Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dave Eberhardt, For All the Saints: A Protest Primer. Reviewed by Rosalind Ellis Heid

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dave Eberhardt, For All the Saints: A Protest Primer. Reviewed by Rosalind Ellis Heid

David Eberhardt,For All the Saints: A Protest Primer.Fed Ex Press, 2017.  138 pages. Price $20. Contact the author for purchase Reviewed by Rosalind Ellis Heid.

   On a cool October day fifty years ago, Baltimore poet Eberhardt along with peace activists Father Phil Berrigan, artist Tom Lewis and Father Jim Mengel walked into the ornate, turn of the century Custom House on South Gay Street in Baltimore. David Eberhardt’s book For All the Saints: A Protest Primertells how this small passionate group took it upon themselves to express the convictions of many to pour blood over the Selective Service files housed in that innocent looking building. Eberhardt and the others made a gruesome statement to the country, if not to the world, by pouring blood on the bureaucratic paperwork containing the names of potential Vietnam inductees, potential victims of a mad war. I’m glad for the many specific details Eberhardt provides—for example, that the blood, human and animal, was funneled into empty Mr. Clean bottles, an ironic gesture. These details relate how the protest was as much visceral as abstract.

  The protest was a performance combining guerilla theatre and the visual creativity of surrealism. The blood pouring was an act of outcry, an act of compassion, and statement of non-violent, anti-war determination. For those who have no memory of the Vietnam War, or who were lucky enough never to have been concerned about that horror show, the blood pouring was an historic revolutionary act. 

  My memories of the Vietnam War are still vivid. Every night in living rooms across the nation, families were treated to a visual monstrous show devoid of meaning or delineated purpose. The expression “domino effect”—U’S. leaders claiming that if the communists conquered Vietnam, Japan or the Philippines would be next—still lingers in the mind. Even looking back at it from an historical distance, the memories still cause pain.

  Kids were not exempt from the Vietnam meat grinder. Our country accepted a monolithic draft system—nothing like the volunteer military currently in place. The draft was grotesquely unfair. Those who could afford college were safe with deferments. Those who had friends in high positions gained access to state National Guards or the Coast Guard. For the rest it was boot camp, and then off to the killing fields. For the average Joe it was next to impossible to get out of the draft when your number came up. The symbolic act of pouring blood over draft files was a creative Kabuki gesture.
David Eberhardt’s book, which is as much personal memoir as national history, describes how he felt as a 26 year old searching for the meaning of life in those tense times. He relates how his father suggested he might make a great monk. Neither Eberhardt nor the others in his group joined a monastic order. The Berrigan brothers were Roman Catholic priests but very much in the world. They lived their Christian ideals in deed as well as words. David Eberhardt was very much infused with that contagious idealism. Adherence to idealism often exacts a price in everyday life.For All the Saints details the consequences of his heroic act. There is a vivid recounting of “life in the slammer.” Standing up to the American military establishment and damaging Selective Service documents cost him his freedom. He spent the next two years in the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. The inmates, as he relates, lovingly referred to it as “The Wall.” Even if prison literature holds no attraction for you, his personal notes are fascinating reading.

In the “corrections system” Eberhardt was “corrected” to the point of spending 33 years at the Baltimore City Jail as Director of Offender Aid and Restoration. Retired in 2010, he lives in Baltimore, Maryland, remaining active in poetry and protest. Eberhardt tells me his mentor “Father Berrigan spent 7 years of his life at various times in prison. I spent 21 months, then spent 33 years going in and out of the jail and sleeping in my own bed at night—which we all love to do!!”

For All the Saints  is a text book (a primer) of protest – somewhat prolix but definitely readable. It most certainly belongs in every Baltimore history archive. I admire the organizational skill of rebels from years past – their kind has disappeared in our age of instant communication and social media. Although Eberhardt points to contemporary protests against accepted policies – the anti-drone effort of Code Pink is an excellent example. There doesn’t seem to be the same passion, the same pragmatism, the willingness to accept the consequences opposing the powers that be. The same holds true for the Occupy Wall Street anger. The Peace Movement of the 1960’s didn’t have the organizing tools of social media but it had firm beliefs and goals. Occupy Wall Street had an amorphous organization without central structure or leaders. The goals varied from protester to protester. Anarchy was too great a divisive force. Eberhardt’s book tells of and illustrates the central single-mindedness of his historic cause.

For All the Saints connects with the moral idealism of current causes and of the ancient past. Eberhardt mentions the Catholic Workers, Code Pink, the Black Lives Protesters. He describes the courage of Saint Perpetua as one of the ancient, original saints, who was martyred in Carthage around 203 AD and whose example still resonates. For her resolute, outspoken beliefs, the Romans had her “condemned to the beasts.” She met her fate in the arena with joy and triumph. Even at the very end she asked for a hair pin since “it was not right that a martyr should die with her hair in disorder, lest she might seem to be mourning her hour of triumph.” The priests Philip Berrigan and his brother Daniel Berrigan were certainly of that proud tradition which confronted the sins of society with a rectitude which comforted those heroes in facing the wrong-headed punishments society imposed. Eberhardt’s book is suffused with this sense of morality, still spurned and unrecognized by current political demagogues.

However, potential readers should not shy away from Eberhardt’s memoir because of its seriousness. The book is an entertaining read. The author’s personality is apparent on every page. The readers get a personal tour of times and causes that should not be forgotten. History comes alive with people and places.

© David Eberhardt and Rosalind Ellis Heid

David Eberhardthas published three books of poetry:The Tree Calendar,Blue Running Lights, andPoems from the Website, Poetry in Baltimore. His influences include Thoreau, Nabokov, Mailer, Agee, Thomas, and Cousteau. His website is
Rosalind Ellis Heidis a local performance poet and member of a number of Baltimore literary groups. As a Poetry Archivist for the Baltimore City Historical Society, she has been busy for over a decade collecting the work of contemporary city poets. She is also a Docent at the Museum of Baltimore Legal History located in the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse. There she studies our American legislative heritage, the American Revolution, 19thcentury artifacts and even the Civil War’s impact on Baltimore history.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - November 30, 2017 - May 5, 2018

37] Resist that horrible Tax Bill – Nov. 30 to Dec. 1
38] Peace vigil at White House – Dec. 1
39] WIB peace vigils – Dec. 1
40] Black Lives Matter vigil – Dec. 1
41] See the film I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO – Dec. 1
42] There's No Place Like YES! – Dec. 1
43] See acclaimed documentary, 13th – Dec. 1
44] See the film SOME MOTHER’S SON – Dec. 1
45] Ballroom Dancing – Dec. 1
46] Wreaths for Peace Pick-up -- Dec. 2
47] West Chester peace vigil – Dec. 2
48] Drone Death March – Dec. 2
49] Migrant Justice Movements in the DMV – Dec. 2
50] An End to Ignorance – Dec. 2
53] Celebrate the Nobel Peace Prize – Dec. 8
54] Help deliver a Healthcare not Warfare petition – Jan. 11 & 12, 2018
55] Conference on U.S. Foreign Military Bases -- Jan. 12 - Jan. 14
56] Catonsville Nine Commemoration – May 4 – 5
58] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
59] Do you need any book shelves?
60] Join the Global Zero campaign
37] – With the Senate set to vote on the Republican tax bill, come together on Capitol Hill to hold a people’s filibuster to make clear that we won’t stand for massive tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the rest of us. We’re ready to speak out all night against the Republican plan to cut taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations. Join us in this fight to protect the middle class and working families.  Start at 3 PM on Thurs., Nov. 30 through Fri., Dec. 1 at 3 PM on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol, between the Capitol Building and the Supreme Court, and go until the Senate votes on the Republican tax bill. Take action before it is too late →  This event is being coordinated in partnership with Tax March, Indivisible Guide, Center For American Progress Action Fund, Americans for Tax Fairness, CREDO Mobile,, Organizing for Action, and AFSCME.  Go to

38] – On Fri., Dec. 1 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! This vigil will take place at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contract Art @ or at 202-360-6416. 

39] – On Fri., Dec. 1 from noon to 1 PM, join a Women in Black peace vigil. A vigil will take place in McKeldin Square at the corner of Light and Pratt Sts. Another one is at Roland Park Place, 830 W. 40th St, Baltimore. 21211. Wear black. Dress for who knows what kind of weather. Bring your own poster or help with the "NO WAR IN MY NAME" banner.  When there are others to stand with, you don't need to carry the burden alone. Do this to be in solidarity with others....when everything around us says “Be afraid of the stranger.” Carpool and parking available. Just send an email that you need a ride [].  Peace signs will be available.

40] – There is usually a silent vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends Meeting, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on Dec. 1. Black Lives Matter.  

41] – The First Friday Movie Nights will continue at Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles St. on Dec. 1 with I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO and on Fri., Jan. 5 with CHASING CORAL.  The film will begin at 7:15 PM, following the vigil from 5 to 6 PM and a potluck meal from 6 from 7 PM. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO is about the life of the prophet James Baldwin, and it features interviews and performances by one of this country’s greatest writer. There will be snacks and some discussion after the film. "Chasing Coral" (postponed from Nov. 3) is an award-winning documentary showing the beauty of undersea gardens and their decline. Enjoy a visual tropical get-away in the middle of winter! Contact Megan Shook <>.

42] – On Fri., Dec. 1 at 6 PM, There's No Place Like YES! It will occur at the Impact Hub Baltimore, 10 E. North Ave., Baltimore 21202.  The Youth Empowered Society is hosting a silent auction to raise funds to support youth who experience homelessness. The event will include a program, raffles, items for bid, food and beverages. A major auction item includes a one week stay at Villa Zouberi in Nea-Makri, East Attica Greece. This newly renovated house is 100 meters from the beach, tavernas/ restaurants and nightlife. The accommodation fits up to 8 people. It is also a 10 minute drive to the port of Rafina for quick escapes to the island. East Attica is on the coast of the Petalioi Gulf of the Aegean Sea in the easternmost part of the Attica Peninsula. Additional auction items include tickets to the American Visionary Art Museum, a signed baseball by Cal Ripken, and gift cards to local restaurants and grocery stores like Birroteca and Mom's Organic Market.

43] – There is a special screening and panel discussion surrounding Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated and critically acclaimed documentary, 13th. ADMISSION IS FREE, but you can reserve your seat at The title of DuVernay’s documentary refers to the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States…” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the current rate of mass criminalization and the state of the American prison industry is easily and articulately laid out by DuVernay, with a host of featured guests throughout the film.

The panel includes HANS CHARLES, the Emmy-nominated Director of Photography for “13th,” SUZANNE KAY, an award-winning filmmaker, ADRIAN MULDROW, who has worked with thousands of individuals returning home from prison. The moderator is JANICE HAYES-WILLIAMS, an Annapolis native and a historian and writer. This screening is presented in partnership with Maryland Hall's Faith Goldstein/Jesse Cunitz Center for Film and New Media, and takes place on Fri., Dec. 1 from 6:30 to 9:30 PM in the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. 801 Chase St., Annapolis 21401.

44] – On Fri., Dec. 1 at 7 PM, come to the Free First-Friday Film @ the Peace Center of Delaware County, 1001 Old Sproul Rd., Springfield, PA to see SOME MOTHER’S SON,“ 1996, directed and written by Terry George with some help from Jim Sheridan. A 1981 hunger strike in a Belfast prison is the historical inspiration for the drama, which attempts to focus on the personal dimensions of the event through its portrayal of the families of the striking prisoners.

  George was the co-author of “In the Name of the Father.” This film is anchored by Helen Mirren’s performance as Kathleen Quigley, an educated, thoughtful schoolteacher who feels the Irish-English conflict is remote from her life until her son is arrested for his involvement with the Irish Republican Army.  Yet while she supports her son and works to save his life, Kathleen nevertheless maintains her disdain for violence.

This is in great contrast to Annie Higgins, the mother of Gerard’s collaborator, who wholeheartedly embraces the IRA’s mission. Despite their differing attitudes toward the IRA violence, the women form an uneasy bond over the suffering of their imprisoned sons. Kathleen finds herself increasingly politicized but finds herself facing a moral dilemma when the prisoners begin a hunger strike. As Gerard’s next of kin, it is her right to agree to intravenous feeding should her son enter a coma; however, many people, including Annie, would see such as an act as betrayal of the strike, leaving Kathleen with a choice between saving her son’s life and respecting his cause.

Doors open at 6:30 PM for light refreshments.  A group discussion about the film follows its screening. Go to The screening is sponsored by the Brandywine Peace Community. For directions to the Peace Center of Delaware County, visit or call 484-574-1148.

45] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at  8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be on Dec. 1. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

46] – On Sat., Dec. 2 from 9 AM to noon, get over to Wreaths for Peace Pick-up (and Music for Peace CD, and Cards for Peace greeting card set) at St. Paul's UMC, 1314 Foulk Rd, Wilmington, and at Newark UMC, 69 E. Main St., Newark. Go to

47] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email

48] – On Sat., Dec. 2 from 11:45 AM to 1 PM, join the Philadelphia monthly Center City Anti-War Drone Death Walk. Meet at 12th & Arch Streets.  This is a silent vigil.  Please wear black in recognition of all the victims of Drone attacks.  It takes place the first Saturday of the month. Call Marge Van Cleef at 203-804-3013 or email  

49] – On Sat., Dec. 2 at 3 to 5 PM, get involved with the Migrant Justice Movements in the DMV, hosted by Sanctuary DMV and Smash Racism DC at St. Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1525 Newton St. NW, WDC 20010.  From Resistance to Revolution Anti-Fascist Anti-Conference Session 2 will cover Migrant Justice Movements in the DMV. Join two Sanctuary DMV members for a participatory discussion about how anti-immigrant sentiment is being used to propel the fascist movement in the DMV area. We will talk about how ICE is detaining and deporting our neighbors and community members, what local migrant justice groups are working on and talking about, and how to get involved in an accountable way. We will discuss why following the lead of directly affected folks is crucial for a sustainable and inclusive revolution and will introduce participants to our ICE raid response hotline network. How does the left in D.C. build on each other's work? What do we do well? What would help us to learn? How do we go beyond the immediate struggle into building sustainable work and study for systemic revolution? The Anti-fascist Anti-Conference will be a series of 2-3 hour teach-ins for learning and community building planned over multiple Saturdays in November and December. This is about anti-fascism as a broad and intersectional movement, informed by the knowledge that those who are already marginalized are the first and most affected by fascism.

50] – On Sat., Dec. 2 from 6 to 9 PM, join the Circles of Voices - On Homelessness In Baltimore, hosted by An End to Ignorance - Circles of Voices at the Impact Hub Baltimore, 10 E. North Ave., Baltimore 21202.   Tickets are available at Baltimore has thousands of vacant/abandoned properties, yet we also have human beings sleeping on the streets. It does not make sense. The December Circles of Voices will engage this human catastrophe. Start with a panel discussion: Peggy Webster - Baltimore Housing, Anthony Williams - "The King of Howard Street", Jim French - French Development, Wayno AmonRa - Activist, and Beth Benner - Women's Housing Coalition and J.C. Faulk - Circles of Voices.  Bring a bite and/or a drink to share.

51] – On Sat., Dec. 2 from 4 to 7 PM at the Real News Network, 231 Holliday St., Baltimore find out WHAT LESSONS DOES CUBA & CHE GUEVARA HOLD FOR BALTIMORE? Hear a report back from participants of the 50th Anniversary “In the footsteps of Che” brigade and First Secretary of the Cuban Embassy, Miguel Fraga.  Enjoy Art – Music – Poetry – Films – Refreshments.  Catch first-hand accounts by the youth delegates who traveled to Cuba.  What about Ending the U.S. Blockade? Yes, talk and learn, but come out of this forum with future actions and ways to deepen the relationship with the Cuban people and fight for justice in Baltimore, Maryland & D.C.  December 2 is the anniversary of the landing of the Granma in 1956 that began the armed struggle culminating in the liberation of Cuba from U.S. domination and the 1959 Cuban Revolution that established socialism just 90 miles from the U.S.  Donations are gladly accepted to help defray expenses. Go to  The event is hosted by the Baltimore Che Brigade.  Call 410-218-4835 or go to

52] – Enjoy a TOM NEILSON CONCERT - SATIRE & SOCIAL COMMENTARY – on Sat., Dec. 2 starting with a 6 PM potluck dinner, and the music will begin at 7 PM.  The venue is Eden Valley, 5085 Green Bridge Rd., Dayton, MD 20136, just 15 min. from Columbia-near Clarksville.  The concert is co-sponsored by Just Peace Circles, Inc & Friends of Latin America.  Contact Bette Hoover at 202-329-4667 or Leslie Salgado at 410-718-0630.  The suggested donation is $15.  Tom Neilson was the winner of the 2015 UN Nelson Mandela Award.  Go to

53] – On Fri., Dec. 8 at probably 5 PM, get ready to celebrate the Nobel Peace prize which will be awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons [ICAN] on December 10.  Save this date, as more information will be forthcoming.  Email max at mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.

54] – Please note that the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance planned visit on Mon., Nov. 6 at noon to help deliver a Healthcare not Warfare petition to Captain Mark A. Kobelja, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 4494 North Palmer Road, Bethesda 20889, was postponed. It is now re-scheduled for Thurs., Jan. 11 at noon.  And on Fri., Jan. 12 at 10 AM, we will continue the Healthcare not Warfare direct action with a visit to the White House to Say No War with North Korea, Iran or Yemen.  Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net to join NCNR on Jan. 11, Jan, 12 or both days.  We are still gathering signatures on our petition?  If wanting to sign, please provide name, hometown and your organization to Max.

55] – Attend a Conference on U.S. Foreign Military Bases from Fri., Jan. 12 through Sun., Jan. 14, 2018 at the University of Baltimore, Learning Commons Town Hall, 1415 Maryland Ave., Baltimore 21201, hosted by the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases.  Thirteen prominent peace and justice organizations in the United States are collectively organizing this conference.  Some of the groups are Black Alliance for Peace, CODEPINK, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, Popular Resistance, Veterans For Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and World Beyond War.  The conference will feature national and international experts. Several expert panels will discuss the economic, political, environmental and health costs and impact of U.S. foreign military bases in various regions of the world, including South America, Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The conference will be live streamed for the international audience.  For more information and to register for the conference, go to

56] –   Save the Dates.  The fiftieth anniversary of the Catonsville Nine draft board raid will be commemorated  There will be a CATONSVILLE NINE SYMPOSIUM on FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018 from 4 to 10 PM at the Shriver Center, University of Maryland – Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Cir, Catonsville, MD 21250. Enjoy Films, Lectures, Discussion Panels and Dramatic Readings.  There will be more CATONSVILLE NINE COMMEMORATION ACTIVITIES on SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018 from 9 AM to 2 PM at the Baltimore County Public Library Catonsville Branch, 1100 Frederick Rd., Catonsville, MD 21228.  Enjoy more Films, Lectures, Discussion Panels and Dramatic Readings.  Go to


After 44 years of resisting weapons and war, Jonah House is Baltimore is in danger of shutting down. Two of the three core members have announced their intention to leave the community as of May 2018. That leaves one core member, Joe Byrne, who will remain to recruit and re-form intentional community. But if no one steps forward, Jonah House will have to close.

Jonah House was founded by Phil Berrigan, Liz McAlister, and others, in 1973, during the Vietnam War. It was a center of resistance to that war. When the war ended, the focus of resistance became the nuclear arms race. This resistance blossomed into the Plowshares movement. Jonah House members have spent years in jail for Plowshares disarmament actions. Other members have spent years supporting them, and doing the work of the community in their absence. Resistance to weapons and war continues at Jonah House. More recently, Jonah House has also become involved in racial justice efforts in Baltimore, and the environmental justice movement.

Jonah House is planted in the middle of a 22-acre, mostly-wooded cemetery in West Baltimore called St. Peter’s. Maintaining and slowly restoring St. Peter’s Cemetery is the work that pays the bills for the community. Jonah House also uses the property to serve the living as well as honor the dead. Our gardens and orchards feed the Jonah House community, and the surrounding neighborhood community, via a food pantry and weekly food distribution to low-income neighbors. We envision the cemetery—particularly the 11-acre forest patch—as a haven for the people of the neighborhood, international peace activists, and numberless living beings.

Jonah House is also an interfaith spiritual community. We pray or meditate together daily, and our spiritual practice informs and empowers everything we do, whether in the fields or in the streets.

To continue the vision, Jonah House is looking for a few new core members willing to commit to a two-year stint. We are also open to short- and long-term interns (3 months to a year). The work of radical peacemaking, direct service to the poor, and stewarding the land requires workers. We pray that God will send laborers to the vineyard (yes, we have that too) and that Jonah House will continue to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable for another 44 years!  For more information, call 443-804-3410, or email us at

58] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs, records, tarps and table cloths, contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski at

59] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

60] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

“One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Tax-Cut Weapon in the GOP's One-Sided Class War

The Tax-Cut Weapon in the GOP's One-Sided Class War
Monday, November 27, 2017

By Nicole ColsonSocialist Worker | News Analysis

These were a few of the media descriptions of the Republicans' slash-and-burn tax cut plan passed by the House of Representatives on November 16. And the alarmism wasn't confined to left publications, either -- it was the business mouthpiece Forbes that worried about the end of sanity.
The House bill will have to be reconciled with whatever version the Senate passes, and there are indications of enough opposition from Republican senators to put the Senate legislation in danger of collapsing, like the Trumpcare proposal earlier this year.
But if anything remotely close to the plan passed by the House or the one being cooked up by the Senate do end up being signed into law, you can be sure about a couple things.
First, the Republican tax rip-off will aid and abet a massive and flagrant shift of wealth to the already rich and superrich at the expense of working-class and poor people.
Second, the inevitable deficit that results will be used as a justification to further starve already chronically malnourished government programs that working and poor people desperately need.
After failing so far to get a single major legislative accomplishment, the Trump administration is pressing hard for the tax plan to make it onto the president's desk -- and the bulk of the Republicans in Congress, despite their largely mutual fear and loathing of Trump, are on board.
Readers of will likely be familiar with many of the low -- and even lower -- points of the House bill. In short, it's a massive giveaway to corporations and the rich and an unmitigated disaster for working and poor people.
According to an analysis by the Tax Policy Institute, those making less than $55,000 a year would see almost no change in their taxes, while those in the top 1 percent would receive nearly 50 percent of the total benefits.
Among other things, there are cuts to the estate tax starting in 2018 -- and its total repeal by 2024. That alone amounts to a $265 billion tax break for the top 0.2 percent -- a handful of the wealthiest families in this country, like the Walton family, the Koch brothers...and, oh yes, Trump and his Village of the Damned brood.
In early November, Trump told reporters, "My accountant called me and said 'You're going to get killed in this bill.'" Either his accountant is an idiot or Trump is a liar.
In fact, under the House plan, the Trump family personally stands to save more than $1 billion in taxes -- mainly through the repeal of the estate and alternative minimum taxes.
The plan also includes the largest one-time cut in taxes for large corporations ever -- with the top tax rate dropping from 35 percent to 20 percent.
And that doesn't include all of the other boons to business -- like the plan to give companies that currently shelter their profits in low-tax havens abroad a special 12 percent rate to bring those funds back to the US Apple alone has an estimated $252 billion socked away offshore and stands to make a mint if the proposal passes.
Some of the provisions are such a naked giveaway to the wealthy that they seem like they could only have been dreamt up by a cartoon super-villain -- like the provision in the Senate bill that would give those who lease or own private jets a tax break on the cost of their maintenance. Time to take the family jet in for an oil change!
"No good can come of this plan unless you are wealthy or a corporation," declared the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
A lot of bad will almost certainly result for those who aren't, however.
Americans who are poor and even those considered middle class will see the miniscule tax cuts they might receive -- on average, just $50 or less for those making less than $55,000 a year, according to the Tax Policy Center -- evaporate in 10 years' time.
Under the House plan, by 2023, only 40 percent of Americans would be getting a tax cut at all. And the Senate proposal would actually raise taxes on families earning $10,000 to 75,000 a year over the course of the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Older Americans will be particularly hard hit by provisions in the House bill that cut into the ability to write off medical expenses, as well as caps on mortgage interest deductions, property tax write-offs and cuts in personal exemptions.
In fact, the House bill is a masterpiece of nickel-and-diming ordinary Americans while throwing fistfuls of cash to the rich -- like the provision to tax graduate students' tuition wavers as income, potentially increasing their taxes by an average 400 percent.
The House bill would also eliminate the $250 tax deduction that teachers are eligible to take for money spent on classroom supplies. And, predictably, if the legislation becomes law, union members will no longer be able to deduct union dues.
Blue states like New York and California will also be hit disproportionately hard since the House plan eliminates deductions for sales, income and property taxes at the state and local levels -- potentially making it more difficult for some of the most populous states in the country to raise money for education, health care and infrastructure, among other things.
As John Wasik concluded at Forbes: "Welcome to middle-class tax reform. You pay more, corporations and the super-affluent pay much, much less. It's a hurricane coming to every town, only it will somehow spare the mansions."
The rationale for cutting taxes on the kind of people who own private jets while raising them on everyone else isn't new.
It's the latest version of the age-old lie: that tax cuts for the wealthy will stimulate the economy by prompting a wave of investment and growth. The old trickle-down mythology has been disproven for decades.
So why do it? It's not popular among ordinary Americans -- according to a Quinnipiac poll, people disapprove of the current Republican tax plan by a two-to-one margin.
The answer -- or at least one part of it -- is that Republicans, faced with an exceptionally unpopular chief executive and a long-and-getting-longer list of legislative failures, are feeling the need to deliver to their base.
No, not the base that the media inaccurately describes as concentrated among white workers in Rust Belt states.
The Republicans' real base: the millionaires and billionaires who fund them.
You don't have to take Socialist Worker's word that this tax plan is about the GOP delivering to its wealthy backers -- Republicans themselves have announced it to the world.
As White House chief economic adviser and former Goldman Sachs bankster Gary Cohn recently bragged to CNBC's John Harwood, "The most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan."
As Sen. Bernie Sanders recently told CNN's Jake Tapper: "What this is about is fulfilling Republican promises made to wealthy campaign contributors. There is a reason why the billionaire class provides hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions to Republicans. And now is payback time."
Sanders' point was confirmed recently when Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham admitted to an NBC News reporter that if the Republicans don't deliver on a tax cut for Corporate America, the "financial contributions will stop."
But there's more at stake here than simply scratching the backs of GOP donors. The Republican tax cut drive is part of a decades-long "starvation diet" for social services and other government programs -- a deliberate strategy to advance an ongoing neoliberal agenda of privatization and tax cuts.
Calling it a "supply-side cult fantasy," Charles Pierce wrote in The Washington Post that, "in keeping with the lifelong goals of Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, the House budget was straightforward pilfering of the national wealth by the wealthy from the poor and the middle class and a mechanism to starve what's left of the social safety net."
Cutting taxes today will allow policymakers to claim tomorrow that there's just not enough government revenue to go around -- and the first things on the chopping block, as always, will be the programs that poor and working-class people depend on the most. The tax cuts, if passed, will almost certainly be used down the road to justify cuts in the big entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- if not their outright privatization.
The Trump administration, despite its perpetual missteps and ineptitude, does present the 1 Percent with their best opportunity to further restructure the US economy even more along neoliberal lines. This would increase inequality in a country in which three billionaires -- Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos -- now own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the American population combined, according to a November analysis from the Institute for Policy Studies.
In the US, notes Paul Buchheit, the average 1 Percent household made nearly $2.6 million in the 12 months up to mid-2017, largely from gains in the stock market.
In fact, says Buchheit, since the depths of the recession of 2007-08, the US stock market has tripled in value -- but about 90 percent of the $18 trillion dollars in increased value has gone to the richest 10 percent of Americans.
But despite this, the rich are demanding ever more.
While he was rightly taking Republicans and their 1 Percent backers to task, what Bernie Sanders didn't say is that the billionaire class also funds the party whose presidential nomination he sought last year: the Democratic Party.
The enormous transfer of wealth from ordinary people to the rich in the US isn't a new phenomenon. Nor is the drive to cut and privatize government programs and services, slash workers' wages or bust what remains of US unions. All of this has been taking place for decades, including when the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama occupied the White House.
In a 2012 series of articles on inequality, Reuters noted the trend of the Clinton and Obama administrations in directing:
trillions of tax dollars to private-sector contractors by outsourcing government operations and through record spending on war, national security, science and technology.

President Bill Clinton launched his "reinventing government" initiative in the 1990s. The federal money flowing to business rose 7 percent during his second term and 72 percent under Bush, who outsourced a record amount of national-security and defense work after the 2001 attacks by al Qaeda and through two wars. The upward trend continued under President Barack Obama until leveling off in 2010.

The fact that the Democratic Party doesn't represent the interests of ordinary working-class and poor people -- remember Hillary Clinton's repeated bragging about the billionaires who supported her campaign, for example -- leaves people with little real choice at election time and little room to express their political discontent the rest of the time.
Often enough, especially when the Republicans are in office, working people cast their ballots against the GOP class warriors for the 1 Percent, which means voting for the Democratic "opposition."
But the Democrats resist at all costs any real mobilization of class anger -- because a party beholden to corporate interests doesn't want to risk the eruption of the kind of widespread protests and organizing that might also hold it accountable.
As Sharon Smith writes in the International Socialist Review:
[I]t is important to acknowledge that the "out of touch" Democratic Party establishment has played a key role in the entire neoliberal project and does not offer a viable alternative to the class and social status quo. Meanwhile, the working class is desperately seeking a voice in electoral politics.

All of this has helped lead to a polarized and volatile political climate -- one in which millions can march against Trump and his agenda after his inauguration and thousands can mobilize to stop Obamacare from being repealed, yet the tax-slashing Republicans and their corporate backers remain in a position to try to push through a tax plan opposed by the vast majority of people.
The Republicans' openly stated plan to rob the rest of us could become another lightning rod for protest and grassroots organizing, like the demonstrations of opposition to Trumpcare.
Already, graduate employees on several campuses are mobilizing to oppose the House's plan to tax their tuition waivers, and some of the liberal organizations that helped publicize the health care protests are calling for local actions to challenge Republican lawmakers.
But the opposition that develops around non-economic issues also has a class dimension -- because the neoliberal agenda that has driven inequality to historic heights is closely intertwined with a conservative social agenda.
Thus, millions of women today have been moved to say #MeToo -- speaking out against rampant sexual assault and harassment they've faced in their workplaces and personal lives -- and the upsurge has targeted a host of powerful men, including media mogul Harvey Weinstein and right-wing bigot Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, in particular for the ways someone like Weinstein could use his privileged position to abuse women.
As Republicans gear up to inflict another round of economic misery on ordinary people, our best hope to push them back is to seize on all these struggles -- and build on every opportunity to create an independent opposition that is ready to fight.
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
Nicole Colson is a reporter for Socialist Worker and a contributor to the International Socialist Review and CounterPunch. She frequently writes on civil liberties, the environment, women's rights and culture. Her work has appeared in Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland (edited by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank) and The Global Fight for Climate Justice (edited by Ian Angus).

By Robert Pollin, Truthout | Report
By LeeAnn Hall, OtherWords | Op-Ed
By Bernadette Demientieff, OtherWords | Op-Ed

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Your Taxpayer Dollars Are Funding Agribusiness Propaganda


Your Taxpayer Dollars Are Funding Agribusiness Propaganda

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

By Anna MeyerOtherWords | Op-Ed
(Photo: Pixabay; Edited: LW / TO)
(Photo: Pixabay; Edited: LW / TO)
While Congress hasn't accomplished much in 2017, it did manage to pass a budget resolution -- and within that budget, a sum of $3 million stands out.
Congress appropriated that $3 million to fund the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. That's a partnership between the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) "to provide consumer education on agricultural biotechnology and food and animal feed ingredients derived from biotechnology."
What they're really talking about is a promotional campaign for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
There are two major flaws with this plan.
First, the FDA is tasked with building a campaign around the "safety and benefits of crop biotechnology." But what about the risks, concerns, and unknowns?
Leaving those out means using government agencies and taxpayer funds for corporate propaganda. It benefits companies like Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Syngenta, and Bayer, which collectively earn billions of dollars from these technologies, but does little to inform consumers.
Second, the initiative will push forward "science-based" education. The question is: Whose science are they using?
There's very little independent or government research on GMOs and their corresponding pesticides. The lack of unbiased and comprehensive science on biotechnology is a result of corporations controlling who can do research on biotech products.
Much of the existing research is either industry-funded or straight out of biotechnology companies' own labs. The existing regulatory framework relies on voluntary reporting and doesn't require independent verification to prove the safety of new products before they land on dinner plates across the country.
If the government's going to educate consumers on biotechnology, it must first do its own unbiased studies on the long-term environmental and health impacts of existing GMOs and pesticides. It also needs a much more rigorous -- and mandatory -- regulatory process.
The government must tell consumers the full truth, presenting balanced and unbiased information on the benefits, risks, and concerns around biotechnology. The FDA must openly address consumer concerns about long-term environmental impacts, corporate influence on government research, and corporate control of our industrialized food system.
We're at a turning point in history where we can reverse the harm that we've done to our communities, farmland, and environment.
Industrialized, chemical-intensive agriculture designed to work around biotechnology is a failed system. It's increasing herbicide use, exacerbating pesticide resistance, polluting our waterways, soil, and air, and promoting highly processed food and confined animal production.
In order to build a more sustainable food system for our health and our climate, we need to move away from chemical-intensive agriculture. Rather than promoting corporate interests, that $3 million would be much better used to promote the transition to regenerative organic agriculture, to build urban food hubs, and to aid the next generation of farmers in accessing land and resources.
The FDA doesn't need a biotechnology marketing initiative. It needs an initiative to bring back public trust in federal regulatory agencies, and move the country forward towards truly sustainable agriculture.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
Anna Meyer is the food campaigns fellow at Green America.
By Ebony Slaughter-Johnson, AlterNet | Report
By Ken Morris, Truthout | Op-Ed
By Bob Lord, | Op-Ed

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs