Trump, Devos, Prince working to take funding from schools and use it for mercenaries and missiles.

We have watched this president, like so many before him, drop bombs and hurl missiles at different countries in Asia and Africa. The picture below of US missiles striking Damascus would be perfectly at home in a Hollywood blockbuster about an technologically-advanced alien civilization attacking a human society with less firepower.

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Few of these movies ever explore what is going on back home in these alien societies. Do their leaders starve their bug-eyed young of resources in learning, so they have more pliable cannon fodder? Do their military-industrial-complexes have bug-shaped lobbyists who ease the path to war, knowing there are billions to be made from restocking the armories? Do their leaders employ surveillance and intimidation against tentacled peace-activists? Do they have families where one sibling works on starving schools while another builds a mercenary army and profits from war?

Because that is what we are doing in the USA.

The New York Times asked teachers to send in pictures and stories of decrepit classrooms, and they got dozens. Some of the most shocking responses are collected here: 25-Year-Old Textbooks and Holes in the Ceiling: Inside America’s Public Schools

Tennessee, Kathryn Vaughn, art teacher

Salary: $50,000 with 11 years of experience

Annual out-of-pocket expenses: $1,500

I am a public-school teacher in the rural South. I’ve had to become incredibly resourceful with the supplies. Teaching art to about 800 students on a $100-a-year budget is difficult. I do receive some donations from the families at my school, but my school is Title I and the families don’t have a lot to give.

I personally have to work several additional jobs to survive and support my veteran husband. We live in a modest house, I drive a 15-year-old car, and despite all of that, even with my master’s degree, some months we are not food secure. — www.nytimes.com/…

As teachers and schools struggle, the Trump administration plans to increase the US military budget to $716 Billion this year.

Right at the center of this shameful scam to impoverish our schools and re-direct the funds to wage war on other countries, are Erik Prince and Betsy Devos.

Devos is Trump’s Education Secretary. Her brother Erik Prince is a war profiteer who created a mercenary army when Bush/Cheney started the Iraq war. Prince is a good friend of Dick Cheney’s and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky suggested last month that Erik Prince and Blackwater were directly involved in a secret assassination and torture program run out of Cheney’s office.

Trump and Devos are planning billions in cuts to education funding, at the precise moment we understand just how under-resourced so many of our schools are.

Two programs would see the steepest cuts: Title II—used in part to recruit and retain teachers and support principals—and the 21st Century Learning Centers block grants, which pay for enrichment programs during non-school hours, particularly in high-poverty communities. — www.theatlantic.com/…

On the other hand, Trump’s budget expands funding for war and war materiel. Erik Prince is a Trump ally who seems to have acted as a go-between for the Trump campaign with Russia. Prince has been pitching a plan to have his mercenary army build a private air force and intelligence agency which would bill the US taxpayer. .

A mercenary force in Afghanistan would comprise about 5,500 contractors and 90 aircraft, Prince told USA Today. Contractors, paid by the U.S. government, would wear Afghan uniforms, he said, and his air force would attack hostile entities only with approval from the Afghan government.

He’s also suggested appointing a viceroy to direct the campaign. In the White House, two of Trump’s top officials, chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, have advocated the idea.  — www.washingtonpost.com/…

In Iraq, employees of the company Prince helped start (Blackwater/Xe) were responsible for killing several Iraqi civilians.

MLK warned about the corrosive effects of such misplaced priorities decades ago.

Never has a single family exemplified this corrupt, destructive, anti-human agenda, more than the Devos/Prince family.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin—we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. […]

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay a hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

— Martin Luther King Jr. “Beyond Vietnam”, delivered on April 4, 1967

— @subirgrewal

The shit-head in the White House and his enablers.

This is a long diary with many threads to it, buckle up.

I’m a first-generation immigrant. So, who and what Donald Trump is came as no surprise. I knew he was a racist hate-monger when I first learned about his role in the Central Park Five case. We knew he was a shitty human when we learned he’d used his baby nephew’s healthcare as a bargaining chip over an inheritance. We’ve known he was a white nationalist from the moment he gave his campaign’s first speech and chose to denigrate my brown-skinned immigrant brothers rapists and criminals. We had it confirmed when he denigrated Khizr Khan and when the White House instituted its Muslim ban. We all knew. Because we’ve all encountered people who see us as dirty interlopers from shit-hole countries. Donald Trump is the ugly American most immigrants know too well.

And you know what, perhaps we’re the shitty country. We are the richest nation in the world, and yet we have school-children trading sexual favors for food. Purely because we have so many shit-heads like Trump among us.

It is also important to say this. Trump is not the source of the problem. His party, and his White House are littered with extremist white nationalist. The names are familiar to us by now. Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, John Kelly within the west wing. And there are people like Steve Bannon and the Nazi-sympathizer Sebastian Gorka who were removed from it. Within the broader Republican party, the white nationalist faction is represented by rising stars like Tom Cotton, and old bigots like Steve King and Joe Arpaio.

But let’s set aside the terrible politics and racism of the GOP for a minute. We  still have to contend with the fact that the US, regardless of which party is in power, has been a force of ill when it comes to foreign policy, especially if you’re a small, poor, non-white nation. We’ve overthrown democratically elected governments, foisted corporate plunderers, outright colonized and stripped several countries for resources (including kidnapping humans to steal their bodies and labor and enslavement). Trump and much of the GOP have always been a part of this dynamic. Recall, Trump said “we should take their oil”. That was shocking, but not as shocking as the fact that Bush and Cheney actually did it. We have a long history of rapaciousness towards smaller countries and weaker peoples. Nothing exemplifies this terror better than Haiti. Haitians are still, in many ways, paying the price for overthrowing their French slave-masters and becoming the first country in the western hemisphere to emancipate its indigenous and enslaved population. If you don’t know much about this, here’s a good thread:

And another one.

I’m deeply disappointed in several first and second-generation immigrants who have chosen to be part of this shitty administration and enable its hateful agenda.

I’m going to pick on the Indian-Americans, because, well they’re my people and it’s the deepest cut. Though of course it is expected. Lots of immigrants are racist. I’ve heard terrible anti-black, racist and even xenophobic (go figure!) comments from immigrants. Some of it stopped after Obama ran and won, to many the Obamas became the face of black America and changed a few minds.

Where does this all this hate and fear of the other come from? Well, right-wing, nationalist shit-heads exist everywhere. The Indian government is run by an extremist Hindu-nationalist, right-wing party that routinely stokes ethnic and religious strife. Not surprisingly, Trump and Modi have a warm relationship based on their anti-Muslim policies and ethno-nationalist politics.

So we should not be surprised that several Indian-Americans would ally with a jingoist, racist, extremist party in the US. But it is still annoying, so I’m going to call these shit-heads out and encourage you to as well.

So all these shit-heads who are only here because the LBJ administration was able to overcome hundreds of years of violent exploitation and white nationalism to pass Civil Rights bills, are now working for and furthering the agenda of a nakedly white nationalist administration. Dumb and self-destructive does not begin to describe these fools.

Now, I want to end with something positive. So first, there is positive news. Indian-Americans are also helping combat Trump’s policies. Lawyers like Neal Katyal, who has been helping argue against the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and Preet Bharara. Politicians like Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Kamala Harris (her mom’s Indian).

I also want to highlight immigrant-activist and Trinidadian-American (of partly Indian heritage) Ravi Ragbir, who has been detained by ICE. Incidentally, call ICE and tell them to release Ravi:

There are mass protests to secure his release:

And don’t let the NYPD get away with choking protesters:

Finally, I want to end on a note about how we get ourselves and this country out of this mess. And for that, I’m going to turn it over to Ben Jealous to put all this in historical context, and tell you what framing we should consider using.

Americans might look at the starting point of race in America through the prism of Roots or 12 Years a Slave, Jealous says, but he goes back to a 1663 revolt in the Virginia Tidewater community of Gloucester. What made the Gloucester County rebellion unique was that it was not a slave rebellion in a traditional sense—it was an alliance of enslaved Africans and Irish and English indentured servants. The casus belli was an edict that stipulated that their current status (that is, as enslaved or indentured) “shall convey to your children.”

“As Americans from the very beginning, so long as we could hope that our children could be better off than us, we were willing to endure a lot—but the moment that it became clear that we were locked out from the American Dream, we would rebel together,” [Ben] Jealous said.

“And this is one of those moments.”  — www.motherjones.com/…

— @subirgrewal

Let’s not forget what the GOP and its donors tolerated from Steve Bannon.

So, Steve Bannon is finally unwelcome within the Republican party. The President has given Bannon the treatment he reserves only for the worst offenders, claiming he had nothing much to do with the campaign. Next up, I expect to hear that Bannon’s primary task in the White House was pouring coffee.

Though, I of course share your glee at the downfall of an odious man, my relief is tempered by the knowledge of what it took for the Republican party and this White House to break decisively with Bannon.

Bannon and his media outlet Breitbart have been trafficking in racism and xenophobia for years. This was completely acceptable, even applauded by most in the Republican party.

Bannon and his allies (including the president) have never been shy about their goal, which is to Make America White Again. It is why they have targeted all forms of immigration. Most Trump policies are directly related to stopping brown/black/poor people from exercising their political rights.

The Republican party and its donors did not bat an eyelid at this.

Steve Bannon supported an accused child molester in the Alabama senate race. After some initial queasiness, national Republicans closed ranks around Bannon to “protect the seat”. Their thirst for power and lucre barely treated a child-molester as a speed-bump.

So what was finally so terrible that the GOP and its donor class have turned away from Bannon? It wasn’t his racism, or his white nationalism, or his advocacy for a child molester.

No, Bannon’s unforgivable sin was failing to demonstrate loyalty to the current power structure of the  Republican party. He threatened the party’s agenda and its goal to create a permanent privileged aristocratic class in the US.

For that gravest of sins, Bannon was finally driven out of the GOP tent. This was done in a coordinated fashion, by both Republican politicians and donors who have funded and supported his racist, white supremacist agenda for years.

The Mercers, of course, are in the hedge fund business, and it appears they’ve been distancing themselves from Bannon ever since the tax-bill debate started and Bannon came out in favor of higher taxes on the wealthy and revoking the carried interest provision.

In the end, that’s what it’s all about, creating a new aristocracy behind gated estates, and relegating the rest of the country to the status of serfs.

So while we are hopeful to have seen the last of Steve Bannon and his unkempt visage, let’s not forget that the White House and much of the Republican party is still fully stocked with white supremacists and their allies. It starts with Donald Trump, but also includes Jeff Sessions, Steve MillerJohn Kelly, and dozens of Republican senators and representatives.

Let’s resolve to rid ourselves of the whole lot.

Let’s go out and organize people and help them register to vote.

Let’ go out and volunteer for a campaign in 2018.

And for the country’s sake, let’s get out and vote.

— @subirgrewal 

 

Ever wondered what America looked like heading into the Great Depression?

Have you ever wondered what America felt like on the eve of the Great Depression?

I don’t know for certain, but I can guess that we had wealthy heiresses who dabbled in fashion pontificating on politics, based on what they’d learned at society dinners and maybe some tortured conversations with the servant-class surrounding them.

Kinda like this society heiress here:

The heiress here is calling the GOPTaxScam a “middle class tax cut”. So does the president and the entire Republican caucus. Isn’t it strange though, that when HuffPo asked 18 Republican house members what the tax rates for the middle class are going to be after the bill is enacted, 17 of them had no idea. Strangely, many of them could rattle off the new tax rate for the top earners and corporations. Could it be that the Republicans have been lying about a “middle class tax cut” and this is in fact a Tax Scam to benefit their donor-owners?

To be clear, we were just looking for seven figures: 10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent and 37 percent. We were not looking for congressional representatives to display some savant-like ability and provide the income thresholds for each bracket. We just wanted to see if Republicans knew this one simple element of a bill they were rushing into law.

They didn’t.

Among the GOP lawmakers who were shaky on those specifics were members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, the chairwoman of the House Budget Committee (Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee) and the lead author of the bill in the House (Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas).

House Republicans told us, time and again, that they were “very familiar” with the details of this legislation. When we suggested they didn’t have much time to read the final legislation after it was released Friday night, they said they had plenty of time. “We’ve had several weeks! I read it on the plane two weeks in a row!” Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) told HuffPost.  — www.huffingtonpost.com/…

Guess Brady’s cluelessness shouldn’t come as a surprise since the “lead author” didn’t actually write the bill, that was the job of 6,000 lobbyists on K Street. My uneducated guess is that the “middle-class” doesn’t employ all those lobbyists?

While the Republicans are huddling with thousands of lobbyists for the richest people and corporations in America, something else has been brewing. Income inequality remains at levels not seen since the 1930s.

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Just as in the late 20s and early 30s, average Americans were under no misconceptions about the Republican party’s priorities: a compliant workforce paid starvation wages, weak/non-existent unions, and a relentless attack on benefits for the poor and infirm.

Here’s another thing about the 1930s, they involved a great debate on what the role of the state was in ensuring workers had some level of security, in old age, and during their careers. We saw enormous protections for working-class Americans enacted under the New Deal. The Republicans have relentlessly attacked these programs for decades, and they continue that assault, hoping to create a fiscal crisis that allows them to privatize or kill social security, and undermine Medicare/Medicaid.

The 1930s also saw a series of man-made environmental disasters befall the US in the form of the dust bowl. We are almost certainly beginning to see the impacts of man-made climate change. The 1930s were also part of an enormous shift in the US labor force, from farms to industry. This created new forms of insecurity for workers, unions fought to deliver security to workers. A similar shift is underway today, as traditional jobs covered by worker protections that were hard-fought, are being replaced by contracting work. Incidentally, the GOP Tax Scam creates incentives for workers to work on contracts, a mode of employment corporations find especially lucrative.

So on the eve of the Great Depression, America faced many of the same tensions we do today. They came to a head with the Great Depression. In response, FDR and Democrats were ready with a political platform for the times, highlighting the contrast between the lives and prospects of the rich and poor in America. Americans responded to FDR’s message like a duck takes to water. They made him president by a landslide (472 out of 531 electoral votes). By 1934, Democrats controlled 69 seats in the Senate, to Republicans’ 25. Democrats held 322 seats in the House, to the Republicans 103.

If we can produce the right platform, we can win similar electoral and legislative victories. It sounds fantastical, but prior to 1932, Republicans had controlled the Senate for 32 years out of 38. After 1932, Democrats would control the Senate for 58 of the next 62 years.

So a sea change is possible and we have the conditions to make it happen. Ordinary Americans know they’re getting a raw deal. We know income inequality is at unsustainable levels. We know the Republican Tax Scam is a massive give-away to billionaire heirs and heiresses with scraps left for the middle-class. Scraps that will be more than taken away when Republicans try to gut Social Security and Medicare next year as they’ve already said they will want to do.

The ground is set, if Democrats can deliver a convincing message, as FDR did, massive electoral victories are possible. On that note, the thread below discusses what is going on with polls in individual House races.

— @subirgrewal

Is this graphic really all we need to know about American or Alabama politics?

Like many of you, I initially despaired when reading exit poll results from the Alabama senate election. It seemed unbelievable that over 63% of white women would vote for a man who was credibly accused of molesting young girls. My first reaction was, “we won this by a hair-breadth, but we have a lot of work to do”.

Then I realized that this not the whole story:

So white non-evangelical women went for Jones by 53%, that is a landslide. It suggests that Moore’s base (and Trump’s) is actually much narrower than some would have you believe.

I do want to note that the racial breakdown of the exit polls has been misread by many to suggest Democrats do not need white voters, or should ignore them. Far from it, there is no way we can be successful without white voters. Whatever you think the demographic destiny of this country might be, we cannot win elections solely as the party of minorities. Here’s why:

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Over 73% of the 2016 electorate identified as “white, non-Hispanic”. Let’s set aside, for a moment, the fact that many Hispanic citizens would consider themselves to be white. What Donald Trump recognized and capitalized on, early and often, is the fact that it didn’t matter if he lost 3% of the non-white vote, all he needed was to improve turnout among white voters by 1% to make up for that loss.

I am going to stop here, because I’ve been doing something I actually hate, which is discussing “race” as if it were a real, rather than an imagined construct. But that is the world we live in.

Also noteworthy in the census figure is the fact that the share of white voters hardly moved from 2012 (73.7%) to 2016 (73.3%). This is partly down to Obama not being on the ticket. Whatever our demographic destiny may be, like all demographic changes, it will take a while to get there. So no, we cannot win purely as a party for racial minorities, and anyone who tells you that is being foolish.

I would go even further, and say we should not win elections if we are not run as as a broad based party that seeks to represent all Americas. If we do not stand for equality and equal representation, then we’ve betrayed our principles.

Obama recognized these facts, which is why he went to significant pains to emphasize his universal message (remember “there is no red or blue America…”).

Every part of our coalition is important, and that includes white people. And in fact, white non-evangelicals, even in Alabama, voted for Doug Jones, by enormous margins.

The same is true for the 2016 election. When you look at the exit poll results by race, Donald Trump won white voters 58-37:

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But his margin was enormous among white evangelicals, who were estimated to be 26% of the overall electorate in the exit polls.

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If you take out white evangelicals, Hillary Clinton won white voters by 5% (49.5-44.4).

It is important to recognize this fact, first because some have begun to doubt whether the left has a universal appeal. But also because it’s not smart politics to ignore the fact that we are winning  majorities among most white people (evangelicals are 36% of the white vote).

But here’s the really positive new, there are some signs of hope for us, even among the group that you may think Trump/Moore have an absolute lock on.

Many evangelicals recognize the madness among their congregations that Trump and now Moore have exposed. In an important article about the role the evangelical movement played in Roy Moore’s campaign, WaPo reported that younger evangelicals turned away from Moore somewhat, as they did from Trump.

Many evangelicals recognize the madness among their congregations that Trump and now Moore have exposed. In an important article about the role the evangelical movement played in Roy Moore’s campaign, WaPo reported that younger evangelicals turned away from Moore, as they had from Trump.

Some evangelicals fear the high support for Moore and Trump among white evangelicals exposes something deeper about the religious group that seems to vote predictably with the GOP. Political partisanship and a disdain for outsiders have become unifying driving factors for white evangelicals instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ, said Birmingham-based Collin Hansen, editorial director for the Gospel Coalition, a network popular among conservative evangelicals.

“You could preach almost any Trinitarian heresy and not one person is going to notice it,” Hansen said. “If you touch on the political things on things they care about like gun control or racism, they’ll have your head.”

Recent political changes, Hansen said, have exposed “the moral and theological rot” in the evangelical church. “There will not be a coherent evangelical movement to emerge from this political season,” Hansen said.

www.washingtonpost.com/…

So there are some signs of hope, even among the group that you may think Trump/Moore/Republicans have an absolute lock on.

The New York Times also covered the growing angst among evangelical leaders over the politicians so many evangelical Christians have chosen to tie themselves to:

“It grieves me,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, a prominent evangelical school in Illinois. “I don’t want ‘evangelical’ to mean people who supported candidates with significant and credible accusations against them. If evangelical means that, it has serious ramifications for the work of Christians and churches.” […]

Jemar Tisby, president of “The Witness, a black Christian collective,” a faith-based media company that provides commentary on race, religion and culture, said in an interview that while Mr. Trump was running, “we were saying, this man is promoting bigotry, white supremacists find an ally in him and this is going to be bad for us. And not only did they vote for him, they voted for him in slightly higher numbers than they did for Mitt Romney. It was a sense of betrayal.” […]

“We’ve let evil overtake the entire reputation of Evangelicalism,” one prominent evangelical author, Beth Moore, wrote on Twitter the day before the election. “The lust for power is nauseating. Racism, appalling. The arrogance, terrifying. The misogyny so far from Christlikeness, it can’t be Christianity.”

— www.nytimes.com/…

The editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, did not mince words about the impact Trump and Moore have had on the reputation of evangelicals:

No matter the outcome of today’s special election in Alabama for a coveted US Senate seat, there is already one loser: Christian faith. When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished. […]

As recently as 2011, PRRI found that only 30 percent of white evangelicals believed “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” But by late 2016, when Donald Trump was running for president, that number had risen sharply to 72 percent—the biggest shift of any US religious group. […]

Apparently yes. This is precisely why, when serious and substantial allegations of sexual abuse of minors were made against Roy Moore, many doubled down on their support for him. Within days of this news story in The Washington Post, polls indicated that not only would 57 percent of evangelicals continue to support him, another 37 percent said they were now more likely to vote for him. […]

What events of the last year and a half have shown once again is that when Christians immerse themselves in politics as Christians, for what they determine are Christian causes, touting their version of biblical morality in the public square—they will sooner or later (and often sooner) begin to compromise the very principles they champion and do so to such a degree that it blemishes the very faith they are most anxious to promote. […] No wonder few believe much of anything we say anymore.  — www.christianitytoday.com/…

Perhaps what is most important in Galli’s editorial is this line:

The gap between rich and poor, the number of abortions and fatherless children, the steady rise of drug addiction, the increasing sympathy with euthanasia—these are but a few indicators that something is deeply wrong.

There are a number of things we will disagree with, but we could conceivably make common cause on the one Galli places first, “the gap between rich and poor”.  We may not be able to persuade all evangelicals, but we may persuade some.

And before you jump up and say that’s not worth doing, remember this:

“[Moore] lost because so many evangelicals didn’t show up,” Mohler told CNN anchor Don Lemon. “That’s the big story … what didn’t happen. You didn’t have any major pastors or evangelical leaders [in Alabama], not a single one, willing to support Roy Moore.

“Given the percentage of evangelicals in Alabama, it’s inconceivable that a candidate supported by them could lose,” the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary continued. “They would not and could not vote for a pro-abortion candidate, and they would not and could not vote for Roy Moore.” (The Post examined why.) […]

While the exit polls don’t publicly release breakouts for blacks by religious affiliation or church attendance, LifeWay Research recently found that black Americans are almost three times more likely than white Americans to hold evangelical beliefs (30% vs. 13%), and twice as likely to self-identify as “born again” (49% vs. 27%). (At Ed Stetzer’s CT blog, the managing director of the Billy Graham Center makes the case for “how black women saved evangelicalism.”) — www.christianitytoday.com/…

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at NotMeUs.org and TheProgressiveWing.com

False claim that 3 million voted illegally was funded by Oxycontin drug kingpin Sackler’s foundation

You can find the Sackler family’s name on numerous museums and universities, they’ve bought naming rights to several. They also donate to conservative organizations.

Richard’s political contributions have gone mostly to Republicans—including Strom Thurmond and Herman Cain—though at times he has also given to Democrats. (His ex-wife, Beth Sackler, has given almost exclusively to Democrats.) In 2008, he wrote a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal denouncing Muslim support for suicide bombing, a concern that seems to persist: Since 2014, his charitable organization, the Richard and Beth Sackler Foundation, has donated to several anti-Muslim groups, including three organizations classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (The family spokesperson said, “It was never Richard Sackler’s intention to donate to an anti-Muslim or hate group.”) The foundation has also donated to True the Vote, the “voter-fraud watchdog” that was the original source for Donald Trump’s inaccurate claim that three million illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election. — www.esquire.com/…

But the family goes to great lengths to hide the source of their $15 billion dollar fortune. That’s because virtually all of it comes from duping doctors into prescribing opiods, and deluding patients into thinking they’re safe to consume. Their privately held company is called Purdue Pharma (the Los Pollos Hermanos of the legal drug world).

Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative, at Brandeis University, has worked with hundreds of patients addicted to opioids. He told me that, though many fatal overdoses have resulted from opioids other than OxyContin, the crisis was initially precipitated by a shift in the culture of prescribing—a shift carefully engineered by Purdue. “If you look at the prescribing trends for all the different opioids, it’s in 1996 that prescribing really takes off,” Kolodny said. “It’s not a coincidence. That was the year Purdue launched a multifaceted campaign that misinformed the medical community about the risks.” When I asked Kolodny how much of the blame Purdue bears for the current public-health crisis, he responded, “The lion’s share.” — www.newyorker.com/…

The Sackler brothers discovered that they could best market drugs by targeting physicians directly. They made hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to FDA personnel and created revolving door jobs for others in return for favorable rulings. They created a system to pay doctors for delivering speeches. They took doctors on all expense paid golfing trips. They bought a medical journal, hired renowned doctors to promote their drugs. And in return, they received a steady stream of new “patients” addicted to their drugs. Including newborns.

Opioid withdrawal, which causes aches, vomiting, and restless anxiety, is a gruesome process to experience as an adult. It’s considerably worse for the twenty thousand or so American babies who emerge each year from opioid-soaked wombs. These infants, suddenly cut off from their supply, cry uncontrollably. Their skin is mottled. They cannot fall asleep. Their bodies are shaken by tremors and, in the worst cases, seizures. Bottles of milk leave them distraught, because they cannot maneuver their lips with enough precision to create suction. Treatment comes in the form of drops of morphine pushed from a syringe into the babies’ mouths. Weaning sometimes takes a week but can last as long as twelve. It’s a heartrending, expensive process, typically carried out in the neonatal ICU, where newborns have limited access to their mothers. — www.esquire.com/…

In 2007, the company plead guilty to a felony, admitting it had lied to doctors about Oxycontin’s addictive quality. Though the company paid hundreds of millions in fines, senior executives only had to return some pay and perform community service. Their team of lawyers managed to protect the Sacklers themselves from any charges, though Richard Sackler led the company for much of this period.

While Richard Sackler continued to scrub his family’s name by plastering it across museums and universities, thousands of infants continued to be born addicted to his drugs. And Sackler knew exactly what he was doing. He refined his methods of deception and persuasion by marketing Valium, then transferred the same methods to an even more addictive drug.

What is it with conservative donors, have they all made their fortunes from pain and suffering? The DeVos/Prince family operate a war-profiteering mercenary machine. The Kochs are actively engaged in destroying the environment. Trump’s family traces it’s fortune to brothels.

The Sacklers are now taking their pill-pushing operation global:

As OxyContin spread outside the U.S., the pattern of dysfunction repeated itself: to map the geographic distribution of the drug was also to map a rash of addiction, abuse, and death. But the Sackler family has only increased its efforts abroad, and is now pushing the drug, through a Purdue-related company called Mundipharma, into Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Part of Purdue’s strategy from the beginning has been to create a market for OxyContin—to instill a perceived need by making bold claims about the existence of large numbers of people suffering from untreated chronic pain. As Purdue moves into countries like China and Brazil, where opioids may still retain the kind of stigma that the company so assiduously broke down in the United States, its marketing approach has not changed. According to a Los Angeles Times report from 2016—well after the Sacklers’ playbook for OxyContin had been repudiated by the medical establishment as possibly the main driver of the opioid epidemic—Mundipharma commissioned studies showing that millions of people in these countries suffered from chronic pain. The company has organized junkets, and paid doctors to give presentations extolling OxyContin’s virtues. In fact, certain doctors who are currently flogging OxyContin abroad—“pain ambassadors,” they are called—used to be on Purdue’s payroll as advocates for the drug in the U.S. — www.newyorker.com/…

The Sacklers have paid no price for destroying the lives of millions. Just like the serial sexual abusers finally being brought to task, the Sacklers have relied on well-placed lobbyists and an army of lawyers to ensure the cost of their deceptive business is a 10-15% fine.

The descendants who inherited this enormous fortune built on destroyed lives have not chosen to help remedy the wrongs caused by their family’s company. Instead, they continue to try to burnish their name by giving to high-profile arts and education institutions. Shamefully, these institutions continue to accept the money. A Yale spokesperson told a journalist “Yale does not vet donors for controversies that may or may not arise.”

Now they’re directly attacking our democracy with their false claims about illegal voting. A claim President Trump has actively promoted.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at NotMeUs.org & TheProgressiveWing.com

Did Jared just secure his family’s real-estate empire by facilitating a palace coup in Saudi Arabia?

I’ve written previously about the Kushner family’s attempts to shore up their precarious finances by extorting fees from low-income tenants and selling green-cards to Chinese investors. As Bloomberg reported in August, the Kushners are desperately seeking cash to save their heavily-mortgaged Manhattan skyscraper as balloon payments come due over the next two years.

Last week, Kushner took an unannounced trip to KSA:

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner returned home Saturday from an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia — his third trip to the country this year.

Kushner left Washington, D.C., via commercial airline on Wednesday for the trip, which was not announced to the public, a White House official told POLITICO. He traveled separately from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who led a delegation to Riyadh last week to focus on combating terrorist financing. […]

The White House official would not say who Kushner met with in Saudi Arabia. But he has cultivated a relationship with the crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, who, like Kushner, is in his 30s. — www.politico.com/…

Saudi Arabia has, for the past two years, been waging a brutal bombing campaign against Yemen which has caused thousands of civilian deaths. This war is widely believed to be Mohammed Bin Salman’s [MBS] project, though the war is broadly supported in Saudi Arabia across factions. For example, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal promised to reward Saudi air force pilots with Bentleys when they returned from bombing raids.

Sadly, our government has actively supported the Saudi war in Yemen, providing weapons (including cluster bombs) and operational support. Hundreds of children have been killed by these weapons, thousands have lost limbs. Many of you saw the heart-rending pictures of a young toddler who had lost four of her fingers, staring at the intact hand on her doll.

Then yesterday, the crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, engineered a palace coup, arresting dozens of his own uncles and cousins.

midnight blitz of arrests ordered by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia over the weekend has ensnared dozens of its most influential figures, including 11 of his royal cousins, in what by Sunday appeared to be the most sweeping transformation in the kingdom’s governance for more than eight decades.

The arrests, ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman without formal charges or any legal process, were presented as a crackdown on corruption. They caught both the kingdom’s richest investor, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and the most potent remaining rival to the crown prince’s power: Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, a favored son of the late King Abdullah. — www.nytimes.com/…

Another prince died along with several officials as his helicopter crashed near the Yemeni border.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal had sparred with Trump during and after the election. His Kingdom Holding Company is a major investor in Twitter and Apple. He was one of the people arrested.

“The king and crown prince’s recent public statements regarding the need to build a moderate, peaceful and tolerant region are essential to ensuring a hopeful future for the Saudi people, to curtailing terrorist funding, and to defeating radical ideology — once and for all — so the world can be safe from its evil,” the White House said in the statement.

The White House statement made no mention of the scores of arrests, including that of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor who has held stakes in an array of Western companies, including the News Corporation, Citigroup and Twitter. Prince Mohammed, who has already sidelined rivals to the throne, is viewed as the mastermind behind the crackdown.

Prince Alwaleed sparred with Mr. Trump on Twitter during the presidential election, referring to him as a “disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.” Mr. Trump fired back, also on Twitter, that he was a “dopey prince” trying to “control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money.” — www.nytimes.com/…

If Kushner was in Saudi Arabia to bless the impending palace coup by MBS, then the Trumps and Kushners can expect rich rewards in the years to come. If MBS can ascend to the throne and diminish the competition, he will control a state-owned oil company that is valued at $2 Trillion and about to go public this year. Yes, that’s Trillion with a T.

Even without the money raised from an IPO, Saudi Aramco produced almost 4 billion barrels of crude oil in 2016. At $50 a barrel, that’s $200 billion in sales each year, the vast majority of it profit. Those numbers are staggering. Saudi Aramco’s annual profits exceed the total net worth of the richest person in the world.

Let’s just say that becoming the King of Saudi Arabia makes you an extremely wealthy person. It makes you even wealthier if you can imprison some of your relatives and confiscate their assets in a “anti-corruption drive”.

And when you have consolidated all this power and wealth, you aren’t going to forget the friends who helped you make it happen will you? Friends with last names like Kushner and Trump? What’s a $5 billion loan or a $10 billion construction contract among friends?

So what can you do as the Trump/Kushner kleptocracy tries to milk every dollar it can out of its days in elected office? You can get out and vote. And you can help get out the vote. I’ve been doing that every day this week and have multiple people tell me they are thankful for the reminder because they didn’t know there was an election on Tuesday, November 7.