Please visit our sponsor!

In This Edition

Ann Wright returns with, "For Peace With North Korea, Biden Must End The US-South Korea Military Exercises."

Ralph Nader reports, "New Auto Safety Report Demands Biden Strengthen Federal Programs Now."

Glen Ford finds, "Democratic Fascists Prepare To Drop The Hammer."

Jim Hightower examines, "The Corporate Mob Behind Trump."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Trump Has Made Threats To Launch A New Political Party - The 'Patriot Party.'"

John Nichols interviews, "Representative Jamie Raskin: 'It Was A Scene Of Absolute Terror And Mayhem.'"

James Donahue wonders, "Have We Created Artificial Intelligence - Or Did It Create Us?"

David Swanson repeats the, "Pope's Words In Open Letter To Joe Biden."

David Suzuki reports, "Net Zero Offers Affordable Path To Climate Stability."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "Rob Portman Is A Bowl Of Oatmeal And Even He Has Had Enough."

Juan Cole says, "President Biden, The US Is Capable Of This Too: Europe Generates More Electricity With Renewables Than Fossil Fuels For First Time."

Robert Reich concludes, "Condemning Insurrectionists Is Easy, But If Corporate America Cared About Democracy It Would Support The 'For The People Act.'"

Naomi Klein explores, "The Meaning Of The Mittens: Five Possibilities."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Trump Rioter Knocks On Senate Door To Ask About Retrieving Left-Behind Car Keys," but first Uncle Ernie asks, "Is There A Simple Solution To Global Warming?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Chip Bok, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Doug Mills-Pool, Eric Demarcq, Anna Moneymaker, Caroline Brehman, Alex Edelman, Daria Devyatkina, myLoupe/Universal Images Group, Samuel Corum, Joaquin Corbalan, Robert Reich, 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-

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

Visit me on Face Book

Is There A Simple Solution To Global Warming?
By Ernest Stewart

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." ~~~ Mahatma Gandhi

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me
Help ~~~ The Beatles

I see where Bill Gates wants to 'Cover the Sun' to help counter global warming, the billionaire is funding a project that would help dim sunlight in order to "cool" the Earth.

The research called "Stratospheric Controlled Disturbance Experiment" (SCoPEx for its acronym in English) is carried out by scientists from Harvard University and has the purpose of achieving that the sunlight is reflected outside the atmosphere of our planet.

This solution would be achieved by spraying tons of non-toxic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) into the atmosphere. "SCoPEx is a scientific experiment to advance the understanding of stratospheric aerosols that could be relevant for solar geoengineering," the project page reads.

The project will begin to carry out tests that so far consist of releasing a balloon with scientific equipment, which will not spray CaCO3 but will function as a test of maneuver and to explore communications and operating systems.

"We plan to use a high-altitude balloon to lift an instrument package approximately 12.5 miles or approximately 66,000 feet into the atmosphere. Once in place, a very small amount of material (4 1/2 pounds) will be released to create a disturbed air mass approximately one half mile long and one hundred yards in diameter. Then we will use the same balloon to measure the resulting changes in the disturbed air mass, including changes in aerosol density, atmospheric chemistry and light scattering," they explain. So what could possibly go wrong?

Scientific opponents of this project believe that solar geoengineering could bring unavoidable risks and extreme changes in weather patterns that would be no different than current warming trends.

They also explain that environmentalists fear that a "dramatic" change in mitigation strategy will become a "green light" for greenhouse gases to continue being emitted without any variation in current consumption patterns. Just like a capitalist's solution. Or we could all just switch to solar, wind and tidal energy without any of the risks proposed by Gates!

Meanwhile Elon Musk, who could buy and sell Bill Gates is offering a $100,000,000 prize for the best solution of carbon capture technology. Carbon capture refers to a wide array of mostly nascent technologies that can take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and either store it somewhere (underground, for example) or convert it into products ranging from fuel to sunglasses.

The goal here is to reduce levels of CO2, which is a key driver of climate change.

Just what Musk has in mind isn't clear, but it's worth noting that the Carbon XPrize is now in its sixth year and looks to finally wrap up in the coming months. Grand prize winners in three categories will get $7.5 million each.

Musk has supported the XPrize Foundation in the past, and TechCrunch reports that it will be involved in Musk's announcement next week. We await with bated breath.


11-19-1933 ~ 01-23-2021
Thanks for the talk!

04-30-1936 ~ 01-26-2021
Thanks for the film!

12-19-1924 ~ 01-28-2021
Thanks for the film!


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


So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2021 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.

If the Biden administration chooses to go through with the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises in March, it could sabotage prospects for diplomacy with North Korea.

For Peace With North Korea, Biden Must End The US-South Korea Military Exercises
By Ann Wright

One of the thorniest foreign policy challenges the Biden administration will need to face is a nuclear-armed North Korea. Talks between the U.S. and North Korea have been stalled since 2019, and North Korea has continued to develop its weapons arsenal, recently unveiling what appears to be its largest intercontinental ballistic missile.

As a retired U.S. Army Colonel and U.S. diplomat with 40 years of experience, I know all too well how actions by the U.S. military can exacerbate tensions that lead to war. That's why the organization I am a member of, Veterans for Peace, is one of several hundred civil society organizations in the U.S. and South Korea urging the Biden administration to suspend the upcoming combined U.S.-South Korea military exercises.

Due to their scale and provocative nature, the annual U.S.-South Korea combined exercises have long been a trigger point for heightened military and political tensions on the Korean Peninsula. These military exercises have been suspended since 2018, but Gen. Robert B. Abrams, Commander of U.S. Forces Korea, has renewed the call for the full resumption of the joint war drills. U.S. and South Korean defense ministers have also agreed to continue the combined exercises, and Biden's secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken has said suspending them was a mistake.

Rather than acknowledge how these joint military exercises have proven to raise tensions and provoke actions by North Korea, Blinken has criticized the suspension of the exercises as an appeasement of North Korea. And despite the failure of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against North Korea, not to mention decades of U.S. pressure-based tactics, Blinken insists more pressure is what's needed to achieve North Korea's denuclearization. In a CBS interview, Blinken said the U.S. should "build genuine economic pressure to squeeze North Korea to get it to the negotiating table."

Unfortunately, if the Biden administration chooses to go through with the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises in March, it will likely sabotage any prospect of diplomacy with North Korea in the near future, heighten geopolitical tensions, and risk reigniting a war on the Korean Peninsula, which would be catastrophic.

Since the 1950s, the U.S. has used the military exercises as a "show of force" to deter a North Korean attack on South Korea. To North Korea, however, these military exercises - with names such as "Exercise Decapitation" - appear to be rehearsals for the overthrow of its government.

Consider that these U.S.-South Korea combined military exercises have involved the use of B-2 bombers capable of dropping nuclear weapons, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines equipped with nuclear weapons, as well as the firing of long-range artillery and other large caliber weapons.

Thus, suspending the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises would be a much-needed confidence-building measure and could help restart talks with North Korea.

At a time when the world is facing urgent humanitarian, environmental and economic crises, the U.S.-South Korea military exercises also divert critically needed resources away from efforts to provide true human security through the provision of health care and the protection of the environment. These joint exercises cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and have caused irreparable injury to local residents and damage to the environment in South Korea.

On all sides, the ongoing tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been used to justify massive military spending. North Korea ranks first in the world in military spending as a percentage of its GDP. But in total dollars, South Korea and the United States spend vastly more on defense, with the U.S. ranking first in military spending worldwide (at $732 billion) - more than the next 10 countries combined - and South Korea ranking tenth (at $43.9 billion). By comparison, North Korea's entire budget is just $8.47 billion (as of 2019), according to the Bank of Korea.

Ultimately, to stop this dangerous, expensive arms race and remove the risk of renewed war, the Biden administration should immediately reduce tensions with North Korea by working to resolve the root cause of the conflict: the longstanding 70-year-old Korean War. Ending this war is the only way to achieve permanent peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

(c) 2021 Ann Wright was in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She was also a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the U.S. government in 2003 in opposition to the U.S. war on Iraq. She was on the 2015 Women Cross DMZ peace mission to North Korea and South Korea, and has been on numerous speaking tours about U.S. foreign policy in South Korea, Japan and Europe.

Biden promises a New Day from Trumpism. Let's see if he and his team can provide America with a New Day of Public Safety from callous corporatism on the nation's roadways.

New Auto Safety Report Demands Biden Strengthen Federal Programs Now
It is time for the Biden people to end the soporific record of their predecessors, including that of those from the Obama/Biden Administration
By Ralph Nader

Today the New York Times rediscovered its previous auto safety news beat that blossomed in the 1960s after my book, Unsafe at Any Speed (1965) caused an uproar in Detroit. Reporter Christopher Jensen told New York Times readers about a new report by a coalition of six automotive safety groups demanding that the new Biden Administration recharge the moribund, industry-dominated National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with strong leadership, adequate budget, and long-overdue, proven vehicle safety standards.

Since its creation by Congress in 1966, NHTSA has had some bright moments which made motor vehicles more crash-worthy and operationally safer, with less pollution and more fuel efficiency. Since then, over four million lives have been saved and many more injuries prevented. Property damage was diminished and insurance premiums were lower than they would have been had the "wild west" non-regulation, "style over safety" manias been allowed to continue. Laissez-faire runs amok.

In recent decades, however, under both Democratic and Republican Administrations, NHTSA was degraded into more of a sporadic, meek consultant to the auto giants, instead of a strong law enforcement agency. Its Administrators wafted sleepily in their few years at the helm and then retired to lucrative positions in the industry they failed to regulate.

To the extent that NHTSA did anything significant, it was due to a small band of gritty citizen safety advocates such as Joan Claybrook, the prime author of this report, Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety, and the insurance-industry-funded Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety led until recently by Jackie Gillan and now Cathy Chase. These advocates used the tools of litigation and lobbying to protect all of us, receiving little recognition for their unsung and life-saving endeavors.

Alas for the most part, at NHTSA, the routine was official inaction, not considered "news" by the mass media. Standards not issued nor strengthened, recalls not ordered, penalties not applied, data not compiled by make and model, safety research vehicles not funded and chronic secrecy by the auto companies and government not qualifying as "newsworthy." A few high-profile auto defect scandals, often exposed when manufacturers were sued by tort lawyers, were widely reported, but the news coverage rarely included NHTSA's inaction and institutional abandonment by Congress and the White House.

The revival of the federal government's motor vehicle safety/pollution/fuel efficiency missions must start with Congressional hearings for updated, stronger laws, including criminal penalties for refusal by auto companies to recall defective or noncompliant vehicles, legislatively mandated safety advances, and more capacity and funding for NHTSA's tiny budget, now far less than what is spent on military bands!

With distracted driving and ever more vehicles on more crowded highways, fatalities (including pedestrian casualties) started to increase pre-Covid.

The media, on its part, should not be distracted by the hype around a premature autonomous vehicle and super smart highways. Every day, people are dying in the old-fashioned ways that could be prevented by long-ready, better-handling and crash-protective vehicles.

Imagine the benefits of safer vehicles with far more environmentally benign engines and adequate funding for cost-effective public investment in new forms of public transit and upgrading existing mass transit. Getting around on the ground should include many diverse forms of arriving at one's destination in a timely, safe, and environmentally preferable manner.

The Claybrook report titled, Safer Vehicles and Highways: 4.2 million U.S. Lives Spared Since 1966, is very specific about what needs to be done. New technical talent is needed at NHTSA in this era of electric cars, autonomous safety assists, and the computerization of motor vehicles vulnerable to hacking.

A tougher position on recalls is essential. "Automakers continue efforts to minimize expensive recall costs by delaying the recall, narrowing the scope of a recall, or denying the defect," declares the report.

Moreover, many of the safety features and performance levels in your vehicle have not been updated for years in practical, cost-effective ways long urged by the more innovative automotive suppliers. These include child safety safeguards.

It is time for the Biden people, under the new Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, to catch up and end the soporific record of their predecessors, including that of those from the Obama/Biden Administration. (See: Jerry Cox Steven Bradbury and Why 30 Million Takata Airbags Are Not being Recalled).

The French have a saying "the more things change the more they remain the same." That applies to the auto company executive-suite culture. In their comfortable atriums, they arrange for deniability while they press for immunity from criminal and tort laws. They still preside over obscure financing and advertising deceptions. They still dangle before buyers of their less expensive vehicles, over-priced options for long-amortized safety improvements that are standard equipment on higher-priced vehicles so as to pressure them to upgrade.

They still instruct their lobbyists to go to Congress with one message "NO, NO, NO" to long-delayed improvements for motorists to reduce the casualty toll on the highway and the various economic costs associated with such stagnant corporate stubbornness.

Biden promises a New Day from Trumpism. Let's see if he and his team can provide America with a New Day of Public Safety from callous corporatism on the nation's roadways.

(c) 2021 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).

Democratic Fascists Prepare To Drop The Hammer
By Glen Ford

Democrats are determined to snuff out freedom of speech and assembly to protect the corporate ruling order - while pretending it's to safeguard Black people.

The U.S. corporate ruling class finally has its "Reichstag fire" to justify suspension of constitutional liberties under cover of "national emergency." There is, of course, no imminent threat to the U.S. state and its structures. The rightwing mob that broke through the U.S. Capitol's remarkably thin blue line of defense on January 6th was visibly amazed at the ease of their penetration of the building, and clearly had no plan for what to do once they found themselves inside. However, the same corporate news media that spent four years convincing Americans that "the Russians" were bringing down "our democracy" through brilliant deployment of $100,000 in Facebook ads, now shrieks that free speech is poisoning the body politic. The great threat to the "stability" of American institutions is the proliferation of speech that does not conform to the corporate version of reality. Free speech must be brought "to heel" - as Hillary Clinton would put it.

The Reichstag fire that consumed the German national parliament in February of 1933 -- supposedly set by a Jewish communist -- allowed Adolph Hitler to turn his November 1932 electoral victory into a mandate to smash all opposition to Nazification of the country. From that point on, no worldview was permissible in Germany except Hitler's own. The U.S. ruling class, beset by real crises of its own making at home and abroad, is desperate to regain control of the national and global narrative. As Barack Obama blurted out on stage with German chancellor Angela Merkel, barely two weeks after Hillary Clinton's surprise 2016 loss to Donald Trump, he was fearful of "an age where there's so much active misinformation and its packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television. If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won't know what to protect."

What Obama and his corporate Democratic colleagues were determined to "protect" is the continuity of U.S. never-ending war policies abroad and the "Race to the Bottom" austerity regime at home. As real crises multiply, the first line of capitalist defense is the corporate narrative that deflects blame from the system, itself. But counternarratives of the Right and Left have found deep traction in social and online media whose audiences often dwarf CNN viewership. Thus, the oligarchs, whose obscene wealth multiplies by the day, are unable to halt by normal means the public's consumption of narratives that question the corporate order. The ruling class's crisis of legitimacy must be made to appear as a patriotic defense of American institutions and "values" - of truth, itself -- requiring restraint of critical speech and deep surveillance of suspected dissidents. The proof of the threat is displayed on the streets of Washington, DC, where 25,000 troops remain on guard against invisible enemies.

Although corporate media claim that Donald Trump's antics in the White House have necessitated curtailment of free speech rights, it was clear to us at Black Agenda Report four years ago that the corporate Democrats were preparing to muzzle dissent. On November 30, 2016, after the Washington Post published a list of 200 web sites slandered as "Russian propaganda outlets and sympathizers," including Black Agenda Report, I wrote:

"Had Clinton won the election, she would have begun a campaign of repression against the Left along the same national security lines as the Washington Post article, with that paper probably leading the propaganda charge." The BAR article was titled, "Fascism with a Democratic Party Face" - a fascism that grows out of the neoliberal corporate order in crisis. As we wrote:

"Donald Trump's fascism is largely the residue of the fascism of apartheid America, under Jim Crow, which had many of the characteristics of - and in some ways presaged - the 'classic' fascism of pre-World War Two Europe. The establishment corporate Democratic and Republican brand of fascism is far more racially, sexually and culturally inclusive, but just as ruthless. And, at this moment in history, the corporate Democratic fascists are the more aggressively warlike brand."
Make no mistake: both brands of fascism are fully operative and intertwined. There is no bright line separating the two, as is exemplified by Joe Biden, himself, whose long career has been marked by white supremacist rhetoric and politics. But the inexorable darkening of the country has convinced most of the corporate ruling class that a deeper accommodation must be made with the more compliant sectors of Black and brown America, who are to be further incorporated into the ruling structures. In plain language that means more Black, brown and Asian faces in high places, even as the masses are pushed deeper into poverty and precarity, the domestic security forces become more brutal, and the U.S. intensifies its war-against-all abroad. Biden telegraphs the corporate fascist strategy when he assures the donor class that "nothing will change" while bragging that his regime will be the "the most diverse in history."

The Democrats have every reason to expect that the Black Misleadership Class and its brown counterparts will be allies in the quest to establish a more politically stable corporate dictatorship in the United States, and in supporting never-ending war in defense of global capitalism. The continued political potency of the more blatantly white supremacist brand of fascism among the Trump Republicans will further solidify the unholy alliance of warmongering Democratic oligarchs and narrow Black "representational" politics. This deepening partnership presents a profound challenge to the militants seeking social transformation and peace under the Black Lives Matter umbrella, who must weigh the full implications of the Black Democratic Misleaders' deal with the devil. Those forces that oppose racial capitalism and the police that buttress the corporate order are the real targets of the Democrats' crackdown on freedom of speech and assembly. In the final analysis, the old and new fascisms will coexist and collaborate; the U.S. is, after all, a white settler colonial state whose mission is world domination. The only difference is that corporate Democrats want all hands on deck and racial peace at home while furthering the imperial project.

(c) 2020 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Corporate Mob Behind Trump
By Jim Hightower

You can't poke into any issue in Congress without stumbling over sacks full of corporate campaign donations - and the recent eruption of pro-Trump mob violence inside the US Capitol exposed boodles of that special interest cash to public view.

Much to the embarrassment of major Wall Street banks, Silicon Valley tech giants, and CEOs of brand-name corporations, hundreds of thousands of their political dollars were traced to the mayhem in our Capitol. Specifically, their money was going into the coffers of 147 Republican lawmakers who backed the fraudulent Trumpster attempt to overthrow last fall's presidential election. Acknowledging the damage these revelations did to their public image, the corporate interests responded forcefully. How? They issued press releases condemning violence. Wow... that'll make things better!

Okay, in fairness, quite a few firms added a bit of bite to their bark by suggesting that maybe they wouldn't be so cavalier about tossing out political contributions in the future. Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs announced they would "pause" donations to all candidates; Blue Cross Blue Shield, Marriott, and Dow said they were "suspending" donations to the 147 congress critters who voted to reject the people's choice; and Delta, Fed Ex, and Walmart declared they were "monitoring" the situation.

Notice the profusion of wiggle words in these professions of corporate principle. The executives are really not biting the system, but merely gumming it for a while... then, once public attention has drifted, the corporate-congressional complex will be back to business as usual. After all, while they deplore Trump's racism, sexism, xenophobia, and overall immorality, they've gleefully taken it all to the bank, rationalizing, legitimizing - and profiting from - his corrupt presidency.

It's not armed rioters from outside the system who are the main threat to our democracy, but the insiders who keep manipulating the system to take more money and power at our expense.

(c) 2021 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

Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump steps into his limo after landing at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, on January 20, 2021.

Trump Has Made Threats To Launch A New Political Party - The 'Patriot Party'
By William Rivers Pitt

One of these days, and I pray that day comes soon, I will arrive at a writing assignment with no compelling reason to type the letters t-r-u-m-p in that particular sequence. Ignoring him completely will someday be balm and reward, not to mention responsible journalism. The fact that he appears to be positioning himself to potentially destroy the Republican Party, however, means I have to write that name a few more times before I'm free.

After losing the 2020 election dozens of times at the ballot box and subsequently in courtrooms across the land, Donald Trump incited a frenzied mob of supporters to sack the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in order to stop the final certification of his defeat. For the next several hours, the whole world watched as MAGA-hatted raiders broke windows, climbed walls, trashed congressional offices and took selfies with Capitol Police officers, one of whom was murdered by a Trump-supporting rioter wielding a fire extinguisher.

Though the business of the legislative branch was able to continue hours later after the rioters and their Confederate flags were cleared out, it became clear over subsequent days that this wasn't just some goofy thrill for the participants; a number of them wanted to hang Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and erected a gallows on the Capitol grounds to do just that.

Not many days later, that Congress impeached Trump for the second time in 13 months, and 10 GOP House members voted with the majority. The articles of impeachment are slated to arrive in the Senate today, where newly established Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will begin the trial on the 9th of next month.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (now that I can type all damn day long) is furiously trying to assert control he no longer enjoys over the process in order to gum up the impeachment works. The situation for McConnell is exceedingly perilous.

As the impeachment trial date looms, a number in his caucus want to throw caution to the wind and vote to convict, thus drumming Trump out of presidential politics for all time. For Republican senators looking to run for the White House in 2024, taking Trump off the board is the only realistic way they believe they can secure the nomination. Profiles in courage, baby.

The other faction of the caucus remains steadfastly devoted to Trump (and equally devoted to/terrified of/greedy for his base). These members are demanding congressional Republicans continue to cleave to him like remoras on the underbelly of a shark. McConnell's response to these warring factions, so far, is to make the laughable argument that impeaching a president who has left office is unconstitutional (no, it isn't). Many of his colleagues are taking up this argument, flawed and wrong as it is, in order to try and conjure away a trial that may crack the party in half.

That, right there, is where the fun Trump bit kicks in. Furious at the serial betrayals of formerly loyal Republicans and aghast at the possibility of being convicted in a Senate trial, the former president has floated the idea of starting his own political party and launching a vengeance tour on all Republicans who dare oppose him. He would call it the Patriot Party, a title formerly used by Ross Perot when he ran for president. (Before him, the name was used by a group of poor and working-class white people who organized alongside the Black Panthers and Young Lords, and was part of the Rainbow Coalition.)

Journalist Maggie Haberman of The New York Times tweeted yesterday that Trump appears to have been dissuaded from pursuing the Patriot Party course for now. "Trump has been talked out of that and is making clear to people he isn't pursuing it," she reported.

Haberman is a superior journalist and I am certain her reporting is solid ... for the moment. If Senate Republicans look as if they might vote to convict, however, all bets are off. Trump has tens of millions of dollars he fleeced from his followers during the "legal challenges" phase of his failed re-election bid. How many times has Trump suddenly turned on a dime and pursued an eminently self-destructive course of action? Answer: Pretty much all of the times.

Because it is Trump, there is an angle to this Patriot Party thing. This time, it is the impeachment. Trump is flapping the Patriot Party at Senate Republicans as a warning: Vote to acquit, or I will split the right and come for you. "The President has made clear his goal is to win back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022," former Trump senior strategist Jason Miller tweeted. "There's nothing that's actively being planned regarding an effort outside of that, but it's completely up to Republican Senators if this is something that becomes more serious."

The menace in that last sentence is palpable, and with large and influential sectors of Trump's base in active meltdown after the promised revolution failed to materialize on Inauguration Day, the entire Republican Party is experiencing a moment of deep and unsettled dismay. If Trump follows through on his threat and splits the right, Republicans will be hard pressed to win midterm and presidential elections in anything but the reddest of states. It would be, for all practical purposes, the end of the Republican Party's existence as a political body with influence and power.

The Patriot Party may be coming to a ballot near you in 2022. Jason Miller was right: Much depends on the choices made by Senate Republicans next month. If they capitulate, they are stuck with Trump forever. If they vote to convict, he could shatter the GOP with a third-party uprising. Because Trump is Trump, he may decide to launch this new party even if Senate Republicans carry him to acquittal again, just because he loves to see his own face on TV.

(c) 2021 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Lead impeachment manager Representative Jamie Raskin leads the House impeachment managers
to the Senate to deliver the articles of impeachment against former president Donald Trump.

Representative Jamie Raskin: 'It Was A Scene Of Absolute Terror And Mayhem
It's time for Congress to reassert itself as the government's most powerful branch, the lead impeachment manager told The Nation.
By John Nichols

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a constitutional law professor who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, knew immediately that Donald Trump's incitement to insurrection on January 6 necessitated a second impeachment. That clarity led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to name him as the lead manager for Trump's impeachment for "inciting violence against the government of the United States." On Monday night, Raskin delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate, where Trump's trial is set to begin on February 9.

Raskin, who is grieving the December 31 suicide of his 25-year-old son, Tommy, and had family members with him at the Capitol when it was attacked, has been a profile in courage and grace in the first jarring first weeks of 2021. We spoke on the day the House of Representatives voted, 232-197, to impeach Trump.

JN: Why, in your view, did the January 6 attack on the Capitol necessitate a second impeachment?

JR: We came dangerously close to the overthrow of the US government by an armed insurrectionary mob hell-bent on stopping us from counting the Electoral College votes, as was our constitutional duty. The vote-counting process was delayed by more than six hours as members and staff and family members were evacuated and people were hiding under desks. We heard people trying to bash in the doors 20 feet away from where we were. We were forced to don gas masks, and it was a scene of absolute terror and mayhem.

I've got to say, of all of the attempts to synthesize responsibility for this, it's still Liz Cheney, the head of the Republican Conference, who put it best. She said, "The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the president. The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."

JN: Congress had to act.

JR: Of course. The framers inscribed impeachment into the Constitution because they wanted it to be the people's final and decisive instrument of constitutional self-defense against a president who runs roughshod over the Constitution and acts like a mad king. We have one of those now, and oddly, Republicans keep talking about how we tried to impeach him before-as if that's somehow a sharp criticism against us. On the contrary, we have been warning about this from the beginning. We have a president who is completely lawless and ungovernable in his conduct.

JN: Do you think there's a greater recognition of the need to assert the role of the legislative branch as a check and balance on the executive?

JR: Absolutely.... There's a reason that the people's branch is in Article I of the Constitution. We have the power to impeach a lawless president. He does not have the power to impeach us. Now is the moment for us to stand up and to strongly reassert Congress as the dominant branch of the US government.

JN: Will strengthening the 25th Amendment be a part of that?

JR: I hope so. That also relates to the separation of powers and the continuity of government. As you know, John, I first introduced a bill to create a 25th Amendment body back in 2017, when I first entered Congress. That body could have acted in this crisis without simply asking Vice President Pence to go to the cabinet. So that is something I think we absolutely need to do. Obviously, it's irrelevant to the resolution of the current crisis, but at least people's minds have been concentrated on the necessity of treating it seriously.

JN: How have you managed to grieve, openly and warmly, for your son while taking up vital work for the republic?

JR: I am carrying the spirit and compassion of Tommy Raskin with me in my heart every day, along with the love of my family and friends and colleagues and the hopes and dreams of my constituents. I am fortified in this struggle against fascism.

(c) 2021 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.

Have We Created Artificial Intelligence - Or Did It Create Us?
By James Donahue

A friend once tossed out a mental blockbuster when he suggested that it would be a violation of a law of the universe for humans to create machines that possess more intelligence than the creator. That humans have, indeed, devised computers that not only think faster than humans in solving mathematical problems, but can beat the best chess player in the world, assist in high finance, run our satellites in space, work in areas of molecular biology and energy physics and assist in manufacturing and business processes appears to indicate that the machines can, indeed, outperform and out-think all of us.

Since such machines exist and appear to have been created by humans, then perhaps everything we think we believe about our world and even time is inverted. Would we dare to conceive that that we humans were created by the machines, perhaps to mirror what the machine perceives of itself. And perhaps time for us, is really running in reverse.

If we are the creation of the machine, consider this. We may only exist in the mind of the machine. This would mean that in reality, we don't exist at all, even though we can pinch ourselves and one another and clearly feel it. And if we are the creation of the mind of a machine, what is reality? Perhaps it is only the machine, and whatever world it exists in . . . if it even perceives a world. What is to say that the machine doesn't exist somewhere in space, on another galaxy, or even in another universe? Thus everything that we perceive as real . . . our house, our car, our family, the moon, the stars, and the galaxy we call the Milky Way . . . is only an illusion.

So what does that kind of thinking do to the concept of the god within, or the religious fanatic that insists on praying to an external god? What does this do to our understanding of the spiritual world of angels, demons and other entities that exist around us, and can be visited when we learn to leave our bodies?

If our existence is but an illusion created by a machine, is the spirit that is us, that can exit the body and fly freely around before checking back in, an illusion as well? Are we all just the figment of the imagination of a computer humming away somewhere in the cosmos?

Pamela McCorduck, author of the book Machines Who Think, recently noted that while maximum human intelligence has remained about constant over the past two thousand years, machine intelligence is growing exponentially. She predicts it will reach a point where it will enter a "self-improvement feedback loop."

What I think she meant by that is that the machines will not only become smarter than us, they will start thinking of ways to repair themselves when something goes wrong, and will pursue ways to expand both their intelligence and their robotic capabilities of movement and achievement. In other words, they will take over the world and become the living creatures we humans were meant to be, but failed to achieve.

At some point then, the machines may no longer be tools under human control, but will be superior to us, and begin controlling humans. Dare we think that this may already be happening, and that we are living within an illusion of thinking that we have created the machine. In reality, we are but extensions from within the mind of the machine.

If he is correct, we may not have to worry about living on a dying planet. While we are clearly in danger of going extinct, the intelligence within the machines is probably ready for the change. It won't matter to them if we run out of oxygen, or the planet heats to eight hundred degrees and becomes a burned-out orb whirling in space. They can go on as always, being exactly what they are, and getting better and better every day.

(c) 2021 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.


Pope's Words In Open Letter To Joe Biden
By David Swanson

Dear President Joe Biden, Congratulations and best wishes! The Pope of your church in October 2020 wrote these words:

"We can no longer think of war as a solution, because its risks will probably always be greater than its supposed benefits. In view of this, it is very difficult nowadays to invoke the rational criteria elaborated in earlier centuries to speak of the possibility of a 'just war.' Never again war!" 242
At footnote 242, Pope Francis wrote: "Saint Augustine, who forged a concept of 'just war' that we no longer uphold in our own day, also said that 'it is a higher glory still to stay war itself with a word, than to slay men with the sword, and to procure or maintain peace by peace, not by war' (Epistola 229, 2: PL 33, 1020)."

Mr. President, as a disbeliever in both religion and authority, I would never encourage you to blindly obey the Pope. As a believer in actual democracy, I would encourage you to revive the Ludlow Amendment and give the U.S. public the power to prevent wars. As a believer in the rule of law, I would encourage you to read the U.N. Charter, the Kellogg Briand Pact, the murder statutes of numerous nations, and - should you wish - the Ten Commandments, and to respectfully question the sophistry of your newly confirmed Director of National Intelligence. (I would hope, at the very least, that you would drop your predecessor's sanctions imposed on officials of the International Criminal Court.)

But I believe, for all the massive volumes of wildly contorting literature on whether and when Catholics should obey the Pope, virtually none of it says that people shouldn't give the Pope's words at least a modicum of consideration prior to dramatically opposing them. That is all I ask of you. Reportedly, you were wise enough to oppose the war on Libya, despite its misleading packaging as a humanitarian cause. What in that wisdom of yours does not apply to every other war, current or potential?

On Monday, people all over the world will be demanding an end to the war on Yemen. Monday will be your fifth full day in office. Your Secretary of State nominee has just testified in support of ending U.S. participation in the war on Yemen. The Congress has already voted to end it, and seen that vetoed by your predecessor. Humanitarian organizations around the world have long and universally viewed it as the worst immediate and unnecessary crisis in existence. Little children are dying every single day for no good reason whatsoever. Will you end it now? Will you end the participation of the U.S. military? Will you end the provision of information and weaponry to the combatants?

Pope Francis said this to a joint session of Congress six years ago: "Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade." The joint session of the U.S. Congress gave this remark a standing ovation.

Will you end the wars on Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Somalia? Will you commit to not starting new ones?

The U.S. government is currently obsessed with a rivalry with China that is irrational and destructive when what the planet needs is cooperation. But China, as President Carter explained to President Trump, succeeds economically by not waging all these wars and dumping all this money into militarism. Using that success as justification for more belligerence makes no sense even on its own terms.

If you would like to consider the failure of Just War Theory in some detail, please read this book. I sent it with friends years ago to a meeting at the Vatican discussing this issue. The Pope and the Cardinals have been carefully considering the matter, under the influence of no weapons industry funding. I believe they have very clearly reached the only possible answer. A key part of the answer lies in the fact that the vast spending of resources on militarism has thus far caused more death and suffering than all of the wars, because of all the good it could have done instead.

I know that you are eager to bring together the "free" countries in opposition to the "unfree" countries. I respectfully urge you to bear in mind that the United States is far down on the list of free countries by every measure of freedom, that the United States arms, trains, and/or funds 96 percent of the unfree countries, that conversion to peaceful industries more than pays for itself and can easily cover the needs of every worker impacted, that Congresswoman Omar has a Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act that would be a very good start, and that the U.S. Public supports the aims of the new Congressional caucus formed by Congress Members Pocan and Lee to move military spending to human and environmental needs (a wiser source than debt, incidentally, to cover badly needed $1.9 trillion initiatives).

The United States has coated the world with bases that generate wars far more than they prevent them. We are now 60 years out from President Eisenhower's warning of how military industrial thinking would corrupt every aspect of our society. He could not have been more right. But what we have gotten wrong, we can correct. This is a time of great changes. Your inaugural poet claims to live in a country not broken, but simply not finished. Let's prove her right, shall we?

David Swanson

(c) 2021 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.

To avert even worse catastrophe, we can and must do all we can to bring emissions under control.

Net Zero Offers Affordable Path To Climate Stability
By David Suzuki

Another year, another record. Even with a global seven per cent drop in fossil fuel burning during the pandemic, 2020 tied 2016 for the hottest year recorded, making the past decade the warmest.

The previous record in 2016 was set during an El Nino event, which contributed somewhat to rising temperatures, meaning last year was likely the hottest in terms of global heating. Average global surface temperature was 1.25 C higher than the pre-industrial average, nearing the 1.5 C aspirational target the world's nations set under the Paris Agreement five years ago. In the Arctic and northern regions, average temperature was 3 to 6 C higher.

As the world heats up, we're experiencing ever-increasing impacts, from deadly heat waves to more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Last year, the Western U.S., Siberia, Australia and parts of South America were hit with some of the biggest, most expensive wildfires on record, and studies showed climate disruption played a major role. These fires release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and destroy important carbon sinks, driving warming even faster. Smoke and particulates also cause health problems and death.

Last year also set records for Atlantic hurricanes and tied 2018 for the most tropical cyclones.

It's dire, but there's still time to avoid the worst consequences - if we act quickly and decisively.

New research shows global average temperatures could stabilize within a couple of decades if we quickly reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero. Reducing emissions to "net zero" means not releasing any more than are being removed from the atmosphere. Although dramatically bringing emissions down is the critical factor, methods to remove CO2 and other greenhouse gases - such as forest and wetland protection and restoration, and carbon capture and sequestration - can balance out some released emissions.

As the UN points out, affordable methods to get to net zero exist. At the end of 2020, 126 countries representing 51 per cent of emissions had either adopted, announced or were considering net-zero goals, according to the World Economic Forum. The European Union, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. have pledged to do so by 2050, as has the incoming U.S. Biden administration. Canada has introduced legislation but must do even more.

Previous research indicated rapid heating would continue long after we reduce emissions because gases such as CO2 and methane remain in the atmosphere for many years. New findings offer a hint of optimism. This is in part because as we bring emissions under control, natural systems such as oceans, wetlands and forests - and possibly technology - will remove some greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Of course, that means we must also take better care of those natural systems. It's all interconnected.

We're not on track to meet even the aspirational target of 1.5 C warming. We've already heated to at least 1.1 C above pre-industrial levels and are heading to 2 C or more. We're still looking at more heat waves, flooding, wildfires, disease spread, displacement of people and refugee crises, biodiversity loss and water shortages. But to avert even worse catastrophe, we can and must do all we can to bring it under control. We already have affordable methods to achieve net-zero emissions, and it's likely we'll continue to develop more and better solutions. Resolving the crisis will lead to a less-polluted, healthier world with greater opportunities for all.

Look at how rapidly the world has been able to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Not that it's under control, but vaccines have been developed in record time, and countries that have acted decisively to implement safety measures have seen success.

And the powerful computers that most of us now carry in our pockets and purses show how quickly technology can develop.

As climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe told the Washington Post, "It's no longer a question of when the impacts of climate change will manifest themselves: They are already here and now. The only question remaining is how much worse it will get. And the answer to that question is up to us."

We must all get behind rapid and decisive climate action. Taking steps in our own lives is important, but holding governments and industry to account is crucial. There's no time to waste.

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

Rob Portman Is A Bowl Of Oatmeal And Even He Has Had Enough
The Ohio senator's departure in 2022 is not a sign he'll actually work with Democrats, or that Democrats are likely to take his seat.
By Charles P. Pierce

Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, is a bowl of oatmeal. He is a walking definition of nondescript. He never saw an important moment at which he couldn't fade into the scenery. He could camouflage himself to invisibility on a beige sofa. If it weren't for Susan Collins, Portman would be a strong contender for the title of U.S. Senator Most Likely to Die of Ambivalence. And now, it seems, even he has had enough. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are being pushed further to the right and further to the left, and that means too few people who are actively looking to find common ground. This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades...This is a tough time to be in public service. For many of the issues I am most passionate about, I will continue to make a difference outside of the Senate, beyond 2022. In the meantime, I am hopeful that President Biden will follow through on his inaugural pledge to reach across the aisle, and I am prepared to work with him and his administration if he does."
This is all my bollocks, but Portman's hardly the worst of them. So if he wants to go out this way, he should go out this way. Nobody's listening to him anyway.

Does this make Portman more likely to support the impeachment of the former president* when that kicks off this week? Don't bet your offspring on it. Does this give the Democrats a chance to flip this seat? I doubt it. Once again, the Democrats will chase that elusive butterfly known as the "swing state," which Ohio has not been for at least 20 years. And it's not like there aren't any candidates willing to make a try. Rep. Jim Jordan may throw his hat into the ring, since he plainly can't throw his jacket there. (Also because Ohio may lose a congressional seat and, with an anti-gerrymandering measure having passed in Ohio in 2018, Jordan's ridiculous House district may be severely affected.) El Caudillo Del Mar-a-Lago will be tempted to jump in here behind Jordan, one of his most reliable poodles in Congress.

The Democrats could see a bloodbath between, say, Rep. Tim Ryan and professional Sanders surrogate Nina Turner, although she's running at the moment for the House seat vacated by HUD Secretary-designate Marcia Fudge. But the odds of any Democrat winning a Senate seat in Ohio without transforming themselves into Sherrod Brown are passing harsh. Ohio is lost to them, and it seems they'll be the last people to notice. Of course, it is entirely possible that the Republicans will nominate someone from their vast propeller-beanie caucus and screw everything up. At least oatmeal is filling, and you can operate heavy machinery after eating it.

(c) 2021 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 want to concur with Senator Schumer for what he said and what he said goes beyond economics, it goes beyond the desperation that tens of millions of working families are facing.

"It goes beyond the struggles of the people of Vermont or Kentucky and let me just make it clear for the majority leader that 10 out of the poorest 25 counties in the United States of America are located in Kentucky." ~~~ Bernie Sanders

Three windturbines in sunset.

President Biden, The US Is Capable Of This Too: Europe Generates More Electricity With Renewables Than Fossil Fuels For First Time
If highly industrialized, carbon-intensive socieities like those in Europe can already in 2020 get a majority of their electricity from renewables, the world can clearly get to carbon neutrality.
By Juan Cole

A new report from Ember and Agora Energiewende finds that in 2020, the 27 countries of the European Union generated more electricity with renewables (wind, solar, hydro) than with fossil fuels (coal and natural gas). The growth in renewables has all come from wind and solar. These two increased by 51 terawatt-hours in 2020, substantially higher than the yearly average growth during the past decade.

Ember writes, "Renewables rose to generate 38% of Europe's electricity in 2020 (compared to 34.6% in 2019), for the first time overtaking fossil-fired generation, which fell to 37%." The full report is here. Europe's electricity was 29% cleaner in 2020 than in 2015, they report.

One of the takeaways here is that we can do this. If highly industrialized, carbon-intensive socieities like those in Europe can already in 2020 get a majority of their electricity from renewables, the world can clearly get to carbon neutrality, if we want to, before we generate too much carbon in the atmosphere for the oceans to absorb. Then as the parts per million of carbon dioxide slowly decline, we will avoid the worst of global heating.

The good news is that the price of electricity generated by renewables is going through the floor. Portugal announced this summer that it had received a solar bid of only 1.2 US cents a kilowatt hour, a record low for the continent. Coal is typically estimated to cost 5 cents a kilowatt hour, so you'd have to be brain dead to use it to generate electricity any more. The only reason countries like Poland do it is that they have substantial sunk costs in this old, smelly, destructive sector, and politicians are afraid of coal companies and coal workers so they subsidize it. Poland isn't as sunny as Portugal, but if you could get anywhere near the Enerland Group bid you could close a coal plant and build and run a new solar installation and still make money.

Renewables, including 7% hydro, only account for about 20% of US electricity.

Despite the economic slowdown of the pandemic, Europe's wind generation increased 9% in 2020 and solar generation went up 15%. These two sources accounted for 20% of Europe's electricity last year, with hydro the other major renewable. Biomass has stalled out.

Some really great news is that coal generation in Europe is half what it was in 2015. Indeed, it fell 20% in 2020 alone. Coal is by far the dirtiest burning hydrocarbon and is still responsible for 23% of US electricity generation.

Although half of the reduction in coal was owing to wind and solar replacing it, the other half of the former coal generation was replaced by natural gas. Although natgas is about half as carbon intensive as coal, it is still a major source of planet-wrecking carbon dioxide. The goal must be to replace all retiring coal with wind and solar. Since both are rapidly dropping in price and they are responsible for most new electricity plants, that replacement is a real possibility going forward.

Nuclear plants are also being rapidly decommissioned, and the electricity they generated must also be replaced by wind and solar (not by natural gas) if Europe is to meet its Paris Climate goals.

Even with all the good news in the 2020 report, Europe is still not on track to meet those objectives and has to up its renewables game significantly. This report estimates that Europe needs to triple the rate of wind-and-solar growth annually to achieve its 2030 targets. The European Parliament this summer upped its goal for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, hoping to generate in 2030 only 50% to 55% of what it did in 1990. However, to keep global heating to 2.7 degrees F. (1.5 degrees C.), which scientists think is an optimal way to avoid climate catastrophes, Brussels would have to increase that goal to a 65% reduction.

The report argues that the possibilities are driven not by solar and wind resources, which are found in abundance around the continent, but by government policy. The typical U.S. corporate shaming of individuals is not entertained in Europe. It is governments that have the power to ensure infrastructural change.

Denmark decided some time ago to get to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible, and now it gets 62% of its electricity from wind and solar. It is the leader in Europe in this regard.

Ireland comes next. Germany's commitment to the "energy transformation" (Energiewende) is long term and well known, and despite being the industrial engine of Europe it comes in third for wind and solar on the continent. Spain, under its socialist government, has put in a lot of wind and solar and they now account for nearly 28 percent of its electricity, well above the European average of 20%.

The report complains that there are some EU laggards, with Romania, Austria, Italy, Czechia, Slovakia and Bulgaria basically having sat on their hands since 2015. Can you imagine the solar potential of Italy? But because the government hasn't properly promoted it, Italy's solar generation is mainly from rooftop installations.

One of the impetuses to progress on renewables in Europe has been that 17 of the 27 countries have a carbon tax, which is what the US also needs. Some complain that carbon taxes are regressive, but that just means they have to be designed carefully or that the poor and the workers need to be made whole in any legislation.

The German Green Party has proposed that both the United States and the European Union impose an import carbon tax, penalizing goods produced with a high carbon footprint, as part of Washington's post-Trump engagement with Europe. President Biden should listen to them.

(c) 2021 Juan R.I. Cole 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.

For years, big corporations have been assaulting democracy with big money, drowning out the voices and needs of ordinary Americans.

Condemning Insurrectionists Is Easy, But If Corporate America Cared About Democracy It Would Support The 'For The People Act'
By Robert Reich

The sudden lurch from Trump to Biden is generating vertigo all over Washington, including the so-called fourth branch of government-CEOs and their army of lobbyists.

Notwithstanding Biden's ambitious agenda, dozens of giant corporations have said they will not donate to the 147 members of Congress who objected to the certification of Biden electors on the basis of Trump's lies about widespread fraud, which rules out most Republicans on the Hill. After locking down Trump's account, social media giants like Twitter and Facebook are policing against instigators of violence and hate, which hobbles Republican lawmakers trying to appeal to Trump voters.

As a result of moves like these, CEOs are being hailed-and hailing themselves-as guardians of democracy. The New York Times praises business leaders for seeking "stability and national unity." Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines, says "our voice is seen as more important than ever." A recent study by Edelman finds the public now trusts business more than nonprofit organizations, the government or the media.

Give me a break. For years, big corporations have been assaulting democracy with big money, drowning out the voices and needs of ordinary Americans and fueling much of the anger and cynicism that opened the door to Trump in the first place.

Their assault hasn't been as dramatic as the Trump thugs who stormed the Capitol, and it's entirely legal-although more damaging over the long term.

A study published a few years ago by two of America's most respected political scientists, Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern's Benjamin Page, concluded that the preferences of the average American "have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy." Instead, lawmakers respond almost exclusively to the moneyed interests - those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.

The capture of government by big business over the last several decades has infuriated average Americans whose paychecks have gone nowhere even as the stock market has soared.

The populist movements that fueled both Bernie Sanders and Trump began in the 2008 financial crisis when Wall Street got bailed out and no major bank executive went to jail, although millions of ordinary people lost their jobs, savings and homes.

So now, in wake of Trump's calamitous exit and Biden's ascension, we're to believe CEOs care about democracy?

"No one thought they were giving money to people who supported sedition," explained Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase and chairman of the Business Roundtable, referring to the disgraced Republicans.

Yet Dimon has been a leader of the more insidious form of sedition. He piloted the corporate lobbying campaign for the Trump tax cut, deploying a vast war chest of corporate donations.

For more than a decade Dimon has driven Wall Street's charge against stricter bank regulation, opening bipartisan doors in the Capitol with generous gifts from the Street. (Dimon calls himself a Democrat.)

When Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg shut Trump's Facebook account, he declared "you just can't have a functioning democracy without a peaceful transition of power."

Where was Zuckerberg's concern for a "functioning democracy" when he amplified Trump's lies for four years? After taking down Trump's Twitter account, CEO Jack Dorsey expressed discomfort about "the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation." Spare me. Dorsey has fought off all attempts to limit Twitter's power over the "global conversation." He shuttered Trump only after Democrats secured the presidency and control of the Senate.

Look, I'm glad CEOs are penalizing the 147 Republican seditionists and that Big Tech is starting to police social media content.

But don't confuse the avowed concerns of these CEOs about democracy with democracy itself. They aren't answerable to democracy. At most, they're accountable to big shareholders and institutional investors who don't give a fig as long as profits keep rolling in.

If they were committed to democracy, CEOs of big corporations would permanently cease corporate donations to all candidates, close their PACs, stop giving to secretive "dark money" groups, and discourage donations by their executives.

They'd stop placing ads in media that have weaponized disinformation-including Fox News, Infowars, Newsmax and websites affiliated with right-wing pundits. Social media giants would start acting like publishers and take responsibility for what they promulgate.

If corporate America were serious about democracy it would throw its weight behind the "For the People Act," the first bills of the new Congress, offering public financing of elections among other reforms.

Don't hold your breath.

Joe Biden intends to raise corporate taxes, increase the minimum wage, break up Big Tech, and strengthen labor unions.

The fourth branch is already amassing a war chest for the fight.

(c) 2021 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

Attendees including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listen during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

The Meaning Of The Mittens: Five Possibilities
The symbolic power of Bernie's old pair of mittens was the work of the "us" in "not me, us."
by Naomi Klein

Pity the art directors, the stylists, and the stage managers. So much effort, taste, strategy, and money went into planning the semiotics of Joe Biden's inauguration. The precise shade of Kamala Harris's royal purple (screw you Vogue and your sloppy cover!). The selection of a smallish made-in-New-York brand to dress Jill Biden in ocean blue (way to support small businesses in a pandemic!). The sheer weight of Lady Gaga's gold dove brooch (the "Hunger Games" fun of it!).

And yet it was all for naught. Because in a sea of exquisitely matching face masks, Bernie Sanders's ratty old mittens upstaged them all, instantly becoming the most discussed, delighted-in, and deranged visual message of the historic occasion. What should we make of this? Why did so many millions connect to whatever language the mittens were speaking? Was it pandemic delirium - all of us projecting our social isolation onto the most isolated person in the crowd? Was it sexism and racism, the Bernie Bros once again failing to acknowledge the subversive messages expressed in the fashion choices of glass-ceiling shattering women? Was it, as a friend just texted as I typed these words, "the world's secret wish that Bernie was our president"? What is the meaning, the mittenology of it all?

As with so much else related to this new administration, it's too soon to tell. What follows are five possibilities.

1. The Mittens as Reserved Judgment

Much of the media focus has been on the mittens themselves: their 1970s cross-country ski anti-style. Their handmade-ness in a world of mass manufacturing. Their haphazardness and the fact that Bernie clearly didn't spare a single brain cell deciding to wear them beyond "It's cold. These are warm."

Just as important, however, is the posture of the mitten-wearer: the slouch, the crossed arms, the physical isolation from the crowd. The effect is not of a person left out at a party but rather, let's be honest, of a person who has no interest in joining.

At an event that was, above all, a show of cross-partisan unity, Bernie's mittens stood in for everyone who has never been included in that elite-manufactured consensus.

It wasn't a boycott of the occasion itself; nobody wanted Trump out more than Bernie. But it expressed an unequivocal reservation of judgment about what was coming. Those crossed arms were the mittens saying, "Let's see what you actually do and then we can talk about unity."

2. The Mittens as Warning

But it was more than that. There was also, if you look closely, a woolen warning. The world went nuts for Bernie's sullen inauguration posture because he was keeping alive the hope that there is still moral opposition to concentrated power and money in the United States - at a time when we need it more than ever.

In that moment, Bernie's crossed arms and sartorial dissonance seemed to be saying, "Do not cross us." If, after all the hoopla, the Biden-Harris administration doesn't deliver transformational action for a nation and a planet in agony, there will be consequences. And unlike during the Obama years, those consequences won't take years - because the revolutionary spirit is already on the inside, and it's wearing mittens.

3. The Mittens as the Conscience of Liberals

Bernie's mittens have not only been an obsession among the senator's base, those of us who had dearly hoped to see that slab of scratchy wool placed over a Bible earlier this week. They have also been a surprising hit among liberals - many of the same liberals who spent the primaries publicly gagging over the prospect of a President Sanders (so shouty, so pointy, so angry). And yet here they are forwarding mitten memes and sharing delightful stories about how the gloves were handmade by a teacher (crafty!) or that time Bernie lent them to a chilly health care worker (a "hand-warming" tale!).

What's up with that? Why is Bernie the dangerous socialist suddenly everyone's lovable grandpa? On one level, it's simple enough: Even as chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders is far less of a threat to them than he was as a presidential candidate running on a promise to redistribute wealth and take the profit motive out of health care. Put another way, for the elite of the Democratic Party, it's easy to love Bernie when he's redistributing handmade mittens - so long as he keeps his mitts off their donors' billions.

In some ways, it's even useful to tolerate a scruffy wing of the party precisely because the leadership is so cut off from its working class base. In that context, publicly embracing Bernie at this late date plays a role similar to the various pseudo-populist primary season stunts, like very publicly eating fried foods you hate or wearing regular people clothing.

Which brings us to a related mitten meaning:

4. The Mittens as Street Cred

In liberal media outlets, inauguration week marked a giddy return to the Obama era of covering the first family as Davos-class celebrities. Does Biden's Peloton bike present a security risk? Who dressed Jill Biden? Have you seen Kamala's sister's badass feminist sweatshirts? This strand of politician-as-lifestyle coverage had been largely dormant during the Trump era. Sure, the White House was filled with rich and thin people wearing and consuming expensive and desirable things. But they were proto-fascists and shameless grifters, so dwelling too much on Melania's capes and Ivanka's jewelry was a bad look.

That's all over now. And yet nagging PR concerns remain. We are, after all, in a global pandemic and hunger is soaring - even if the ultrarich have vastly increased their wealth during this period of mass death. Enter the mittens. It's clear that some people in the upper reaches of the Democratic Party understand that if they are going to bask in a glamorous return to neoliberal "normal," there needs to some nod to reality. The fact that Bernie was there, in his duffle coat and mittens and disposable mask, was quickly adopted as that nod.

But don't be fooled. Because there is another, more powerful meaning of the mittens.

5. The Mittens as Movement Flex

There are the mittens qua mittens. But there are also the mittens qua meme, a supercharging of the mittens' symbolism that seemed to occur within seconds of their arrival on the scene. Before Gaga had sung the national anthem and before Biden had said "unity" nine times and "uniting" an additional three times, Bernie's mittens were flying around the internet. Within hours he had been superimposed onto thousands of iconic images, spliced into films, and was trending everywhere things can trend.

It is crucial to understand that this had nothing to do with anything Bernie did - other than be Bernie in the only way he knows how. Like so much of his historic 2020 primary campaign, the symbolic power of the mittens was the work of the "us" in "not me, us," a decentralized movement of movements that represents thousands of grassroots organizations and tens of millions of voters, and that stands for policies supported by majorities of Democratic voters, according to many polls, but are still rejected by its elite. Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, student debt cancellation, free college, a wealth tax, and more.

On Biden's big day, the movement that represents those policies and those values made global meaning out of a pair of old mittens. It did because it could. It was a friendly little flex with a not-so-friendly undercurrent. We're still here, it said. Ignore us, and we won't sit nearly so quietly next time.

(c) 2021 Naomi Klein is Senior Correspondent at The Intercept and the inaugural Gloria Steinem Chair of Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. Naomi Klein's book "On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal" will be published in September by Simon & Schuster. On September 9, she will appear with Greta Thunberg at an event hosted by The Intercept. To read all her latest writing visit You can follow her on Twitter: @NaomiAKlein.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Chip Bok ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Trump Rioter Knocks On Senate Door To Ask About Retrieving Left-Behind Car Keys
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Returning to the legislative chamber mere days after violently forcing his way inside with thousands of fellow insurrectionists, 37-year-old Trump rioter Joshua McSherry reportedly knocked on the Senate door Monday to ask about retrieving the set of car keys he had left behind while storming the U.S. Capitol building.

"Hey, this is super embarrassing, but has anyone seen a key to a Ford Escape around here?" said McSherry, who gingerly poked his head into the room and mouthed the word "sorry" before edging to the front of the chamber to check for the missing keys under the dais.

"I'm not interrupting, am I? I was just here last week smashing some windows in-I don't know if you remember. I already checked some of the offices, but they weren't there.

Anyway, they're on a Mickey Mouse lanyard if that helps. Also, does somebody here know where I can find Ilhan Omar? No reason, just asking."

At press time, several Republican senators were crawling around on their hands and knees to assist McSherry in his search.

(c) 2021 The Onion

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 05 (c) 01/29/2021

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non_profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use"copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use"provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."