pesticide_cautionDow’s toxic Enlist Duo pesticide just got the green light in 34 states.


Scott Pruitt and the Environmental Protection Agency are putting corporate interests ahead of people’s health and the health of our planet. Now, we’re taking them to court.

Dow AgroScience’s Enlist Duo is a highly toxic pesticide with extremely adverse effects on human health and wildlife. It is a mixture of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, and 2,4-D, a known carcinogen and a component of Agent Orange. Knowing this, the Environmental Protection Agency still approved the agricultural use of this pesticide in 34 states.

Last week we filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA and the Trump administration challenging the agency’s decision. This is an uphill battle and we need your continued support. Become a monthly donor today and your first 12 monthly gifts will be matched $1-for-$1 by a generous donor.

Using this toxic duo on corn, soybean and cotton plants will have grave effects on farmworkers and the surrounding communities. Enlist Duo not only damages neighboring crops and threatens endangered species such as the whooping crane, but has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and reproductive problems. Simply put, the EPA’s decision could have a lasting impact and devastating consequences.

Moreover, the decision reinforces a disturbing trend in which crops are being genetically engineered to withstand these toxic pesticides. Companies like Dow and Monsanto not only sell the expensive GE seeds but also the pesticide cocktails that are sprayed on them—all for a substantial profit. This toxic cycle benefits the company’s bottom line at the expense of the public’s health.

Using this toxic duo on corn, soybean and cotton plants will have grave effects on farmworkers and the surrounding communities. Enlist Duo not only damages neighboring crops and threatens endangered species such as the whooping crane, but has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and reproductive problems. Simply put, the EPA’s decision could have a lasting impact and devastating consequences.

Moreover, the decision reinforces a disturbing trend in which crops are being genetically engineered to withstand these toxic pesticides. Companies like Dow and Monsanto not only sell the expensive GE seeds but also the pesticide cocktails that are sprayed on them—all for a substantial profit. This toxic cycle benefits the company’s bottom line at the expense of the public’s health.

Last week we filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA and the Trump administration challenging the agency’s decision. This is an uphill battle and we need your continued support. Become a monthly donor today and your first 12 monthly gifts will be matched $1-for-$1 by a generous donor.



Not so long ago, environmental destruction nearly drove America’s bald eagles to extinction in the wild. DDT, then a popular chemical for mosquito management, poisoned the fish eaten by these iconic birds, thinning the shells of their eggs to the point that many eaglets were crushed in the nest before they could ever hatch.

But that was before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established.

Since then, the EPA has helped clear choking smog from the skies of major cities, kept dangerous pesticides from poisoning rare wildlife and pets, and largely eliminated the threat of acid rains to North American forests.

Now the EPA — and its vital, nature-protecting work — is under assault.

Environmental Action has launched an all-out campaign to protect this, our nation’s most important guardian of the environment, and we need your support to fund these urgent efforts.

The Trump administration’s recently released budget proposal calls for:

    • Slashing the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by nearly a third;
    • Reducing the agency’s staff by more than one-fifth; and
    • Eliminating at least 50 programs that protect our air, water, wildlife and wild places.

These cuts would have real — and devastating — consequences in CO, across the country, and around the world.

That’s why Environmental Action has launched an all-out campaign to save the EPA. With your support, we can mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, educate the media and lawmakers, and — ultimately — Save the EPA!


Health in the 18th century

Eighteenth-century recipes

This is the first half of a paper given at the Roehampton Postgraduate Conference, 17 June 2010.

What were the main health problems in the 18th century? The plague was no longer an issue (although there were occasional outbreaks even as late as the 20th century in the tenements of Glasgow). Smallpox and typhus were almost as bad, though, and there were also high death tolls from measles, scarlatina, diphtheria and tuberculosis, then called consumption. Particularly among the poor rickets and whooping cough were both dangerous, as was diarrhoea in infants. Skin and eye diseases and parasitic infections were common, as were rheumatism, ulcers, kidney and bladder stones, and bad teeth, which led to internal infections. Recipe books include remedies for everyday complaints such as coughs and colds, stomach upsets and headaches, as well as spots, warts and dandruff, cuts, bruises and burns.

When we’re ill in the 21st century…

View original post 1,642 more words




Donald Trump has deep roots in Germany.  His grandfather, Friedrich Trump was born in the small southwest German town of Kallstadt in 1869. Even today, the town has just over 1,000 inhabitants.

At the age of 16, he emigrated to the United States to join his sister in New York. He immediately found work with a German barber, who hired him to help with his barbershop.

Trump stayed at the barbershop for six years, living in a tiny apartment and barely making a living.

When Trump heard of the gold rush frenzy in the upper Northwest, he decided to go and seek his fortune. He Americanized his first name to Fred and headed to Washington state.

At the age of 22, he became the owner of a restaurant in the red light district of Seattle, but before long found himself growing restless and sold out.

With hundreds of gold prospectors passing through Seattle on the way to Alaska, Trump decided that building hotels and opening restaurants was the key to success.He and his friend, Ernest Levin started a business from a tent on Dead Horse Trail. The Trail, also known as White Pass, was a well-traveled dirt trail that was so narrow and steep that many horses were unable to navigate it, causing over 3,000 to die by getting stuck in the mud, falling off cliffs or simply from exhaustion on the trail.

Trump and Levin took advantage of this opportunity to acquire free meat for their restaurant.  Their success allowed them to move to a two-story building in Bennett Town in Canada. They christened their new hotel and eatery “The Arctic” and advertised themselves as the “Newest, Neatest, and Best Equipped” establishment north of Vancouver.

According to Gwenda Blair, author of a revealing book delving into the “narcissistic personality disorder of Donald”, The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a Presidential Candidate, Fred Trump was a hard living and hard drinking man and catered to men of the same caliber.

The restaurant, which operated twenty-four hours a day, offered such delicacies as caribou, goat, rabbit, squirrel, and moose meat. Fresh fruit was also on the menu. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and cranberries were popular with the patrons after spending so much time riding the rugged trail.

“Customers depended on him for food, liquor, and women.” wrote Blair.  Of course, the modern Trump family vehemently denies the claim that prostitutes were “on the menu”, but history suggests otherwise.

In 1898, grandfather Trump and 30 other prospectors invested in a schooner that was described by a newspaper in North Dakota as “one of the most complete outfits ever taken out of Seattle.”

The schooner, named Elsie, was a fifty-six-ton sailing vessel costing $3,500. The men also invested about $15,000 in supplies to outfit the ship for three years.

Frederick (Friedrich) Trump
Frederick (Friedrich) Trump

Elsie and the men left Seattle in 1898 looking for gold in Kotzebue, a town in northwest Alaska.  Unfortunately, the schooner ran aground on Chirikof Island in the Gulf of Alaska due to an inexperienced captain. Elsie was stuck about three hundred yards from shore in three feet of water among the island rocks. The crew set up tents and were able to live off the ship’s provisions for about a month.

At this point, Trump feared the group would not survive much longer and began to pen a goodbye letter to the family in Germany. Before Trump completed his written farewells, the group was found by a passing Barkentine, a schooner with three masts.

The Elsie, as reported by the Alaska Dispatch News, was the only schooner to have ever run aground at the time.

Four years after the Elsie was abandoned, Trump sold his interest in the Artic to his partner and returned to Germany with his fortune to marry his childhood neighbor, Elizabeth Christ, and raise a family.

Trump’s mother did not approve of the match, deeming Elizabeth a lower class citizen.

The couple married nonetheless. German authorities, however, refused to allow Trump and his new bride to remain in Germany because of his draft dodging and refusal to pay taxes.

They also informed Trump that his German citizenship was no longer valid because he had left Germany for the United States to avoid military service.

Elizabeth Christ Trump
Elizabeth Christ Trump

Fred and Elizabeth moved to New York, and by 1904 Elizabeth had given birth to their first child, Elizabeth, followed by the son, Fred Jr. in 1905 – the future father of Donald. Another so,  John, was born in 1907.

Grandfather Trump died in Queens, New York, during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic at the age of 49, and is buried in Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery in Queens County.

At that time, his net worth was about $32,000, which translates into over $500,000 in modern currency.

Grandmother Trump and her fifteen-year-old son, Fred Jr. went into the real estate and building business, laying the foundation for the Empire now controlled by her grandson, Donald Trump.



This bill will effectively start the school voucher system to be used by children ages 5 to 17, and starts the de-funding process of public schools.

The bill will eliminate the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) of 1965 which is the nation’s educational law and provides equal opportunity in education. It is a comprehensive program that covers programs for struggling learners, AP classes, ESL classes, classes for minorities such as Native Americans, Rural Education, Education for the Homeless, School Safety (Gun-Free schools), Monitoring and Compliance and Federal Accountability Programs.

The bill also abolishes the Nutritional Act of 2012 (No Hungry Kids Act) which provides nutritional standards in school breakfast and lunch. For our most vulnerable, this may be the ONLY nutritious food they have in a day.

The bill has no wording whatsoever protecting special needs kids, no mention of IDEA and FAPE.

Some things the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) of 1965 does for Children with Disabilities:

-ensures access to the general education curriculum
-ensures access to accommodations on assessments
-ensures concepts of Universal Design for Learning
-includes provisions that require local education agencies to provide evidence-based interventions in schools with consistently underperforming subgroups
-requires states in Title I plans to address how they will improve conditions for learning including reducing incidents of bullying and harassment in schools, overuse of discipline practices and reduce the use of aversive behavioral interventions (such as restraints and seclusion).



Spinach jumped up four spots on this year’s Dirty Dozen™ list putting it in second place for produce with the highest levels of pesticide residue, just behind strawberries. Spinach contained the most pesticides by weight, including a neurotoxic bug killer called permethrin, which has been banned on food in Europe and is linked to ADHD in kids.











Trump’s Extreme Oligarchy


  by Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson, a former chief economist of the IMF, is a professor at MIT Sloan, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of a leading economics blog, The Baseline Scenario. He is the co-author, with James Kwak, of White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You.


WASHINGTON, DC – US President-elect Donald Trump is filling his cabinet with rich people. According to the latest count, his nominees include five billionaires and six multimillionaires. This is what is known as oligarchy: direct control of the state by people with substantial private economic power. Given that the Republicans also control both houses of Congress – and will soon make many judicial appointments – there is virtually no effective constraint on the executive branch.
In many instances – including the United States today – the initial reaction to such a government includes the hope that perhaps rich people will be good at creating jobs. They made themselves rich, goes the logic, so maybe they can do the same for the rest of us.

Hope usually dies last, but the incoming administration’s proposed economic policies are not encouraging. The organizing principle seems to be to discard pragmatism entirely and advance an extreme and discredited ideology.
The central theme of Trumponomics so far has been swift and sharp tax cuts. But Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a prominent and articulate deficit hawk; he will have a hard time supporting measures that increase the national debt.
To some extent, tax cuts will be justified with overly optimistic projections regarding their impact on economic growth, as was done under President George W. Bush, with generally disastrous effects. But there is a limit to how much pressure can be put on the Congressional Budget Office, which is responsible for providing credible assessments of the fiscal impact of new policies.
Trump seems determined to lower income taxes for high-income Americans, as well as to reduce capital-gains tax (mostly paid by the well-off) and nearly eliminate corporate taxes (again, disproportionately benefiting the richest). To do this, his administration will seek to increase taxes on others, and now we are beginning to see what this will look like. People close to the president-elect are considering an import tariff, set at around 10%.
This tariff will undoubtedly be presented to the public as a move to make American manufacturing great again. But a tariff is just another name for a tax that increases the costs of all imported goods. This could help a few firms at the margin – and presumably Trump’s team will highlight news stories (real or fake) about a few hundred or even a few thousand jobs being “saved.”
But the cost per job will be high: all imports will become more expensive, and this increase in the price level will filter through to the cost of everything Americans buy. In effect, the oligarchs will reduce direct taxation on themselves and increase indirect taxation on everyone – much like increasing the sales tax on all goods. Under any such proposal, the burden of taxation would be shifted from the better off to those with less income and little or no wealth.
And that may be just the start of the negative impact on most Americans’ wellbeing. If Trump increases tariffs on imported goods, some or all of America’s trading partners will most likely retaliate, by imposing tariffs on US exports. As US export-oriented firms – many of which pay high wages – reduce output, relative to what they would have produced otherwise, the effect will presumably be to reduce the number of good jobs.
Some countries – such as China – may deploy other punitive measures against US firms operating on their territory. The net effect will again be to reduce employment, both worldwide and in the US. The world has had much experience with “trade wars,” and it has never been positive.
Why would a group of American oligarchs pursue such a disastrous policy? The Trump administration is taking shape as a coalition of businesspeople who wrongly believe that protectionism is a good way to help the economy and market fundamentalists who now dominate the Republican caucus in the US House of Representatives.
Before Trump’s rise to prominence, the House Republicans were developing a set of policies structured around deep tax cuts, sweeping deregulation (including for finance and the environment), and repeal of President Barack Obama’s signature health-care reform, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). They were, however, resolutely in favor of freer trade – and the Obama administration’s plan was to enact the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free-trade agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim countries, with substantial Republican support in Congress.
Trump’s election has not changed the core House Republican agenda – in fact, it has brought that agenda’s architects into government, at OMB, at the Department of Health and Human Services, the CIA, and other prominent positions, with more likely to follow. As my colleague James Kwak explains in his new book Economism, their pro-market thinking has gone too far and is unlikely to lead to good outcomes.
Selling Trump’s signature issue – protectionism – to the House Republicans was not easy. But now that they have started to think about an import tariff as part of their tax “reform” package, they will all start to get on board. And they will offer various strange justifications that deflect attention from the essentials of their policy: lower taxes for the oligarchs and people like them, and higher taxes – not to mention significant losses of high-paying jobs – for almost everyone else.



DOSSIER PROVING TO BE RIGHT: Rachel Maddow takes the lead in the investigation of the Russian Connections as Congress defaults.


By Steve Benen
The first real sign of trouble came last summer, when Republican officials were putting together the party platform at their national convention in Cleveland. As regular readers know, when Republican officials were putting together the party platform, Donald Trump and his campaign team were completely indifferent towards the document and the process – with one notable exception.

The only thing Team Trump quietly pushed was a subtle change to make the Republican platform more in line with Russia’s foreign policy preferences. One GOP congressman was quoted saying soon after that the “most under-covered story” of the Republican convention” was Team Trump’s efforts to change the party platform to be more pro-Putin.

About a month later, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked the then-candidate about this. “I wasn’t involved in that,” Trump said. “Honestly, I was not involved.” Told that members of his team were responsible for pushing the platform in a direction Russia wanted, Trump added, “Yeah. I was not involved in that.

Left unresolved is why Team Trump found it necessary to change the platform, and who on the Republican’s team pushed for the change. As Rachel noted on last night’s show, this report from Politico brings the story into sharper focus.
U.S. and Ukrainian authorities have expressed interest in the activities of a Kiev-based operative with suspected ties to Russian intelligence who consulted regularly with Paul Manafort last year while Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The operative, Konstantin Kilimnik, came under scrutiny from officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department partly because of at least two trips he took to the U.S. during the presidential campaign, according to three international political operatives familiar with the agencies’ interest in Kilimnik.

Kilimnik, a joint Russian-Ukrainian citizen who trained in the Russian army as a linguist, told operatives in Kiev and Washington that he met with Manafort during an April trip to the United States. And, after a late summer trip to the U.S., Kilimnik suggested that he had played a role in gutting a proposed amendment to the Republican Party platform that would have staked out a more adversarial stance towards Russia, according to a Kiev operative.
I’m not in a position to say whether Kilimnik’s claims are true, but it would at least make sense of a story that, to date, has been very difficult to understand.

It also dovetails with a CNN report from last week in which J.D. Gordon, the Trump campaign’s national security policy representative at the Republican convention, said he helped push for the platform change that “Donald Trump himself wanted and advocated for.” Gordon later told TPM he spoke with RNC officials about the platform language, but denied having “pushed” for the change.

Shortly after learning about the platform change, practically everyone on Team Trump shrugged their shoulders and proceeded to spend months denying any involvement. Now, however, we’re learning that those denials, like so many claims about the Russia scandal, weren’t entirely true.

Complicating matters further, we also have this Politico report from Tuesday,
Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski approved foreign policy adviser Carter Page’s now-infamous trip to Moscow last summer on the condition that he would not be an official representative of the campaign, according to a former campaign adviser.

A few weeks before he traveled to Moscow to give a July 7 speech, Page asked J.D. Gordon, his supervisor on the campaign’s National Security Advisory Committee, for permission to make the trip, and Gordon strongly advised against it, Gordon, a retired Naval officer, told POLITICO.

Page then emailed Lewandowski and spokeswoman Hope Hicks asking for formal approval, and was told by Lewandowski that he could make the trip, but not as an official representative of the campaign, the former campaign adviser said.
Hmm. Donald Trump chose Carter Page, who has extensive Russian ties, as one of his top foreign policy advisors for reasons that are still unclear. Page sought and received permission from Team Trump to go to Russia in July, and a week later, Team Trump quietly pushed the Republican platform in a more Putin-friendly direction. (A week after that, Wikileaks started publishing stolen documents from the DNC, believed to have been taken by Russian officials to help the Trump campaign.)

What’s more, let’s also not forget that the now-infamous dossier about Trump and Russia, which remains unverified, specifically alleges not only that the Trump campaign was aware of the Russian hacks, but the change in the Republican platform was part of a quid-pro-quo between Team Trump and Moscow.

And while there are plenty of important questions about the validity of that dossier, key pieces of the document now appear to be accurate.

Health care and wiretap conspiracy theories have helped push the Russia scandal off front pages, but the controversy continues to move forward in a way the White House should find alarming.

The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America



In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king.


As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete BS. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to draw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural Christian white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area of the country with a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on on their rural farms. I dated their calico-skirted daughters. I camped, hunted and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure to a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes and a broken-down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.

In deep-red America, the white Christian god is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, or change. When you have a belief system built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t that coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans. The problem is that rural America doesn’t understand itself and will never listen to anyone outside its bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views will be automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they will not even entertain the possibility that it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact that I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.

At some point during the discussion, they will say, “That’s your education talking,” derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are against quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to a certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous. I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still filtered through their fundamentalist belief systems. If something they were taught didn’t support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.

Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside information that doesn’t support it, telling me that the problem is coastal elites not understanding them completely misses the point.

Another problem with rural Christian white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white god made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.

The religion in which I was raised taught this. Even though they’ve backtracked on some of their more racist declarations, many still believe the original claims. Non-whites are the color they are because of their sins, or at least the sins of their ancestors. Blacks don’t have dark skin because of where they lived and evolution; they have dark skin because they are cursed. God cursed them for a reason. If god cursed them, treating them as equals would be going against god’s will. It is really easy to justify treating people differently if they are cursed by god and will never be as good as you no matter what they do because of some predetermined status.

Once you have this view, it is easy to lower the outside group’s standing and acceptable level of treatment. Again, there are varying levels of racism at play in rural Christian white America. I know people who are ardent racists. I know a lot more whose racism is much more subtle but nonetheless racist. It wouldn’t take sodium pentothal to get most of these people to admit they believe they are fundamentally better and superior to minorities. They are white supremacists who dress up in white dress shirts, ties and gingham dresses. They carry a bible and tell you, “everyone’s a child of god” but forget to mention that some of god’s children are more favored than others and skin tone is the criterion by which we know who is and isn’t at the top of god’s list of most favored children.

For us “coastal elites” who understand evolution, genetics and science, nothing we say to those in flyover country is going to be listened to because not only are we fighting against an anti-education belief system, we are arguing against god. You aren’t winning a battle of beliefs with these people if you are on one side of the argument and god is on the other. No degree of understanding this is going to suddenly make them less racist, more open to reason and facts. Telling “urban elites” they need to understand rural Americans isn’t going to lead to a damn thing because it misses the causes of the problem.

Because rural Christian white Americans will not listen to educated arguments, supported by facts that go against their fundamentalist belief systems from “outsiders,” any change must come from within. Internal change in these systems does happen, but it happens infrequently and always lags far behind reality. This is why they fear change so much. They aren’t used to it. Of course, it really doesn’t matter whether they like it or not, it, like evolution and climate change even though they don’t believe it, it is going to happen whether they believe in it or not.

Another major problem with closed-off fundamentalist belief systems is they are very susceptible to propaganda. All belief systems are to some extent, but fundamentalist systems even more so because there are no checks and balances. If bad information gets in, it doesn’t get out and because there are no internal mechanisms to guard against it, it usually ends up very damaging to the whole. A closed-off belief system is like spinal fluid—it is great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells to fend off invaders and protect the system. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, infection spreads like wildfire and does significant damage in a short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.

The same is true with closed-off belief systems. Without built-in protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to counter-evidence, and willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, bad information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in a short period of time. What has happened to too many fundamentalist belief systems is damaging information has been allowed in from people who have been granted “expert status.” If someone is allowed into a closed-off system and their information is deemed acceptable, anything they say will be readily accepted and become gospel.

Rural Christian white Americans have let anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted racists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the Stepford wives of Fox, and every evangelical preacher on television into their systems because these people tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being like them. The truth is none of these people give a rat’s ass about rural Christian white Americans except how they can exploit them for attention and money. None of them have anything in common with the people who have let them into their belief systems with the exception that they are white and they speak the language of white superiority.
Gays being allowed to marry are a threat. Blacks protesting the killing of their unarmed friends and family are a threat. Hispanics doing the cheap labor on their farms are somehow viewed a threat. The black president is a threat. Two billion Muslims are a threat. The Chinese are a threat. Women wanting to be autonomous are a threat. The college educated are a threat. Godless scientists are a threat. Everyone who isn’t just like them has been sold to them as a threat and they’ve bought it hook, line and grifting sinker. Since there are no self-regulating mechanisms in their belief systems, these threats only grow over time. Since facts and reality don’t matter, nothing you say to them will alter their beliefs. “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.” I feel ridiculous even writing this, it is so absurd, but it is gospel across large swaths of rural America. Are rural Christian white Americans scared? Damn right they are. Are their fears rational and justified? Hell no. The problem isn’t understanding their fears. The problem is how to assuage fears based on lies in closed-off fundamentalist belief systems that don’t have the necessary tools for properly evaluating the fears.

I don’t have a good answer to this question. When a child has an irrational fear, you can deal with it because they trust you and are open to possibilities. When someone doesn’t trust you and isn’t open to anything not already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn’t much, if anything, you can do. This is why I think the idea that “Democrats have to understand and find common ground with rural America,” is misguided and a complete waste of time. When a 2,700-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, and edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, respect or evidence is going to change their minds and assuage their fears.

Do you know what does change the beliefs of fundamentalists, sometimes? When something becomes personal. Many a fundamentalist has changed his mind about the LGBT community once his loved ones started coming out of the closet. Many have not. But those who did, did so because their personal experience came into direct conflict with what they believe.

My father is a good example of this. For years I had long, heated discussions with him about gay rights. Being the good religious fundamentalist he is, he could not even entertain the possibility he was wrong. The church said it was wrong, so therefore it was wrong. No questions asked. No analysis needed. This changed when one of his adored stepchildren came out of the closet. He didn’t do a complete 180. He has a view that tries to accept gay rights while at the same time viewing being gay as a mortal sin because his need to have his belief system be right outweighs everything else.

This isn’t uncommon. Deeply held beliefs are usually only altered, replaced under catastrophic circumstances that are personal. This belief system alteration works both ways. I know diehard, open-minded progressives who became ardent fundamentalists due to a traumatic event in their lives. A good example of this is the comedian Dennis Miller. I’ve seen Miller in concert four different times during the 1990s. His humor was complex, riddled with references and leaned pretty left on almost all issues. Then 9/11 happened. For whatever reasons, the trauma of 9/11 caused a seismic shift in Miller’s belief system. Now he is a mainstay on conservative talk radio. His humor was replaced with anger and frustration. 9/11 changed his belief system because it was a catastrophic event that was personal to him.

The catastrophe of the Great Depression along with FDR’s progressive remedies helped create a generation of Democrats out of previously diehard Republicans. People who had up until that point believed only the free market could help the economy, not the government, changed their minds when the brutal reality of the Great Depression affected them directly and personally.

I thought the financial crisis in 2008 would have a similar, though lesser impact on many Republicans. It didn’t. The systems that were put in place after the Great Recession to deal with economic crises, the quick, smart response by Congress and the administration helped turn what could have been a catastrophic event into merely a really bad one. People suffered, but they didn’t suffer enough to become open to questioning their deeply held beliefs. Because this questioning didn’t take place, the Great Recession didn’t lead to any meaningful political shifts away from poorly regulated markets, supply side economics or how to respond to a financial crisis. This is why, even though rural Christian white Americans were hit hard by the Great Recession, they not only didn’t blame the political party they’ve aligned themselves with for years, they rewarded them two years later by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and taking over the U.S. House.

Of course, it didn’t help matters that there were scapegoats available toward whom they could direct their fears, anger and white supremacy. A significant number of rural Americans believe President Obama was in charge when the financial crisis started. An even higher number believe the mortgage crisis was the result of the government forcing banks to give loans to unqualified minorities. It doesn’t matter how untrue both of these things are, they are gospel in rural America. Why reevaluate your beliefs and voting patterns when scapegoats are available?

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only god can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by god’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening to people who don’t live around minorities and have never interacted with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for such policies for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic, yet a large swath of the South believed—and still believes—they were right and had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as too upsetting, too mean, too arrogant, too elite, too snobbish. Pointing out that Aunt Bea’s views of Mexicans, blacks and gays is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about Aunt Bea’s views. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy.
I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned, but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bea and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays, the blacks and the illegals,” and I’ll do so without calling her a bigot and a racist. But this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist, and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. Just because the media, pundits on all sides and some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural white Christian Americans racist and bigoted doesn’t make them not so.

Avoiding the obvious only prolongs getting the necessary treatment. America has always had a race problem. The country was built on racism and bigotry. This didn’t miraculously go away in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It didn’t go away with the election of Barack Obama. If anything, these events pulled back the curtain exposing the dark, racist underbelly of America that white America likes to pretend doesn’t exist because we are the reason it exists. From the white nationalists to the white suburban soccer moms who voted for Donald Trump, to the far-left progressives who didn’t vote at all, racism exists and has once again been legitimized and normalized by white America.

Here are the honest truths that rural Christian white Americans don’t want to accept; until they accept these truths, nothing is going to change:

Their economic situation is largely the result of voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S. history.
Immigrants haven’t taken their jobs. If all immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy would come to a screeching halt and food prices would soar.
Immigrants are not responsible for companies moving their plants overseas. The almost exclusively white business owners are responsible, because they care more about their shareholders (who are also mostly white) than about American workers.
No one is coming for their guns. All that has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better background checks.
Gay people getting married is not a threat to their freedom to believe in whatever white god they want to. No one is going to make their church marry gays, have a gay pastor or accept gays for membership.
Women having access to birth control doesn’t affect their lives either, especially women they complain about being teenage single mothers.
Blacks are not “lazy moochers living off their hard-earned tax dollars” any more than many of their fellow rural neighbors. People in need are people in need. People who can’t find jobs because of their circumstances, a changing economy or outsourcing overseas belong to all races.
They get a tremendous amount of help from the government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility grids they use to farm subsidies, crop insurance and commodities protections, they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.
They get the largest share of Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
They complain about globalization, yet line up like everyone else to get the latest Apple products. They have no problem buying foreign-made guns, scopes and hunting equipment. They don’t think twice about driving trucks whose engines were made in Canada, tires made in Japan, radios made in Korea, and computer parts made in Malaysia.
They use illicit drugs as much as any other group. But when other people do it is a “moral failing” and they should be severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a “health crisis” that needs sympathy and attention.
When jobs dry up for whatever reason, they refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in failing towns.
They are quick to judge minorities for being “welfare moochers,” but don’t think twice about cashing their welfare checks every month.
They complain about coastal liberals, but taxes from California and New York cover their farm subsidies, help maintain their highways and keep the hospitals in their sparsely populated rural areas open for business.
They complain about “the little man being run out of business,” and then turn around and shop at big-box stores.
They make sure outsiders are not welcome, deny businesses permits to build, then complain about businesses, plants opening up in less rural areas.
Government has not done enough to help them in many cases, but their local and state governments are almost completely Republican and so are their representatives and senators. Instead of holding them accountable, they vote them into office over and over and over again.
All the economic policies and ideas that could help rural America belong to the Democratic Party: raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, spending on infrastructure, renewable energy growth, slowing down the damage done by climate change, and healthcare reform. All of these and more would really help a lot of rural white Americans.
What I understand is that rural Christian white Americans are entrenched in fundamentalist belief systems; don’t trust people outside their tribe; have been force-fed a diet of misinformation and lies for decades; are unwilling to understand their own situations; and truly believe whites are superior to all races. No amount of understanding is going to change these things or what they believe. No amount of niceties will get them to be introspective. No economic policy put forth by someone outside their tribe is going to be listened to no matter how beneficial it would be for them. I understand rural Christian white America all too well. I understand their fears are based on myths and lies. I understand they feel left behind by a world they don’t understand and don’t really care to. They are willing to vote against their own interests if they can be convinced it will make sure minorities are harmed more. Their Christian beliefs and morals are only extended to fellow white Christians. They are the problem with progress and always will be, because their belief systems are constructed against it.

The problem isn’t a lack of understanding by coastal elites. The problem is a lack of understanding of why rural Christian white America believes, votes, behaves the ways it does by rural Christian white America.



Before the U.S. Presidential Election of 2017, five or six (perhaps more) members of the Trump election team talked with the Russians, one of whom was the Russian Ambassador, who doubles as a known spy for Putin.

We cannot help but try to imagine what was said. It was too early to talk about Obama’s new sanctions. They could have been talking about ways to forward money to the campaign. It is quite unlikely that they complained about the cyber attack on Clinton Headquarters.  “How dare you interfere with our sacred election process and favor our candidate, Mr. Trump.”  You can bet they did not say that.

Putin is the richest man on Earth. No one even knows how much he is worth, as he literally owns all of Russia and its resources. He has learned that the best way that he can keep control is to surround himself with an oligarchy of super rich billionaires that he can control and induce to do his bidding. Besides interfering in elections in Western Europe, Putin instigates land grabs that are designed to add territory to Mother Russia. His billionaire friends serve another function. They are in charge of laundering illegally obtained Russian money and moving it into both brick and mortar properties and complicit banks like Deutsche Bank. The Bank of Cyprus was the favorite laundromat for years.

Putin has learned that the best was he can keep control is to surround himself with an oligarchy of super-rich billionaires that he can control and induce to do his bidding. Besides interfering in elections in Western Europe, Putin instigates land grabs that are designed to add territory to Mother Russia. His billionaire friends serve another function. They are in charge of laundering illegally obtained Russian money and moving it into both brick and mortar properties and complicit banks like Deutsche Bank. The Bank of Cyprus was a favorite laundromat.

Donald Trump, we know, has been a conduit for cash in at least one of the properties that laundered Russian cash.  He sold a Florida property for which he paid $40M to a friend of Putin’s, the King of Fertilizer, for $100M. This cash infusion got Trump back on his feet after his bankruptcies. The conduit was established.

This oligarch’s plane, the King of Fertilizer, is seen at the same airport where Trump’s plane is located half a dozen times during the 2016 campaign. This is recorded on time-stamped videos.

Focus on what Putin wants the world to be. He wants to divide the world into oligarchically controlled powers with a common allegiance to one another and a special allegiance to himself.

Enter: Donald Trump, stage right.

A jetliner belonging to the Russian oligarch who had previously bought a Florida mansion from Donald Trump shadowed the candidate’s plane to at least four US cities – three during the campaign and one since the inauguration.

That seems like an awful lot of coincidence, especially given how much concern the Trump campaign expressed over Bill Clinton’s impromptu and ill-advised visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac. Remember the chants of “lock her up”? That was so Hillary Clinton’s emails ago.

Dmitry Rybolovlev visited Las Vegas in late October, then tiny Concord and Charlotte, North Carolina five days before the election in November. His plane was also in Palm Beach on the February weekend when Trump held an impromptu national security meeting in front of Mar a Lago diners.

Rybolovlev once purchased a $95 million home from Trump in a deal that appears to have been brokered by Trump’s secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, in order to shelter assets from Rybolovlev’s wife during a nasty divorce. Rybolovlev is also a shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus, where Ross was a vice president until his confirmation by the US Senate. The bank specializes in catering to Russian ‘flight capital.’

The matching flight patterns were the subject of an article published yesterday at, the new website of journalist and author David Cay Johnston. It crashed shortly after Rachel Maddow covered their story in her evening broadcast at MSNBC and remains unavailable at press time.

But Rybolevlev’s movements have actually been discussed in the blogosphere for months. In a little-read article at Huffington Post, computer scientist John Mashey wrote in February that the oligarch’s airplane “made at least 7 visits to New York City … spending several days or more on each visit, usually overlapping with Trump presence there, given his habit of flying back most nights during the campaign.”

At least mainstream journalists are now on the story.

“Rachel, remember that the oligarchs are a state-sponsored network of criminals,” Johnston told Maddow. “They are totally dependent to stay alive, as you’ve shown in an earlier segment, on being in the good graces of Vladimir Putin. And when he wants things done, they do them.”

“In the case of Rybolevlev, he turned over $25o million, quote-unquote “voluntarily,” in a dispute with Putin, where Putin was essentially bringing him to heel.”

Maddow covered the story in two segments. Watch:



(ANTIMEDIA) It seems Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former comments claiming the enforcement of federal marijuana rules is a “strain on federal resources” have been completely forgotten. The former Alabama senator showed his true colors on this issue during a recent exchange with reporters, and we now know his office is “going to look” at cases in some states of people violating local marijuana rules. After all, he told journalists, “[s]tates they can pass the laws they choose … [but] it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

Worse than ignoring states’ rights by asserting the federal government might intervene in certain cases is Sessions’ claim that marijuana has been inviting more violence.

Unfortunately for the attorney general, this is nothing but a bogus claim.

In Colorado, crime has been dropping considerably ever since the state passed recreational marijuana laws, with homicides dropping 12.8 percent in the first year of legal pot. Other studies suggest that while Sessions believes marijuana legalization is associated with more crime, attempting to make this case is nearly impossible. According to a 2014 study, “findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.”

But even if in an alternative universe the legalization of weed had, indeed, led to higher crime rates. What’s at stake, in this case, is not public safety or even health for that matter. The essence of prohibitionist policies has nothing to do with safety. Instead, these policies are here to restrict personal freedoms.

Like similar prohibitionist rules, marijuana criminalization is about control of what one does with one’s body. Not about safety or health.

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman famously admitted years later, explaining the war on drugs was never meant to boost domestic security.

He continued:

You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.”

Controlling groups of people who fail to go along with government policy has always been a political aim of people in power — whether Democrat or Republican. Tools put in place to criminalize certain behavior help any administration to keep groups of people from persuading others to follow along. And what better tool to accomplish that than to use the power of the law to crush dissent?

Winning the war on drugs doesn’t mean anything to those writing the legislation. In the end, the public safety rhetoric is nothing but hot air. But to those living under these immoral rules, reminding the wider public that the war on pot is a war on the sovereignty of the individual and his right to self-ownership is what is going to turn the public’s attention to what really matters.

What’s at stake is not people’s health or their right to choose what poison they use but what makes us human: our right to make our own decisions.

Watch Jeff Sessions address the National Association of Attorneys General below: