Biden v Trump Inauguration Natal Chart Astrological Analysis…

Donald Trump Reflects Our Collective Ego

Image source: Flickr/gageskidmore

By Forrest Rivers

Like many Americans, I tuned in to the first presidential debate hoping to hear a real exchange of ideas between two men vying for the most powerful position in the world. Instead, what I and millions of viewers witnessed was an embarrassing spectacle of epic proportions. It would be an understatement to say that Donald Trump, the current occupier of the White House, utterly humiliated himself in this “debate” with his deluge of childlike interruptions, outlandish lies, and avowal of white supremacy. Unfortunately, the sheer outrageousness of his behavior, words, and positions were not only a great embarrassment to himself but also to the nation. Trump’s brazen disregard for the norms of human decency, humility, and compassion went far beyond the absurd theatre of politics in the age of COVID and was a shocking reminder of how much our culture celebrates the expression of unchecked ego. 

In retrospect, it is not really surprising that Trump acted in such a crude and ridiculous manner on a national stage before countless viewers. After all, a disturbing pattern of divisive rhetoric, heartless actions, and arrogant behavior have long defined his time in power. Rather, the true surprise is how many Americans continue to come to the defense of this increasingly desperate megalomaniac. It is true that many concerned citizens and journalists were quick to condemn the president’s brazen conduct during the debate. However, the sad reality is, that too many people still make excuses for his disgraceful character. How do we know this to be true? According to numerous public opinion polls taken in the days after the debate, Trump’s approval among his very solid base of voters didn’t suffer in the slightest. If anything, the barrage of negative news coverage that many media outlets have (understandably) lavished on the president may prove to further galvanize his band of die-hard supporters.

The fact that so many Americans continue to support this clearly selfish and morally bankrupt man raises the following question: Is President Trump really just an extreme anomaly who happened to rise to power through the circumstances of crushing poverty visited upon disgruntled workers (through late-stage capitalism) and persistent bigotry among many Americans? Or, rather, is his rise to power the farthest thing from some cosmic glitch and the result of him being a mirror reflection of our collective state of unconsciousness? In the first year after his election, I sincerely believed his rise to power was mostly a result of the former. However, as time has marched on and I have reflected more deeply on the nation’s current predicament, I have concluded that the latter answer might be true. The painful truth is: we are Trump. To the extent that we should be horrified by Trump’s narcissism, callousness, ignorance, and divisiveness; we should also be horrified by our own and our culture’s collective displays of narcissism, callousness, ignorance, and divisiveness. 

Whenever the president acts like a petulant child in front of millions of people we should retrieve archival footage of ourselves fighting, trampling, and even killing one another to get what we want during Black Friday shopping sprees. Whenever the Commander in Chief viciously lashes out at journalists or personally attacks one of his political opponents we should revisit our own social media feeds and see how often we harass and attack others who disagree with our beliefs and ideologies. And, whenever the president shamelessly boasts about his own immense wealth and implies that money defines the man, we should examine our own mindless pursuit of material gain and recall the instances when we may have looked down on those who are less fortunate. Simply put, Donald Trump is an icon for a morally declining culture that has long worshipped the path of ego.

 Baba Ram Dass, the infinitely wise and beloved spiritual teacher, noted in one of his many heartfelt lectures from thirty years ago, how Trump was such a symbol of America’s egoism. In that remarkable and prophetic like a lecture, Ram Dass referred to the then real estate mongrel as a prime example of our attachment to ego. Crucially, though, this beautiful sage also explained through his characteristic combination of wit, humor, and undying compassion that we simply can’t respond to Trump with anger and hate. For not only does the president greatly suffer, but he is nothing more than a reflection of our own collective delusion. Instead, Ram Dass suggested that we must all look within ourselves and acknowledge that place where we are also one with Trump. Once we do this, then we can all get on with the spiritual work that allows us to transcend the collective state of unconsciousness that gives birth to the mindset which Trump now flawlessly represents. 

Though it is very clearly not his intention, in a way Donald Trump may wind up being one of our greatest spiritual teachers.

Coronavirus – A Novel Perspective with Proof

By Sharry Edwards | Sound Health Options

Image Credit: Natural Society

Editor’s Note: The head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Michael Fauci, is a man who has served as an advisor to six presidents, including Donald Trump. He predicts that the process to find an appropriate vaccine, which is hoped to address the Corona Virus, will take about a year and a half to become available. This is necessary to test any candidate vaccine for safety and efficacy. “A coronavirus vaccine will take at least 18 months—if it works at all”

Mr. Fauci even suggested that large gatherings be cancelled in his March 11, 2020 testimony presented to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. President Trump stated, in a March 9, 2020 tweet, that “Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on.”  “NIH official suggests large gatherings should be canceled due to coronavirus outbreak”

Shutting down large gatherings would indeed present our country with a tremendous loss of personal freedom and business revenues. Imagine seeing loving couples cancelling their weddings for 18 months, or sports fans not seeing their favorite teams live for a year and a half. Besides, this kind of restriction did not happen with Swine Flu or SARS, et al. This all begs the question: Can we prepare for the worst, and hope for the best, while still allowing our lives to go on?

The following article, from my teacher, Sharry Edwards, the Pioneer of Human BioAcoustics, gives us some hope, and practical information with which to support our bodies’ innate capacity to heal and maintain an optimum form and function in the face of this epidemic. This kind of information should help us all to  remain sane and maintain our common sense, during this difficult time. Besides, panic does no one any good.

Evidence provides countervailing options to this Virus that can help define infection and potential cure.  This paper reveals the steps that were taken to reveal the math-based formulations of the root cause and break-up of flu based pathogens.

According to the media and world governments, a China based pandemic is upon us:  the Coronavirus plague.  The internet, newspapers and TV commentators have reported that millions will die.  Using such scare tactics without providing any ameliorating tools or solutions is unethical, in my opinion. Positing that only the government can save the people is tantamount to tyranny.   If there is a way to combat such a scourge, it ought to be made public.

Such is the topic of this article, that l hope will reach the World Health Organization and be used under the Unproven Intervention consensus. Link: https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2014/ebola-ethical-review-summary/en/

In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.

BACKGROUND:  In 1996, Nexus Magazine published a paper from the Institute of BioAcoustic Biology & Sound Health reporting the outcomes of a project they conducted substantiating that frequency-based antidotes could combat resistant pathogens.  If the process worked, it was speculated, SUPER BUGS could not remain a threat.

The article concludedA variety of disease-causing pathogens and health problems can be identified and cancelled-out by the input of complementary frequencies and harmonicsSee Exhibit 1.

In that article, titled “Decloaking Resistant Pathogens”, it was described that dark field microscopy of the blood was used to show that sound frequencies could break-away the “cloak” that pathogens use to actually “go stealth” within the body.

The low frequency sounds that were presented to the blood specimen did not kill the pathogens but rather removed the self-created, protein barriers that had been created by the invading pathogen. This allowed that the body’s own “killer cells” to respond to the assault.  The Nexus article included screen shots from the video of the actual decloaking and the body’s attack of the pathogens.  See Exhibit 2. Article Link:  http://cruinthe.tripod.com/nexus/articles/decloakingpathogens.html and https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/salud/esp_salud03.htm

Over the years, Sound Health used the same protocols to provide countervailing frequencies to the public for flu related issues.  Listings of frequency-based antidotes for many flu varieties, fevers, anti-biotic resistant pneumonias, Epstein Barr, additional invading threats…  were provided for public use.  See Exhibit 3 .

A few years ago, BioAcoustic personnel noticed a change in the mathematical patterns of the recommended flu vaccines that we had created.  The numbers were too perfect.  They did not match nature’s germs and pathogens matrixes that had been previously created.  The genes and protein antidotes were in conflict with each other and it was concluded that these frequency combinations were man-made.  Nature-made pathogens have antidotes that are not harmonic.   These current Coronavirus frequency antidotes show to be numerically harmonic; indicating probable human interference in their creation.

The virus’ BioAcoustic math pattern competed with the actual math correlates that has been targeted by conventional medicine to be a part of the healing process for this type of pathogen.

The Institute for BioAcoustic Biology has not tested anyone reported to be infected with the Coronavirus.  The following information concerning the frequencies associated with the present threat are being reported based on extrapolation of previous data.

The Frequency Equivalents*™  for the Coronavirus overwhelmingly correspond to the body’s use of many aspects and variabilities of Glutathione, second only to Quercetin.  Both show strong relationships with the immune system.  The information below is for information purposes but shows definitive negative outcomes if not available to the body.  See specific info on both below:

Sources:  ONLINE


Glutathione (GSH), an amino acid, is an antioxidant in plants, animals, fungi, and some bacteria and archaea. Glutathione is capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals.

Glutathione is involved in the detoxification of both xenobiotic and endogenous compounds. It facilitates excretion from cells (Hg), facilitates excretion from body (POPs, Hg) and directly neutralizes (POPs, many oxidative chemicals). https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/glutathione-and-immune-function/39488A395CB25E88283204A938A4CBD9

The immune system works best if the lymphoid cells have a delicately balanced intermediate level of glutathione. Even moderate changes in the intracellular glutathione level have profound effects on lymphocyte functions. Certain functions, such as the DNA synthetic response, are exquisitely sensitive to reactive oxygen intermediates and, therefore, are favored by high levels of the antioxidant glutathione. Certain signal pathways, in contrast, are enhanced by oxidative conditions and favored by low intracellular glutathione levels. The available evidence suggests that the lymphocytes from healthy human subjects have, on average, an optimal glutathione level. There is no indication that immunological functions such as resistance to infection or the response to vaccination may be enhanced in healthy human subjects by administration of glutathione or its precursor amino acid cysteine. However, immunological functions in diseases that are associated with a cysteine and glutathione deficiency may be significantly enhanced and potentially restored by cysteine supplementation. This factor has been studied most extensively in the case of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients who were found to experience, on average, a massive loss of S equivalent to a net loss of approximately 4 g cysteine/d. Two randomized placebo-controlled trials have shown that treatment of HIV-infected patients with N-acetyl-cysteine caused in both cases a significant increase in all immunological functions under test, including an almost complete restoration of natural killer cell activity. It remains to be tested whether cysteine supplementation may be useful also in other diseases and conditions that are associated with a low mean plasma cystine level and impaired immunological functions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628138/

Recent evidence shows that subjects diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have significantly lower levels of glutathione than typically developing children. The purpose of this study was to examine the use of two commonly used glutathione supplements in subjects diagnosed with an ASD to determine their efficacy in increasing blood glutathione levels in subjects.

There are a handful of foods that naturally contain glutathione, including asparagus, avocado, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, garlic, chives, tomatoes, cucumber, almonds, and walnuts. However, a variety of factors can affect the levels of this vital nutrient, including storage and cooking.

Biochemical function from Wikipedia

Glutathione exists in reduced (GSH) and oxidized (GSSG) states. The ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione within cells is a measure of cellular oxidative stress.[9][10] In healthy cells and tissue, more than 90% of the total glutathione pool is in the reduced form (GSH), with the remainder in the disulfide form (GSSG). An increased GSSG-to-GSH ratio is indicative of oxidative stress.

In the reduced state, the thiol group of cysteinyl residue is a source of one reducing equivalentGlutathione disulfide (GSSG) is thereby generated. The oxidized state is converted to the reduced state by NADPH. This conversion is catalyzed by glutathione reductase:



The immune system works best if the lymphoid cells have a delicately balanced intermediate level of glutathione.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11115795


With Quercetin being a powerful flavonoid, there is a wide range of health benefits, including its ability to reduce inflammation, eliminate pain, protect against cardiovascular diseases, act as an anti-cancer, boost the immune system, reduce histamines, and decrease irritation of the skin.

Research suggests that adding quercetin to the diet may help to relieve allergy symptoms. Research reports that quercetin can have anti-allergic and antihistamine properties. … Quercetin is naturally present in many foods and herbs, including: apples. Oct 8, 2018

Quercetin is the most abundant flavonoid in the diet. It’s estimated that the average person consumes 10–100 mg of it daily through various food sources. Foods that commonly contain quercetin include onions, apples, grapes, berries, broccoli, citrus fruits, cherries, tea, and capers. Jun 27, 2019

The Flavonoid Quercetin Inhibits Proinflammatory Cytokine (Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha) Gene Expression in Normal Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells via Modulation of the NF-κβ System

The flavonoids comprise a large class of low-molecular-weight plant metabolites ubiquitously distributed in food plants. These dietary antioxidants exert significant antitumor, antiallergic, and anti-inflammatory effects. The molecular mechanisms of their biological effects remain to be clearly understood. We investigated the anti-inflammatory potentials of a safe, common dietary flavonoid component, quercetin, for its ability to modulate the production and gene expression of the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Our results showed that quercetin significantly inhibited TNF-α production and gene expression in a dose-dependent manner. Our results provide direct evidence of the anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin by PBMC, which are mediated by the inhibition of the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-α via modulation of NF-κβ1 and Iκβ.  American Society for Microbiology https://cvi.asm.org/content/13/3/319.abstract


These two immune supporting nutrients can be found in common foods and at your local health food store.  The many deviations of nutritional glutathione support might point to the need for Reduced Glutathione.   Coronavirus seems to be presenting these Superbugs as well as suppressing the immune system concurrently.

Additional Frequency Equivalents associated with the Coronavirus include:

-Inhibitor of T-cell activation

-Ovulation regulation

-Carbon monoxide

-Several 911 toxins

-Pituitary Gene and stem Cells

-Hemolysis gene deficiency

-A component of fuel products

-Mitochondrial enzyme’s, ATP, carbon Disulfide

-Iron regulation


-Arachidonic Acid

-Eye Proteins

-Cholesterol metabolism

-Several vertebrae, C-4 and S-4



-Stress Response gene

It has been reported on a recent podcast that this virus is actually pneumonic plague.  The BioAcoustic Frequencies don’t match with pneumonic but are closely associated with Influenza B.  See Exhibit 3 for pneumonic information.

Other on line suggestions:  Enhancing the Ph of the body using sodium bicarbonate, magnesium chloride, selenium and iodine all of which can be applied at high dosages to head viruses off at the pass before they take hold and choke a person to death. All of these medicines can be administered at home safely and legally and one does not need a prescription because they are nutritional in nature, not pharmaceutical.


BioAcoustic Biology uses a three-prong approach to pathogen invasion.   Identification, Formulation and Sound Presentation.  This author wishes to provide a public online Sound Health WorkStation for people who want to evaluate themselves for the nutrients mathematically associated with the Coronavirus –  SoundHealthPortal.com – CAMPAIGNS.

The opportunity is offered to the public free of charge and will provide a computerized report as to each individual’s Corona Conflicts based on the Institute’s decades of inquiry combined with current findings.

We previously posted our findings in terms of Rife Frequencies but there is much more to the story.  Rife devices usually provide one frequency channel to the listener and the sounds are usually within vocal range. Pathogens respond negatively to digital sounds.

We use a multi-channeled device, a programmable, Square 2 ToneBox, that delivers two frequencies simultaneously designed to entrain the brain to deliver the sounds to the appropriate body system.

Think of your brain as you central processing unit that sends and receives signals for all parts of the body.  We strive to provide frequencies that support normal form & function.  The data is overwhelming supportive of the idea that the voice is a holographic representation of all that you are.  We have simply provided the clues as to what each frequency represents.

More people have Rife devices; hence we provided Rife-like formulations for public display.  But BioAcoustic sound presentation takes into consideration many different formulations depending what system and what issues are being addressed for a client.

In 2004, the institute published this tenet: People with similar diseases, maladies, syndromes, traumas… have similar, if not identical vocal anomalies.

Since then many prestigious organizations, like MIT and the Mayo Clinic are now using vocal anomalies in search of a basis for frequency-based medicine.

Estimates now are that the field is worth many billions and a considerable boon to SELF-HEALTH.

Each frequency that is found to be anomalous (out-of-coherence) with the rest of the body’s math can be used to support health & wellness.   The Institute doesn’t not have all of the answers but we have enough to know that Math as Medicine is an upcoming reality.

[Read More Here]

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts and New England (USA) & “virtually” the world. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.

Disclaimer: Content from the ConsciousLifeNews.com website and blog is not intended to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding, and is NOT intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  As health and nutrition research continuously evolves, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information presented on this website.

Losing Reality: Can We Get the Truth Back?

Have we ever encountered a public figure who so consistently reversed truth and falsehood on such a vast scale? No. I think Trump is very unusual.

By Bill Moyers | Common Dreams

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to a conversation between Bill Moyers and psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton. The distinguished scholar is now 93. His memoir Witness to an Extreme Century reflects on seminal work exploring the experience of Hiroshima survivors, Hitler’s Nazi doctors, the trauma of Vietnam veterans and the violent Japanese religious cult that pumped Sarin gas into Tokyo’s subways.

After helping to establish a new field in medicine, he has spent his adult life helping us understand the effect on the human behavior of people who arbitrarily create truth and then resist fiercely any who question that truth. His new book is Losing Reality, published by New Press. Here’s Bill Moyers…

BILL MOYERS: This being the Trump era, we find ourselves once again engulfed in two realities. There’s the reality of a spiraling global challenge from coronavirus, and there’s the ALTERNATE reality created by the president and his political and propaganda empire. They are spreading a virus of their own, lulling true believers into complacent ignorance with lies and misinformation.

Even as the Centers for Disease Control urged us to prepare for “significant disruption”, President Trump told us not to worry — the disease, nudged along by a miracle, will disappear. It’s all a hoax anyway, he said of the outbreak – perpetrated by Democrats and media. His White House chief of staff agreed, telling the public that the relentless news coverage is aimed at bringing the president down. A junior Trump even speculated that his father’s enemies hope the virus does come to this country and“ kills millions of Americans” thus ending his father’s winning streak. But leave it to Rush Limbaugh to come up with the most malevolent and suicidal lie of all – that the coronavirus is just “the common cold” – really nothing more than a Democratic talking point.

Over at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, the usual chorus of well-trained sycophants chimed in with the party line orchestrated by the president’s alter ego, Sean Hannity. Trump’s opponents, said Hannity, “are rooting for corona to wreak havoc in the United States.” Meanwhile, the President assigned the Vice President to be the commissar of censorship over government scientists and public health officials to make sure they hew to the official line, which is the White House view of reality. The Vice President promptly called them to a prayer meeting.

Dual realities. One exists in fact, in the world as it is. The other created by the President himself, to distract us from the truth. To make sense of this, I read Robert Jay Lifton’s new book Losing Reality and went by to talk to the distinguished scholar and psychiatrist at his apartment in New York City.

Bill Moyers: Losing Reality, when I first saw that title, I scratched my head. How do you lose reality?

Robert Jay Lifton: You lose it by creating falsehood and structuring that falsehood into a claim of reality. In terms of what we’re faced with, it’s Trump, but not only Trump, it’s people around him and associated with him. There is a kind of created reality. It’s what I call solipsistic reality, which simply means what is in your mind, what your sense of self needs and seeks, rather than what is based on the reasonable criteria for evidence. So that kind of solipsistic reality replaces what we would traditionally look at as reality. And that’s a dangerous moment.

Bill Moyers: What’s changed when the reality is lost? What’s different?

Robert Jay Lifton: When reality is lost, it’s really impossible for democratic institutions to function. In fact, the reality is never entirely lost. And the existence of institutions that depend upon a relation to reality is still hopeful. They’re being battered. But they’ve not been destroyed or eliminated.

Bill Moyers: Give me an example.

Robert Jay Lifton: Well, right now there’s a world epidemic or even pandemic, that’s threatening us. A big issue has to do with health care, which has been ignored or nearly destroyed by right-wing Trumpists to the best that they could do that.

This is a truth of danger that we face which we must express. And the kinds of health care that we require are hard truths that can’t be falsified. And that’s why, despite all the lies, one must constantly counter them with truth and not wait for the lies to put forward truths.

And sometimes it gets weary to constantly expose lies and constantly reiterate truth. But one has to do that because that’s what a lawful society and a democracy require.

Right now, for instance, we’re in the middle of an attack — on the entire nature of the Justice Department, a major institution, for a law-bound society. There’s a dreadful violation of their ordinary standards. And yet, there are struggles within the organization, from outside the organization, from people still working there, from people who have worked there in the past. The struggle is over resorting to the law as opposed to personal authoritarianism. But it’s also a struggle over what is real, over what is true, over what we can depend upon. And that struggle is endless. And it’s become at the same time acute during the Trump era.

Bill Moyers: Just the other day, the president issued a slew of pardons for criminals who had committed serious financial and political crimes. And they were all mostly, men, white and privileged. What does that say to you about reality in America?

Robert Jay Lifton: They were not only mostly male, white and privileged. They were corrupt. That was a common feature. It parallels the corruption around Trump and Trump. And his pardoning them is a negation of standards of corruption in favor of and acceptance and welcoming of them. And that too is playing with reality. When you pardon those among the most corrupt, you’re denying their corruption or accepting the corruption as part of the norm, what I call malignant normality. The two are almost the same. And preparing for further actions, further pardonings of corrupt people surrounding the administration.

Bill Moyers: Have we ever encountered a public figure who so consistently reversed truth and falsehood on such a vast scale?

Robert Jay Lifton: No. I think Trump is very unusual. The way he functions and evaluates reality only from the standpoint of the self and its needs. That’s the way that psychotic patients usually behave. We say they have a break with reality.

I don’t think Trump is psychotic. He’s, in fact, very talented at media manipulation and has some shrewd political sense that he employs. But the extremity of the solipsism and his paranoia and of his claim to being a messiah is so extreme in a person who is not psychotic, is what makes him so extraordinary and dangerous.

Bill Moyers: Over many years, you have studied people who claim ownership of the minds of others. You call them mental predators. Who are we talking about?

Robert Jay Lifton: Usually when we talk about those who seek ownership of reality and ownership of others’ minds, we’re talking about extremists, people who engage in what I call ideological totalism. That’s all or none belief systems, which claim absolute truth and absolute virtue.

And they’re often very complicated ideologies.

Trump would, at first glance, seem to be almost the opposite of them. He doesn’t have a systemic ideology. He has no ideology, really. It’s very changeable, the ideas he puts forward. But what he has in common with them is the claim to ownership of reality.

Bill Moyers: How do your own reality?

Robert Jay Lifton: You can’t. It’s a kind of fantasy and goal. One can never own reality. But the mental predators seek to own it. And they create all kinds of difficulty and pain and even violence in connection with that claim.

It isn’t new with Trump. People have sought to own reality from religious sources or political extremism. But with Trump, it’s a kind of simple or simplistic solipsistic endeavor. It’s ongoing. He has no other way of function. And in that sense, under him, our country is running on falsehood and unreality.

Bill Moyers: So what happens to the truth when an individual or a group claims to own reality?

Robert Jay Lifton: The truth doesn’t quite go away. It just becomes harder to connect with, or a little more unclear. And when we look at what’s been going on recently, first, the impeachment hearings and the impeachment itself. And then the trial, or so-called trial in the Senate. These were, of course, about Trump’s transgressions, his high crimes, and misdemeanors for which impeachment became appropriate.

But they were also about reality, holding to reality, confronting falsehood and lies. And that struggle with reality is very much ongoing. And very much with us. And I tend to suspect that it may be Trump’s most lasting legacy in the difficulty we have coping with it and transcending it.

Bill Moyers: So real, in this case, is what Donald Trump did, actually did, and what he says he did or didn’t do. And that’s the counter reality that he has created with the help of the Republican party, right?

Robert Jay Lifton: Yes. Well, people always ask me to do I think that Trump believes in his falsehoods. And I say that the question assumes something about a belief that may not be entirely true, that it’s definite and fixed. Belief is a form of behavior and it can change. It’s a form of adaptability.

So when you take some of Trump’s falsehoods, for instance, the primal falsehood of Barack Obama not being born in this country. He didn’t make that up. He got it from somewhere else. But he embraced it more than anybody else. Used it as a political lever for the national presidential election.

And in that sense, we can say he was using it as a means of manipulation, consciously manipulating in relation to it. And that’s just plain old lying. But over time, one can suspect that he came in one side of his mind to partially believe it.

You know, you can’t really be effective as a conman unless you come to believe in your falsehoods. And that happens. And we see that in Trump.

Bill Moyers: Doesn’t that explain a lot about American history? We’ve been hospitable for conmen from the very beginning. And that becomes woven into the web of Americanism, what’s great about America, including our ability to fool each other.

Robert Jay Lifton: Yes, that’s all too true. And there are powerful strains in American society that feed the process we’re discussing. Yes, the conman. Many great American novelists have written about the conman at the heart of their novel. Beyond the conman, there are the nativists and Know-Nothing groups. And also the paranoid tendency — all these have affected the people around Trump.

And, of course, they long predated Trump. That’s why people can be confused about who’s responsible for all this. Some say it’s only Trump and it’s his psyche. Well, that’s not true because we have these trends in American society.

Others say Trump is of no account. It’s all American society. That’s not true either. There’s something sui generis about Trump. He contributes a lot to this with his solipsism. And also with his grandiose paranoia and angry and vitriolic impulses toward revenge toward anyone who doesn’t follow his falsehoods. So one has to see this kind of balance or imbalance or equilibrium involving Trump and these large and pervasive tendencies in American society that predated him and feed him.

Bill Moyers: You say he has Trumpistas, I would call them — one of the most powerful being Fox News and talk radio.

When a politically powerful individual is invested by the owner of a particular reality, say, Rupert Murdoch and his family, with a mandate to spread an alternative reality, he has a head start, doesn’t he?

Robert Jay Lifton: 
Yes. And that’s a terrible factor in all this.

I’ve also watched Fox News and now there are other places — Trumpist captivity of more local outlets, recreated newspapers and radio stations. And these places live on falsehood. When just the latest conspiracy idea: The coronavirus was created intentionally by the Chinese communists to spread around the world in order to destroy their enemies.

Bill Moyers: Yeah, this is the rumor.

Vice President Mike Pence meets with the President’s Coronavirus Taskforce Wednesday, February 26, 2020, in his West Wing Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Robert Jay Lifton: This is the—

Bill Moyers: conspiracy theory.

Robert Jay Lifton: The latest conspiracy theory.

I listened to Fox News a little bit and, sure enough, their host was saying, “Well, how do you know they didn’t? Oh, you’re sticking up for China if you don’t believe it.” So what begins as wild conspiracism becomes repeated and reinforced by a very powerful medium and people who give it what seems like legitimation. That’s dreadful. And it very much contributes to what we’re calling losing reality.

Bill Moyers: What do they gain from it? What does Fox, including the owners of it, what do they gain from promoting such a widespread delusion?

Robert Jay Lifton: They don’t see it as a widespread delusion — the proponents any more than Trump does — because there’s been a process of delegitimation of the opposition. That’s really important. And—

Bill Moyers: What do you mean by that?

Robert Jay Lifton: Well, political theorists have begun to talk about it, in which they mean there no longer is a loyal opposition. There no longer are shared commitments to national or international wellbeing.

You must defeat Democrats as the enemy. Not the loyal opposition, but the tarnished, evil enemy. And that takes precedence over anything else. Those who sponsor Fox News would have that kind of rationale. The delegitimation of the opposition, at least it’s a more recent expression, is maybe several decades old.

And it’s devastating.

Bill Moyers: Yes, I’ve been around long enough to remember that Richard Nixon turned Democrats not into an adversary to be defeated at the polls, but an enemy to be destroyed in political warfare. And Newt Gingrich, who is probably the single most responsible individual for what is happening today, for changing the ground rules of politics to make it total war.

Robert Jay Lifton: Yes, from Gingrich rendering politics total warfare and when you make it absolute, win-lose and delegitimate the opposition, you’re moving toward some kind of authoritarian state. And there was that tendency in right-wing Republicanism before Trump which could join forces with Trump in this dangerous way. And could animate, could inspire those who back up or support Fox News and other outlets that profess only an absolute win-lose position.

Bill Moyers: And one of their achievements was to change the meaning of words and they simply twisted the meaning of language.

Robert Jay Lifton: Yes, what I called loading the language. Loading the language really means speaking in God’s words or devil words. And reducing large issues to what I call the thought-terminating clichés. And that’s very much a characteristic of delegitimation. The language becomes so loaded that there’s no other way of thinking than those who are assuming authoritarian control and delegitimating the opponents.

Bill Moyers: So, are you saying that what’s happening to us now somehow fits the pattern of the totalistic ideologies that have consumed your life?

Robert Jay Lifton: I’m not saying that we are headed inevitably for an authoritarian society or Nazi-like society. What I am saying is that there are parallels. And they’re dangerous. You know, the Nazis didn’t do away with the major institutions of Germany.

They Nazified them. They had a term called gleichschaltung which simply meant reconstructing, reordering, re-gearing. They got rid of those who were unreliable, not reliable Nazis, [and] replaced them with reliable Nazis. And the institutions became sources of Nazi concepts and Nazi behavior.

Trump and his people are trying to do similar things with our institutions. Not do away with them, but Trumpize them. By removing, if possible, those with independent thought — and those who adhere to traditional realities — on the one hand, and replacing them with those who are willing to support his solipsistic reality on the other.

It doesn’t fully work. But it’s enormously confusing and harmful. It doesn’t fully work partly because, unlike Germany, we have had more substantive institutions of a Democratic kind. It doesn’t always feel that way. But they’ve been around for some time. And they’ve been law centered.

The Germany of Weimar, preceding Hitler, lacked such institutions of that kind. And in that sense, was more vulnerable to that kind of gleichschaltung or shift of gears in institutions. Trump is nonetheless, and his followers, attacking our institutions, weakening them.

There are times like now where our own institutions seem weakened and seem as if they’ll collapse under Trump and his followers’ attacks. But they don’t collapse that easily. We’ve seen that now in the struggle around the Justice Department. We’ve seen it in the Congress with the House of Representatives, which has been an enormous force in combating Trump.

And we’ve seen it among the common people in the various polls that show American people still believe in the rule of law and in the institutions that uphold that rule. Now, that doesn’t automatically guarantee that we’ll be successful.

Bill Moyers:
 You remind me of how much I felt the atmosphere had changed after I watched those patriotic public servants — the diplomats — who testified to what had happened in Ukraine, Yovanovitch and the others…


compared to how we all felt when we watched Cohen and Manafort and the others who paraded up there to tell their seamy stories. Do you believe that can happen, that people can be recharged by truth?

Robert Jay Lifton: When we watched these courageous civil servants testify at some personal risk and listened to them, we not only felt that justice was being served, we felt reality was being served. Here were people who had experiences of being attacked by Trump or his minions, and had witnessed harmful behavior that really betrayed our country. And they told about it in simple, honest words. We felt during those experiences of testimony a return to reality. That was the individual feeling that accompanied the larger sense of witnessing justice, rather than phony and false versions of what went on.

And it’s a struggle now through the whole society. The falsifications and conspiracism that we now live by in our society are not embraced by the majority of people as far as we far as can tell but are embraced by enough people to worry us profoundly. And there’s every expectation that the majority here will hold. The meaning will cling to elements of truth, of reality and of institutional autonomy, which is crucial for a democracy to function. But nothing is guaranteed.

Bill Moyers: What do you think the Trumpsters are after?

Robert Jay Lifton: With Trump, there is no systemic or consistent ideology. But there is a narrative. And the narrative is that America was once great, it got into the hands of the wrong people, weak people. It then declined because it was taken advantage of. And now, “I will make America great again because I AM strong. I am chosen. And I can save America.”

So it’s a kind of purification. It’s a claim on the part of one man that has the — I don’t know if one would use the word “pure” — but he has the capacity because of his, yes, pure genius and pure capacity for being a savior, to rescue this country, make it great again. It’s a kind of purity of a single authoritarian person who claims to have nobility and claims that he alone and no one else can save the country. And by implication, the world. It’s pure megalomania.

Bill Moyers: I remember somewhere you told a story about meeting Adolf Hitler’s brilliant architect, Albert Speer, who built Germany — physically, materially, aesthetically — that Hitler wanted.

Robert Jay Lifton: Yes. I interviewed Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect, four times. Each time for a couple of hours, and I learned a lot about the Nazi movement from him. What he told me was that he was a graduate student in architecture in the ’30s when everybody was hopeless. There was no future. The economy had gone bad.

Nobody could imagine anything good happening to them in the future. And Hitler came. Hitler had two speeches. He had his vulgar, street speech. And then he has his relatively intellectual speech which he gave at universities. And in that latter speech, he said, “I now can unify Germany. We will then all be strong again and have a positive future.”

And when he said, “Germany can be strong again,” that meant not only militarily, which, of course, was very important because they had to renounce the Versailles Treaty and other things, but also people could feel themselves psychically strong.

Speer said he was mesmerized by this speech. It was what William James described as an experience of religious conversion in the purest form. And he (Speer) eventually became disillusioned.

Bill Moyers: But he joined the Nazi party first, didn’t he?

Robert Jay Lifton: Oh, he joined the Nazi party. And he served Hitler. And he was very close to Hitler and he made a point of getting to see Hitler in his bunker, making a very dangerous trip at the end of the war in order to say goodbye to him. He hadn’t divested himself of this love for the Fuhrer, of the man who became a cult-like master or guru to him.

Bill Moyers: And by listening to that one speech he was himself lifted out of his despair and sense of hopelessness about the future and marched triumphantly into that future, only to see his country destroyed.

Robert Jay Lifton: Hitler was saying Hitler could make Germany great again. And Hitler could make individual Germans feel strong and great again. That’s— and we hear echoes in Trump – and we hear this in any intense political movement and a version of it in religious movements too.

And one is impressed by the parallel with Trump. It doesn’t mean that Trump is a Nazi.

Bill Moyers: No.

Robert Jay Lifton: He’s not. He doesn’t have enough ideology to be a Nazi or the people around him. I’m not saying that any of them are Nazis. I’m saying that they embrace an authoritarian vision of rendering their country strong again and claim that only they can fulfill this vision.

He becomes for many people, a combination mafia don and cult guru as well as a political leader. So I say he’s cult-like. I don’t claim that the whole thing is just a cult and that’s all. Rather, there are strongly cult-like patterns. You can see it and hear it in the chanting back and forth, which is almost religious-like.

There’s a holding out of the phrase and then a response from the religious community so to speak. And also in more recent terminology of Trump as the chosen one. He’s used that term himself.

And some of the more evangelical people around him have used it with full biblical sourcing. He’s the chosen one. You know, I remember one Nazi doctor I interviewed who came from a middle-class family, academic people. And at first, they were disdainful of Hitler because he seemed so crude.

He said, “And then, we talked it over and we thought, well, maybe he’s the right man because he is so crude.” There was a sense maybe he was chosen. Maybe history has chosen him, just as people around Trump and Trump himself say, “Maybe God has chosen Trump.” All the more so because he’s so crude and different from other leaders. And that’s really another parallel.

Bill Moyers:
 One of President Trump’s cabinet members, Rick Perry, claimed that Trump was chosen by God to lead America. And there’s a common belief among the many of the conservative fundamentalists Christians you were just referring to – Billy Graham’s son Franklin said, “I think God was behind the last election.”

Robert Jay Lifton: Yes, that’s right. And the president has referred to himself as the chosen one. And, this is savior talk. This is the kind of messianism that has a religious root. And I think you’ll agree that intense and sometimes fanatical evangelical thought has a lot to do with right-wing thinking in the United States.

And this would be parallel with that. This would be consistent with that. So that some of the people in Trump’s cabinet, including Pompeo, are intense evangelicals, and see Trump as carrying out the greater good. And with that perspective, the Democrats — who are seen as more secular — are the ultimate evil who must be destroyed, defeated.

And in this way, Trump, despite being probably the last man on earth to claim genuine religious involvement, nonetheless can be seen as chosen in a kind of indirect or hidden way. Chosen by God to carry out theology purposes.

Bill Moyers: I want to play for you, Robert, a recording of the televangelist Paula White, who is Trump’s spiritual advisor. And also heads his evangelical council of advisors.

The first recording you will hear, she’s speaking in tongues, which means a language she can’t herself understand. Here she is.

Bill Moyers: President Trump’s spiritual advisor, Paula White, who prayed at his inauguration. Here she is using her alleged spiritual authority to defend the president against what she calls demonic opponents.

Faith leaders gather at the White House, Oct. 29, 2019. Official White House image by Joyce Boghosian.
Paula White: We declare every demonic network to be scattered right now. We declare right now that there is a hedge of protection over our president. We deal with every demonic attack against him, against his mantle, against his purpose, against his position as he stands in position as president.

Bill Moyers: So she is saying that they’re throwing up a wall of protection to protect the president from demonic opposition. In other words, she and Christian right-wingers like her are aiding and abetting the delegitimation of all opposition, right?

Robert Jay Lifton: Yes. That’s right. They’re giving religious authority, that is God-given authority. They’re claiming God-given authority to protect the president and attack his opponents. That’s totalistic or what I call cultist.

And that’s again evidence that Trump didn’t create all of this. He stepped into it and intensified and recast it. But the roots are deep in American society. And particularly, we shouldn’t make the mistake of just saying, “Oh, we have the two sides and each can be intense and over-intense or fanatical.” This problem comes from the right-wing — it isn’t that the left-wing people have never been guilty of taking advantage of dubious approaches to reality.

But this wave of losing reality is specifically right-wing. This wave of delegitimation of opposition. This authoritarian wave of claiming absolute truth and absolute virtue is particularly right-wing and we should recognize that.

Bill Moyers: So what is Trump doing when he hands the Presidential Medal of Freedom to one of the biggest liars ever to thrive on duplicity and venality? And, of course, I’m talking about Rush Limbaugh.

Robert Jay Lifton: Trump is being consistent. He’s following his consistency to the end, so to speak. I mean, Rush Limbaugh being given the Medal of Freedom is, I don’t know what to call it. It’s more than egregious. It borders on the comic. But it is consistent with Trump’s claim to values. Why does Rush Limbaugh get the Medal of Freedom? He gets the Medal because he’s been loyal to Trump. He’s mouthed Trump’s falsehoods.

He’s furthered them with his own originality. He’s been completely corrupt and among the leadership in the thought of those who follow the Trumpist/cultist line. So it makes full sense for Trump, within Trump’s malignant normality, to give the Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh.

Bill Moyers: So what’s the ultimate danger, what you call extreme assaults on reality, by a man who holds the most powerful office in the world and is surrounded by sycophants in government, culture, the media, who echo and imitate his mendacity?

Robert Jay Lifton: Well, when the president of such a country lives on and attempts to coerce the rest of us to live on falsehood and lies, it’s dangerous to us and dangerous to the world. My argument is we’re not wired to go down with Trump. There’s nothing in our neurophysiology or brain structure that says we must destroy ourselves as a species.

And there’s nothing either that says we will certainly adapt and live together in harmony. We’re capable of either, according to our wiring. It’s up to us.

When I did my study of Nazi doctors and completed it — and it was a very difficult study — my friends would say something like this, “It’s okay. Now you’ve been exposed to the Nazi doctors. So what do you think of human beings now?”

And they expected me to say, “Not very much.” But instead, I said what I just said now. “We’re capable of going either way.” That’s what I believe. And that’s why I think that the efforts we make individually, and especially collectively, are crucial to the outcome.

Reality fatigue is inseparable from democracy fatigue. And that’s one thing we can’t allow ourselves

Bill Moyers: But don’t you sense some reality fatigue in the country?

Robert Jay Lifton: I sense lots of reality fatigue and I feel it like everybody else at times. What reality fatigue is a kind of tiredness, a sense of being overwhelmed by the stream of lies and falsehoods? And having doubts that one can reverse that stream or stand up to them.

So yes, how can we not feel reality fatigue? But how can we not also feel it’s a luxury? We don’t allow ourselves reality fatigue, because reality fatigue is inseparable from democracy fatigue.

And that’s one thing we can’t allow ourselves.

My sense is that Trump’s increasingly more egregious and wild and solipsistic and paranoid behavior, which people describe as feeling free to do whatever he wants, and he’s got some of that. But is also an expression of increasing anxiety and could well be part of his end game. His end game possibly in losing the next election or in some other way.

That doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed. And it doesn’t mean that, if it is his end game, it won’t be painful and dangerous. But there is reason to feel that the society is struggling to mobilize its forces, and is not totally beholden to Fox News or those right-wing intellectuals or followers and their embrace of Trump and Trump’s destructiveness.

Bill Moyers: You think we can get the truth back?

Robert Jay Lifton: It’s hard. I think one of our great problems is that we don’t make enough use of the freedom to protest that we still possess and can maintain.

There is still in the society a recognition of great importance, of truth, and of the malignant nature of the normality that we’re being subjected to. And we have to take advantage of, embrace, that continuing recognition without any prior assumption that it’s easy or that we can win without difficulty.

Bill Moyers: When a few weeks ago I first heard you talk about your book, you sent me home to reread the speeches of Vaclav Havel, who enunciated, you said that night, the great principle of those revolutions that overthrew communist suppression – the Velvet Revolution back in, what was it? 1989?

Robert Jay Lifton: That’s right.

Bill Moyers: He called it “living in truth.” Living in truth. What do you take that to mean?

Robert Jay Lifton: It was a powerful message. Living in truth meant for Havel, and for some other Eastern European protest leaders, it meant countering the falsehoods which the oppressors depend upon by living in truth. Telling the truth. Living your own lives with each other in truth.

When I visited Prague not too long after the Velvet Revolution, I met with people who had totally changed in relation to that successful overthrow of the oppressors.

And I met one part-time ne’er do well musician not responsible for anything when suddenly he found himself in charge of a protest newsletter, which he had to keep secret and distribute to people. And he did so with complete dedication and responsibility, showing tendencies he never knew he possessed.

I found others like that as well. So, we do possess these capacities as human beings, sometimes without our being aware of them. And what I’m describing, of course, is not just a matter of individual behavior its collective behavior, which it was all the way for Havel.

We need this. And we are capable of embracing it to a greater sense than we’ve realized. So all this has no guarantee. But it does have considerable possibilities.

Bill Moyers: 
I think you referred to it as the power of the powerless. “Living in truth, takes place at the level of human consciousness and conscience, the existential level.”

Robert Jay Lifton: Yeah. Yeah. That was Havel. In that sense, there’s a power to truth. There’s a power of life or death in truth. And he was right.

Bill Moyers: And I remember what I think is also one of your favorite quotes from Henry David Thoreau. “Rather than love, money and fame, give me the truth.”

Robert Jay Lifton: Absolutely.

Bill Moyers: Thank you, Robert.

Robert Jay Lifton: 
Thank you, Bill.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you for listening to Moyers on Democracy

That was Bill Moyers and Robert Jay Lifton

Until next time….read an excerpt from Lifton’s new book Losing Reality at Billmoyers.com. Check it out.

Postscript from Robert Jay Lifton

The coronavirus creates a new level of pressure on Trump in his real struggles. The spread of this pandemic arouses primal anxieties in all of us that have to do with the vulnerability of our bodies and the threat of mortality. Even under ordinary conditions, these are powerful concerns, as reflected in the importance of healthcare as a political issue.

The widespread death anxiety created by the present pandemic cannot be appeased by grandiose claims of perfect control over a minimized outbreak. When experiencing anxiety about medical mortality, we turn mainly to physicians, and they are frequently at odds with Trump’s version of denial and control. Trump has made uneasy compromises with medical views, but his erratic handling of the pandemic and his empty assurances about the economy do not inspire trust.

We then get a vicious circle of rejection of Trump’s false claims, leading to his increased anxiety and grandiosity, resulting in further mistrust of the population, etc. We can expect additional fantasy and ever more bitter attacks of those who question it.

Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers is a veteran journalist, broadcaster, and author. Former managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, his previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three and a half decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation ContinuesMoyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & ReasonHe was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards. Follow him on Twitter: @BillMoyers

10 Good Things About 2019

In the coming year, those of us in the US will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. (Photo: Creative Commons)

By Medea Benjamin | Common Dreams

Impeachment, Trump, impeachment, Trump. It’s hard to think of this year without obsessing about the occupant of the White House. But yes, there were lots of other events going on in the world this year. Some of them were tragic, like the coup in Bolivia, but some are hopeful and move us in a positive direction. Here are ten. Please add more.

  1. In January, the most diverse class of lawmakers in U.S. history was sworn into Congress, including a record number of women in the House: 102. Four of the freshman known affectionately as “the squad”—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley—have shown what a few brave women can do to shake up the DC establishment. They denounced the inhumane treatment of migrants on our southern border; pushed for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All; confronted big pharma; started paying congressional interns; refused to take the “mandatory” AIPAC trip to Israel. They changed the Congressional ecosystem and thanks to them, a lot more young progressives are now running for Congress.

  1. The Democratic primaries have forced the country to talk about progressive policies like never before. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have pushed Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and policies to address this nation’s horrific inequalities. Tulsi Gabbard has focused on the need to end the endless wars. And compared with 2016, all of the candidates have been more open to directly confronting the military-industrial complex, with vague but critical calls for reducing the overblown Pentagon budget. The debates and campaign rallies have been opportunities to air discussions on real solutions to our nation’s ills, solutions that are not popular with big-dollar donors but are wildly popular with the public.

  2. 2019 was a year of awe-inspiring environmental youth activism. The sensational 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden captured world attention at the UN climate summit with her call for young people to hold adults accountable for the disaster they’ve created. Greta’s school strike (she sat in front of the Swedish Parliament instead of going to school) inspired students’ walkouts throughout the world. She also inspired some famous elders: Thanks to Greta, Jane Fonda brought the Fire Drill Fridays to Washington D.C., doing civil disobedience at Congress every Friday and bringing more national attention to the climate crisis.

  1. While the environmental gains this year are not nearly on the level needed, there are countries taking serious actions. The New Zealand parliament passed landmark legislation to achieve zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The legislation establishes New Zealand as one of the few countries in the world with a legislated commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In contrast to Australia, where climate and energy policy has provoked toxic debate and scare campaigns from the far right, the New Zealand bill passed with bipartisan support. The government also established a $100 million Green Investment Fund, which will invest public funds in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; plant one billion new trees by 2028, and stop exploration for new oil and gas reserves.

  1. In more environmental news, the European Union banned single-use plastic, including plastic cups, plates, forks, and straws. The ban will take effect by 2021. The change could help avoid nearly $25 billion-worth of environmental pollution by 2030. While the U.S. lags behind at the federal level, jurisdictions across the United States have instituted bans and fees on various types of plastics, like bags, carryout containers, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws. Eight states, including California and New York, have passed statewide bans on single-use plastic bags, while Maine has a ban on single-use polystyrene containers.

  1. While Donald Trump crows about how great the domestic economy is, more and more workers are demanding a fairer share of the pie. Tens of thousands of workers across the country, from General Motors employees to teachers in Chicago, went on strike to win better wages and benefits. G.M. agreed to a path for temps to become permanent workers, and to alter its tiered wage scale. Airline mechanics, including at Southwest Airlines, won raises. The move toward a $15 minimum wage is gaining steam, with 21 states raising minimum wages in 2019 and more increases on the way in 2020.

  1. For Latin America, 2019 was a year of people’s power. There were advances and setbacks, but it’s clear that there is a return of the Pink Tide (the name given to the wave of progressive governments in the late 1990s and 2000s). In this past year, social movements and organized people rose up against neoliberalism in Chile and Ecuador, they defeated a coup in Venezuela, they’re resisting a coup in Bolivia, they rose up against a narco-dictator in Honduras, they rose up against state violence and austerity in Colombia, they took back power in Argentina, they’re transforming Mexico, and, last but not least, in Brazil, they organized a successful and massive international campaign to free former president Lula da Silva.

  1. In the Middle East, people also rose up in a massive repudiation of neoliberal policies and corrupt governments that benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations at the expense of working people. In what has been dubbed the Autumn of Discontent, there were uprisings from Iraq to Lebanon, from Iran to Egypt. The repression against activists has been savage, with hundreds killed. In Lebanon, the protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri but their goals are broader: They are demanding an end to corruption and mismanagement that results in blackouts and piles of garbage in the streets, as well as the crony sectarianism that enables it.

  1. In Sudan, where the nation suffered for years under the murderous dictatorship of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, people poured into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. After months of courageous protests in which scores of Sudanese were shot, Abdalla Hamdok took office as prime minister in a power-sharing deal between the armed forces and the pro-democracy movement. the movement won a commitment for a three-year transition leading to elections, and Bashir was sent to prison for corruption. People are still in the streets demanding justice for the people killed in protests. “The victims have the right to truth, justice, and reparations under international law,” said the protesters.

  2. While Trump didn’t fulfill his promise to end our endless wars, and he actually sent 14,000 MORE troops to the Middle East, at least he didn’t start any new wars! Why? The American people have had enough. That hasn’t always been the case. After the 9/11 attacks, for example, most Americans supported both the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and in Iraq. But no longer. They want to get out of the wars we are in and don’t want to engage in new ones. When the U.S. accused Iran of a spectacular attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, the hawks in the Trump administration wanted to respond with a military attack. But polls showed a minuscule 13 percent in favor. This has been a restraining factor for Trump and his Warhawks. And let’s remember, this year also marked the downfall of the biggest Warhawk of all, Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

In the coming year, those of us in the US will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. Four more years of Donald Trump will be devastating for our nation and our world. No matter what happens with the impeachment process in the Senate, we must mobilize to defeat Trump and build a more effective progressive movement. Remembering some of the gains in the difficult year of 2019 can help inspire us for the critical struggles ahead.

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Her previous books include Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi ConnectionDrone Warfare: Killing by Remote ControlDon’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share it widely.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.

America’s Streets and Squares Are Waiting, But When Will the People Rise Up to Fill Them?

By Ralph Nader | Common Dreams

Around the world, people are marching, rallying, and demonstrating in huge numbers. Some of these countries are ruled by dictators or plutocratic regimes, others are considered democracies. Despite the peril of protest, people are seeking justice, freedom, and decent livelihoods.

Many boasts about the United States is the oldest democracy in the world. While there are some street protests in the US, they are sadly too few and far between. Rallies calling attention to climate disruption have received less public support and media attention than they deserve. Likewise, the Parkland rally in Washington, D.C. against gun violence could have received more follow up publicity. And we all remember the massive women’s march the day after Trump was inaugurated in Washington, D.C. The subsequent women’s marches have attracted smaller crowds and therefore fewer media coverage.

It is not as if our country doesn’t have a historic tradition of sustained demonstrations. Mass protests have carried the labor movement, the farmer movement, the civil rights movement, and the anti-war movement to breakthroughs. These mass protests alone were not the sole drivers of political action—books, articles, editorials, pamphlets, posters, and litigation were essential. But visible displays of aggregated people power had a profound effect on those politicians’ actions. When politicians put their fingers to the wind, the repeated rumble from the masses is what fills the sails of change.

“When politicians put their fingers to the wind, the repeated rumble from the masses is what fills the sails of change.”

It is not as if mass injustices are absent in the “land of the free, home of the brave.” Sadly, the informed populace is just not showing up in an organized, big crowd fashion—the way they did to challenge the nuclear arms race and nuclear power in the nineteen seventies and eighties. In the era of the iPhone and Internet, activists have greater access to organizing tools than ever—no postage stamps or costly long-distance telephone calls are needed.

Consider these candidates for mass demonstrations proximate to where the decision-makers are located. Millions of young people are being gouged by student loan creditors and for-profit colleges. Whether it is the U.S. Department of Education’s high-interest rates or the exploitation by for-profit universities, the abuses are outrageous, cruel, and in the latter case, often criminal.

Total outstanding student loans amount to over $1.5 trillion. These burdened young Americans know how to contact each other for free; they also can raise money instantly using new crowdfunding technology. They know how to use visual arts and verbal arts. Congress can reverse the predatory practices in higher education. Where is the advocacy from millions of student loan debtors? They could have a huge impact if they surrounded the Capitol or held smaller rallies around Congressional offices back home, especially in the coming election year.

Millions of workers are making, inflation-adjusted, less than workers made in 1968. The federal minimum wage, frozen at $7.25, is the culprit. The House of Representatives finally bestirred itself to pass a $15 minimum wage stretched over a number of years. But when the Walmart-indentured members of the Senate look out their windows, it would be nice to see masses of workers surrounding their Senate offices, prior to some insistent personal lobbying?

There are no labor mass rallies in front of Trump’s anti-labor White House either, even though, the headquarters of the AFL-CIO are just yards away on 16th Street NW. The face-off of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka v. Donald Trump is overdue.

Millions of minorities are suffering from voter suppression. Civil rights leaders are angry. They anticipate Republicans at the state and federal level to again erect all kinds of insidious roadblocks that disproportionately affect people of color the most. Abuses in the Florida and Georgia races were rampant in 2018. Presidential races in swing states are also plagued by voter suppression tactics. All signs point to a more intrusive stripping of eligible voters in the 2020 election.

Where are the marches before the offices of the state secretary of state and culpable legislators and Governor’s headquarters?

A quarter of our country’s families are poor. A Poor People’s Campaign, led by the Reverend William Barber and local pastors, has been protesting in the streets in North Carolina and other states. Their protests deserve far greater attendance. The media has given them too little coverage. But if there were massive demonstrations in major cities and before state legislatures and the Congress, with coordinated demands and large photographs of key politicians fronting for the rich and powerful, will get mass media coverage.

“The informed populace is just not showing up in an organized, big crowd fashion—the way they did to challenge the nuclear arms race and nuclear power in the nineteen seventies and eighties.”

Tens of millions of Americans have no health insurance or are severely underinsured. Thousands of lives are lost annually as a result. This is a problem in America but not other developed nations that have systems in place that prioritize their citizens’ health. Getting sick or injured without medical care is far too frequent in the U.S. Those who suffer from this deprivation can be motivated to take to the streets. The health care industry’s soaring profits and their mega-rich bosses should move additional Americans to rally for Medicare-for-All!

These rallies can be led by physicians and nurses, tired of the paperwork, the bureaucracy, and the health insurance companies denying access to health care for their patients and arbitrarily rejecting doctor-recommended treatments.

In the nineteen forties, President Harry Truman proposed to Congress universal health insurance. Americans still do not have Medicare-for-All and are paying the highest prices, premiums, and out of pocket bills in the world—not to mention the human suffering caused by an inadequate healthcare system.

What a great street story for television, radio, and print newspapers! Think of the tragic human interest stories, straight from the heart by mothers and fathers with children having limited or no access to health care.

Other marches can come from the homeless and the desperate tenants spending over half their income on rent in the many communities where there is a shortage of affordable housing.

All these mass turnouts can pass contribution buckets or tout websites and raise money from the crowds for the next round of even larger protests. At each event, a list of demands can be presented to decision-makers. At each event, protestors can go to the offices where the decision-makers are or insist that these lawmakers speak to the assembled protestors.

There are many innovations to make these action rallies more impactful, more motivating, and more mass-media-centric. There also have to be some enlightened billionaires, worried about their country and their descendants, who want to provide a modest amount of money necessary for event organizers and focused political action. Show up America!

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest books include: To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse CourseHow the Rats Re-Formed the CongressBreaking Through Power: It’s easier than we think, and Animal Envy: A Fable

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#WhiteSupremacyKills: 100+ Civil Rights Groups Rally to Reject GOP’s Excuses for Massacres and Demand Concrete Action

Three days after 22 people were killed in a mass shooting that targeted Latinos in El Paso Texas, progressive social justice groups gathered in Washington, D.C. to declare that “white supremacy kills” and demand concrete action from lawmakers to combat white nationalist terrorism. (Photo: @civilrightsorg/Twitter)

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

More than 100 civil rights groups rallied outside the White House Tuesday to unequivocally state that white supremacy, easy access to guns, and indifference from policymakers about both were to blame for the massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend.

Gun control and racial justice advocates assembled in the nation’s capital for the #WhiteSupremacyKills demonstration, chanting, “Vote them out!” and “Hey hey! Ho-ho! White supremacy’s got to go!”

The protest came as President Donald Trump downplayed his role in the rise of white nationalism and other Republicans pointed fingers at video games, LGBTQ people, and the mental healthcare system as the root causes of the shootings.

The El Paso shooting was the largest hate-based, gun-related massacre of Latino people in modern U.S. history, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a statement.

Three days after 22 people were shot in the largely Latino city by a gunman who had denounced the so-called “invasion” of Latin American immigrants, demonstrators carried signs that said in both Spanish and English, “Be on the right side of history. Unite against white supremacy.”

“The tragedies of this past weekend represent a confluence of two dangerous forces: the rise of white supremacist terror and our federal government’s inaction on commonsense gun safety,” said the groups, including Voto Latino, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and MoveOn.org, in a joint statement.

“When the president and his enablers routinely denigrate and dehumanize certain communities, he gives permission to white supremacists to commit horrific violence—violence that is at a level unprecedented in more than 20 years,” the statement continued. “None of this is acceptable. None of this is normal.”

The rally came a day after Trump claimed he aims to “condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy” while failing to acknowledge his own encouragement of the ideologies. In a manifesto, the man accused of killing 22 people in El Paso echoed language Trump has used in his attacks on immigration, saying the shooting was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The president repeatedly called the arrival of Latin American immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border an “invasion” last year.

“The impact of Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies cannot be ignored when white supremacists—many of whom name him in their attacks and cite him in their hate manifestos—murder innocent people of color,” the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said.

In addition to calling on lawmakers and Trump to “unequivocally denounce this violence” and “prevent the rise of white supremacy,” organizers denounced Congress for failing to pass gun control legislation like the universal background checks bill which the Democratic-led U.S. House passed in February—and which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to allow the Senate to vote on.

“We’re the only industrialized country in the world where you can go in and you can buy an assault-style weapon and you can buy a magazine that carries 100 or more rounds, and you can get that for about $200,” said Kris Brown, president of the gun control group Brady. “That’s what happened in Dayton, that’s what we saw happen in El Paso, and why is that? Because they’re designed to kill as many people as humanly possible as quickly as possible.”

“We are arming hate,” Brown added.

“Our organizations are united in saying that members of Congress can no longer look away as communities of color and religious minorities are murdered with impunity,” read the groups’ joint statement. “It is not enough for Republican leadership in Congress to offer thoughts and prayers, nor should they repeatedly blame gun violence on mental illness—an unfounded and harmful trope. We must all unite and demand accountability.”

On social media, supporters of the protest tweeted using the hashtag #WhiteSupremacyKills to call on lawmakers to introduce concrete federal reforms to stem the rise of the white nationalist movement which has become increasingly visible under Trump—at 2017’s deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; in the mass shootings in El Paso and Pittsburgh; and at Trump’s rallies, where the president has recently encouraged racist chants and comments from his supporters.

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The Strongest People on the Planet

ICE has an annual budget of around $7.5 billion, which is spent in absolute denial of our interconnectedness. It “protects” the country by defining emigrants as aliens and denying them virtually all basic rights. (Photo: Ilias Bartolini/Flickr/cc)

“Send her back! Send her back!”

The chant: Is it merely a case study in collective stupidity or is it a signal of rising fascism? When I look at the viral video—the latest manifestation of Trumpism and the freeing of good old American racism from the constraints of political correctness—I can’t help but think of the 8-year-old girl I met the other day, who traveled two years with her mother to reach this country from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The child, whose name I can’t use because her asylum case is still pending, lives with her mom, for the time being, at what is known as the House of Hospitality, a residence for refugees in Cicero, Illinois, just outside Chicago, that is run by the Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants. This not-for-profit organization was founded a dozen years ago by two Sisters of Mercy to bring hope and crucial aid—legal, financial, spiritual—to emigrant detainees warehoused in various detention centers around Chicago.

The little girl is the face of struggle and courage, the embodiment of hope and interconnectedness. She is the refutation not merely of the chanting Trump supporters but of the nation’s bureaucratic cruelty and indifference to the plight and humanity of the global refugee flow, to the people who are seeking not simply “a better life” in the United States of America, but, as ICDI development director Ed Pratt put it, a life . . . a life!

I met recently with Ed, along with the organization’s executive director, Melanie Schikore, to learn about the work of ICDI and get a sense of the compassionate counterforce that exists in this country — a force in opposition to the concentration camps and ICE raids and “send her back” chants that dominate the news. A huge segment of the American population cares deeply about the refugees’ fate and welcomes them in every way possible.

The two nuns who founded ICDI in 2007 did so after being denied admittance to a detention center in Broadview, west of Chicago, where they had hoped to connect with detained refugees, many of whom were separated from their families, and see how they could help. Undeterred, they worked with other religious organizations—Christian, Jewish, and Muslim—and eventually got a law passed in Illinois that gave detainees access to pastoral visitation.

At present, ICDI has over 350 volunteers who last year made over 8,000 visits to detention centers to provide solidarity and support to detainees. They have also been a court presence at immigration hearings. And the organization runs the House of Hospitality, which is currently providing housing for 15 refugees from 14 different countries.

Alas, ICDI recently lost its lease at the Cicero location—the building is a former convent owned by the Archdiocese of Chicago—and is now looking for a new site. They hope to find a building that will allow them to accommodate more families, which is currently the major need out there. Often families cannot be reunited unless they have housing and such housing is in pitifully short supply nationwide.

All of which brings me back to the 8-year-old girl I met last week. Perhaps I can call her “S.” Her story transcends anything I can imagine, even though only a small piece of it is known.

“S” and her mother fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo because her mother had been tortured there. They crossed the Atlantic (somehow: this part of their story is unknown) and arrived in Brazil. They then proceeded to walk from Brazil to the United States. In all, the journey took two years.

When they got here, rather than being welcomed with open arms, mother and child were yanked apart. The separation lasted four and a half months. They were only allowed to reunite because they had been able to attain housing.

“They reunited in our stairwell,” Ed said. The cries as they embraced tore people’s hearts. “They were like animal groans.”

Here’s what else I learned about “S”: She speaks five languages! Two of them, Lingala and French, are native to her home country. On the journey with her mother, she also picked up Portuguese, Spanish and, eventually, English.

The child I met was sheer 8-year-old—shy and charming and utterly huggable. Her English was flawless. So, apparently, is her Spanish. As Ed noted, she once served as a translator for him with the Cuban cooks who work at the Hospitality House. His own Spanish wasn’t adequate to convey something to them, but “S” stepped in as translator and did the job. As I listened to this, my sense of awe kept expanding. This child, who has spent a huge piece of her life journey with her mother, has gotten a global education. Her classroom has been the planet itself.

Being an immigrant, said Melanie “is an incredible journey. They’re pioneers! We hear so many stories. I frequently have the thought, I couldn’t survive that.

“Every story is different. All are heart-wrenching. Everyone has a story that, if you knew it, would break your heart. They are the strongest people on the planet. Who wouldn’t want them? They chose to come and made it.”

She added: “We’re all interconnected. If we don’t understand that we’re global citizens and need to take care of one another, then we’re doomed.”

What if this were government policy? ICE has an annual budget of around $7.5 billion, which is spent in absolute denial of our interconnectedness. It “protects” the country by defining emigrants as aliens and denying them virtually all basic rights.

In counterpoint to this sort of policy were the words that accompanied an elderly woman’s $25 donation to ICDI. She wrote on her check: “Your work is more important than my food.”

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About the Author

Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.

America’s Real Divide Isn’t Left vs. Right. It’s Democracy vs. Oligarchy

From the start, Trump’s deal with the oligarchy has been simple: he’ll stoke tribalism so most Americans won’t see CEOs getting exorbitant pay while they’re slicing the pay of average workers. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc) 

By Robert Reich | Common Dreams

I keep hearing that the Democratic party has moved “left” and that some Democratic candidates may be “too far left.”

But in this era of unprecedented concentration of wealth and political power at the top, I can’t help wondering what it means to be “left.”

A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads, and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market.

But as wealth and power have concentrated at the top, everyone else—whether on the old right or the old left—has become disempowered and less secure.

Safety nets have unraveled, public investments have waned and the free market has been taken over by crony capitalism and corporate welfare cheats. Washington and state capitals are overwhelmed by money coming from the super-rich, Wall Street and big corporations.

Divide-and-conquer allows the oligarchy free rein. It makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage.

So why do we continue to hear and use the same old “right” and “left” labels?

I suspect it’s because the emerging oligarchy feels safer if Americans are split along the old political battle lines. That way, Americans won’t notice they’re being shafted.

In reality, the biggest divide in America today runs between oligarchy and democracy. When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy.

The oligarchs know politicians won’t bite the hands that feed them. So as long as they control the money, they can be confident there will be no meaningful response to stagnant pay, climate change, military bloat or the soaring costs of health insurance, pharmaceuticals, college, and housing.

There will be no substantial tax increases on the wealthy. There will be no antitrust enforcement to puncture the power of giant corporations. No meaningful regulation of Wall Street’s addiction to gambling with other peoples’ money. No end to corporate subsidies. CEO pay will continue to skyrocket. Wall Street hedge fund and private equity managers will continue to make off like bandits.

So long as the oligarchy divides Americans – split off people of color from working-class whites, stoke racial resentments, describe human beings as illegal aliens, launch wars on crime and immigrants, stoke fears of communists and socialists – it doesn’t have to worry that a majority will stop them from looting the nation.

Divide-and-conquer allows the oligarchy free rein. It makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage.

Trump is the puppet master.

He has been at it for years, long before he ran for president. He knows how to pit native-born Americans against immigrants, the working class against the poor, whites against blacks and Latinos.

He is well-versed in getting evangelicals and secularists steamed up about abortion, equal marriage rights, out-of-wedlock births, access to contraception, transgender bathrooms.

He knows how to stir up fears of brown-skinned people from “shitholes” streaming across the border to murder and rape, and stoke anger about black athletes who don’t stand for the national anthem.

He’s a master at fueling anxieties about so-called communists, socialists and the left taking over America.

He can make the white working class believe they’ve been losing good jobs and wages because of a cabal of Democrats, “deep state” bureaucrats and Hillary Clinton.

From the start, Trump’s deal with the oligarchy has been simple: he’ll stoke tribalism so most Americans won’t see CEOs getting exorbitant pay while they’re slicing the pay of average workers, won’t pay attention to Wall Street demanding short-term results over long-term jobs, and won’t notice a boardroom culture that tolerates financial conflicts of interest, insider trading and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations.”

The only way to overcome the oligarchy and Trump’s divide-and-conquer strategy is for the rest of us to join together and win America back.

That means creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition of working-class, poor and middle-class Americans who will fight for democracy and oppose oligarchy.

White, black and Latino; union and non-union; evangelical and secular; immigrant and native-born – all focused on ending big money in politics, stopping corporate welfare and crony capitalism, busting up monopolies and stopping voter suppression.

This agenda is neither “right” nor “left.” It is the bedrock for everything else America must do.

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About the Author

Robert Reich

Robert Reich is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best-sellers AftershockThe Work of NationsBeyond Outrage and, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, “Inequality For All.” Reich’s newest book is “The Common Good.” He’s co-creator of the Netflix original documentary “Saving Capitalism,” which is streaming now.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.

Walk & Talk Q&A With Marianne Williamson [Awesome 5-Min Video!]

Video Source: The Young Turks

In this 5-minute video, Marianne Williamson answers rapid-fire questions about her political beliefs and aspirations. When asked what name she would like for Donald Trump to call her, Marianne quickly responded: “Madame President.”

For Immigrants at the Border, It’s About the Children

The very values that America upholds are the ones that they use to break up immigrant families and asylum seekers, both physically and emotionally. (Photo: @ajplus/Twitter)

By Gabrielle Oliveira | Common Dreams

A contradiction is the name of the game in current U.S. immigration policy. As states pass increasingly restrictive abortion laws, ostensibly to protect children, the fifth migrant child — and the sixth overall — has died in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol since December. The irony is not lost on any of us. How can the U.S. argue that its policies are meant to protect children? These actions are not about young people and they are not about families. But for immigrant parents and families, their sacrifice to leave children behind and migrate, or bring children with them to the border to request asylum is precisely all about children and trying to keep their families together.

Dismantling the other’s family is a war strategy meant to deter migration, however, what they fail to comprehend is that people will always strive to take care of their families.

The U.S. government has chosen to fracture and separate the very unit that it argues it cares about most. When politicians and pundits claim that they need to protect “American values” built on family and church, they attack and dismantle families, the most sacred element for many immigrants. Dismantling the other’s family is a war strategy meant to deter migration, however, what they fail to comprehend is that people will always strive to take care of their families. And families ultimately want to stay together; no mother wants to leave her babies behind, and no father wants to watch his three-year-old son ripped from his arms as the boys scream “Papa!”  Again, American policies, whether about immigration or a woman’s right to safe abortion, are really not about the children.

During the last 10 years, I have conducted ethnographic research with immigrant populations from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil. I focused on immigrant mothers who had left children behind to come to the United States. Many others have acknowledged and gone to great lengths to explain the ultimate sacrifice performed by these women. In more than 100 interviews with mothers, I learned that their first response as to why they migrate was always to benefit their children. Doubtlessly, the realities are more complex than the simple answer “for my children.” However, what these women taught me was to what extraordinary lengths they would they go to provide for their offspring.

After a decade of researching and writing about transnational families – families divided by borders who continue to remain in close communication – I have learned that governments know nothing about the extent that parents will go to keep their families together. April 2018 changed everything. It’s true that family detentions already existed, and deportations were on the rise well before President Trump was elected. But when the zero-tolerance policy and family separation began, it revealed to me is that this administration does not understand what matters for immigrants coming to the border. They do know that for immigrants, it is about the children. Thus, the very values that America upholds are the ones that they use to break up immigrant families and asylum seekers, both physically and emotionally.

Families separated across borders, and especially mothers who are away from their children, explain that their biggest fear is that their children will think they have abandoned them. The thought that their own children would understand separation as abandonment is painfully heart wrenching. When families are forcibly separated at the border and children don’t know where the parents went, the panic of abandonment is too overwhelming. One mother shared that when she saw her seven-year-old boy taken from her, she fainted. Now, reunited, the mother explained that the mere thought that her son would think she did not care about him or their family, was overwhelmingly devastating. It’s all about the children.

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About the Author

Gabrielle Oliveira is an assistant professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development, and author of “Motherhood Across Borders: Immigrants and Their Children in Mexico and New York” (NYU Press, 2018)

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.

The US Senate Passes Legislation to Legalize Hemp

By Jordain Carney | The Hill

The Senate passed legislation on Thursday [June 28th] that would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity.

The bill, a key priority of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was included in a mammoth farm bill that cleared the Senate 86-11.

“I have heard from many Kentucky farmers who agree it’s time to remove the federal hurdles and give our state the opportunity to seize its full potential and once again become the national leader for hemp production. That is why I strongly advocated for this measure to be included in the Farm Bill,” McConnell said in a statement after the farm bill passed the Senate.

McConnell, as well as Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), introduced their hemp legislation as a stand-alone bill in April, before getting it included in the Senate’s farm bill.

The bill would legalize hemp, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances and allowing it to be sold as an agricultural commodity.

It would also allow states to regulate hemp, as well as allow hemp researchers to apply for grants from the Agriculture Department and make hemp farmers eligible for crop insurance, according to McConnell’s office.

[Read more here]

Originally entitled: “Senate passes legislation to legalize hemp as agricultural commodity”

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts and New England (USA) & “virtually” the world. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.

UN Report Condemns US for ‘Deliberately’ Creating Devastating Wealth Inequality

Rev. William Barber unveils Poor People’s Campaign’s list of demands at a rally in April. (Photo: Poor People’s Campaign/Twitter)

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

It is no secret that the United States has among the worst levels of inequality, poverty, and infant mortality of all wealthy nations, but a scathing new United Nations report (pdf) concludes that President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress are “deliberately” working to make these already devastating crises worse by waging war on the poor while lavishing the rich with massive tax cuts.

“About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in  extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty.”
—Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

Highlighting the Trump administration’s push to dismantle the last vestiges of the American social safety net, Philip Alston—U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and author of the new report—told the Guardian on Friday: “This is a systematic attack on America’s welfare program that is undermining the social safety net for those who can’t cope on their own. Once you start removing any sense of government commitment, you quickly move into cruelty.”

“If food stamps and access to Medicaid are removed, and housing subsidies cut, then the effect on people living on the margins will be drastic,” Alston added, pointing to just three of the many programs Trump is aiming to slash or restrict with cruel work requirements.

With millions of Americans already on the brink of deep poverty, Alston warned that Trump’s tax law, deregulatory agenda, and welfare cuts are driving the poor closer to complete “ruination,” which the U.N. official defines as “severe deprivation of food and almost no access to healthcare.”

Alston’s report is the end product of a two-week visit to some of the most poverty-stricken parts of the U.S. late last year, and it thoroughly documents both the longstanding inequities that have dominated American society for decades and the uniquely brutal policies Trump and the Republican Party are pursuing in an effort to reward corporate America.

While the U.S. is home to “over 25 percent of the world’s 2,208 billionaires,” such wealth stands in “shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live,” the report observes. “About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in  extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world’s highest incarceration rate.”

Acknowledging that inequality in the U.S. has been rising rapidly for around five decades, the report argues that the Trump administration’s policies—particularly its $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the rich and large corporations—”seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment, and make even basic healthcare into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.”

As for solutions to the soaring income and wealth inequality in the U.S. that have produced what Alston calls a “land of stark contrasts,” the U.N. report spotlights several broad suggestions—from a job guarantee to criminal justice reform to universal healthcare—but concludes that inequality will continue to soar without sufficient “political will” to reverse it.

“At the end of the day… particularly in a rich country like the United States, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power,” the report observes. “With political will, it could readily be eliminated.”

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.

Iraq 2.0: New US Secretary of State Setting the Stage for Regime Change in Iran – Threatens to ‘Crush’ Iran

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

In a speech at the right-wing Heritage Foundation on Monday that critics said should put to rest all lingering illusions that the Trump White House wants anything other than regime change in Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined a “wildly unrealistic” list of demands that Iran must meet if it wants nuclear talks with America and warned that the U.S. will “crush” Tehran with sanctions if it doesn’t comply.

“If you maximize pressure and set unachievable demands, you solely pave the way for war.”
—Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council

“Pompeo has not outlined a strategy, but rather a grab bag of wishful thinking that can only be interpreted as a call for regime change in Iran,” Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, wrote on Twitter in response to the secretary of state’s remarks. “This speech could have been given word-for-word by [national security adviser John] Bolton.”

Echoing Maloney’s assessment of Pompeo’s newly unveiled “Plan B” for nuclear negotiations—which comes around two weeks after President Donald Trump violated the Iran nuclear accord and placed the U.S. on the path to yet another war in the Middle East—National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Trita Parsi arguedthat the Trump administration’s demands are intentionally unrealistic and “clearly designed to ensure there cannot be any new negotiation.”

“If you maximize pressure and set unachievable demands, you solely pave the way for war,” Parsi wrote. “That is the objective of Trump, and that’s been the objective of his cheerleaders in Saudi and Israel.”


If Iran refuses to comply with this laundry list of demands—which includes a complete halt to uranium enrichment—Pompeo threatened that the U.S. will quickly move to impose “the strongest sanctions in history.” Iran has said repeatedly that its enrichment of uranium is solely for domestic energy purposes and that it has no interest in pursuing nukes, whether or not the international nuclear accord remains in place.

“Taking a page straight from the Iraq war playbook,” as NIAC’s Ryan Costello put it, Pompeo also asserted without evidence that Iran is serving as a “sanctuary for al-Qaeda” and other terrorist organizations, further bolstering criticism of his speech as “more tantrum than policy.”

In light of the speech’s factual inaccuracies and outlandish demands, foreign policy analyst David Rothkopf characterized Pompeo’s remarks as “more tantrum than policy.”

Reacting to Pompeo’s remarks on Monday, Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at New America, argued that in addition to dramatically increasing the possibility of military conflict with Iran, the speech “will not be well-received by the North Koreans.”

“Reneging on a deal that Iran is complying with is bad enough,” DiMaggio noted. “Coupling this with what comes across as an insistence on Iran’s full capitulation will set off ‘regime change’ alarm bells in Pyongyang.”

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.

7 Questions About the Syria Airstrikes That Aren’t Being Asked by Corporate Media

By Richard Escow | Common Dreams

Mission accomplished,” says the President. What, exactly, was the mission? And what exactly was accomplished?

Donald Trump is being mocked for using this phrase in a tweet to praise what he claims was a “perfectly executed” airstrike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria. This recalls George W. Bush’s egregious evocation of the phrase in 2003 to claim an early end to the U.S. entanglement in Iraq, which is still ongoing fifteen years later.

History made a fool of Bush for that proclamation, which was printed on a banner behind the President as he delivered his speech proclaiming an end to the Iraqi conflict on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

But Bush’s foolish and lethal incursion to Iraq had the backing of virtually the entire national-security establishment. So did Donald Trump’s bombing attack on Syria, as did the bombing attack he ordered last year.

The Costs of Intervention

U.S. media, for the most part, reinforce the idea that intervention by our military is the preferred solution to global conflicts. Some of the same reporters who now mock Trump for saying “Mission Accomplished” cheered on Bush’s invasion of Iraq. They remember Bush’s errors, but not their own.

The media’s job, we are told, is to ask skeptical questions about the people in power. That didn’t happen much in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, and it’s not happening now. Here are the questions that should be asked – not just on the eve of a bombing attack, but every day we continue our disastrous and drifting military intervention in the Middle East.

1. Why couldn’t the military wait for inspectors to do their jobs?

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international non-proliferation organization, were scheduled to arrive in Douma, Syria on Saturday, April 15 to begin investigating the reported chemical attack on civilians there. The airstrikes took place on Friday, April 14.

This is a disturbing echo of the 2003 Iraq invasion. There, too, the United States was unwilling to wait for international inspectors to discover the facts before beginning the attack. Fifteen years on, we know that didn’t work out very well. Why couldn’t the bombing of Syria wait for inspectors to do their work?

2. How do we know we’re being told the truth?

“We are confident that we have crippled Syria’s chemical weapons program,” said U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. That statement was echoed by military leaders. But a report from Agence France Presse suggests that one destroyed building, described by attacking forces as a chemical-weapons facility, was actually a pharmaceutical and research facility specializing in food testing and antivenoms for scorpion and snake bites.

“If there were chemical weapons, we would not be able to stand here,” said someone who identified himself as an engineer who worked at the facility.

Given our country’s long history of public deception from military and civilian officials, why aren’t we demanding independent confirmation of the airstrikes’ effectiveness?

3.Have strikes like these ever really “punished” a country’s leader – or “sent them a message,” for that matter?

We keep hearing the cliché that airstrikes like these are meant to “punish” leaders like Assad. This time was no different. And yet, it’s unlikely that Assad personally suffered as a result of this attack.

So who, really, are we punishing?

Then there’s this comment, from Defense Secretary James Mattis: “Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack.”

That was also the presumed purpose of Trump’s last missile attack on Syria, less than a year ago. Trump supporters claimed that attack sent a forceful “message,” too – to Assad, to Putin, the Chinese, and others. “With just one strike that message was sent to all these people,” claimed former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka.

The situation in Syria did not perceptibly change after that attack. And the day after this latest airstrike, Assad launched a new round of airstrikes of his own.

These airstrikes seem more performative than tactical – warfare as theater, but with real lives at stake. There must be better ways to send a message.

4. Why isn’t the full range of U.S. activity in Syria getting more coverage?

Thanks to widespread under-reporting of U.S. involvement in Syria, commentators can complain about “years of unmasterly inactivity by the democracies” with a straight face, wrongly blaming that nation’s disasters on a failure to intervene.

In a paragraph that was subsequently deleted from its website, the Washington Postwrote that the latest airstrikes “capped nearly a week of debate in which Pentagon leaders voiced concerns that an attack could pull the United States into Syria’s civil war.” As of this writing, that language can still be found in syndicated versions of the article.

We were pulled into that civil war a long time ago.  The United States has more than 2,000 troops in Syria, a fact that was not immediately revealed to the American people. That figure is understated, although the Pentagon will not say by how much, since it excludes troops on classified missions and some Special Forces personnel.

Before Trump raised the troop count, the CIA was spending $1 billion per yearsupporting anti-government militias under President Obama.  That hasn’t prevented a rash of commentary complaining about U.S. “inaction” in Syria before Trump took office. It didn’t prevent additional chaos and death, either – and probably made the situation worse.

5. Where are the advocates for a smarter national security policy?

There’s been very little real debate inside the national security establishment about the wisdom of these strikes, and what debate there has been has focused on the margins. Anne-Marie Slaughter, a senior State Department official under Secretary Hillary Clinton in the Obama administration, tweeted:

I believe that the U.S., U.K, & France did the right thing by striking Syria over chemical weapons. It will not stop the war nor save the Syrian people from many other horrors. It is illegal under international law. But it at least draws a line somewhere & says enough.

In other words: This attack will not achieve any tactical goals or save any lives. And it is illegal – just as chemical weapons attacks are illegal – under international law. It’s illegal under U.S. law, too, which is the primary focus of Democratic criticism.

But, says Slaughter, the amorphous goals of “drawing a line” and “saying enough” make it worthwhile, for reasons that are never articulated.

Michèle Flournoy, who served as Under Secretary of Defense under President Obama and was considered a leading Defense Secretary prospect in a Hillary Clinton Administration, said:

  • What Trump got right: upheld the international norm against [chemical weapon] use, built international support for and participation in the strikes, sought to minimize collateral damage — Syrian, Russian, Iranian.
  • What Trump got wrong: continuing to use taunting, name-calling tweets as his primary form of (un)presidential communication; failing to seriously consult Congress before deciding to launch the strikes; after more than a year in office, still no coherent Syria strategy.

6. How can a country uphold international norms by violating international law?

If Trump lacks a coherent Syria policy, he has company. Obama’s policy toward Syria shifted and drifted. Hillary Clinton backed Trump’s last round of airstrikes and proposed a “no-fly” policy for Syria that could have quickly escalated into open confrontation with Russia.

The country deserves a rational alternative to Trump’s impulsivity and John Bolton’s extreme bellicosity and bigotry. When it comes to foreign policy, we need a real opposition party. What will it take to develop one?

Commentators have been pushing Trump to take aggressive military action in Syria, despite the potential for military conflict with nuclear-armed Russia. MSNBC’s Dana Bash accused Trump of “an inexplicable lack of resolve regarding Russia” – leaving the audience to make its own inferences – adding, “We have not been willing to take them on.”

In the same segment, reported by FAIR’s Adam Johnson, Bash complained that “the U.S. hasn’t done “a very good job pushing Russia out of the way,” adding that “we’ve let Russia have too free a hand, in my view, in the skies over Syria.”  Her colleague Andrea Mitchell responded that “the criticism is that the president is reluctant to go after Russia.”

The Drum Beats On

“Mission accomplished.”

This drumbeat of political pressure has forced Trump’s hand. He has now directed missiles against Syria, twice. Both attacks carried the risk of military confrontation with the world’s other nuclear superpower.

That risk is greater than most people realize, as historian and military strategist Maj. Danny Sjursen explained in our recent conversation.

Trump has now adopted a more aggressive military posture against Russia than Barack Obama. Whatever his personal involvement with the Russian government turns out to have been, it is in nobody’s best interests to heighten tensions between two nuclear superpowers.

The national security establishment has been promoting a confrontational approach, but they’ve been unable to explain how that would lead to a better outcome for the US or the world – just as they’ve been unable to explain how unilateral military intervention can lead to a good outcome in Syria.

7. Did the airstrikes make Trump “presidential”?

“Amid distraction and dysfunction,” wrote Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan for Axios, “Trump looked and acted like a traditional commander-in-chief last night.”

The constitutional phrase, “Commander in Chief,” was originally understood to underscore the fact that the military is under civilian control. It has devolved into a title that confers a quasi-military rank on the president.  That’s getting it backwards. The fetishization of all things military is one of the reasons we can’t have a balanced debate about military intervention.

Besides, saying that an act of war makes Trump “presidential” – that’s so 2017!

Here’s a suggestion: In 1963, John F. Kennedy rejected his generals’ advice to strike Soviet installations during the Cuban missile crisis.

Rejecting reckless calls to military action: Now that’s a “presidential” act worth bringing back.

Richard Eskow

Richard (RJ) Eskow is Senior Advisor for Health and Economic Justice at Social Security Works and the host of The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow on Free Speech TV.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.