America Faces a Crisis of Democracy

he 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. Continue reading

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met Greta Thunberg: ‘Hope is contagious’

One is America’s youngest-ever congresswoman, the other a Swedish schoolgirl. Two of the most powerful voices on the climate speak for the first time. In the course of their conversation, Ocasio-Cortez and Thunberg discuss what it is like to be dismissed for their age, how depressed we should be about the future, and what tactics, as an activist, really work. Ocasio-Cortez speaks with her customary snap and brilliance that, held up against the general waffle of political discourse, seems startlingly direct. Thunberg, meanwhile, is phenomenally articulate, well-informed and self-assured, holding her own in conversation with an elected official nearly twice her age and speaking in deliberate, thoughtful English. Continue reading

A Brief History of US Concentration Camps

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has ignited a firestorm of criticism for calling US immigrant detention centers “concentration camps.” To her credit, Ocasio-Cortez has refused to back down, citing academic experts and blasting the Trump administration for forcibly holding undocumented migrants “where they are brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.”

What follows is an overview of US civilian concentration camps through the centuries. Prisoner-of-war camps, as horrific as they have been, have been excluded due to their legal status under the Geneva Conventions, and for brevity’s sake. Continue reading

Trump Is Misleading America Into a New War

Trump’s closest allies (and business partners) in the region—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel—urge military attacks. His closest Washington advisors in the White House, the State Department, and Fox News also want war and have said so repeatedly. They skillfully feed reporters sound bites and cherry-picked intelligence to convince them to report Iran’s “malign activities” in the region. With Trump’s approval or ignorance, they have taken a series of steps, beginning with the ill-advised and unnecessary abrogation of the Iran anti-nuclear accord, to provoke a conflict. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, is working full-time to lay the groundwork for military strikes. Continue reading

The Remorseless Working of Things: A Political Tragedy in Three Parts

We have climate change deniers in the face of a changing climate. We have people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel who create massive deficits from tax cuts for the rich, even though we’ve tried trickle down and supply side at least three times now, and it has failed every time. Facts don’t matter. Belief in astrology is on the rise. And more than forty percent of Americans believe Jesus will return to Earth before 2050, presumably ushering in the “end times.” And we have a press that thinks a “balance” between the forces of darkness and reason is reasonable. Meanwhile, trust in scientists is eroding. Continue reading

If Trump’s the Symptom, What’s the Disease?

Never before in history has the rise and decline of imperial powers taken place in the context of the decline of the planet itself. The rising political temperature stirred by the growing populist right is taking place in the context of (and, worse yet, aiding and abetting) record global temperatures, the melting of ice across the planet, the rise of sea levels and the future drowning of coastlines (and cities), the creation of yet more refugees, the increasing fierceness of fires and droughts, and the intensification of storms. In the midst of it all, an almost unimaginable wave of extinctions is occurring, with a possible million plant and animal species, some crucial to human existence, already on the verge of departure. Continue reading

The Thought Police Are Coming

We have watched over the last decade as freedom of the press and legal protection for those who expose government abuses and lies have been obliterated by wholesale government surveillance and the criminalizing of the leaking and, with Julian’s persecution, publication of these secrets. The press has been largely emasculated in the United States. The repeated use of the Espionage Act, especially under the Obama administration, to charge and sentence whistleblowers has shut down our ability to shine a light into the inner workings of power and empire. Governmental officials with a conscience, knowing all of their communications are monitored, captured and stored by intelligence agencies, are too frightened to reach out to reporters. Continue reading

U.S. Ambassador Says Israel Is ‘on the Side of God’

David M. Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel and a driving force in crafting the Trump administration’s long-awaited proposal to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, declared Tuesday that Israel was “on the side of God.” The remark was the latest sign of an anything but evenhanded approach to the conflict by the Trump administration. In addition to moving the embassy to Jerusalem the administration has made deep cuts in aid to the Palestinians and stopped referring to the West Bank as “occupied.” Friedman also said that if he had his way, the United States would continue to push the envelope in its support for Israel. Continue reading