that is deserves to perish and to have something else put in its place," he wrote. This belief, Jarrell said, is "the opposite of the world of the arts, where commercial and scientific progress do not exist; where the bone of Homer and Mozart and Donatello is there, always, under the mere blush of fashion, where the pastthe remote past, evenis responsible for the way we understand, value, and act in, the present."
"An artist's work and life presuppose continuing standards, values stretched out over centuries of millennia, a future that is the continuation and modification of the past, not its contradiction or irrelevant replacement," he went on.
"The past's relation to the artist or man of culture is almost the opposite of its relation to the rest of our society," Jarrell wrote. "To him the present is no more than the last ring on the trunk, understandable and valuable only in terms of all the earlier rings. The rest of our society sees only that great last ring, the enveloping surface of the trunk; what's underneath is a disregarded, almost hypothetical foundation."
In his novel "Cloudsplitter," Banks tells the story of John Brown through the eyes of Owen, a son who survived the assault on Harpers Ferry and the aborted slave uprising.
"White Americans always say that John Brown was well intended but insane," he said in the interview. "Black Americans don't think that at all. They think he was heroic. From Malcolm X to Baldwin to whomever you want to ask. W.E.B. Du Bois' biography of Brown was the first biography of Brown that was sympathetic in any way. It's very interesting there's a racial divide on this man that is so extreme, yet no one disagrees about the facts. The facts have been known since 1859. No one has uncovered any new facts. But diametrically two views of history."
"It began in the 15th century with this power grab that required genocidal relations to people who were not white Europeans," he said. "It continues all the way to our present. You think of Shakespeare. The Moor becomes Caliban. The rise of the slave trade coincides exactly with that 10-year period [in which Othello' and The Tempest' were written]."
The artist makes the invisible visible. He or she shatters the clichés and narratives used to mask reality.
"Whenever they talk about unemployment figures or the state of the economy, you read the comments [about the article]," the poet Linh Dinh said when I interviewed him earlier this year. "The comments are people howling and cursing the article. Most people know these articles are nonsense. If you're not fighting for your livelihood you tend to believe these articles."
"What's most disturbing is the hatred for these people, [the working class]," he told me. "The left always pretends to talk about the masses, the working class, but it really hates the working class. It doesn't pay any attention to the working class. It mocks their values."
Banks, in his novels beginning with "Continental Drift" in 1985, has, like Martinez Celaya and Linh Dinh, relentlessly chronicled the economic and psychological effects of deindustrialization on the working class and the deadening effects of technocratic society.
"If you lift the rock of bourgeois respectability, you see underneath these kinds of realities," Banks said. "It isn't just particular to small towns in upstate New York or New Hampshire or south Florida. It's true across the entire spectrum of humanity. Those just happen to be the worlds I know best personally and longest. So my attention tends to focus there. But I know I'm really writing about humanity at large. Jesus said the poor will always be with us.' I think he was really saying there are more of them than there are of us. I think I'm writing about the majority of human beings on this planet, more than the majority. My attention goes out to those people. They are everywhere. Whenever someone says you're writing about the minorities and outcasts, that's not true. There are more people of color than there are people without color on this planet."
Martinez Celaya said, "We need artists more than ever to be the conscience of the moment, to reflect back to us in the mirror what this society and this moment is, so we can see it. We cannot see it because of the creations, fabrications, and reality TV. It makes it so difficult for us to see what we're going through. I keep wishingDostoevsky could be born again so he can actually write a book of this moment."

The physical decay of towns and cities silences important parts of our past. It allows corporations to create a false history and a false culture that homogenizes our lives into a deadening sameness.
"Stories make a place," Linh Dihn wrote. "Without stories, there is no place, but without place, there can still be stories. If your stories are not organically grown, but imposed on you by those who hate everything about you, then you're virtually dead."
"Everywhere I go, every town I visit, you don't see any industries," he said in the interview. "You don't see any factories. You don't see anything. We don't make anything. We are really the poorest country on earth, but people refuse to see that. We are only surviving. We are only looking good because of our military might, because we are an empire. But this force cannot go on forever. It should be so obvious that we're only chugging along, bullying people into lending us money and sending us stuff that we don't deserve, that we haven't earned. How can we survive? Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been reduced to living like savages in this self-proclaimed greatest country on earth."
The disease of empire, the belief that military power is a virtue, blinds us to the folly of our own hubris, our proclivity for violence and our decline. It leads us, Martinez Celaya said, to create miniature, distorted empires of our own. Donald Trump embodies this yearning for a personal empire as vicious and exploitative as the American empire. Empires create a culture in which people dedicate their lives to building monuments to themselves.
"I'm interested in this fabrication of empires," Martinez Celaya said. "The implication that we're always looking at a place that is better than where we are. We're always insisting on a future that in some ways invalidates our present. Empires are dangerous for many reasons. Empires are dangerous because they ignore the conditions of the present. They are a denial of self. They are a denial of the real conditions of the present. And empires are illusory fabrications, manipulative to one's self as well as to others. They are projections of human vanity. That's what they are. The vanity of imagining ourselves better tomorrow than we are today."Soren Kierkegaard understood that the fundamental problem of modernity was that people had been deformed by mass culture into non-people. It was the artist-as-prophet who was tasked with exposing the lies embodied in the mindless chants fed to the crowd, he said. Tyrannies always seek to destroy us as distinct, autonomous human beings.
Christ "did not want to form a party, an interest group, a mass movement, but wanted to be what he was, the truth, which is related to the single individual," Kierkegaard wrote. "Therefore everyone who will genuinely serve the truth is by that very fact a martyr. To win a crowd is not art; for that only untruth is needed, nonsense, and a little knowledge of human passions. But no witness to the truth dares to get involved with the crowd."
In his novel "The Lost Memory of Skin," Banks looks at how the alienation and isolation of modernity have been exacerbated by the digital age.
"If you digitalize your erotic life you have a lost memory of skin," Banks told me. "That's really central to this story and to the experience of this boy. He's a 22-year-old boy. That may also be part of it too. Evolution into adult life is made much more difficult through the digitalization of our erotic lives and every other aspect of our livesour economic lives, our political lives. It is key to that novel. He lives through his screen. Yet it's not in any sense a book that focuses on that fact of life. It's his environment. That's all. I wanted to show what it was like to be immersed in that as an environment. Where you had no point of comparison. Where you had no genuine outside experience that you could compare and see what was going on. I have a 9-year-old grandson. He has no memory of life without it being located on the screen. It's frightening because it alters one's brain and whole perceptual apparatus of the world."
"We have now in place a system that makes a person like Trump not only possible but also probably inevitable as president," he said. "You can tell by surrounding himself with billionaires and generals, it's really an oligarchy that's come into existence. The seeds were there long before Ronald Reagan. Once you no longer have to hide itbecause you're so entrenched in powerthen it's OK to put someone like that up front. Until now, we've felt with lesser and lesser degree that we've had to hide it. Now we're in trouble. We're in deep trouble."
The Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, at the height of Stalin's terror, was in a visitor line at the prison in Leningrad. A woman came close to her and whispered: "Can you describe this?" Akhmatova answered: "Yes, I can." "And then something like the shadow of a smile crossed what had once been her face," the poet wrote.
Between 1935 and 1961 Akhmatova worked clandestinely on her elegy "Requiem." The 10 numbered poems, which would not be fully published until 1987, chronicled the despair, grief, loss and terror suffered under Stalin's tyranny. She became one of the most eloquent and powerful voices of the oppressed. Her art was wielded against the brutality of power in defense of the sanctity of life. She wrote:
Then I learned how faces fall apart
How fear looks out from under the eyelids,
How deep are the hieroglyphics
Cut by Suffering on people's cheeks.
The artist, if true to his or her vocation, recovers the past and explains the present. The artist is the true chronicler of who we were and where we came from. Culture, in times of distress, is not a luxury but a life raft.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We spend the rest of the hour with award-winning author and Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder, whose new book draws on his decades of experience writing about war and genocide in European history in order to find lessons that can help the United States avoid descending into fascist authoritarianism. It is titled On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Snyder writes, quote, "The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience." That's from On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder, Levin Professor of History at Yale University, where he joins us now. Professor Synder is also the author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, as well as Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Timothy Snyder. Can you talk about, well, just what we quoted you saying there? Do you think that the United States isis headed towards tyranny?
TIMOTHY SNYDER: So, I guess the place to start would be with the quotation. Like the framers of the Constitution, I'm not an American exceptionalist. I'm a skeptic. My tendency is to look at examples from other places and to ask what we could learn. The point of using the historical examples is to remind ourselves that democracies and republics usually fail. The expectation should be failure rather than success. The framers, looking at classical examples from Greece and Rome, gave us the institutions that we have. I think our mistake at present is to imagine that the institutions will automatically continue to protect us. My sense is that we've seen institutions like our own fail. We've20th century authoritarians have learned that the way to dismantle systems like ours is to go after one institution and then the next, which means that we have to have an active relationship, both to history, so that we can see how failure arises and learn from people who tried to protect institutions, but also an active relationship to our own institutions, that our institutions are only as good as the people who try to serve them.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Professor Snyder, in terms of the rise of tyranny in the 20th century, clearly, the rise of fascism came in the period after World War I. The masses of people in the world had been exposed to these imperialist wars, and there was tremendous insecurity. Do you seewhat parallels do you see between that period in the '30s and our situation today?
TIMOTHY SNYDER: That's a wonderful question, because it helps us see how history can brace us, can give us a kind of grounding. When we think about globalization today, we imagine that it's the first globalization, that everything about it is new. And that's just not the case. The globalization we're in now is the second one. The first globalization was the late 19th century and the early 20th century, when there was a similar expansion of world trade, export-led growth. And interestingly, there was also a similar rhetoric of optimism, the idea that trade would lead to enlightenment, would lead to liberalism, would lead to peace. That pattern of the late 19th century, we saw it break. We saw the First World War, as you say, the Great Depression, the Second World War. One way to understand all of that is the long failure of the first globalization. Once we have that in mind, we shouldn't be surprised that our own globalization has contradictions, has opponents, that it generatesthat it generates opposition, that it generates ideas of the far right, sometimes the far left, that are against it.
So, history instructs us that there's nothing new or nothing automatic about globalization, but it also instructs us that there are people who lived through the end of that first globalization, the kind of people I cite in the bookHannah Arendt, Victor Klempererwho observed these effects and then gave us very practical advice about how we can react. So, part of our own misunderstanding of globalization, that it's all new, is that history doesn't matter, precisely because it's all new. What I'm trying to say in the book is, no, the opposite. We've seen globalization fail before. We've seen fascism rise. We've seen other threats to liberalism, democracy, republics. What we should be doing is learning from the 20th century, rather than forgetting it.
AMY GOODMAN: You wrote a Facebook post in November. Tell us what you wrote about when Donald Trump was elected.
TIMOTHY SNYDER: Yeah, so, I mean, the thing about the Facebook post, I wrote it right after the election. And it was the first thing that I did. And it wasit was these 20 lessons. It was an attempt to compress everything that I thought I understood about the 20th century into very brief points that would help Americans react, because I had the strong feelingI think it turned out to be correctthat there would be tens of millions of Americans who would be surprised and disoriented and shocked by the election of Mr. Trump and would be seeking some way to react.
And I did it as quickly as I could, because it's very important in these kinds of historical moments to get out front. The tendency to or the temptation to normalize is very strong. The temptation to wait and to say, "Well, let's see what he does after the inauguration. Let's see who his advisers are. Let's see what the policies are," that temptation generates normalization, which is already happening in the United States. And so, I was trying to get out front and give people very practical day-to-day things that they could do.
But what stood behind all of that was a lifetime of working on the worst chapters of European history, a sense of how things can go very wrong. What also stood behind it is my friendships with my teachers and also my students from Eastern Europe, people who have their own biographical connection either to the authoritarianisms of the 20th century or, sadly, the new authoritarianisms of the 21st. It's that, a little bit, which helps me to see that these kinds of things can happen to people like us, but also that there are practical ways that people like us can respond.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about the first lesson you talk about in your book, especially in light of the realities that, in our day and age, clearly, authoritarianism has enormous more power of surveillance and social control of populations. You write in your first lesson, "Do not obey in advance. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do." I think about that in terms of the enormous gravitation of the population toward social media and then the ability of states and corporations to actually monitor and control what people say and do and shop and everything they're thinking about.
TIMOTHY SNYDER: Yeah, so, I agree with that completely. The historical basis of that first lesson, "Don't obey in advance," is what historians think we understand about authoritarian regime changes, and in particular the Nazi regime change of 1933. Historians of Nazi Germany disagree about a lot of things, but one of the few things we agree about is the significance of adaptation from below in 1933. When we look at Hitler in retrospect, we sometimes have a tendency to think of him as a kind of supervillain who can do anything. But in fact, the lesson of 1933 is that consent from below matters a lot, not consent necessarily in the sense of voting or marching or anything active, but consent in the sense of bystanding, going along, making mental adjustments.
So the point of "Don't obey in advance" is not to give your consent in that way, which is very important, because if you do just drift at the beginning, then psychologically you're lost, or, to put it a different way, if you don't follow lesson one, "Don't obey in advance," then you can't follow lessons two to 20, either. Politically, it's also really important, because the time which matters the most is the beginning, where we are now. Right now we actually have much more power than we think we do. Our actions are magnified outwards now. When protest becomes illegal or dangerous, this is going to change. But right now Americans actually have more power than they think they do.
And your point actually magnifies all of this, because the reasonone of the reasons you shouldn't obey in advance is that when you do, you're actually giving power ideas. They don't necessarily have plans. They don't necessarily know what they can do. But when we lean towards what they think they wantand social media is a very good example of thisthen we give them ideas. We teach them what they can do. So, in our real lives and in social media, it's very important not to obey in advance, because, you're absolutely right, that information is being collected and collated and considered.
AMY GOODMAN: Number two, Timothy Snyder, in your Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, is "Defend institutions." Explain.
TIMOTHY SNYDER: Well, that's the second most important lesson. It's numberit's number two for a reason. I have in mind, above all, the constitutional institutions. But I also have in mind, later on in the book, other kinds of institutions, like professional or vocational institutions or nongovernmental organizations. And the reason why institutions are so important is that they're what prevent us from being those atomized individuals who are alone against the overpowering state. That's a very romantic image, but the isolated individual is always going to lose. We need the constitutional institutions as much as we can get them going. It's a real problem now, especially with the legislature. We also need the professions, whether it's law or medicine or civil servants, to act according to rules that are not the same thing as just following orders. And we need to be able to form ourselves up into nongovernmental organizations, because it's not just that we have freedom of association. It's that freedom itself requires association. We need association to have our own ideas confirmed, to have our confidence raised, to be in a position to actually act as individuals. Some of that is actually happening, which is a good sign.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about number nine of your lessons"Be kind to our language"especially, again, in the times in which we are today, where kindness is one of the few things that politicians or academics talk about much.
TIMOTHY SNYDER: So, I have in mind the necessity of thinking, really, because the way we are nowand this connects back to your earlier questionthe way we are now, we're bombarded, from the television, from the internet, with whatever tropes and memes are being chosen for us for a given day or for a given hour. And whether we agree or disagree or feel comfortable or uncomfortable, there's a certain tendency to express ourselves in the terms that come down from above. We get caught up in this daily rush. You see this, for example, in people who think they're critical of Trump, but use his language. First, they use it as a joke, and then they find that they can't getthey can't get themselves out of it.
So, being kind to language is one of theseis one of these lessons that seems easy. It just means read, think and try to express your views, whether they're for or against, in your own words, because my very strong sense is that if we have pluralism of expression, we're going to be fostering pluralism of thought, and that if people can clarify why it is that they're opposing this or that, they're going to be more likely to be persuasive. And at a minimum, in the worst case, if you have your own way of expressing yourself, you at least clutter up the daily memes. You at least put a barrier in the way of the daily tropes. You at least form a force field around yourself and maybe the people who are closest to you, where it's possible to think and have a little peace.
Since taking office, President Trump has continued to escalate his attack on the media, what he calls the fake news. On Sunday, he once again took to Twitter, after there was a few days of not tweeting, lambasted the, quote, "fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media." Trump tweeted, "Whenever you see the words 'sources say' in the fake news media, and they don't mention names ... it is very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!" Meanwhile, The New York Times recently revealed, in a February Oval Office meeting, President Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to consider imprisoning journalists who report on leaks of classified information. And this is Trump speaking earlier this year in Melbourne, Florida.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln and many of our greatest presidents fought with the media and called them out oftentimes on their lies. When the media lies to people, I will never, ever let them get away with it. I will do whatever I can that they don't get away with it. They have their own agenda. And their agenda is not your agenda.
AMY GOODMAN: In fact, while President Jefferson often lambasted the press, he also believed it was fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society, famously writing, "The only security of all is in a free press." Timothy Snyder, historian, talk about the attack on the press and how it fits into your thoughts aboutOn Tyranny.
TIMOTHY SNYDER: Well, at the deepest level, I think we should be aware that this is about getting rid of a common sense of truth. Truth is an awkward concept for us these days and should probably be less awkward concept. If we're going to resist all of this, I think we have to take a stand, even if it feels a little bit naïve, in favor of the facts, because what we know about 20th century regime changes are that they involve, at their base, an assault on everyday factuality. Whether it's the extreme-right fascist idea that facts aren't important, only a sense of collectivity, of belonging to the nation, this organic group, is important, or whether it's the extreme-left Bolshevik idea that the facts of today have to be sacrificed in the name of a vision tomorrow, we know that these forms of radical politics have to begin with undermining a sense of everyday factuality.
In the 21st century, when ideologies no longer propose a future, what you have is a much more direct attack on factuality, where the first step is to saywell, the first step is just to lie all the time, as Mr. Trump did in 2016. The second step, as we've seen since late 2016 and into the presidency, is to say, "It's not me who lies. It's the press. It's the journalists." And the final goal is that everyone is so confused that we say, "We don't really have truth. We just have our own private, clan-like sets of beliefs." And at that point, democracy is not really possible anymore. Opposition is no longer possible, because we don't know where to begin. We don't knowwe don't know whom to trust.
So, of course, it's an atrocity, and it's a violation of basic American traditions, to attack journalists like that. But I think somethingif possible, something deeper is at stake. I think that this is a direct and well-understood attempt to transform the regime, the easiest and cheapest way possible, which is to make us all distrust one another.
Oh, and what I also wanted to say, there is something we can do about this. I mean, there are simple things we can do, like we can support reporters who actually travel and investigate. We can, all of us, subscribe to newspapers and other sources of reliable information. Those seem like easy things to do, but if we all do them, it actually makes a huge difference, morally for the reporters, financially for the sources of good information.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, interestingly, in your book, you never mentioned Donald Trump. I'm wondering, was that deliberate on your part? And also, what responsibility you feel previous administrations, whether it's the Obama administration or the Bush administration, have for the slide or the move toward tyranny and authoritarianism in this country?
TIMOTHY SNYDER: Mm-hmm, so let melet me take that in reverse order. There is an underlying problem, at least one, in this country, and it goes back to our earlier discussion of globalization. And that is inequality, especially fractal inequality. That is, in particular parts of the country, there's justthere are unspeakable levels of inequality. And that sets up the possibility for someone like Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump won by promising all kinds of things he can't deliver. He won by being a good speaker. He won because he had cyberhelp from foreign powers. There are lots of reasons why he won. But one of the reasons why he could win is that he could say to people, "Look, it's an oligarchy out there. I'm an oligarch, but I'm your oligarch." Of course, that's not really true. He doesn't care about Americans. And there were plenty of other oligarchs behind him; they just weren't Americans. But you can only tell that story in a situation of radical inequality.
And that radical inequality has its roots, I think, in the false story that we've told ourselves since 1989, that history came to an end, that human nature is capitalism, capitalism brings democracy, and so on and so forth. History never comes to an end. We had a moment in 1989 where we needed to reshape things. And I think we've missed that moment and, in that way, betrayed younger generations.
Now, why don't I mention Mr. Trump? I mean, it's largely because I think he's not going to change. What can change is the system. So, Mr. Trump is not a young man. He has very firm sets of ideas. He has a certain kind of personality. And he is going to push against the walls of the system. And some of those walls are already weak. He's going to push and push and push and push, because that's what people do. You don't have to have a plan to be an authoritarian. You just have to have a set of instincts, a set of inclinations, and a certain amount of energy. He has all of that. So, I'm not trying to change Mr. Trump. What I'm trying to do is alert us, change us, because if thoseif that system is going to be preserved, it's going to be because we hold up the various parts of the structure. So, I was trying to get away from what I knew was coming, which is all the personal stuff. You know, is he crazy? You know, can he read? Right? He hasthere are certain talents he doesn't have, but there are also certain talents he does. The real question is what we can do. And so the book is meant to be about us, much more than about him.
AMY GOODMAN: Number six in your Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century is "Be wary of paramilitaries." Talk about this in the current context.
TIMOTHY SNYDER: Yeah. I mean, it's just such ait's such a wonderful example, Amy, of things that we used to know about, for example, National Socialism in Germany, which have obvious application. We just need to make those applications. So, one of the ways that not just Hitler but other ideological authoritarians break republics is that they break the monopoly of violence. That is, theyyou're in awhat we think of as a normal system is when there's law, and then there are certain organs whose job it is to enforce the law, and those are state organs. What you do if you're Hitlerand other authoritarians have done this, toois you have your own militia, a paramilitary, which is an organ of violence which is beyond the state. And you use it to change the atmosphere of politics. You use it to intimidate opponents. And then, after you win, you keep it going. That's the story of the SA and the SA inthe SS and the SA in Nazi Germany.
So, in the current situation, you know, where our society is flooded with guns like none has ever been before and where there are lots of paramilitaries, it's very important to watch out for the connection of those paramilitaries to politics. So, for example, if an elected representative or an important politician in, let's say, Oregon says, "We ought to bring in paramilitaries rather than the police, when we have our own demonstrations," that's something to really watch out for. Likewise, in the firing of Mr. Comey, of which there are so many desperately bad things that it's easy to overlook some of them, one of the things which was striking in the firing of Mr. Comey by Mr. Trump is that he sent Keith Schiller to do it. Right? So, here you had a confrontation of the man who was the head of Mr. Trump's security detailright?his own paramilitary, going to fire the head of a law enforcement agency. That's a sign of the way Mr. Trump thinks, and it's obviously not a very good sign.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask youthere was another one of your lessons, lesson 12, "Make eye contact and small talk." That would seem like not a strong way to battle authoritarianism. But your thoughts about that?
TIMOTHY SNYDER: I love that question, because it's really important for us to see that we have power in all kinds of ways that we don't have. So, some of the lessons look easy, but are in fact hard, like number one, "Don't obey in advance." That's actually really hard. Or number 19, "Be a patriot," also really hard. Some of the ones actually are not that difficult, but they magnify outwards, like number four, which is "Take care of the face of the world," which basically means just paint over swastikas when you see them. That's not that hard when you get to do it, if you can get yourself to do it, but it does make a difference.
So, small talk is a little bit like that. Small talk and eye contact are important for a number of reasons. One is that, I mean, going back to the news story above all this, you have to beyou don't know who feels left out, who feels threatened. But if you are more pleasant or more affirming to everybody in your daily life, you are going to make a difference. And the reason why this is so close to my heart is that in all the memoirs, Jewish memoirs, say, of Nazi Germany, but also memoirs of the terror in Stalinist Soviet Union, there's that moment when people start crossing the street rather than talking to you. And that's the moment we have to avoid, both for the sake of the political atmosphere, but also for the sake of what kind of people we want to be.
But the small talk is also really important because one of the deep problems where we are, in our own sort of postmodern authoritarianism, is that we spend too much time on the internet, we spend too much time in front of screens. We forget towe forget how to talk to one another. And that human contact can be very important. I mean, one thing, you know, personally, which suggests to me this is right, is the difference between last fall and this spring. Last fall I talked to a lot of people in other parts of the country, in the Midwest, for example, about what I thought was going on, and I got basically zero resonance. But the fact that I talked to people, as opposed to just posting something onlinewhich can be important, toomeans that now sometimes people come back to me and say, "Oh, yes." So, you never convince anybody with small talk, but you do sometimes demonstrate that you're a human being and that you're not the enemy and that maybe at some future point there could be some better conversation.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Professor Snyder, about President Trump in Brussels and Sicily, the NATO meeting, the G7 meeting. Trump sparked outrage in Montenegro after he shoved the prime minister of Montenegro out of his way while barreling to the front of the pack at this weekend's G7 summit. This came after French Presidentthe new presidentEmmanuel Macron clenched Trump's hand until his knuckle turned white, when the two met in Brussels during the NATOsummit. Even when Trump attempted to pull away, Macron continued to grip Trump's hand. He since said the handshake was a moment of truth designed to send a message to Trump, saying, quote, "We must show that we will not make small concessions, even symbolic ones." Can you comment on this and then on your number 18, which is "Be calm when the unthinkable arrives"?
TIMOTHY SNYDER: OK. So, Europeso, Europe is so important for us. Whether you care about trade and American jobs, it's the biggest market in the history of the world. Whether you're moreyou know, whether you think more about security, it'sthese are America's long-term partners. It's the only reliable set of democraciesor the main reliable set of democracies we have. In many ways, Europe is a positive example for us. So, it is tragic that we are cutting ourselves off from that, from that market, from that security, from those sets of values, for no particular reason.
It fits many things. It fits Mr. Trump's desire for an America which is more isolated and, frankly, poorer. it fits Mr. Bannon's ideas about the European Union. What it doesn't fit is, I think, anybody'sanybody's interests. The Europeans are seeing usyou know, as one of my political scientist friends puts it, we're no longer in column A, we're in column B. You know, we are nowyou know, we are now one of the powers which is undermining them, perhaps weakening them, setting a bad example.
And the heartening thing is that people like Angela Merkel or Macron notice this and seem to be taking it as a reason to try to recreate Europe, rather than just being distressed about all of this. That's a positive thing.
Now, there's no good segue to your next question, which is aboutwhich is about terrorism and talk about terrorism. So, the last four lessons of the book, which are about bewarebeware certain kinds of language, be calm when the unthinkable arrives, be a patriot, be courageousthey have to do with a particular mechanism where regimes change. The template is the Reichstag fire of 1933. Pretty much, I think it's fair to say, all modern tyrants know that they need
AMY GOODMAN: Fifteen seconds.
TIMOTHY SNYDER: OKthat they need a moment of fear of terrorism to make a regime change. So, in the atmosphere we have now with Mr. Trump, we have to be aware that when something unthinkable happens, despite our fear and grief, what we have to be protesting for is our own rights.

[Image: email.png] [Image: print.png]

Trump Will Be a Nightmare Client for His Legal Dream Team

Posted on May 30, 2017
By Bill Blum
[Image: Marc_Kasowitz_590.jpg]
Marc Kasowitz, Donald Trump's attorney. (Andrew Theodorakis / AP)

Donald Trump has lawyered up. He's engaged New York über-litigator Marc Kasowitz, who routinely charges $1,500 per hour, to help him contend with the rapidly expanding federal probes into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
From a legal standpoint, the decision to retain Kasowitz is a no-brainer. With the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the Justice Department's criminal investigation of Russian meddling, Trump is potentially in deep trouble. He may even be accused of obstruction of justice related to his May 9 firing of former FBI Director James Comey and, depending on future political developments, may wind up facing serious calls for impeachment. Although White House Counsel Don McGahn can represent the interests of the presidency as an institution in the Justice Department's investigation, as well as related and ongoing House and Senate hearings, he cannot represent Trump himself.
Kasowitz is a logical choice to defend the president. The attorney-client relationship between the two men is wide-ranging and goes way back. Among other matters, he has represented Trump on bankruptcy and divorce issues, as well as the recently concluded Trump University fraud cases. In 2006, he filed a defamation action on Trump's behalf against biographer Timothy O'Brien. Last October, he threatened to bring a libel complaint against The New York Times for publishing interviews with two women who said Trump had sexually harassed them.
The ties between Trump and Kasowitz extend beyond law to politics. In December, Trump appointed one of Kasowitz's former partners, David Friedman, as ambassador to Israel. In addition, former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who now holds a senior counsel position in Kasowitz's firm, was among those Trump initially considered to replace Comey. Lieberman subsequently withdrew from consideration for the position due to concerns over conflict of interest.Kasowitz has at least some familiarity with the workings of the Russian economy and government. Apart from Trump, his current client list includes one of Russia's largest state-run banksSberbankwhich has hired him in connection with a complexfederal fraud lawsuit pending in New York.
As the Russia probes accelerate, Kasowitz is expected to add lawyers with expertise in federal criminal law and procedure to the president's legal team. Once assembled, the team, according to Fox News, will join a White House "war room" of "lawyers, surrogates and researchers" led by Trump adviser Steve Bannon to "respond, rebut and refute bad press and legal issues emanating from" Mueller's investigation.
But as talented and tough as Kasowitz and his colleagues may be, they'll have their hands full representing the president. The legal mandate Mueller has been given is extremely broad. As explained by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a May 17 press release and an accompanying DOJ appointment order, Mueller will be empowered to explore "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and … any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." In other words, Mueller, who in addition to being a former federal prosecutor, ran the FBI from 2001-2013, will be able to look into just about everything, including possible obstruction by Trump.
Jousting with Mueller will be a daunting task for Trump's attorneys, and it will be made all the more so by the persistent spate of ever-shifting news leaks from inside the administration and the intelligence community. The legal team's stiffest challenges, however, may not come from Mueller, but from Trump himself.
As one of my mentors remarked decades ago at the outset of my legal career, "The practice of law would be a lot less stressful if there were no clients involved." Although said jokingly, the remark was meant to convey the importance of maintaining "client control," especially in high-stakes trials and negotiations. The last thing lawyers want, whether they're fresh out of law school or have established themselves as pillars of the profession, is a rogue retainer who runs off at the mouth or, in the age of social media, dispatches angry and inculpatory pre-dawn tweets.
This is particularly true when it comes to the prospect of shielding the president against obstruction charges arising from the Comey firing. Whatever Trump's attributes as a leader or a business tycoon, self-control is not among them. The idea of exercising caution and restraint runs counter to his narcissism and macho self-image. In a political campaign, swagger and arrogance may be assets. In a legal setting, they are more often than not just the opposite.
Like other crimes, the offense of obstruction involves both an act or course of conduct (in legal jargon referred to as the "actus reus") and an accompanying intent, or mental state (the "mens rea"). The relevant federal laws are found in Title 18, sections 1501 through 1521, of the United States Criminal Code. In all, the code sets out 21 separate obstruction crimes.
Of particular significance to Mueller's investigation is section 1505, which makes it a felony to "corruptly, or by threats … or by any threatening letter or communication" to influence, obstruct or impede, or attempt to influence, obstruct or impede, any pending proceeding before a federal agency or Congress. Other sections outlaw the same conduct in relation to judicial proceedings. Still others proscribe the intimidation of witnesses in judicial, administrative and congressional proceedings. Violation of the obstruction laws is punishable, in some instances, by prison sentences of up to 20 years.
Section 1515 defines the intent required for an obstruction conviction, instructing that the term "corruptly," as used in Section 1505, "means acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another, including making a false or misleading statement, or withholding, concealing, altering, or destroying a document or other information."
For Trump, the course of conduct that has brought him into the crosshairs of the obstruction laws was the dismissal of Comey, who until his discharge was leading the FBI's Russia investigation, and on the eve of his firing had sought additional funding for the probe from the Justice Department.
In and of itself, as some Trump supporters have noted, there was nothing unlawful in the act of letting Comey go. The FBI director, although appointed to a 10-year term, serves at the pleasure of the president. In 1993, President Bill Clinton dismissed William Sessions as director for alleged financial improprieties, marking the only other time in the bureau's history (it was founded in 1908) that such a firing occurred.
But while Trump clearly had the authority to dispatch Comey, the decision carried potential adverse consequences. Presidential prerogatives notwithstanding, the firing could amount to obstruction if done to derail the Russia probe. This is where the president has proven to be his own worst enemy.
The initial reason given for Comey's firing, as set forth in separate letters signed by Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on May 9 and in a legal memo prepared by Rosenstein, was implausible, even embarrassing, but far from incriminating. Taken together, the documents asserted that Comey was sacked because he had violated FBI and Justice Department procedures in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email inquiry and because he had lost the confidence of rank-and-file members of the bureau.

Since then, Trump's story has unraveled, largely because of his own statements and actions. As summarized in a detailed timelineposted on the Moyers & Company website, to understand the unraveling, it's necessary to go back to Jan. 27. On that date, in a one-on-one White House dinner held at Trump's request, a mere seven days after his inauguration, Trump asked Comey for a personal pledge of loyalty. Comey declined, offering a pledge only of honesty.
Three days later, Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was in charge of the DOJ pending the Senate's vote on Sessions' nomination, for refusing to defend Trump's Muslim travel ban in court. Before her dismissal, Yates had also informed McGahn that former national security adviser Mike Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations in December with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak concerning the possible easing of U.S. sanctions. Yates believed such conversations rendered Flynn susceptible to Russian blackmail.
On Feb. 14, Trump again met with Comey at the White House, along with Pence and Sessions, whom the Senate had confirmed on Feb. 8. As detailed in notes Comey reportedly prepared immediately after the meeting, Trump asked Pence and Sessions to leave the Oval Office, then said to Comey: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy." Comey demurred.
On March 2, Sessions recused himself from further involvement in the Russia and Flynn investigations because he had failed to disclose his own contacts with Kislyak during the campaign at his Senate confirmation hearing.
On March 7, Flynn filed long-overdue registration documents with the Justice Department, disclosing that between August 2016 and the November election he had received $535,000 for lobbying work as a foreign agent that could have benefited the government of Turkey. The late registration added to the tangle of legal difficulties Flynn faced for allegedly lying to Pence about his contacts with Kislyak, and concealing his receipt of $45,000 from the television network RT (formerly Russia Today) in 2015 for a trip to Moscow to deliver a speech.
In the early morning hours of March 20, just before Comey testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee, Trump sent out a tweet, asserting: "The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign." In his testimony, Comey publicly confirmed the FBI investigation and added that he had no information supporting Trump's claim that his offices had been wiretapped on orders of Barack Obama prior to the election.
In late March, Trump reportedly asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers to publicly deny that there is any evidence of connections between Trump's team and Russia. They declined.
On April 25, Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate as deputy attorney general by a vote of 96-4. Given Sessions' recusal, Rosenstein took charge of the Russia probe.
According to The Washington Post, in the week leading up to Comey's dismissal, Trump continued to stew over Comey's testimony. Finally, on May 8, he met with Pence, McGahn, chief of staff Reince Priebus and other top aides, including Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, to map out a strategy for canning Comey. Later that day, he instructed Sessions and Rosenstein to come up with an acceptable legal justification.
In the immediate aftermath of Comey's dismissal, the White House managed to stay on script. Press secretary Sean Spicer, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, and Pence all maintained in TV and press interviews that Comey had been fired on the Justice Department's recommendation.
On May 10, however, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein broke rank, threatening to resign if the administration didn't take steps to correct the misimpression that he had initiated Comey's firing.
A day later, Trump seemingly obliged, telling NBC News anchor Lester Holt in a prime-time interview watched by millions that he had decided to release Comey before asking Rosenstein to draft his memo. "Regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it," Trump stated. "I said to myself … you know this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."

It has since been reported that on May 10, in his now-infamous White House meeting with Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in which he allegedly shared classified intelligence about Islamic State, the president also discussed Comey, telling his visitors, "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced a great deal of pressure because of Russia. That's [now been] taken off."
On May 12, at precisely 5:26 a.m. EST, Trump typed out another tweet, warning that "James Comey better hope there are no tapes' out there of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."
On May 17, Rosenstein named Mueller as special counsel. And on May 23, the first reports of Trump's hiring of Kasowitz began to circulate.
As Mueller's investigation gathers steam, the central legal question facing Trump will be whether he acted with the "corrupt" intent required for obstruction in his dismissal of Comey. Thus far, as the above timeline suggests, the president has provided good reason to believe that he did, with words straight from his own mouth and Twitter account.
It will be of little avail to Trump or his attorneys to argue that he cannot be guilty of obstruction unless and until hard evidence of a criminal nature is produced that anyone connected with his campaign or presently working in the executive branch actually colluded with the Russians. Construed in its most favorable light, Trump's position appears to be that there is no such evidence, and that as a result, the Russia probe has lacked merit from the outset, and he did nothing wrong in saying that the inquiry should be concluded.Such arguments likely will fail for a variety of reasons: First, there need not be conclusive evidence of a completed crime before an investigation begins. Some criminal probesand Mueller's is one, as his mandate explicitly statesare exploratory in nature. Moreover, there is already cause to believe Flynn may haveviolated laws prohibiting the making of false statements for failing to disclose the money he earned from RT while applying for his most recent security clearance. And then there are the lies Flynn allegedly told to Pence, and possibly the FBI, about the nature of his interactions with Kislyak.
Kushner and Sessions, too, may be on the hook for failing to list their Russia contacts on their security-clearance paperwork. Late last week, The Washington Post reported that Kushner had become a focus of the FBI's inquiry for proposing to set up a secret channel of communication with the Russian government in December, using Russian intelligence facilities.
More fundamentally, however, even if no hard evidence emerges that Flynn or anyone else close to Trump did anything amounting to outright collusion with Russia, the fact remains that the DOJ and the FBI, as well as Congress, are conducting official investigations. No one, not even the president, has the authority to obstruct them.
Unless his lawyers place a muzzle on him, there is little reason to think the president will hold his tongue and refrain from making additional provocative statements going forward. Upon returning Saturday from his first international trip, he launched another 5 a.m. tweet-storm, ranting that the "leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media." Trump's lawyers reportedly have told him to limit his tweets, as they may one day be used against him.
Will Trump, faced with ever-increasing scrutiny, pay attention and somehow find the discipline to remain silent? Or will he continue to lash out and possibly follow up on his dismissal of Comey with an attempt to fire Mueller? Will he turn on his associates out of fear that they might turn on him first?
We may soon be hearing echoes of the debate from the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal over whether a sitting president can be indicted for a crime. Although the weight of scholarship on the issue is that presidents must be removed from office before they can be criminally prosecuted, the issue remains constitutionally unsettled. Clinton, it may be recalled, assented to a plea bargain on the last day of his second term in office, admitting that he gave misleading testimony in the Paula Jones civil case about his affair with Lewinsky, agreeing to accept a five-year suspension of his Arkansas law license and to pay a $25,000 fine. In return, independent counsel Robert Ray, who had replaced Ken Starr, agreed not to seek an indictment.
But there is no debate that obstruction of justice may form the core of articles of impeachment lodged against a president. Obstruction charges were the primary infractions cited in the impeachment articles drafted against both Clinton and Richard Nixon.
None of this, of course, is by any means a foregone conclusion. And in hiring Kasowitz and other high-powered private legal talent to shield him, Trump may well put together a dream team of attorneys. Still, even a legal dream team may be unable to save a nightmare client from himself.

Climate Groups Slam Reports of Trump's Plan to Withdraw from Paris Climate Agreement

Posted on May 31, 2017
By Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams
[Image: TrumpLeaveParisAccord_590.jpg]
A protest at the Eiffel Tower in 2015. (Carlos Felipe Pardo / CC 2.0)

This post may be updated.
Multiple news outlets reported Wednesday that President Donald Trump was about to make good on his campaign pledge to pull the United States out of the historic Paris climate agreementa decision environmental groups said would be "a travesty" and "historic mistake."
Axios cited "two sources with direct knowledge of the decision," and an unidentified White House official said to the Associated Press that there could be "caveats in the language" Trump uses to withdraw. Politico adds: "Administration officials cautioned that they are still sorting out the details of how exactly Trump will withdraw, and one noted that nothing is final until an announcement is made."
Trump offered no conclusive decision on the matter, tweetingWednesday morning: "I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"The possibiity of withdrawal drew disappointment from world leaders and harsh rebuke from climate campaigners who say it would not only jeopardize the planet but go against the wishes of the majority of Americans.
According to Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica, if Trump leaves the agreement he "will make the United States the world's foremost climate villain," adding that the president "is on a mission to sacrifice our planet to the fossil fuel industry."
Calling the potential move "a crime against the future of people and the planet," executive director May Boeve said the Trump administration "decided to side with fossil fuel billionaires" and "has isolated the United States from the rest of the world and defamed the U.S position as global leader on climate action and much more."
As Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, sees it, stepping away from the agreement would be "nothing short of treason, as it places the interests of his petro-dictator pals and Big Oil buddies over the interests of almost all American citizens both present and future."
While the groups expressed outrage, they also said the expected move would serve to fortify the Trump resistance, and, as Food & Water Watch's executive director Wenonah Hauter argues, "makes real action on climate at the state and local levels even more critical."
Adds Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune: "the world should know that state and local action in the United States is moving strongly forward even in the face of Trump's historic mistake. For every terrible decision Trump makes, grassroots activists, frontline communities, local governments, and concerned people across the country are fighting to make sure clean energy continues to grow by leaps and bounds."

I have high respect for McGovern. I think the view he presents here is worth considering. I think Trump [for innumerable reasons] is horrible for the US and the World and should be removed by impeachment or negated by political and citizen actions. The ONLY good thing I see in the 'Trump program' was his rapprochement with Russia - even if I believe it was not for geopolitical reasons, but for his own bottom line and those of his friends. That said, I do not feel it is sufficient reason to support Trump nor 'keep him'. Yes, the political establishment is Russophobic for all the wrong reasons [there are some valid reasons to see that Russia, like other countries, has its negatives and dangers - but these are not the ones one reads in the MSM nor are motivating the National Security Structures]. Russia is a kleptocracy and has an oligarchic structure and increasingly authoritarian and less democratic nature [hey, just like the trend in the US!]. A plague on both their houses - both can do better and both need to be run by the People bottom up, not by the Oligarchs top down and undemocratically with both increasingly moving to becoming police states devoid of rule of law. I see a fundamental divide in the progressive community and on this Forum over this issue and the 'value' of Trump in the White House. I think Trump is a total disaster and could list for an hour or more the reasons why. His one plus or wanting [for the wrong reasons] detante with the Russians does not, IMO, give enough reason for supporting him. Others, less racist, misogynist. pro-environment, less-Neanderthal, more apprised of history and politics among other things could do a better job. No, Clinton or a Clinton-clone would not have been the answer....we need something totally new, and the end forever of the rule by the Demo-Republican One Party American Business/National Security State! With that caveat, I think McGovern's thoughts still have some merit to be considered - but I personally think Trumps days are numbered and he will before he is forced to resign be unable to do much. My fear is that he will feel his only option to avoid being removed will be to rally everyone around the flag with a major [not the kind of limited ones we've had since Vietnam] war - even a 'limited' nuclear one. IMO, Trump is the most dangerous man to have been in the Presidency. The wrong people and press are going after him for mostly the wrong reasons - but there ARE valid reasons to get rid of him and his staff of neo-fascists looking only for self-enrichment.


Donald Trump's Boorish Behavior With NATO Could Have Unintended Benefits

Posted on May 31, 2017
By Ray McGovern / Consortiumnews
[Image: Donald_Trump_NATO_590.jpg]
President Trump during a summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels on May 25. (Matt Dunham / AP)

President Donald Trump's politically incorrect behavior at the gathering of NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday could, in its own circuitous way, spotlight an existential threat to the alliance. Yes, that threat is Russia, but not in the customary sense in which Westerners have been taught to fear the Russian bear. It is a Russia too clever to rise to the baita Russia patient enough to wait for the Brussels bureaucrats and generals to fall of their own weight, pushed by financial exigencies in many NATO countries.
At that point it will become possible to see through the West's alarmist propaganda. It will also become more difficult to stoke artificial fears that Russia, for reasons known only to NATO war planners and neoconservative pundits, will attack NATO. As long as Russian hardliners do not push President Vladimir Putin aside, Moscow will continue to reject its assigned role as bête noire.
First a request: Let me ask those of you who believe Russia is planning to invade Europe to put down The New York Times for a minute or two. Take a deep cleansing breath, and try to be open to the possibility that heightened tensions in Europe are, rather, largely a result of the ineluctable expansion of NATO eastward over the quarter-century since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
Actually, NATO has doubled in size, despite a U.S. quid-pro-quopromise in early 1990 to Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev in early 1990 not to expand NATO "one inch" to the east of Germany. Thequid required of Russia was acquiescence to a reunited Germany within NATO and withdrawal of the 300,000-plus Russian troops stationed in East Germany.The U.S. reneged on its quo side of the bargain as the NATO alliance added country after country east of Germany with eyes on even morewhile Russia was not strong enough to stop NATO expansion until February 2014 when, as it turned out, NATO's eyes finally proved too big for its stomach. A U.S.-led coup d'etat overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installed new, handpicked leaders in Kiev who favored NATO membership. That crossed Russia's red line; it was determinedand at that point ableto react strongly, and it did.
These are the flat facts, contrasting with the mainstream U.S. media's propaganda about "Russian aggression." Sadly, readers of the New York Times know little to nothing of this recent history.
Today's Russian Challenge
The existential threat to NATO comprises a different kind of Russian "threat," which owes much to the adroitness and sang froid of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who flat-out refuses to play his assigned role of a proper enemydespite the Western media campaign to paint him the devil incarnate.
Over time, even the most sophisticated propaganda wears thin, and more and more Europeans will realize that NATO, in its present form, is an unnecessary, vestigial organ already a quarter-century beyond its expiration dateand that it can flare up painfully, like a diseased appendix. At a time when citizens of many NATO countries are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, they will be reluctant to sink still more money into rehab for a vestigial organ.
That there are better uses for the money is already clear, and President Trump's badgering of NATO countries to contribute ever more for defense may well backfire. Some are already asking, "Defense against what?" Under the painful austerity that has been squeezing the continent since the Wall Street crash nearly a decade ago, a critical mass of European citizens is likely to be able to distinguish reality from propagandaand perhaps much sooner than anyone anticipates. This might eventually empower the 99 percent, who don't stand to benefit from increased military spending to fight a phantom threat, to insist that NATO leaders stop funding a Cold War bureaucracy that has long since outlived its usefulness.
A military alliance normally dissolves when its raison d'etrethe military threat it was created to confrontdissolves. The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991 more than a quarter century ago and with it the Warsaw Pact that was established as the military counter to NATO.
Helpful History
NATO's first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, who had been Winston Churchill's chief military assistant during World War II, stated that NATO's purpose was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." But a lot can change over the course of almost seven decades.
The Russians relinquished their East European empire after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and withdrew their armed forces. There no longer needed to be a concerted priority effort to "keep the Russians out," preoccupied as they were with fixing the economic and social mess they inherited when the USSR fell.
As for "keeping the Germans down," it is not difficult to understand why the Russians, having lost 25 to 27 million in WWII, were a bit chary at the prospect of a reunited Germany. Moscow's concern was allayed somewhat by putting this new Germany under NATO command, since this sharply lessened the chance the Germans would try to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.
But NATO became the "defensive" blob that kept growing and growing, partly because that is what bureaucracies do (unless prevented) and partly because it became a way for U.S. presidents to show their "toughness." By early 2008, NATO had already added ten new members all of them many "inches" to the east of Germany: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
There were rumors that Ukraine and Georgia were in queue for NATO membership, and Russian complaints were becoming louder and louder. NATO relations with Russia were going to hell in a hand basket and there was no sign the Washington policymakers gave a hoot.
A leading advocate from the Russo-phobic crowd was the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had been President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser and remained in the forefront of those pressing for NATO expansionto include Ukraine. In 1998, he wrote, "Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire."
The relentless expansion of NATO greatly bothered former Sen. Bill Bradley, a longtime expert on Russia and a sober-minded policy analyst. On Jan. 23, 2008, in a talk before the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, he sounded an almost disconsolate note, describing NATO expansion a "terribly sad thing" … a "blunder of monumental proportions. ...
"We had won the Cold War … and we kicked them [the Russians] when they were down; we expanded NATO. In the best of circumstances it was bureaucratic inertia in NATOpeople had to have a job. In the worst of circumstances it was certain … irredentist East European types, who believe Russia will forever be the enemy and therefore we have to protect against the time when they might once again be aggressive, thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophesy."

As tensions with Russia heightened late last decade, Sen. Bradley added, "Right now we are confronted with something that could have easily been avoided."
Finally Saying Nyet
A week after Bradley's lament, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called in U.S. Ambassador William Burns to read him the riot act. The subject line of Burns's CONFIDENTIAL cable #182 of Feb. 1, 2008, in which he reported Lavrov's remarks to Washington shows that Burns played it straight, choosing not to mince his own or Lavrov's words: "Nyet means nyet: Russia's NATO enlargement redlines."
Here what Ambassador Burns wrote in his summary, which the public knows because the cable was among the thousands leaked to WikiLeaks by Pvt. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, for which she was imprisoned for seven years and only recently released (yet the cable has been essentially ignored by the corporate U.S. news media):
"Following a muted first reaction to Ukraine's intent to seek a NATO Membership Action Plan at the Bucharest summit, Foreign Minister Lavrov and other senior officials have reiterated strong opposition, stressing that Russia would view further eastward expansion as a potential military threat. NATO enlargement, particularly to Ukraine, remains an emotional and neuralgic issue for Russia, but strategic policy considerations also underlie strong opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia."In Ukraine, these include fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene. Additionally, the government of Russia and experts continue to claim that Ukrainian NATO membership would have a major impact on Russia's defense industry, Russian-Ukrainian family connections, and bilateral relations generally."
So, it is not as though then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. policymakers were not warned, in very specific terms, of Russia's redline on Ukrainian membership in NATO. Nevertheless, on April 3, 2008, the final declaration from at a NATO summit in Bucharest asserted: "NATO welcomes Ukraine's and Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO."
The Ukraine Coup
Six years later, on Feb. 22, 2014, the U.S.-pushed putsch in Ukraine, which George Friedman, then President of the think-tank STRATFOR, labeled "the most blatant coup in history," put in power a fiercely anti-Russian regime eager to join the Western alliance.
Russia's reaction was predictable actually, pretty much predicted by the Russians themselves. But for Western media and "statesmen," the Ukrainian story begins on Feb. 23, 2014, when Putin and his advisers decided to move quickly to thwart NATO's designs on Ukraine and take back Crimea where Russia's only warm-water naval base has been located since the days of Catherine the Great.
U.S. officials (and The New York Times) have made it a practice towhite-out the coup d'etat in Kiev and to begin recent European history with Russia's immediate reaction, thus the relentless presentation of these events as simply "Russian aggression," as if Russia instigated the crisis, not the U.S.
A particularly blatant example of this came on June 30, 2016, when then U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute spoke at a press briefing before the NATO summit in Warsaw:
"Beginning in 2014 … we're moving into a new period in NATO's long history. … So the first thing that happened in 2014 that marks this change is a newly aggressive, newly assertive Russia under Vladimir Putin. So in late February, early March of 2014, the seizing, the occupying of Crimea followed quickly by the illegal political annexation of Crimea. … Well, any notion of strategic partnership came to an abrupt halt in the first months of 2014."
And so, for the nonce, Western propaganda captured the narrative. How long this distortion of history will continue is the question. The evolution of Europe as a whole (including Russia) over the past half-century, together with the profound changes that this evolution has brought, suggest that those of the European Establishment eager to inject life into the vestigial organ called NATO whether for lucrative profits from arms sales or cushy spots in NATO's far-flung bureaucracy are living on borrowed time.
President Trump can keep them off balance by creating uncertainty with respect to how Washington regards its nominal NATO obligation to risk war with Russia should some loose cannon in, say, Estonia, start a shooting match with the Russians. On balance, the uncertainty that Trump has injected may be a good thing. Similarly, to the degree that his pressure for increased defense spending belatedly leads to an objective estimate of the "threat" from Russia, that may be a good thing too.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. A CIA analyst for 27 years, he specialized in Russian foreign policy. He led the CIA's Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and briefed the President's Daily Brief one-on-one during President Ronald Reagan's first term.
While our horrible political policies and wars/drone attacks/covert ops/destabalizations et al. have and will cause death and misery for hundreds of thousands, the effects of human-produced climate change will cause the death and misery of tens or hundreds of millions - eventually for billions. This is madness and this man HAS TO BE REMOVED at any cost and despite whatever you think or do not think about the 'Russia' thing. My formal training is in Environmental Science and I know of what I speak. Pinheads like Trump who take profit and fake science over consensual scientific fact in the Environmental Science and Meteorological Science world is stupidity written in blood and death. Oh, most in Florida, for example, will survive as their houses go underwater, but most of those in Bangladesh will not. Already, parts of N. Africa are seeing rapidly expanding dessert and loss of crops, livestock and water. The poor will suffer first and most; but climate effects everyone - even the billionaires, stupid and evil as they be!

Quote:Trump Pulls U.S. Out of Paris Climate Accord, Drawing Fire From Opponents Around the Globe (Video)

Posted on Jun 1, 2017

[Image: trumpclimate_590.jpg]
New York Times via YouTube
If it wasn't clear before, on Thursday it became glaringly obvious that climate change has become a bitterly partisan issue in the United States. Following days of heightened speculation, President Trump announced that he would reverse his predecessor's work by taking the U.S. off the list of countries supporting the Paris climate agreement.
Speaking at a press conference at the White House, Trump made it clear that he would make good on his campaign pledge to pull his country's name from the international consortium of nations working to combat climate change. The president couched his comments in a way that made the terms of the Paris deal the main problem, and he seemed to leave the door open to another version that better suited his terms.
In other words, it was all about the dealor at least that wasTrump's pitch (via The New York Times):
In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States," the president said. "We are getting out. But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great."
Mr. Trump said that the United States will immediately "cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord" and what he said were "draconian financial" and other burdens imposed on the country by the accord.
In his remarks, Mr. Trump listed sectors of the United States economy that would suffer lost revenues and jobs if the country remained part of the accord, citing a study disputed vigorously by environmental groups that claims the agreement would cost 2.7 million jobs by 2025.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was among those applauding Trump for, as McConnell put it, "dealing yet another significant blow to the Obama administration's assault on domestic energy production and jobs," although as the Times pointed out, the GOP was not entirely united on the topic:
And for Sen. Bernie Sanders and other vocal opponents of Trump's decision, the president's move represents a raw deal for not just the U.S., but the planet itself (via Sanders' official website):
President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement is an abdication of American leadership and an international disgrace. At this moment, when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, we do not have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet for future generations.
The United States must play a leading role in the global campaign to stop climate change and transition rapidly away from fossil fuels to renewable and more efficient sources of energy. We must do this with or without the support of Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry.
Former Vice President Al Gore echoed Sanders' words in his own statement:
Economist Robert Reich took issue with Trump's claim that his choice was made to promote America's best business interests:
Wired posted a report in anticipation of Thursday's news that broke down the actual future prospects for the fossil-fuel, alternative and other energy markets:
Natural gas and frackingnot regulationsalso usurped King Coal. Coal was never a really big mover on the international stage (except during China's boom years), and US production peaked back in 2007. In February, this trendalong with both China and India's major commitments to renewablesprompted Goldman Sachs to publish a report on coal's irreversible decline.
As for renewables, pulling out of Paris could cut the US out of an explosively growing market. China, India, and other growing economies have pledged billions towards renewables. The competition may have already begun. In April, Atlanta-based solar panel company Suniva filed for bankruptcy, citing an unfair advantage by Asian competitors. Adding to the drama, a Chinese wind company recently offered to teach US coal workers how to be turbine technicians. That's the kind of thing that'll make you want to yell out Covfefe!
Speaking of business, as he teased earlier this week, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made good on his own pledge and removed himself from the lineup of President Trump's business advisers to send a pointed message.
And taking a similar tone to German Chancellor Angela Merkelin stating that the European Union would forge ahead with its own alliances and on its own terms:
As for Trump's talk of renegotiation, it might be "no deal" for some of the countries at the table:
The Weather Channel made a kind of op-ed page out of itshomepage after Trump's speech while making the company's stance on climate change far clearer than the air above Los Angeles:
[Image: weatherchannel2.jpg]
Watch Trump's announcement in full below (Note: Trump first appears in the video around the 39:30 mark):

Posted by Kasia Anderson

[Image: attachment.php?attachmentid=9120&stc=1]

Trump Is Reviewing Whether to Try to Block Comey's Testimony to the Senate

Posted on Jun 3, 2017
By Jennifer Jacobs / Bloomberg
[Image: ComeyMay3Testimony_590.jpg]
James Comey at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., in May. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

The White House is reviewing whether to invoke executive privilege to prevent former FBI Director James Comey from testifying before a congressional panel, an effort that may be an uphill legal battle for President Donald Trump.
Comey is scheduled to testify on June 8 before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his May 9 firing by Trump, first in public and then behind closed doors. The panel is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and whether the president or his associates were involved.
The New York Times reported late Friday, citing unnamed administration officials, that Trump is unlikely to attempt to muzzle Comey. It cautioned that a final decision hadn't been made by the president. Trump was spending part of Saturday at the Trump National Golf Club outside of Washington.
Asked Friday if the White House might invoke executive privilege, Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters: "That committee hearing was just noticed, and I think obviously it's got to be reviewed."Spicer said he hadn't spoken to the White House counsel, Don McGahn, about the matter.
A second White House official confirmed that the issue is under review.
To try to prevent Comey's testimony, the White House could assert its right to prevent private deliberations from becoming public. Senators are expected to grill Comeyin both an open and a closed panelon certain conversations with Trump or his aides, including one in which Trump reportedly asked Comey to drop an investigation into former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's dealings with Russia and Turkey.
Yet Trump may have weakened that argument by publicly disclosing elements of his conversations with Comey, including during an interview in May with NBC News and via Twitter, where the president said on May 12, "James Comey better hope that there are no tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
Senators will almost certainly ask Comey whether Trump asked him to drop an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Flynn's contacts with Russian government officials. Flynn was ousted Feb. 13, less than four weeks after Trump's inauguration.
Trump asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, said a person who was given a copy of a memo Comey wrote about the conversation. Trump has denied trying to quash the probe.
Independent analysts have said they don't believe Comey, now a private citizen, can be stopped if he is intent on telling his story.
"In the context of a criminal investigation, executive privilege has to give way," said Saikrishna Prakash, who lectures on constitutional law and the separation of powers at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. "How is the president going to stop Comey from testifying? He can't put somebody in jail for violating executive privilege, and he can't fire him, because he's already been fired."
Conceivably, the administration could seek a court injunction against Comey testifying, in which case a violation would constitute contempt of court. But a court likely would be reluctant to issue an injunction against testimony before Congress.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday that Trump and his staff would be "watching with the rest of the world" to see what Comey has to say. But asked directly whether Trump would invoke executive privilege to block Comey from speaking, she said: "The president will make that decision."
Protesters assembled in Washington and other U.S. cities on Saturday in a "March for Truth" to demand an independent investigation into alleged connections between Trump's campaign and Russia. Separately, a group of supporters rallied near the White House to support the president's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement follows the path of previous presidents who have undermined international climate agreements. We disagree with Trump but it is important to understand his actions in the context of the history of the United States regarding previous climate agreements. Once again, the political problems in the US are bigger than Trump. His action brings greater clarity to the inability of the US government to confront the climate crisis and clarifies the tasks of people seeking smart climate policy.
[Image: shutterstock_632971349-1-300x211.jpg]The US Has Always Prevented Effective International Climate Agreements
The US has consistently blocked effective climate agreements because both parties in power have put the profits of big energy before the climate crisis when it comes to domestic and international policies. The Republicans proclaimed themselves the "drill baby drill" party while the Democrats are the "all of the above energy" party. Both slogans mean the parties seek to ensure US corporations profit from carbon energy. Both have supported massive oil and gas infrastructure and extreme energy excavation including the most dangerous forms, i.e. tar sands and fracking. Both parties have also supported wars for oil and gas. All of these positions will be viewed as extreme as the world confronts the great dangers of the climate crisis and the US will be deservedly blamed.
If we go back to the Clinton-Gore administration and the Kyoto Protocol we find the US pushing a "free market" trade in pollution credits, where corporations would buy the right to pollute in other places around the world, i.e. poor and developing countries. Gore made sure other countries understood the US' position. As Mitchel Cohen writes:
Gore commandeered the Kyoto conference. The U.S. government, he said, would not sign the Accord as limited as it was if it imposed emissions reductions on industrial countries. Instead, he demanded that the rest of the world adopt his proposal that would allow industrial nations like the U.S. to continue polluting by establishing an international trade in carbon pollution credits. Gore's "solution" like Obama's was to turn pollution into a commodity and buy and sell it in the form of "pollution rights". The free market trade in "pollution credits" would simply shift around pollution and spread it out more evenly without reducing the total amount of ozone-depleting greenhouse gases. It would allow the United States and other industrial countries to continue polluting the rest of the world.
The Kyoto Protocol failed. Rather than reducing climate gas emissions by the 5 percent target, there was a significant increase of 58 percent from 1990 to 2012.
[Image: 1copenhagen-300x200.jpg]In Copenhagen, the story is more complex but has the same result the US undermined efforts for an agreement with enforceable reductions in climate emissions. The US role in Copenhagen become more fully understood when Edward Snowden leaked documents showing intense US spying on other nations participating in the climate talks. The most important spying was on the Danish government where the US leaked a draft of a plan for enforceable emissions standards; and on China where the US intruded into a meeting where the Chinese, Indians and others were working on a similar plan.Chinese negotiators entered into the talks willing to undertake mandatory emissions cuts but instead the US falsely turned China into the villain. The editor of the Ecologist, Oliver Tickell, summarized what happened:
Looking at the evidence as a whole there can be little doubt that the Copenhagen climate talks were deliberately and highly effectively scuppered by a dirty tricks' operation carried out by the NSA and other US security agencies including the pivotal leak to The Guardian of the Danish text.
Following Snowden's revelations, we know that they had the ability to do that in spades. They also had motives. The US wanted:
* to protect their politically powerful fossil fuel industries, and their right as a nation to carry on polluting;
* to avoid having to pay out billions of dollars in climate funding to developing countries;
* to deny China the global leadership role it sought to secure for itself, and instead leave it humiliated;
* to present the USA and its President Barack Obama as trying against the odds to secure a climate agreement, in the face of obdurate resistance by other countries.
The operation was, in other words, spectacularly successful. The rest of the world were played for suckers. China emerged with a bloody nose. And the US was free to carry on letting rip with its emissions.
[Image: 1shame-300x200.jpg]Making this more confusing for people in the United States are the false statements of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign where she claimed the she and Obama came to the rescue and saved the world from China. This falsehood is described as an alternative reality by some of those who covered the meetings.
The US Undermines the Paris Agreement
We reported extensively on the Paris climate agreement when it happened noting that it was a small and inadequate step because the goals were not strong enough and there was no enforcement to ensure countries met their promised reductions in climate gasses. We were not alone in this analysis. In a newsletter after the agreement, COP21 An Opportunity For Climate Justice, If We Mobilize, we wrote:
Friends of the Earth International described the agreement as "a sham." The New Internationalist, measuring the deal against the People's Climate Test developed before COP21, described it as "an epic fail on a planetary scale." Climate scientist James Hansen said it was a "fraud . . . fake . . . bullshit."
Analysts blamed the United States for the weakness of the agreement, writing COP 21 crafted "the deal according to US specifications in order to insulate Obama and the agreement from attacks." Obama insisted that the 31-page agreement exclude emissions reductions targets and finance requirements from the legally binding parts of the deal because making those binding would have required US Senate approval, which he could not achieve due to the power of the oil, gas and coal lobbies influence, especially over the Republican Party. Also excluded from legal enforcement was a clause in the agreement that would expose the US to liability and compensation claims for causing climate change.
[Image: Copenhagen-climate-summit-protest-Protes...00x200.jpg]While we are critical of the shortcomings of the Paris agreement we also recognize it is a step to finally after 21 years of trying get an international agreement approved by all but two countries (Syria and Nicaragua). Dahr Jamail correctly summarizes the situation when he describes the Paris Accord as not going far enough but Trump's withdrawal from the agreement endangering life on Earth. He points to the reaction of the world in response to Trump, with uniform opposition to his decision. The new French president Emmanuel Macron urged US scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs to come to France and help "make the world great again" by working to confront the climate crisis. Environmental groups focused on climate change were uniformly critical with some describing the action as making the US a rogue nation. Trump was already unpopular around the world, protested wherever he went, but now he has become a pariah.
The Task of the Movement is Clarified
[Image: 1climate-300x200.jpg]There was an immediate reaction to Trump's decision with protests at the White House and around the world, with mayors and governors saying they will abide by the climate pact and with business leaders leaving Trump's business advisory board in protest. The climate justice movement, already growing, will build on this decision by growing even more. The long history of US climate inaction from both parties demonstrates we must build independent political power that undermines those who profit from the status quo and makes both parties face the reality of climate change.
Persistence is a key. The day before Trump's announcement ExxonMobil shareholders and investors voted to require the company to report annually on climate related risks to the corporation. This took decades of work by shareholders inside ExxonMobil. Similar shareholder resolutions are being passed by shareholders of other companies and other votes are very close to passage at energy utilities. The oil and gas industry must be held responsible for their role in the climate crisis. Litigation against ExxonMobil for hiding the truth about climate change for four decades is advancing in what will be the crime of the century with great liability.
There is tremendous momentum around transitioning to a clean energy economy. Jobs in clean energy in the US are at 800,000 and growing and around the world at 10 million workers. In the last three years there has been an 83 percent increase in solar jobs and 100 percent increase in wind jobs. Solar employs more people in the US than oil, gas and coal combined. This January all new energy came from solar and wind without any increase in oil, gas, nuclear and coal. Renewables now account for 18 percent of total installed operating capacity in the US. Renewables accounted for 64 percent of all new electrical generating capacity installed last year in the US. Researchers report that gas powered cars will disappear in the next decade and the oil industry will collapse. Investor advisers are telling people to expect the demise of the industry. The US is just scratching the surface potential of this new economy.
Keep protesting because resistance to the oil, gas and coal agenda continues to be critical. People power has been reported by the industry as the greatest threat to their expansion. Infrastructure protests continue to grow at a time when science tells us to stop developing such infrastructure. Similarly protests are occurring against oil trains turning into a nationwide resistance against the oil trains' high risks to communities.
[Image: 18740458_640376969505254_823433170144547...00x168.jpg]Another national effort is focused on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which serves as a rubber stamp for the oil and gas industry. For the past five moths, the FERC has only had two commissioners out of five seats, leaving it without a quorum and unable to approve new fossil fuel projects. Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) is working to prevent the conformation of new commissioners until FERC stops serving the oil and gas industry and starts serving the health and safety of communities impacted by its projects. On May 25, BXE disrupted a Senate hearing focused on the FERC commissioners. More actions are planned. Visit to get involved. There is something for everyone to do.
[Image: 15591149_123817081444694_151121431575737...00x168.png]Another form of extreme energy is nuclear power. Indigenous communities in the Southwest are mobilizing to stop uranium mining on the rim of the Grand Canyon in a sacred site. If the Canyon Mine succeeds, toxic ore will be trucked 300 miles through tribal lands to a mill close to the Ute Mountain Utes. This month, a Haul No! Tour is being held to raise awareness and hold actions. There is a long legacy of poisoning the air, land and water from abandoned uranium mines throughout the US. On a related note, Ban the Bomb actions are planned on June 17 in support of a new treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.
On the electoral front, Trump's move ensures climate will be a centerpiece of the 2018 and 2020 elections as the US cannot actually withdraw from the Paris agreement until after the 2020 presidential race. We cannot allow the fraudulent debate commission (really a front for the two corporate parties) to not ask a single question about climate change. There are massive majorities in favor of staying in the climate agreement 70 percent of all voters, majorities in both major parties and among independents. In every state this is a majority position. But the reality is the US has a government owned by big energy and Wall Street investors who profit from climate pollution.
The current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, attended a meeting in Saudi Arabia where ExxonMobil made a multi-billion dollar deal to explore gas off the coast of Mexico and build a refinery in Texas. The US government has been marinated in oil for decades, with presidents and vice presidents who have come from the oil, gas and related industries. Now is the time to change that. We need to make 2020 an election that produces a president who leads on effective actions to address the climate crisis.
[Image: 1kenward-300x157.jpg]Finally, we agree with Ken Ward, a former deputy director of Greenpeace facing felony charges for shutting down an oil sands pipeline, that Trump's action is an opportunity. The fig leaf of the inadequate Paris agreement has been removed. The world can advance in creating an agreement not held back by the United States. The movement for a new energy economy must now build enough power to put in place real solutions to the climate crisis. As with many other issues, Trump's actions crystallize the reality we have been facing for many presidential administrations so the movement now knows what it must do.