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In This Edition

Chris Walker returns with, "Trump Calls Jan. 6 Committee's Request To Speak With Ivanka 'Very Unfair.'"

Ralph Nader finds, "Lost Opportunities In Joe Biden's News Conference."

Margaret Kimberley explores, "On The Biden Plantation."

Jim Hightower exclaims, "Alert: Kartoonus Americanus Is Going Extinct!"

Jesse Jackson returns with, "Voting Rights Will Be Dead Without Street Heat."

John Nichols says, "Pandemic Profiteering Made Billionaires Dramatically Richer."

James Donahue examines, "A House Divided . . .."

David Swanson concludes, "Munich Is Not In Ukraine: Appeasement Begins At Home."

David Suzuki wonders, "Is There A Rational Argument Against Climate Action?"

Charles P. Pierce says, "The SWAT Team Of The Wingnut Legal Apparatus Is Lined Up Behind This One."

Juan Cole explains, "Biden Still Determined To Pass The Blockbuster Green Energy Package In BBB; Here's How He Can Do It."

Robert Reich goes, "Where Egos Dare: Manchin And Sinema Show How Senate Spotlight Corrupts."

Thom Hartmann wonders, "Can America Answer The Call Of Kidney Karma?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "Hong Kong To Cull Hamsters Following Pro-Democracy Protest," but first, Uncle Ernie asks, "Are We Beyond The Point Of No Return?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Benson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, CNBC, Jim Watson, Susan Walsh, MSNBC, Drew Angerer, Tom Williams, David Roemmele, Michael Reynolds, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments -

The Quotable Quote -
The Cartoon Corner -
To End On A Happy Note -
Have You Seen This -
Parting Shots -

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Are We Beyond The Point Of No Return?
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"Increasing amount of evidence suggests that the oceanic and atmospheric circulation are shifting towards higher latitudes under warming climate." ~~~ Hu Yang

I see where Greenland could continue to melt for millennia even if global warming stopped today!

The warming that humans cause today may have ripple effects far into the future, scientists warned in a study yesterday that finds the vast Greenland ice sheet could continue melting for centuries after greenhouse gases are stabilized.

Greenland has a delayed response to changes in the Earth's climate, and even if the planet stopped warming tomorrow, Greenland may continue losing ice for hundreds or even thousands of years.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One and led by Hu Yang of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, used model simulations to look back thousands of years into Greenland's history.

Scientists already have a pretty good idea of how the ice sheet has shifted through the millennia, thanks to ancient ice and sediment samples they've drilled out of the ice sheet and the surrounding ocean floor. These samples, some of which are many thousands of years old, contain chemical information that can tell scientists how the Earth's climate has changed through time.

Using this information, the scientists used a climate model to simulate thousands of years of natural climate change. They also used an ice sheet model to evaluate the Greenland ice sheet's response to the rise and fall of Earth's temperatures.

They found that Greenland's response to global climate change has tended to lag, sometimes by thousands of years.

During periods of natural cooling, for instance, the ice sheet has begun to grow-and then it continued to grow for some time even after the climate starts warming again. Eventually, the ice sheet flips and starts to shrink again. Then it continues shrinking even after temperatures stop rising.

That's because the Greenland ice sheet is such a large, complex system.

The ice sheet loses mass when ice begins to melt or break away in chunks into the ocean. But it also gains mass as snow falls and accumulates on the surface. The balance between these two processes controls whether the ice sheet is shrinking or growing at any given point in time.

Even if ice begins to melt as the climate warms, it doesn't always happen fast enough to immediately outweigh the amount of mass the ice sheet is gaining back. It can take time.

At the same time, the ice sheet is so large that once it starts losing ice at faster and faster speeds, it can take a long time to slow back down again.

The study finds that this lagging process has gone on, intermittently, for tens of thousands of years.

And it appears to be continuing in the age of human-caused climate change.

The Earth's climate has been warming for at least a century, driven by increasing human emissions of greenhouse gases. But multiple studies have found that the Greenland ice sheet didn't start shrinking until around the 1980s.

Since then, it's been losing ice at faster and faster speeds. Recent research has found that the Greenland ice sheet is currently losing about seven times more ice than it was in the 1990s.

That doesn't mean immediate climate action doesn't make a difference for the Greenland ice sheet.

On the contrary, studies suggest that the speed at which Greenland melts in the future depends heavily on how quickly humans manage to curb global warming. Even if some melting is locked in for the future, the losses would be far faster under more severe warming scenarios.

That's true not only for the Greenland ice sheet, but for the Earth's other frozen places as well. One recent study, published last May in Nature, used models to simulate the amount of future ice melt under different potential climate scenarios.

If the Earth were to warm by around 3 degrees Celsius between now and the end of the century-a likely scenario under current global climate policies and commitments to the Paris climate agreement-then all the global ice melt combined would probably contribute about 10 inches of sea-level rise.

Meeting the Paris Agreement's most ambitious targets, on the other hand-that is, keeping global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius-would make a tremendous impact. It would cut those sea-level contributions in half! However, we can safely assume that inaction by this government and most other governments we can expect a four or five degree rise in world temperatures by the end of the century!


06-28-1943 ~ 01-22-2022
Thanks for the music!

08-10-1956 ~ 01-25-2022
Thanks for the film!

10-16-1951 ~ 01-26-2022
Thanks for the film!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can?


Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2022 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand -up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

White House Advisor Ivanka Trump looks on as President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 20, 2020.

Trump Calls Jan. 6 Committee's Request To Speak With Ivanka 'Very Unfair'
By Chris Walker

Former President Donald Trump derided the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack over its request to speak with his daughter and former White House adviser, Ivanka Trump.

The request from the January 6 commission is voluntary, and Ivanka Trump has not yet been served with a subpoena order requiring her to speak.

Nevertheless, Trump described the situation as "very unfair," and said the commission consisted of "vicious people" for daring to ask his daughter to speak with them.

Ivanka Trump, who served in an official role as an aide to her father while he was president, was in the White House the day that the Capitol was attacked by a mob of Trump loyalists, shortly after the former president gave an incendiary speech telling them to "fight like hell" or they "[wouldn't] have a country anymore."

The select committee wants to speak with Ivanka Trump about an Electoral College scheme that the Donald Trump campaign purportedly wanted to use and the former president's actions during the Capitol breach.

"Given Ms. Trump's presence in the White House on January 6th, the Select Committee is seeking her knowledge about the former President's actions related to the deployment of the National Guard to respond to the violence," according to a press release from the commission.

Commission chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) elaborated on the request, stating they wanted to know whether Trump impeded or ignored requests to quell the attack.

"The Committee has identified no evidence that President Trump issued any order, or took any other action, to deploy the guard that day," Thompson said in his letter to Ivanka Trump. "Nor does it appear that President Trump made any calls at all to the Department of Justice or any other law enforcement agency to request deployment of their personnel to the Capitol."

The committee also wants to speak with Ivanka about her father's "state of mind" during the attack, Thompson added.

Notably, the former president has not been as protective of the adult children of his opponents. In October 2020, two weeks before Election Day, Trump demanded that Attorney General William Barr investigate Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, over allegations made in a heavily disputed story that was published in The New York Post at the time.

"We have got to get the attorney general to act. He's got to act, and he's got to act fast," Trump said.

(c) 2022 Chris Walker is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analysing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.

Lost Opportunities In Joe Biden's News Conference
By Ralph Nader

President Joe Biden broke the record for the longest presidential press conference ever - going nearly two hours fielding question after question. He stood that long to prove his stamina and dispel bigoted charges of ageism.

How did he do by his own standards? First, his opening remarks naturally touted the bright spots in the economy and the administration's efforts to control Covid-19 during his first year in office. However, he missed an important opportunity to connect with the public and focus the tunnel-vision media on the serious legislation he wants to advance.

For example, early on Biden proposed reversing some of the tax cuts for giant corporations and the super-wealthy that Trump rammed through Congress in 2017. Biden did not say why it is urgent for Congress to act on this matter or explain that these taxes are necessary not just for fairness, but to pay for the major proposals he has on Capitol Hill. Therefore, the media will not pay attention and assume he has given up.

Calling himself a "union guy" for decades, Biden inexplicably did not give a shout-out for a higher federal minimum wage, now frozen at $7.25 an hour. The House Democrats passed a bill increasing the minimum wage in stages to $15 but the bill is stuck in the Senate and threatened by an anti-worker GOP filibuster. He also could have brought national attention to the House-passed "Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act" that makes it less difficult to form unions. This legislation is also mired in the Senate. The President's failure to mention these proposals signals to the press that these bills are off the table for this election year. Consequently, reporters don't write about these important measures.

Biden portrayed his Republican enemies in the Senate with weak language, asking thrice whether there was anything the GOP was for. That criticism could have been far more penetrating had he enumerated ten proposals, passed in the House, that the corporate-indentured Republicans in both the House and Senate were against big time. Imagine the impact, for example, of noting the GOP blocking the renewal of $300 or $250 monthly checks to over 65 million children (both liberal and conservative families in need) in a mid-winter pandemic. Why not mention expanding Medicare for the elderly, or rebuilding America in every community-the latter desired by just about every local chamber of commerce, union, and small business? Such concise contrasts by Biden would have sent the cruel duo, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy reeling.

Biden spoke of infrastructure, to be sure, but didn't highlight the appeal to specific local interests and the overwhelming public support. He should have also warned big business to stop grabbing and corrupting the safety net assistance for deprived small business, under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). He could have referred to the Inspector General's exposes at the Small Business Administration (SBA), which have gone almost unnoticed.

Biden marveled at the fact that not one Republican senator has dissented from draconian do-nothing Republican leaders. Unfortunately, the Democrats assured the Republican lock-step by not trying months ago to intensely spin-off some GOP Senators starting with the five not running for re-election and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT). Romney says he hasn't received one call from the White House.

Presidential remarks at press conferences needn't devote more than two or three sentences to alert the country and the media to an administration's priorities. Biden's omissions were puzzling indeed by comparison to his own previous policy stands.

As a long-time corporate Democrat, it was not surprising that Biden did not mention law and order for the corporate crooks that have hugely ripped off government programs, as well as exploiting consumers and workers. But then he doesn't exactly have the strong support from the Democratic Party or the Democratic National Committee (DNC) down to the state committees whose hands are out 24/7 for corporate campaign contributions.

Equally disappointing were the reporters' questions narrowly ranging over a small number of issues - voting rights, the votes in Congress, his declining poll numbers, and Ukraine. The White House Press Corps, as the legendary pioneer Helen Thomas would politely point out, censors itself when it isn't fearful of its bosses or being sycophantic. There were no questions on what Biden wants, but omitted. There were no questions on the corporate domination of just about every sector of our government and its political economy. And there were no questions about the bloated, unauditable, draining military budget to which was added $24 billion more than Biden and the Pentagon requested.

Consumers are hurt by gouging prices, deceptive practices, and blocked remedies. Many workers have widespread occupational hazards, low pay, and few benefits, yet they are taking more opportunities in a period of temporary labor shortages to form unions among some big-box chains and retailers (Starbucks, Amazon). The White House Press Corps repeatedly fails to ask questions that ordinary people would want answered about their conditions.

When Biden signals his acceptance of only pieces of his proposals being passed, he pre-signals defeat and weakens his negotiating leverage in advance. Presidents who appear weak diminish per se their influence with Congress.

Perhaps the media's worst performance last Wednesday was their war-inciting, history-forgetting questions about Ukraine - goading a properly cautious Biden. After all, dictator Putin knows how deep Russian memories are of losing about 50 million people from western frontier invasions in World War I and World War II. They know that any Russian leader would oppose NATO, a military alliance against the Soviet Union - bringing weapons and membership to adjacent Ukraine. Nonetheless, the reporters chose war-inciting, not peace-inciting (diplomacy), questions, other than asking about what happened to his campaign promise to end the war in Yemen.

Biden, his advisers, and the Press Corps need to review their performances to avoid future ditto heading. We need to make them care enough to engage in such introspections.

(c) 2022 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super -Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Biden at Bethel AME Church Wilmington DE

On The Biden Plantation
By Margaret Kimberley

The idea that Joe Biden would provide harm reduction was created to help the unpopular candidate secure an electoral victory. The reality is a litany of lies and certain defeat for democrats at the polls. There is no harm reduction in a system dedicated to neo-liberalism and austerity.

"Biden came across as a plantation owner telling the field hands that they have a good life and ought to be grateful." This columnist wrote those words in December 2020 before Joe Biden was inaugurated. His meeting with a group designated as Black leaders was as bad as one could expect, complete with dismissal, rudeness, and outright disrespect. It was vintage Biden, a man who was never the brightest and is now elderly and not fully in command of his faculties.

But the real Biden was always an unreconstructed racist, bragging about the 1992 Crime Bill which he said would, "Do everything but hang people for jaywalking." Barack Obama chose him as a running mate precisely because of his credentials among conservative, race baiting democrats. Having run as a fake progressive Obama needed someone decidedly in the conservative camp to balance the ticket.

In 2020 Obama and the rest of the party establishment decided to make Biden the nominee, ordering others out of the race and clearing the field for the candidate who had no constituency outside of the wealthy individuals and corporations that keep the democrats afloat. A combination of fundraising prowess and antipathy towards Donald Trump created a large voter turnout and Biden won the popular and electoral vote.

The democrats' propaganda machine played no small role in dragging Biden over the finish line. They settled on the term "harm reduction" to convince the skeptical that they should put aside their concerns and vote for the man they didn't want. Biden won with a record breaking number of votes, and in cities across the country democrats quite literally partied in the street when he won.

Biden was propelled by the same propaganda effort when his term began one year ago. We were told that he was "the most progressive president since FDR." The democrats are still living off their reputation from Franklin Roosevelt's Social Security Act and the creation of Medicaid and Medicare during the Lyndon Johnson administration. No democrat has created anything of the sort in the last 50 years but the memories lingers and scoundrels evoke the past in order to fool the people in the 21st century.

We were told that Biden's stimulus plan and child tax credits would "cut child poverty in half." Absent an increase in the federal minimum wage and lacking permanent legislation, it did no such thing. The child tax credit ended in 2021. Unemployment compensation ended three months ago, and republican led states refused to provide the additional payments that congress had authorized. They did so without push back from Biden or from democrats in congress.

Now Biden's approval ratings have plummeted and it isn't hard to understand why. Put simply, he lied in order to get votes. He said he would forgive student loan debt for those who attended public colleges and whose families met income guidelines. He could have done this without congressional approval but he hasn't acted. It is clear that he never had any intention of raising the minimum wage, using the Senate Parliamentarian as an excuse to avoid doing what he promised voters he would do.

The enormity of the duplicity is galling to millions of people. After Trump advocated raising a stimulus payment from $1,400 to $2,000 Biden did as well, but after assuming office $2,000 turned into just $1,400. Adding the $600 already received to $1,400 was an outright betrayal but it is one that was explained away by the corporate media and democratic party operatives.

The Build Back Better bill languishes. Democrats try to placate the oligarchs who Biden promised, "Nothing will fundamentally change," while also pretending to be the harm reduction that voters came to expect. Having failed to do what the people want, Biden then made a phony effort to pass voting rights legislation. That bill is dead on arrival but Black voters are still seen as the group that is easiest to fool and that can be silenced with a stirring speech instead of action. The trap of seeing Black politics as little more than keeping republicans at bay always ends in defeat and humiliation.

"Progressives" in congress join in giving Biden cover. Pramila Jayapal said, "I give him an A," and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced that Biden, "Exceeded expectations." At the end of the day sleight of hand and Trumpophobia were supposed to silence people who turned out in droves to put Biden in office.

Biden is nothing if not consistent and transparent. He does see himself as the boss who tells Black people that they shouldn't complain. As he famously said in the December 2020 meeting, "If it doesn't count for y'all to hell with y'all!"

But now the bloom is truly off the rose. The campaign lies and the failure to address the covid pandemic make it difficult for all but the dead enders to support Biden and vice president Kamala Harris. The Black political class will fulfill their role and continue to put lipstick on the pig. The people aren't fooled though and they won't turn out in the numbers needed to keep democrats in control of congress. Although democratic control means very little. The military industrial complex gets $770 billion in funding regardless of who is in control. Biden has pledged not to provide medicare for all and he didn't even present a public option for health care. As for claims that the democrats are more environmentally friendly, Biden has approved more oil and gas drilling permits on public land than the Trump administration did.

Biden is hoisted on his own petard of obedience to the ruling class. Black voters get little more than improved twitter posts. Then again, when Kamala Harris writes drivel such as, "Because of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, America is moving again. That's what infrastructure is all about: getting people moving," one wonders if even that is true.

Biden isn't predisposed to do what Black people need. All the platitudes and promises are inevitably hollow. In any case, there is no harm reduction in a system dedicated to neo-liberalism and austerity. At the end of the day, millions of people have nothing except hope that the plantation master of the moment will somehow be kinder.

(c) 2022 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e -mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

Alert: Kartoonus Americanus Is Going Extinct!

By Jim Hightower

Right before our eyes, an invaluable American species is fast disappearing from view. Kar-toon-us A-mer-i-kan-as.

These are the newspaper cartoonists who've long delighted readers and infuriated power elites. And there's nothing natural about their sudden decline - its not the result of a declining talent pool, and certainly not due to a lack of political targets. Rather, what's happening is that their media habitat is being intentionally destroyed.

Around the start of the 20th century, some 2,000 newspapers featured their own, full-time cartoonists, but in just the last decade, those healthy media environments have shriveled. So now, only a couple dozen newspapers have these vibrant artistic journalists on staff. One major reason is that most US papers have been gobbled up by profiteering hedge funds that have merged, purged, and plundered these essential local sources of news and democratic discourse.

The overriding interest of these Wall Street owners is to cash out a paper's financial assets and haul off the booty to boost their personal wealth - journalism and democracy be damned. Thus, they view cartoonists as a paycheck that can be easily diverted into their corporate pockets, dismissing the fact that enjoying good local cartoonists ranks as one of top reasons people give for buying the paper. Note that this mass extermination is not old-school media censorship, but slight-of-hand money censorship by the new monopolistic order of newspapering. Political cartoonists are still free to express any opinion they want - but the Wall Street system locks them out of their primary marketplace. Censorship is ugly, but eliminating paychecks... well, that's just business.

The good news is that these freewheeling artistic spirits of the cartooning craft are inventing new ways to connect with America's strong consumer demand for their fun and important work. To get connected and get active with them, go to

(c) 2022 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Demonstrators hold a sign at rally with Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) outside the U.S. Capitol to urge the Senate to pass voting rights legislation on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

Voting Rights Will Be Dead Without Street Heat
As a corrosive, undermining force, minority rule mocks democracy as it allows the few to pocket the gold while the many get the shaft.
By Jesse Jackson

Can America be a democracy if a minority writes the rules to entrench minority rule?

Last week, Senate Republicans invoking the cause of "states' rights" united in a filibuster to block democratic reforms, including the effort to revive the Voting Rights Act. They were empowered to do so by the decision of two wayward Democratic senators - Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona - to protect the filibuster, choosing obstruction over reforms they claim to support. The 50 Republicans voting against reform represent 41 million fewer voters than the 50 Democrats who support reform.

For African Americans, the Republican commitment to rig the rules for the minority is particularly ominous. "States' rights" was the cover story used by the Southern plantation class after the Civil War to suppress the Black vote and impose apartheid - legal segregation - on the South. Today, "states' rights" is used to justify systematic Republican efforts to make it harder to vote, particularly in urban areas with high numbers of Blacks and other people of color.

For African Americans, freedom, citizenship and the right to vote are inextricably linked. With the victory of the Union in the Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were passed - freeing the slaves, requiring equal protection under the law, and protecting the right to vote. Those rights were trampled by segregation. It took 100 years and the civil rights movement to end segregation and pass the Voting Rights Act.

Now we witness a reaction once more as Republicans seek to suppress the vote. Once more they invoke states' rights to oppose federal efforts to protect this basic right.

The question now is what can be done about it. This is not a time for the wringing of hands, for giving up. It is a time to act.

The Biden administration still has statutory authority under what is left of the Voting Rights Act - as well as constitutional authority - to protect the right to vote. As attorney Gerald Griggs argued, the president could issue executive orders to empower the Justice Department to send in federal monitors in states that are sued by the Justice Department for violating the right to vote. The attorney general could file suit against states violating the Voting Rights Act and order suspension of all tests and devices that abridge the right to vote. The attorney general could use the enforcement power of the Voting Rights Act to prevent state officials from undertaking voter purges or efforts to impede the casting or tabulation of the vote.

These laws are on the books. It is time to set up a special task force to ensure that they are enforced.

But judicial action is not sufficient. In the end, we won the right to vote - and passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 - not because the Constitution demanded it, or the courts ordered it.

We won because people marched, demonstrated, and risked their lives to demand the right to vote. The Voting Rights Act was passed in the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., but it was won on the bridge in Selma, Alabama. Lyndon Johnson and Congress were reacting to a demand that could no longer be ignored.

We need street heat. Manchin struts around Washington rationalizing his vote against support for families with children, against paid family leave, against lower prescription drug prices, against tuition-free community college. He represents one of the poorest states in the union, in dire need of investment and reform. He needs to be reminded where he comes from - and who he is supposed to represent. We need street heat with a huge march in the streets in West Virginia.

And we need street heat on the anniversary of Selma. Pundits say people don't care about the right to vote. Republicans, they argue, can filibuster it and pay no price at the polls. To change that, citizens of conscience must mobilize once more - going back to Selma - and then across the 50 states to demand that the right to vote be protected.

The stakes are very high. Minority rule mocks democracy. It is corrosive, undermining the legitimacy of our government. It is destructive, allowing the few to pocket the gold while the many get the shaft. Now is the time for the majority to make their voices heard.

Voting rights!

(c) 2022 Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

Pandemic Profiteering Made Billionaires Dramatically Richer
By John Nichols

While millions of essential workers, employed as nurses, bus drivers and grocery store clerks, risked their lives in the most challenging moments of the coronavirus pandemic, billionaires enjoyed the comfort and safety of their mansions.

As the pandemic surged, and surged, and surged again, people who worked on the frontlines out of a sense of duty to humanity, or because they needed wages to survive, ended up getting sick and dying at alarming rates. At the same time, wealthy Americans retreated from crowded cities to country homes and beachfront villas to ride things out in splendid isolation.

In a fair and honest economic system, essential workers would have seen their wealth expand. And billionaires would have seen their bankrolls contract.

But that's not what happened. Billionaires got exponentially richer - so much so that wealth trackers began to speculate on whether Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk would be the first trillionaire.

"America's billionaires have grown $2.1 trillion richer during the pandemic, their collective fortune skyrocketing by 70 percent - from just short of $3 trillion at the start of the COVID crisis on March 18, 2020, to over $5 trillion on October 15, 2021," explained a fall 2021 study from the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness. During the same period, the billionaire class expanded from 614 to 745.

The $5 trillion in wealth that was locked up by those 745 billionaires "was two-thirds more than the $3 trillion in wealth held by the bottom 50 percent of U.S. households estimated by the Federal Reserve Board," noted the report. "The great good fortune of these billionaires over the past 19 months is even starker when contrasted with the devastating impact of coronavirus on working people. Almost 89 million Americans have lost jobs, over 44.9 million have been sickened by the virus, and over 724,000 have died from it."

Since the publication of that report, the death toll has grown. So, too, has the level of inequality. This economic imbalance will continue for as long as federal officials refuse to address the transfer of wealth from poor and working-class Americans to wealthy investors who reap the benefits of speculation on stocks and real estate while circumventing the tax system to avoid paying their fair share. As Senate Finance Committee chair Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, reminds us, "There are two tax codes in America. The first is mandatory for workers who pay taxes out of every pay check. The second is voluntary for billionaires who defer paying taxes for years, if not indefinitely."

There's a lot of talk about how to hold pandemic profiteers to account with investigations and regulations. The best accountability measure is robust taxation of billionaires and uber-millionaires. The revenues can and should pay for health care, job training, housing assistance and tax credits that lift essential workers out of poverty.

A study issued last week by the Fight Inequality Alliance, Patriotic Millionaires and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) proposes a global plan to "tax extreme wealth" with graduated rates of 2% on wealth starting at $5 million, 5% on wealth over $50 million, and 10% on wealth over $1 billion.

What would that mean in the United States?

"In the U.S., roughly 750 billionaires have seen their wealth increase over $2 trillion since March 2020 for a combined wealth of over $5 trillion, according to previous research by IPS and Americans for Tax Fairness.

"And there are over 63,500 individuals with wealth over $50 million, with combined assets of $12.8 trillion," explains Chuck Collins, the director of IPS's Program on Inequality and the Common Good. "An annual wealth tax would raise $928 billion a year, enough to eliminate half of household out-of-pocket health expenses in the U.S."

Wyden has proposed a billionaire income tax that would require Americans with more than $1 billion in assets - or who earn more than $100 million in three consecutive years - to pay capital gains taxes annually on the increased value of their assets. Another approach, advanced at the height of pandemic by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in his "Make Billionaires Pay Act," would impose a one-time 60% tax on wealth gains made by billionaires between March 18, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021.

"At a time of enormous economic pain and suffering, we have a fundamental choice to make," explained Sanders. "We can continue to allow the very rich to get much richer while everyone else gets poorer and poorer. Or we can tax the winnings a handful of billionaires made during the pandemic to improve the health and well-being of tens of millions of Americans."

(c) 2022 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A House Divided . . .
By James Donahue

Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus when he gave his famous "house divided" speech before the Republican State Convention in Springfield, Illinois, on June 16, 1858. He went on to win the Presidency against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas.

Lincoln's speech was controversial when he said it. Yet it was clearly prophetic because of the looming Civil War that was to literally tear the nation apart during his term in office.

That war was fought over the issue of state's rights and slavery. Today, a century and a half later, America is once again a house divided, and the rift may be even more severe than it was in 1858. Not only are Americans divided over racial issues, but Lincoln's grand old party was battling a Democratic black president; the first ever to be elected to the White House. The Republicans then elected Donald Trump a president who has made it clear he despised the fact that a black president preceded him. Mr. Trump went out of his way to erase the work accomplished by President Barack Obama and his Vice President Joseph Biden.

That Mr. Biden has since defeated Donald Trump for the presidency has set the stage for an intense party split over not only racial issues but voting rights and Mr. Biden's efforts to get the COVID disaster cleaned up.

The fighting on party lines was so severe that President Obama had to use every trick in the book to get important legislation passed. Many of his appointments to vacant political and judicial seats remained unapproved by the Republican controlled Congress. Because of gerrymandering and trickery in key voting districts the Republicans also gained control of the Senate, thus creating a political block against just about anything Mr. Biden has on his plate during his time in office.

While unable to get much done on the home front, the Obama Administration focused on issues in the Middle East, which have always been ugly.

Vice President Biden, who was personally involved in negotiations with Iranian leaders, justifiably exploded in anger when 47 Republican Senators sent a letter to Iran which questioned the authority of President Obama to negotiate his nuclear deal with Iran. Mr. Biden accused the Senate Republicans of undercutting "sensitive international negotiations" and acting "beneath the dignity of an institution I revere."

The letter suggested that any deal the Iranians make with President Obama would likely be scuttled by Republican legislators, and that a successor to Mr. Obama might choose to invalidate its terms. And this is exactly what happened after Mr. Trump entered the White House in 2017.

Biden warned in his statement that the letter "ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American president, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States.

"As the authors of this letter must know, the vast majority of our international commitments take effect without congressional approval," Biden wrote.

Indeed, the United States is currently steaming through perilous times and it appears imperative that the President and the other branches of government stand united in efforts to negotiate peaceful solutions.

Since it is clear that the Republican legislators are now resisting everything President Biden is attempting to accomplish, and the Judicial branch has been muddying the waters with controversial decisions, this house . . . the United States government, is clearly divided in almost every front. That Mr. Trump and his gang of thugs got away with appointing yet another extreme right-wing thinker to the latest Supreme Court vacancy, the conflict may remain unresolved for many years ahead.

It is no secret that America has made enemies in all corners of the world. The Republican senators . . . many of them greenhorn Tea Party extremists have been joining Trump in placing our nation in great jeopardy. Could they collectively pull themselves up for a united front in the event the United States comes under an attack by a foreign power?

Operatives for ISIS, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and China might be asking this very question as they watch events unfold in Washington.

(c) 2022 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Munich Is Not In Ukraine: Appeasement Begins At Home
By David Swanson

The word "Munich" - for me it calls up images of surfing in a giant park with nude sunbathers and nearby beer halls. But in U.S. news media it means the unconscionable failure to launch a war more quickly.

According to the new Munich movie on Netflix - the latest in the relentless avalanche of WWII propaganda - the decision made at Munich not to launch WWII just yet was not the horrendous moral failure we've all come to know and love, but actually a shrewd part of the battleplan aimed at allowing time for Britain to build up its military, thereby winning the utterly inevitable war.

Oh boy. Where to start? Britain and the United States played minor roles in WWII, which was principally won by the Soviet Union. The war was not decided by the state of the British military. WWII was not a moral good, but the worst thing ever done in any short space of time. If we want to travel back in time and prevent the war, we'll do better to go back and prevent part one, otherwise known as the Great War. We'll also do well to stop U.S. and British companies funding and arming the Nazis, to undo decades of U.S. and British prioritization of keeping leftists down in Germany, and to persuade England and France to accept the Soviet proposal to join in opposition to German war rather than seeking a militarized Germany and hoping to direct its assaults toward Russia.

Whether the famous original sin of "appeasement" created the war or actually won it, it's still part of a cultural saturation effort to make war appear inevitable, even in a radically different world. Once you fantasize that war is inevitable in some new spot, like Ukraine, you're best off preparing for it, even starting it, or at least provoking it. This is what's called a self-fulfilling belief.

But what if the great appeasement fear is missing the mark completely? What if "Munich" is not in Ukraine. What if it's in Washington, D.C.? When President Biden says it's his sacred duty to go on arming Eastern Europe, how much of that is "standing up to" Russia, and how much of it is bowing down before the weapons dealers, the war mongers, the NATO bureaucrats, the bloodthirsty media, and the Pentagon? What if Munich is actually not in Europe at all?

If we insist on finding Munich in Ukraine, we had better get clear on who is playing the role of the Nazis. I know it's forbidden to compare anyone to Nazis, unless it's the Russians or the Syrians or the Serbians or the Iraqis or Iranians or Chinese or North Koreans or Venezuelans or doctors advocating vaccinations or rioters at the U.S. Capitol or, really, just about anyone other than, perhaps, the self-identified neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian government and military. But it's mostly forbidden because of the Nazis' sadistic and genocidal domestic policies, majorly inspired by the United States, and openly tolerated by the U.S., UK, and other nations that publicly refused for years to help refugees - and did so for openly antisemitic reasons. So, again, let's be clear who's expanding an empire and who's afraid of losing territory.

When Germany recently refused to allow Estonia to send weapons to Ukraine, was it perhaps nationally playing the role of those who courageously stood up against Nazism? When the President of France recently urged Europe to decide its own approach toward Russia and make it a less hostile one, what can he have had in mind? When Russia sees all the weapons and troops amassing and practicing near its borders, shouldn't the Pentagon Entertainment Office - an office that promotes the Munich/Appeasement story through film and television - want the very last thought in the minds of Russian officials to be "We must not appease"?

(c) 2022 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

David Suzuki engages in a panel discussion at a recent launch event for the David Suzuki Foundation's community renewable energy program, Charged Up.

Is There A Rational Argument Against Climate Action?
By David Suzuki

When politicians and fossil-fuelled media seize on a few ill-chosen words I or other environmental advocates blurt out, while ignoring our overall messages, it's usually because they have no real counter-arguments.

I'm just a messenger, presenting science and solutions in accessible ways. And, like anyone who has worked on climate issues for any length of time, I get frustrated at the lethal lack of political and societal action.

But it's rare to see these politicians, media and businesspeople present a rational argument as to why we shouldn't be doing everything we can to forestall the climate catastrophe scientists worldwide are warning will be our future if we don't act now.

Instead, they ignore the science, or pay lip service to it, while trying to demonize people who devote their lives to ensuring humanity has a healthy future. They take quotes out of context to rile others who fear change and refuse to accept we're in a crisis. They ignore the heat domes, droughts and floods, or act as if those have nothing to do with rampant, wasteful fossil fuel exploitation.

If governments and media truly wanted to stand up for oil, gas and coal workers, they'd create and promote opportunities and help them transition to new employment. Instead, they blame environmentalists for job losses even as corporate bosses talk about continued - and eventually full - automation of their industry and while the world turns to cleaner energy.

They care as little for the workers as those who rake in massive profits while pushing employees out through automation and in response to market forces. Meanwhile, environmental organizations worldwide are calling for a "just transition" to ensure affected people and their families don't get left behind in the necessary shift to cleaner energy and less waste.

Why can't they come up with honest arguments? If they believe climate disruption is not upon us and not serious enough to compel us to change our ways, that we can continue to exploit and burn fossil fuels until they're gone, then it's up to them to present their rationale. If they disagree with our communications about climate and other environmental subjects, they should respond with logical arguments.

The Alberta government's recent response doesn't meet that bar. It spent $3.5 million (along with a $30-million/year "war room") on a "public inquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns" to defend the most profitable industry in history from plucky environmental groups. It was beset with delays, cost increases and embarrassments before concluding there was no "wrongdoing on the part of any individual or organization" and that campaigns have not spread misinformation.

Instead of accepting this and moving on, the government and some media spun it to imply it concluded the opposite. We in the environmental movement remain transparent about our communications, funding and aims, and if we make mistakes, we correct them. After all, our goal is a healthier planet for all.

Those who worship money and power will happily manipulate and dupe others to obtain and maintain it. Look at the spew of constant misinformation from U.S. media outlets like Fox, or the ongoing climate science rejection by opinion writers for Canada's PostMedia chain - in service of the fossil fuel industry's continued environmental devastation.

They're holding us back. We've known about the greenhouse effect for almost 200 years and been certain about human climate impacts for more than 30, but the fossil fuel industry and its captured politicians, lobbyists, front groups and media have convinced many to continue on as if everything is fine.

We've wasted the past 30 years and we're seeing the consequences. All I and others have been conveying for decades is coming to pass. Just ask the people of Abbotsford or Lytton. Look at the billions of intertidal plants and animals wiped out in the summer heat dome. Canadian canola and wheat production are down more than 35 per cent this year because of drought, yet I still hear the anti-environmentalists arguing that more CO2 is good for plant growth, or that warmer temperatures will be good for Canada.

I'd love to be proven wrong, as would, I suspect, every climate scientist and activist in the world. But there's no denying our predicament, so let's work together to resolve it.

(c) 2021 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The SWAT Team Of The Wingnut Legal Apparatus Is Lined Up Behind This One
The hand-picked Supreme Court majority takes up affirmative action.
By Charles P. Pierce

More grim business was added to the agenda across the street from Congress on Tuesday. The Supreme Court added affirmative action to a docket that already looks like a rundown of a week's worth of Hannity. From the New York Times:

The court has repeatedly upheld similar programs, most recently in 2016. But recent changes in the court's membership have made it more conservative, and the challenged programs are almost certain to meet skepticism.

The case against Harvard accused it of discriminating against Asian American students by using a subjective standard to gauge traits like likability, courage and kindness and by effectively creating a ceiling for them in admissions.

Lawyers for Harvard said that the challengers had relied on a flawed statistical analysis and denied that the university discriminated against Asian American applicants. More generally, they said that race-conscious admissions policies are lawful.

The calculus is an easy one: minus Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, plus Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, equals Anything Can Happen Day. And the entire anti-affirmative-action SWAT team of the wingnut legal apparatus is lined up behind this one.
"Under established precedent, to achieve the educational benefits that flow from student-body diversity," they wrote in a brief urging the justices to deny review, "universities may consider race as one factor among many in a full, individualized evaluation of each applicant's background, experiences and potential contributions to campus life." In the North Carolina case, the plaintiffs made more familiar arguments, saying the university discriminated against white and Asian applicants by giving preference to Black, Hispanic and Native American ones. The university responded that its admissions policies fostered educational diversity and were lawful under longstanding Supreme Court precedents.

Both cases were brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a group founded by Edward Blum, a legal entrepreneur who has organized many lawsuits challenging race-conscious admissions policies and voting rights laws, several of which have reached the Supreme Court.

Big fish. Small barrel.

(c) 2022 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote -

"I happen to believe that we should move to a Medicare-for-all single-payer system, similar to what other countries around the world have."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Biden Still Determined To Pass The Blockbuster Green Energy Package In BBB; Here's How He Can Do It
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - I argued last December that since Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition had tanked the enormous Build Back Better act, President Biden should hive off the green energy portions and try to get them passed on a bipartisan basis.

Carol Davenport and Lisa Friedman writing in the New York Times report that both Biden and some prominent Democrats in Congress agree. They quote Biden from his recent press conference, where he said,

"Yes, I'm confident we can get pieces - big chunks of the Build Back Better law signed into law . . . Yes. Well, it's clear to me that - that we're going to have to probably break it up. I think that we can get - and I've been talking to a number of my colleagues on the Hill - I think it's clear that we would be able to get support for the - for the 500-plus billion dollars for energy and the environmental issues that are there - number one."
Davenport and Friedman quote some congressional Democrats like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) concur.

Despite the positive noises he has been making on energy, I don't think we can trust coal baron Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to do the right thing on CleanTech. Manchin has been saying that he can get behind the clean energy portion of the bill; that is because he has already taken out some of the things he doesn't like (and which would be good for the economy). I suggested that Biden might be able to attract some Republican support for elements of green energy. Some of the same GOP senators who supported the Infrastructure Act might go along with green energy projects, especially if federal backing brought money into their state. States that return Republican senators are often the most solar-rich in the country, and not all of them are irrational about this potential the way the Florida GOP is.

MSNBC: "'Give Manchin The Pen': Markey, Khanna On How To Get Climate In Build Back Better"

Jules Scully at PVTech writes,

"The House version of the bill, passed on 19 November, extends and expands the investment tax credit (ITC), allows solar projects to opt for the production tax credit (PTC) and creates a standalone energy storage ITC.

If that version is enacted, Wood Mackenzie forecasts that it would result in a 31% increase in US solar deployment by 2026, representing an additional 43.5 GWdc [direct current gigawatts] of capacity."

The US has about 100 gigawatts of solar now, and this one measure would increase it half again as much. There are also market forces and state and local governmental measures impelling more solar, so this would be on top of everything else.

In addition, as I wrote last December

Build Back Better, for instance, "includes tax credits that can cut the cost of installing rooftop solar panels by about 30 percent" according to NDRC. Likewise, "The bill includes, for instance, incentives to help strengthen the domestic supply chain for wind and solar power in disadvantaged communities."

Renewable Energy World adds that the version passed by the House included "the production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) to their full values, and taxpayers are eligible for direct pay instead of tax equity offsets. The bill will further incentive production that takes place in the U.S." They note that there was also " a new ITC for standalone energy storage." In other words, we could put solar panels on every house and enable owners to afford a Tesla Powerwall or other storage capablity.

Some forms of solar power, especially community solar, have picked up substantial Republican support in states like Michigan and Wisconsin. Great, let's do it nationally.

Wind power is another form of green energy that many Republican senators can get behind, since wind is important to several of the red states. Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas, all have big wind industries, as do even Indiana and North Dakato. A carefully crafted bill supporting wind could well attract their support.

I observed that America has to get this done:

"Promoting green energy is the number one priority that outweighs every other consideration. The poor will be made poorer by runaway global heating. Women will be hurt by it. Workers will suffer. Cities, the Democratic strongholds, are in dire danger from it. There is a sense in which much of the good that Democrats hope to do will be undone if they don't radically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing them at home will give the United States more credibility in pressing other industrial societies to do so. Even more importantly, government investment in renewables and batteries will accelerate their already steep cost decrease and competitiveness with fossil fuels."
(c) 2022 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema walk together to the Senate chamber.

Where Egos Dare: Manchin And Sinema Show How Senate Spotlight Corrupts
The two Democratic senators chose to wreck American democracy, simply to feed their sense of their own importance
By Robert Reich

What can possibly explain Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema's decision to sink voting rights protections? Why did they create a false narrative that the legislation had to be "bipartisan" when everyone, themselves included, knew bipartisanship was impossible?

Why did they say they couldn't support changing Senate filibuster rules when only last month they voted for an exception to the filibuster that allowed debt ceiling legislation to pass with only Democratic votes?

Why did they co-sponsor voting rights legislation and then vote to kill the very same legislation? Why did Manchin vote for the "talking filibuster" in 2011 yet vote against it now?

Part of the answer to all these questions can be found in the giant wads of corporate cash flowing into their campaign coffers.

But if you want the whole answer, you need also to look at the single biggest factor affecting almost all national politicians I've dealt with: ego. Manchin's and Sinema's are now among the biggest.

Before February of last year, almost no one outside West Virginia had heard of Manchin and almost no one outside Arizona (and probably few within it) had ever heard of Sinema.

Now, they're notorious. They're Washington celebrities. Their photos grace every major news outlet in America.

This sort of attention is addictive. Once it seeps into the bloodstream, it becomes an all-consuming force. I've known politicians who have become permanently and irrevocably intoxicated.

I'm not talking simply about power, although that's certainly part of it. I'm talking about narcissism - the primal force driving so much of modern America but whose essence is concentrated in certain places such as Wall Street, Hollywood and the United States Senate.

Once addicted, the pathologically narcissistic politician can become petty in the extreme, taking every slight as a deep personal insult.

I'm told Manchin asked Joe Biden's staff not to blame him for the delay of Build Back Better and was then infuriated when Biden suggested Manchin bore some of the responsibility. I'm also told that if Biden wants to restart negotiations with Manchin on Build Back Better, he's got to rename it because Manchin is so angry he won't vote for anything going by that name.

The Senate is not the world's greatest deliberative body but it is the world's greatest stew of egos battling for attention. Every senator believes he or she has what it takes to be president. Most believe they're far more competent than whoever occupies the Oval Office.

Yet out of 100 senators, only a handful are chosen for interviews on the Sunday talk shows and very few get a realistic shot at the presidency. The result is intense competition for attention.

Again and again, I've watched worthy legislation sink because particular senators didn't feel they were getting enough credit, or enough personal attention from a president, or insufficient press attention, or unwanted press attention, or that another senator (sometimes from the same party) was getting too much attention.

Several people on the Hill who have watched Sinema at close range since she became a senator tell me she relished all the attention she got when she gave her very theatrical thumbs down to increasing the minimum wage, and since then has thrilled at her national celebrity as a spoiler.

Biden prides himself on having been a member of the senatorial "club" for many years before ascending to the presidency and argued during the 2020 campaign that this familiarity would give him an advantage in dealing with his former colleagues. But it may be working against him. Senators don't want clubby familiarity from a president. They want a president to shine the national spotlight on them.

Some senators get so whacky in the national spotlight that they can't function without it. Trump had that effect on Republicans. Before Trump, Lindsey Graham was almost a normal human being. Then Trump directed a huge amp of national attention Graham's way, transmogrifying the senator into a bizarro creature who'd say anything Trump wanted to keep the attention coming.

Not all senators are egomaniacs, of course. Most lie on an ego spectrum ranging from mildly inflated to pathological.

Manchin and Sinema are near the extreme. Once they got a taste of the national spotlight, they couldn't let go. They must have figured that the only way they could keep the spotlight focused on themselves was by threatening to do what they finally did last week: shafting American democracy.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Can America Answer The Call Of Kidney Karma?
Lives are at stake, and the next person needing help could easily be you, a member of your family, or, like me, an old friend's husband
By Thom Hartmann

O. Henry died over a hundred years ago, but his story The Gift of the Magi about a poor woman who sold her long hair to buy a gift for her husband on the same day he bought her a hard-sought gift of combs for her long hair still echoes through our culture.

In a modern-day variation on the story, my friend of many decades, Elizabeth Barlow Montes, donated one of her kidneys to a friend's sister back in 2004. Now her husband, whose lifelong diabetes finally destroyed his own kidneys, needs a kidney to save his life but Elizabeth can't be that donor as she only has one left.

Covid has revealed a number of cracks in our healthcare system, from the way for-profit hospitals are failing us to the just-fixed-by-Democrats problem of "surprise billings." Among the most tragic and long-term problems Covid is leaving us, however, are an as-yet-unknown number, probably thousands to tens-of-thousands, of Americans who will need transplants for organs the virus ravaged.

Covid infection can damage the heart, lungs, kidneys and other solid organs so severely that long-term survival after a Covid infection depends on getting an organ transplant.

"COVID-related transplants are surging as hospitals grapple with a growing subset of patients whose organs are 'basically destroyed by the virus,'" noted Johns Hopkins' Dr. Jonathan Orens in a recent interview.
Dr. Tae Song, the surgical director of the lung transplant program at the University of Chicago Medical Center, told Kaiser Health News of the increase in demand for transplants caused by Covid:
"I think this is just the beginning. I expect this to be a completely new category of transplant patients."
Currently, 17 Americans die every day waiting for an organ transplant: there are over 100,000 people on the official lists. As a result, people like my friend Elizabeth are putting up websites for anybody who may consider donating a kidney. Hers and her husband Hector's, who live in Manhattan, are at

One sign of the stresses on our system is that while people sick with Covid are needing transplants, people dying of Covid have become a source of transplantable organs, depending on which are damaged or not damaged by the virus.

The Midwest Transplant Network's COO Lori Markham told a Kansas City TV station:

"We had a record number of organ donors in 2021, compared to the previous year, and some of that is due to the COVID."
If you sign up to donate your organs at your death, you can literally save the lives of 8 people and enhance the lives of 75 more.

But you must sign up because America has an "opt-in" system where people must enroll to become organ donors. Thus, last year we only saw 41,000 organ transplants nationwide.

Many other developed countries around the world have, over the past 20 years as organ donation has become more routine and medically easy, shifted from "opt-in" to "opt-out," where everybody is automatically an organ donor at death unless they've specified otherwise.

A study published last year on the National Institutes of Health website notes that the United States "could enjoy an additional 4,753-17,201 transplants annually if an opt-out system were introduced. Interestingly, if any country were to benefit fully from an opt-out system, it may be the USA, thanks to the infrastructure for organ donation and transplantation that is already in place."

Meanwhile, the situation for live organ donation - almost exclusively kidneys - has become bizarre in the US for a variety of reasons, most having to do with the consequences of centuries of institutional racism.

An editorial in The Journal of the American Medical Association notes that between 1995 and 2014, the percentage of white people on the kidney transplant list who got a live kidney rose from 7.0 to 11.4 percent.

During that same period, however, successful recipients who were Black declined from 3.4 to 2.9 percent and among Hispanic patients like Elizabeth's husband Hector, transplants declined from 6.8 to 5.9 percent.

Transplants at death and live transplants are somewhat different universes, although for kidneys there's a substantial overlap.

Both systems, however, are in need of a 21st century overhaul. And there are some good beginnings. For example, New York's Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently introduce bipartisan legislation to make organ donation easier.

"The Living Donor Protection Act," her website notes, "would protect living donors from high insurance premiums, codify Department of Labor (DOL) guidance that covers living donors under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the private and civil service, remove barriers to organ donation, and provide certainty to donors and recipients."

It's a start. Lives are at stake, and the next person needing help could easily be you, a member of your family, or, like me, an old friend's husband.

(c) 2022 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

The Cartoon Corner -

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Steve Benson ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

Hong Kong To Cull Hamsters Following Pro-Democracy Protest
By The Waterford Whispers News

RESPONDING to the widespread outrage at the news that thousands of hamsters are to be culled due to a Covid-19 outbreak, Hong Kong authorities have set the record straight in a bid to temper outcry and opposition.

"No, there's been a misunderstanding we have taken the decision to cull the hamsters because they staged a pro-democracy protest," explained one senior figure, hoping they could rely on humanity's lack of solidarity and general disinterest in the slow erosion of democracy to cool tempers.

"Oh, fair enough. I was going to organise a protest against the cull myself because I thought it was an animal rights thing, but yeah you can't be asking for transparent democracy and not expect consequences in Hong Kong of all places, c'mon guys" shared a chorus of international observers.

"Did they mention the one million Uighurs being detained in what amount to concentration camps? Or say Xi Jinping looks like Winnie The Pooh? I dunno, my sympathy for the hamsters has sort of evaporated now to be honest," shared one animal rights activist.

PETA have since called off their planned armed ground assault on Hong Kong after it emerged the hamsters were completely in the wrong and leveling completely unfounded allegations against the CCP.

"Hey, if the police need any help identifying any pro-democracy independent hamster newspapers I'm sure I can ask around," offered one pro-hamster advocate until he heard the Chinese authorities' side of things.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 04 (c) 01/28/2022

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