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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "Judging Biden By Low Standards Set By Trump Would Be An Unforgivable Catastrophe."

Ralph Nader explores, "The Struggle Inside Senator Mitch McConnell's Brain."

Glen Ford examines, "Nightmare Years Will Repeat Themselves - Until The People Kick Out The Cabal."

Jim Hightower finds, "The Problem With Plastic... Is Plastic."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Stop Trying To Make This About "Unity" -There's No Uniting With Fascists."

John Nichols concludes, "Cutting $2,000 Payments, And Limiting Who's Eligible for Them, Is Bad Economics And Loser Politics."

James Donahue wonders, "Has Slavery Really Been Abolished?"

David Swanson explains why, "Why Samantha Power Should Not Hold Public Office."

David Suzuki finds, "Alberta Inquiry Steps Tnto A Past Era's Dark Denial."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "Asa Hutchinson's Comments On Marjorie Taylor Greene Show Exactly Where The Bar Is For Republicans."

Medea Benjamin returns with, "The Decline And Fall Of The American Empire."

Robert Reich explains, "The Real Reason The GOP Don't Want Biden's Plan? They Fear It Will Work."

Tom Engelhardt returns, "The Imperial Presidency Under Joe Biden."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "White House Unveil Official Lapdog," but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "It Looks Like President Biden Is Fighting The Good Fight Against Global Warning!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Breen, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Liu Jie, Mark Wilson, Justin Sullivan, Paul Hennessy, Xinhua, William B Plowmann, Drew Angerer, Chip Somodevilla, Calvin Shen, NBC Newswire, Government of Alberta, 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-

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It Looks Like President Biden Is Fighting The Good Fight Against Global Warning!
By Ernest Stewart

"We're proud to be back. We come back with humility for the absence over the last four years and we will do everything in our power to make up for it," ~~~ John Kerry ~ at the virtual Climate Adaptation Summit, in the the Netherlands

"The word politics comes from the Latin poli, meaning many, and the English tics meaning blood sucking creatures... poli-tics" ~~~ Uncle Ernie ~ 1971

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

For well over a century the country's economy, security and society have depended on fossil fuels. Trouble is, that the air, water and land had become so polluted that people were dying by the tens of thousands! So bad that 50 years ago even politicians that were owned by the big polluters began to take notice and 51 years ago we had our first Earth day.

In just the few days since his inauguration, president Biden has gone to war against coal, oil and natural gas with a decisiveness that has caught everyone by surprise.

Joe Biden has tasked John Kerry with drawing up his climate change battle plans.

"It is one of his top priorities, without any question whatsoever," Mr Kerry has said of Joe. "He'll make more progress on the issue than any previous president."

You may recall that Kerry was President Barack Obama's secretary of state and a key architect of the Paris climate change summit in 2015.

Kerry is someone deeply invested in tackling global warming, who understands current global climate diplomacy, and personally knows many of the key people the US will have to work with.

An ambitious start

We knew he was going to re-join the Paris climate accord, we didn't know that a few days later he'd order his domestic climate "tzar," Gina McCarthy, to draw up plans to commit the US to "the most aggressive" carbon cut possible.

We expected him to try and kill the giant Keystone XL oil pipeline, but not that he'd pull the permit on his first day in office, stopping the 1250 mile pipeline project dead in its tracks.

We knew he planned to make climate change a priority in policy-making, but not that he'd order the Pentagon to make it an issue of national security.

It is part of what is being called a "whole government" approach to the issue.

"Joe is mobilising every department, every agency of the United States government to focus on climate and he is determined to try and restore America's credibility and reputation," explained John Kerry.

Even some of the deepest green activists have been impressed. In fact, even I am impressed, imagine that!

"There is a shock-and-awe feel to the barrage of actions," says veteran environmental campaigner Bill McKibben.

Bill believes the flurry of executive orders is designed to make an important point.

The president wants to send "a decisive signal about the end of one epoch and the beginning of another," says Mr McKibben.

That signal is aimed at investors, Bill says. "Fossil fuel, Biden is making clear, is not a safe bet, or even a good bet, for making real money."

Meanwhile out west large bits of California floated down stream to the sea taking houses, cars and roads with it, as almost a foot of rain hit burned over areas causing vast mud slides.

When I lived in LA the end of January and beging of February for two or three weeks it rained, then nothing for another year. Where I lived in Malibu the 500 foot cliffs across the street would occasionally collapses and block the Pacific Coast Highway for a day or two and these were average years! What must it be like there now?

Rain fell at the average of 10 inches a day this week and people were advised to get out of the burn areas until the rain subsided. Normally Southern California can use all the rain it can get but since the fires began in earnest, coupled with a drought, like 'Morton Salt,' "When it rains, it pours," and California floats away!


You know the old saying that, "Time flies when you are having fun?" Which may explain why the last 20 years to me have been a reoccurring nightmare!

As you may know away back when I dropped out of my masters program and became America's favorite JD turned DJ I did it because I couldn't face the truth about Poli-sci, nor could I see myself teaching it to young bright eyed and bushy tailed students a subject that makes many want to kill themselves or at least kill someone once they've learned the truth. In other words, politics makes people sad, while music makes people happy! The truth being that the fix is in and there was nothing to be done about it, i.e., "Remember the golden rule. He who has the gold, makes the rules!" It was true in Caesar's day as it is today.

Then along came the 12-12-2000 judicial coup d'etat in Bush vs. Reality and the old teacher in me took control much to the ruin of my life and with a few friends began Issues and Alibis magazine which first published on February 1, 2001. I've been hip to the Crime Family Bush since the CIA's Kennedy sanction which George H.W. Bush successfully ran and hence became the CIA's director and then president. And with the majority of Bush and Ray-guns appointments on the Extreme Court, it was, here we go again!

After Lying Donald lost to Biden I thought enough is enough and 20 years was enough and time I got to finishing those books I've got to finish for my bucket list but a friend told me to just drop the parts of my column that made me feel the way I did when I dropped out of school and just write about the human race's greatest danger, global warming, which I still care about. Since this gave me a free 20 hours a week that I didn't have to spend on research and writing the other two parts of my column, and got my mind mostly free of politics, I said right you are, and so, on we go!


05-21-1943 ~ 02-01-2021
Thanks for the music!

01-07-1977 ~ 01-30-2021
Thanks for the film!

05-23-1940 ~ 02-02-2021
Thanks for fighting the good fight!

07-01-1951 ~ 02-03-2021
Thanks for fighting the good fight!


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.

U.S. President Joe Biden (C-R) talks with former U.S. President Barack Obama after he was sworn in as
the 46th President of the United States in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Jan. 20, 2021.

Judging Biden By Low Standards Set By Trump Would Be An Unforgivable Catastrophe
We don't have any room to grade this administration on a curve. Progressives must push with everything they've got.
By Norman Solomon

Unless consciously resisted, one of Donald Trump's lasting triumphs will be the establishment of such a low bar that mediocre standards will prevail for his successor. Of course, providing a clear contrast to the atrocious Trump presidency is irrefutably necessary-but it's hardly sufficient.

To give high marks merely for excelling in comparison to right-wing Republicans is to cheer high jumps over very low standards. And the opening months of President Joe Biden's term are an especially bad time to grade him on a curve, as top appointees take charge and policy directions are set.

With corporate forces fully mobilized and armies of their lobbyists deployed to constantly push the new administration, the need for activating grassroots counterpressure from the left should be obvious. Yet an all-too-common progressive refrain now is along the lines of "Step back and give Biden a chance!"

The refrain is understandable. And mistaken. It's essential to vigorously advance progressive agendas that are morally compelling and tactically effective-to deliver notable improvements in people's lives and prevent the Republicans from recapturing Congress (as happened in 1994 and 2010 with big GOP victories just two years after the corporate-friendly Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama took office).

One of Trump's overarching "achievements" was to move the frame of feasible political options rightward. Now, the achievable options must be moved in a decidedly progressive direction-not simply back to the future with a "third Obama term" aiming to reinstate the gist of a pre-Trump status quo.

Encouraging as some of Biden's first executive orders may be, they're not transformative. Last week, under the headline "Biden's Executive Actions Just Scratch the Surface," the editor of The American Prospect offered a sober assessment. "What Biden is doing, even if it extends only to reversing Trump-era rules and actions, will help a lot of people," David Dayen wrote. But, "in a lot of ways on these executive actions, the style is doing a fair bit more than the substance."

On January 28, when Biden signed an executive order on Obamacare, he emphasized his self-imposed restraint. "There's nothing new that we're doing here other than restoring the Affordable Care Act and restoring Medicaid to the way it was before Trump became president," Biden said. And: "I'm not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law. This is going back to what the situation was prior to Trump's executive order."

Prior to Trump, tens of millions of people in the United States were already uninsured or underinsured-and that was before Covid struck.

Some reporting indicates Biden might now realize that chasing after Republican partners in Congress would be a fool's errand. Yet Biden has a bad history of reaching across the aisle to make harmful deals. "Mr. Biden finds himself managing the outsize aspirations of the progressive wing of his party while exploring the possibilities of working with a restive opposition that has resisted him from the start," the New York Times reported in a front-page story on Sunday.

Whatever the phrase "outsize aspirations" means, a key reality is that progressives must keep building pressure during this time of extreme crises-with several thousand Americans dying from the coronavirus every day, economic catastrophes deepening for many, racial injustice continuing to fester, and the climate emergency still worsening.

Much of what Biden can do would require no congressional action. Dayen points out that, as per the Constitution, presidents "are implementers"-and "they should implement to the maximum potential allowed by law."

When gauging the Biden presidency, we should throw away yardsticks that are designed to measure its distance from the Trump presidency.

So many people are dying from lack of health care, and Biden has yet to take-or call for-the magnitude of steps that are urgently needed to save lives. One proposal, initiated by Rep. Ilhan Omar and gaining support in the House, would provide recurring stimulus payments. A comprehensive plan, put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders, would establish free health care as a human right for everyone in the United States, in effect Medicare for All, for the duration of the pandemic.

How to pay for such momentous programs? One bill, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio, provides for a transaction tax on Wall Street that would raise vast amounts of revenue from people most able to afford it. One bill after another has sought to substantially cut the military budget and make the funds available to meet crying human needs.

Only continuous and intense pressure from grassroots activism can induce Biden to support such vital measures.

"We should have learned a lesson from the Obama-Biden years, where many progressive forces gave a honeymoon to the administration, believing that they needed space and believing that they were gonna be under a lot of pressure so we should back off. It was the worst possible thing that we could have ever done," said Bill Fletcher Jr., a former senior AFL-CIO staffer who is now executive editor of "We need to stand behind Biden-Harris at nose length so that they cannot retreat without running smack into us."

Progressive journalist Sonali Kolhatkar said: "Biden has already faced relentless calls for so-called 'unity' from pro-Wall-Street and pro-war corporate Democrats and media pundits, which is of course code for capitulating to centrism and even conservatism. He needs to hear even stronger calls from his constituency, calls that are loud enough to drown out the Wall Streeters and warmongers." In the words of progressive populist Jim Hightower, "The question is not whether Biden will produce the transformative change that America urgently needs. He won't. Rather the question is how hard, far and persistently we progressives will push him."

If President Biden is pushed hard and far and persistently enough, some truly great changes are possible.

(c) 2021 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death"and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

McConnell received a flood of criticism from the Trump supporters for daring to distance himself from the dangerous, unstable, Liar-in-Chief.

The Struggle Inside Senator Mitch McConnell's Brain
Allowing the Trumpian half of his brain to overpower his judgment and vote to acquit Dangerous Donald would spell disaster for the Republican Party (assuming the Democratic Party doesn't go to sleep as it did after Obama's win in 2008). by
By Ralph Nader

Since 2015, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has ruled the Senate with an iron hand, describing himself as "the Guardian of Gridlock." He was Senator "NO," except for confirming over 200 mostly corporatist federal judges.

Now comes a new challenge for Mitch McConnell as he leads 49 other Republican Senators, twenty of whom are up for re-election in 2022. Earlier this month, McConnell broke with Trump publicly in a Senate speech holding the wannabe American Fuhrer responsible for the January 6th storming of the Congress. On that day, Trump had just spoken to a crowd on the Mall and incited his followers to rush the Capitol and "stop the steal." In the aftermath of this insurrection, the Kentucky Senator said he was keeping an open mind about his vote during the coming impeachment trial of Trump.

Predictably, McConnell received a flood of criticism from the Trump supporters for daring to distance himself from the dangerous, unstable, Liar-in-Chief. Senate insurrectionists Senators Cruz and Hawley stood firm with Trump, even after the Trumpsters' violent riot in their hallowed workplace.

Then came Senator Rand Paul, a crypto-libertarian opportunist and Trump toady (a scheming shadow of his father, ex-Rep. Ron Paul) to propose a vote on whether a president who is impeached while in office could be tried after his term was up. In a January 21, 2021 letter, an overwhelming number of liberal and conservative constitutional law experts said, "In sum, the Constitution's text and structure, history, and precedent make clear that Congress's impeachment power permits it to impeach, try, convict, and disqualify former officers, including former presidents." (The full text of the letter is available online at Medium.Com) Not to do so, as Republican constitutional law specialist Bruce Fein said, "would fail to a set a precedent to deter future presidents from committing all kinds of impeachable offenses during the last days of their presidency and would undermine the additional sanction, by majority Senate vote, of banning Presidents who have committed 'high crimes and misdemeanors' from ever running for federal office again."

McConnell, reverting to form, voted with Rand Paul and all but five courageous Republicans for the nonsense assertion that the Constitution prohibits a trial of an impeached president after departure from office. Since it would take seventeen Republicans to join with fifty Democrats to convict Trump, the media pundits quickly prejudged the outcome as an acquittal.

Inside McConnell's brain, however, the path ahead is not preordained. McConnell still insists, as one of 100 Senate jurors, he is keeping an open mind as he weighs the evidence at the open televised trial starting on Tuesday, February 9th in the Senate. This might be true. Allowing the Trumpian half of his brain to overpower his judgment and vote to acquit Dangerous Donald would spell disaster for the Republican Party (assuming the Democratic Party doesn't go to sleep as it did after Obama's win in 2008).

Here is what the "survival" part of McConnell's mind may be thinking:

"My GOP is a minority Party. We've only won the popular vote for President once since 1988, having been saved by the Electoral College in 2000 and 2016. Our majorities in the House have been due to gerrymandering designed to produce safe Republican districts in key states. We can't assume that the cowardly Democrats will continue to give us seats in the Senate that they should have won, apart from giving up contesting many seats altogether."

"We should break completely with Trump and his uncontrollable, delusional, hardcore extremists dedicated to "civil war," that the Department of Homeland Security has deemed the "leading domestic terrorist" threat. Conviction of Trump is the way forward. He wouldn't be able to run again. We won't be bullied, intimated, and lied about every day in order to push us toward these political militias and their crude, violent talk and actions by acquitting Trump. We can't be the "law and order" Party if we don't accept that "no one is above the law."

"Also, the media would demand answers for out-of-control Republican outlaws and their Trumpian grip on state Republican Party committees. We will be so relentlessly distracted daily by Trumpian chaos and Trump's 2024 candidacy that we won't be able to reset the traditional stable GOP and advance our conservative agenda. Trump is causing us to lose our campaign contributions from frightened corporate CEOs who cannot tolerate daily political disruptions and overtly divisive rancor that rankles the workplace."

"Some of our own legislators already are being investigated by the FBI for their involvement with these extremist groups." (See the New York Times article: Republican Ties to Extremist Group Are Under Scrutiny).

"Furthermore, letting Trump go triumphantly into the electoral arena would increase the risk of internally splitting the Party with Trump either saying "his way" or creating a new "Patriot Party". For many reasons, that would end our electoral chances for a generation. It will be worse than what FDR did to our Party."

"I make these arguments to my Senate Republicans, having just been re-elected. The Senators up for election in 2022 are fearful of being primaried. They cannot stand the burst of hate mail they would receive." "To them, I would say: "relax, look at the huge margins most of you won by in 2016. You're just too cozy and not used to a primary challenge, which should make you an even better campaigner. Besides, you'll raise much more campaign money by standing tall against the tyrant who attacked America, who will turn on you at a tweet's notice if you're not 100% with him."

"Given the super-safe seats - no one is going to beat Thune, Moran, Lankford, Kennedy, Crapo, Boozman, and Shelby in any primary. Besides, any ultra-extremist candidates who win primaries are sure to lose in the general election. That's what happened in Delaware in 2000. The great majority of sane GOP voters know a suicide drive when they hear and see it."

Such is the swirling mind of Mitch McConnell these days. With more incriminating evidence coming out about Trump's attempted election coup, and the expected alarming under oath testimony at the Senate trial, the sheer political self-interest and regard for the GOP's future should result in the Senate voting for conviction.

(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).

Nightmare Years Will Repeat Themselves - Until The People Kick Out The Cabal
By Glen Ford

To take on the corporate imperial racial capitalist state, we need a Black-led movement that puts politics in command and names the Democratic perpetrators and collaborators that are culpable in the unfolding, late-stage capitalist disaster.

By any objective reckoning, capitalism should have lost all vestige of legitimacy in the nightmare year 2020, when Covid-19 revealed the non-existence of a national health care system in the United States at precisely the historical moment when billionaire wealth exploded beyond the wildest dreams of the oligarchy. The most massive popular mobilization in U.S. history put tens of millions in the streets in June under the Black Lives Matter banner, proof that much more than a critical mass of the public is willing to mobilize for social justice. A Harris and Just Capital poll taken the previous month showed that only 25 percent of the public believed our current form of capitalism ensures the greater good of society - a belief gruesomely confirmed when the pandemic death toll approached half a million at year's end.

So, why is there no imminent threat to the dictatorship of capital, no mass convulsion on the horizon that might bring down a system that has so demonstrably failed to provide for the health, welfare, security or happiness of the masses of people - and that allows Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, to invest tens of billions in disaster capitalist profits in his bid to privatize space while Americans -disproportionately Black and brown Americans -- die gasping for air here on the ground?

Economic crises -- or health or military catastrophes -- do not automatically lead to political crises that threaten the ruling order. A transformative politics requires mass organizations that are clear on who the enemy is, and that have at least a general idea of what kind of society they want to create. If the people don't directly challenge the oligarchy - whose wealth becomes even more concentrated during economic meltdowns - then no political crisis exists for the rulers, no matter how lethal conditions become for the majority of the population. Mobilization, by itself, is not enough if the massed millions are not consciously organized to bring down the structures at the root of their oppression - an historical fact that was reaffirmed by the failure of the mammoth protests of June to present any threat to the oligarchy that rules the United States.

It is true that, among the more politically advanced elements of the Black movement, it is increasing understood that the enemy is racial capitalism, the only kind of capitalism that exists in both national and global terms. "You can't have capitalism without racism," as Malcolm X declared. But anti-capitalism, although verbally expressed throughout Black activist circles and incorporated in many group statements of principles, did not shape the demands of the movement or prevent activists from collaborating in practice with one of the two pillars of corporate rule: the Democratic Party.

More than half a century ago, Malcolm understood the duopoly electoral system as "foxes" (Democrats) and "wolves" (Republicans), and that "both will eat you." And indeed, the Democratic foxes have since Malcolm's time devoured the vast bulk of the community's civic organizations, turning Black churches, sororities and fraternities, and so-called "civil rights" groups into partisan annexes of the corporate duopoly. The Democratic Party, a mechanism of mass manipulation and social control, dominates every aspect of political life in Black America, blunting and negating the radical impulses of the nation's most lean-leaning, socialist-friendly polity. Thus, Black Lives Matter activists say they oppose racial capitalism but collaborate with, and base their strategies on, intimate interactions with Black operatives of the corporate political machinery: the thoroughly Democratic "Black Misleadership Class."

Not that the movement has altered the political behavior of most Black elected officials in any substantive way. Although Black Lives Matter is a world model in confronting the police - the perennial flashpoint of Black interaction with the corporate state -- Black Democratic elected officials at the national level continue to vote in lockstep with corporate Democratic leadership on militarization of local police (2014) and elevation of cops to the status of "protected class" -- assault on which can now be prosecuted as a federal hate crime (2018).

The avowedly socialist, anti-imperialist, and Black self-determinationist elements within the Black Lives Matter umbrella are the best hope to lead a genuinely transformative movement in the United States - primarily because most Black Americans are peace-minded, socialism-friendly, and supportive of Black autonomy. But this can only happen if these organizations "put politics in command" and confront the enemy within: the Democratic Party, which is hegemonic in Black America.

Democratic hegemony does not mean unbeatable. The two most revered Black political icons, Malcolm and MLK, understood that you can't effectively oppose the white oligarchs without first confronting Black Democrats, who are the ruling class's first line of defense (and offense) in the Black community. Black Democratic mayors and councilpersons eagerly oversaw local mass Black incarceration regimes in the "chocolate cities" of the Seventies and Eighties - and called it progress. Even a narrow police and prisons abolition movement must politically defeat Black Democrats -- delegitimize them -- if it is to be an enduring force in the community. To grossly paraphrase Malcolm, "You can't have capitalist hegemony in Black America without Black Democrats." They are the enemy within.

To take on the corporate imperial racial capitalist state, we need a Black-led movement that puts politics in command and names the perpetrators and collaborators that are culpable in the unfolding, late-stage capitalist disaster, and is capable of presenting a coherent vision of a socialist future in which all peoples rights to self-determination are recognized, and where the people provide for their communal security.

Conditions of life will worsen as the contradictions of racial capitalism deepen. But the ever-consolidating cabal at the top will not give up power out of embarrassment or rocket en mass to Mars; they will have to be overthrown by a mass movement seeking social transformation. United States history dictates that Black folk must lead this movement. That means taking on an end-of-era, global responsibility.

Nobody is ready to take on this mission - but it's got to be done, anyway.

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

The Problem With Plastic... Is Plastic
By Jim Hightower

In a world that's clogged and choking with a massive overdose of plastic trash, you'll be heartened to learn that governments and industries are teaming up to respond forcefully to this planetary crisis.

Unfortunately, their response has been to engage in a global race to make more plastic stuff and to force poor countries to become dumping grounds for plastic garbage. Leading this Kafkaesque greedfest are such infamous plunderers and polluters as Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, and other petrochemical profiteers. With fossil fuel profits crashing, the giants are rushing to convert more of their over-supply of oil into plastic. But where to send the monstrous volumes of waste that will result?

The industry's chief lobbyist outfit, the American Chemistry Council, looked around last year and suddenly shouted: "Eureka, there's Africa!" In particular, they're targeting Kenya to become "a plastics hub" for global trade in waste. However, Kenyans have an influential community of environmental activists who've enacted some of the world's toughest bans on plastic pollution. To bypass this inconvenient local opposition, the dumpers are resorting to an old corporate power play: "Free Trade." Their lobbyists are pushing an autocratic trade agreement that would ban Kenyan officials from passing their own laws or rules that interfere with trade in plastic waste.

Trying to hide their ugliness, the plastic profiteers created a PR front group called "Alliance to End Public Waste." But - hello - it's not "public" waste. Exxon and other funders of the alliance make, promote, and profit from the mountains of destructive trash they now demand we clean up. The real problem is not waste, but plastic itself. From production to disposal, it's destructive to people and the planet. Rather than subsidizing petrochemical behemoths to make more of the stuff, policymakers should seek out and encourage people who are developing real solutions and alternatives.

(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

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks during his weekly press conference on January 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Stop Trying To Make This About "Unity" -There's No Uniting With Fascists
By William Rivers Pitt

On Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy winged his way down to Mar-a-Lago, America's newest Superfund site, to kiss the ring of a vanquished would-be king.

McCarthy was there to plead for forgiveness. You see, three weeks and apparently ten million years ago -when Congresspeople like McCarthy were running for their lives in a Capitol building under violent siege by Trump voters, remember? -the minority leader summoned the will to blame Donald Trump for his outsized role in inciting the mob. One fellow GOP House leader, Liz Cheney, went farther and actually voted to impeach when provided the opportunity, even as then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made definitive noises to the effect that being rid of Trump would be advantageous to all.

For a brief moment, it seemed possible that the Republican Party would pull up and out of the political gravity well they had created by empowering and protecting Trump's monstrous administration. They would break free, take their chances with Trump's violent base, and then dance like Smeagol after the shunning of Gollum: "Gone! Gone! Gone! Smeagol is free!"

Trump, sensing slippage in his stranglehold over the GOP, responded immediately with threats to split the GOP by starting his own party, the Patriot Party. This threat was ostensibly made to warn Republican senators not to vote against him in the impeachment trial, but it was also a warning to the wider party at the state and local level. I will crack this party like an egg, was the message, unless I get everything I want.

Somewhere in that nebulous struggle for control, something enormous shifted. On Tuesday, Rand Paul turned a procedural vote on the upcoming impeachment trial into a litmus test for who in that chamber was brave enough to defy Trump. A meager five GOP senators rose to support the trial, while the remaining 45 -including Rand Paul -chose to laager in Trump's camp. It was a seismic vote that altered the political landscape overnight.

By Wednesday morning, the situation had gained grim clarity. "The nation's two most powerful elected Republicans have signaled that they are ready to look past questions of responsibility for the violent effort to overturn the result of the presidential election," reported The Washington Post that day, "an attempt that left a Capitol Police officer and four rioters dead, as they maneuver to avoid a divisive battle within the Republican Party and try to position it to reclaim power in 2022."

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, a Trump devotee, put out a statement after the Paul vote: "Not only is this impeachment trial a distraction from the important issues Americans want Congress focused on, it is unconstitutional, and I join the vast majority of Senate Republicans in opposing it. As Democrats continue to sow division and obstruct, Republicans will keep fighting for the American people."

"As Democrats continue to sow division and obstruct..." The irony fairly seethes. We seek unity, which means do as we say, and if you don't, here are these violent followers of ours who are liable to do anything. When they show up, it is your fault because you are sowing division. This is the base tactical "logic" of fascism: The use of language against itself. It is not supposed to make sense. It is supposed to intimidate.

In Oregon, the state's GOP leadership issued a statement claiming that the sacking of the Capitol had been a staged "false flag" event. The Arizona GOP censured that state's Republican governor for refusing to overturn the election results. Domino after domino began to fall, and in every instance, Trump became that much more unbound, Promethean in his wrath, and once again the center of attention.

By the end of the week, the deal had gone down. Congress was in chaos, with Democratic members fearing to be in the same room with GOP colleagues who had openly cheered for their assassinations beneath the Capitol dome. A few "moderate" Democrats cooed about "moving on," even as whole swaths of House and Senate Democrats were aghast at the capitulation they were witnessing.

Under the leadership of Donald Trump, the GOP had lost the House, Senate and White House, watched idly as hundreds of thousands of people died in a pandemic that could have been contained with a bare modicum of competence, and watched again as a sitting president exhorted an angry mob to smash their way into the seat of congress so they could kill the leadership of same. This incredible totality of disgrace and infamy, in the end, was not enough to inspire a final break from the author of all this misery.

McCarthy's obsequious journey to Mar-a-Lago was the final penny to drop. The GOP civil war is over for now, and Trump remains the core power within the Republican Party. QAnon devotee Marjorie Taylor Greene and her ilk are the new face of the party. There is video of Greene harassing a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, accusing him of being part of a staged event. Today, she sits on the House Education and Labor Committee, an insult stacked upon an insult. Her party lacks the courage to expel her, and she knows it, because she rolls with Donald Trump. Now, and for the foreseeable future, so do they all.

There is an old saying: If there are 11 people seated at a dinner table with a fascist, and none of them are denouncing the fascist, there are 12 fascists at that table.

That is the Republican Party in a nutshell.

There is no cooperating with this mayhem. There is no trying to get along, offering concessions, or searching for bipartisanship.

President Biden has strongly signaled his desire for Congress to settle this matter rapidly. Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine wants to cut a deal to censure Trump that Republicans can agree to. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, in reply, pushed back on both impeachment and censure in perfect Republican doublespeak: "I would encourage people to move on rather than live in the past."

Let it never be said that these people are anything other than seamlessly true to form. The Benghazi attack earned years of congressional GOP hearings and investigations, as did Hillary Clinton's emails. A frontal assault on the very home of American democracy by Republican Trump supporters? It's time to stop living in the past. Next up: The GOP deficit hawks with five verses and a chorus on fiscal responsibility. Their greatest strength is their lack of shame.

The Republican Party today is about one thing: Using democracy to destroy democracy, and all in the name of their thwarted autocratic leader. They don't want to make deals. They want to take, and take, and that is all.

You don't make deals with that if you are the Democrats. You defeat it, using the majorities millions of voters and grassroots activists labored to provide you. You pass legislation by hook or by crook that improves people's lives whether they want it or not. FDR's Tennessee Valley Authority program is instructive: You win, make things better for people, and wait for the light bulb moment to arrive.

Today's GOP is a beast. You don't negotiate with rabid dogs. You're a damn fool if you try.

(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.

Volunteers fill boxes at a food distribution center.

Cutting $2,000 Payments, And Limiting Who's Eligible for Them, Is Bad Economics And Loser Politics
Biden's under pressure from deficit hawks to slash his stimulus plan. Ro Khanna warns that doing so would be a "terrible" idea.
By John Nichols

The same cabal of compulsive neoliberals and centrist grifters who derailed meaningful progress in previous Democratic administrations are at it again. This time, they want President Biden and the Democrats to lower expectations for Covid-19 relief by reducing the amount of direct payments to Americans and imposing harsh restrictions on who might be eligible for them.

On Sunday, a group of 10 Republican senators sent the president a letter outlining a plan to reduced his $1.9 trillion stimulus package to approximately $600 billion. To cut costs, the Republicans propose to limit direct payments to just $1,000 and to prevent them from going to anyone earning more than $50,000 a year. They also want to jettison Biden's plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Republicans say they hope Biden will work with them to achieve "unity and bipartisanship." In fact, they're proposing austerity under the guise of "targeted relief"-a dangerously bad idea that some Senate Democrats have also begun to peddle.

If Biden buckles to the deficit hawks who favor a narrow response to the economic turbulence spawned by the coronavirus pandemic-a compromise some of the president's recent statements suggest is possible-he will do his agenda and his party deep damage.

A "go-small" approach to the crisis would surely gain applause from the usual suspects-austerity-inclined members of Congress and the elite editorial pages that cheer them on. But a surrender of ambition at this point would reinforce a sense that, even when Democrats control the presidency and the Congress, they cannot get government to work for the great mass of Americans. That is precisely the vulnerability congressional Republicans hope to exploit in order to regain power in 2022.

Don't think it will happen? Think back to the midterm elections of 1994 and 2010, when Democratic administrations that had been elected with high hopes were punished for prioritizing reduced spending and deficit reduction over bold responses to economic downturns. There are never any political rewards for conceding to the budgetary vigilantes who demand that Democrats give up on the dream of once again forging a New Deal or a Great Society. And there never will be.

That's why savvy members of the party, led by Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) are cautioning against restricting payments in a way that denies them to middle-class families.

"This is not just bad economics, but terrible politics," Khanna explained after proposals surfaced to restrict direct payments to smaller amounts and fewer Americans. The Californian has long been one of the House's most outspoken advocates for addressing poverty. But he also recognizes that there are many Americans who earn over $50,000 a year and yet are struggling to make student loan payments, get out from under credit card debt, and cover housing costs in communities where rents and home prices are skyrocketing. "Why would we want to further the perception that the government cares for the needy and the elite but not for the middle class?" he asks. "Have we learned nothing?"

Khanna, who worked in the Obama White House before his election to Congress, understands something that too many Democrats neglect. The early stages of a new administration define a president and their party. If Biden and the Democrats present themselves as cautious and compromising when it comes to the economic agenda, they will invite frustration with the party and set it up for failure at the polls.

That's political common sense. Unfortunately, too many times, Democrats fall for the siren call of austerity,

That call has been sounded with increasing frequency in recent days. Newspapers are headlining columns with predictable counsel such as "Cutting off stimulus checks to Americans earning over $75,000 could be wise" and highlighting calls by a growing congressional chorus to "target aid to lower-income families only." A Washington Post piece last week announced, "calls are escalating to target the aid solely to low- and moderate-income families," and pointed to studies that it said showed restricting eligibility for direct payments "would provide the most needed and effective boost for the economy." Khanna pushed back by noting that initiatives that benefit CEOs and Wall Street investors-as well as tax cuts for the rich-are regularly portrayed as benefiting the overall economy. "Where were these studies when the Fed lent companies money to pay dividends or executives? Did we look at the impact on consumer spending? But suddenly economists are opposed to middle class families paying off credit card, mortgage and student loans!" charged the congressman, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in economics from the University of Chicago and, after earning a law degree at Yale, taught economics at Stanford.

Unfortunately, there are powerful players in Washington who refuse to recognize the economic and political danger of negotiating away one of the most popular initiatives this administration and this Congress could undertake.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, the Democrat who is emerging as the biggest barrier to Democrats' actually getting anything done with their new Senate majority, has been objecting to Biden administration proposals to increase direct payments from the stingy $600 Congress allocated in December by $1,400-so that Americans would get a total of $2,000. Manchin says he's "absolutely" opposed to an ambitious plan that gets money to most Americans. "If the next round of stimulus checks goes out they should be targeted to those who need it," he tweeted.

Maine Senator Susan Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who always has "concerns" about doing the right thing, shares Manchin's enthusiasm for restricting payments. After a call between 16 senators from both parties with White House aides, Collins said, "I was the first to raise that issue, but there seemed to be a lot of agreement...that those payments need to be more targeted. I would say that it was not clear to me how the administration came up with its $1.9 trillion figure for the package."

Now, Collins is at the center of the group of ten Republicans proposing a dramatic reduction in the size of the relief package, with deep cuts to direct payments.

Might Biden bend to the pressure? He's not going to embrace the $600 billion figure-less than one-third of his $1.9 trillion plan. But he has shown an openness to negotiating on proposals to reduce direct payments.

"There's legitimate reason for people to say, 'Do you have the lines drawn the exact right way? Should it go to anybody making over X number of dollars or Y?'" the president said Monday. "I'm open to negotiate those things."

That statement raised fears that Biden's preparing to retreat from the more populist position he seemed to be taking in early January when he argued that "$600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table. We need $2,000 stimulus checks."

In fact, Americans need more than just one $2,000 stimulus check-or, more precisely, a $1,400 check on top of a $600 check. They need monthly direct payments until the pandemic and the economic turbulence that extends from it has passed. That's what Khanna and Representative Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) have been proposing since April. This idea is gaining traction. Last week, more than 50 House members signed on to a letter authored by Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), which urges the Biden-Harris administration to recognize that "one more check is not enough during this public health and economic crisis." The letter argues, "Recurring direct payments until the economy recovers will help ensure that people can meet their basic needs, provide racially equitable solutions, and shorten the length of the recession."

That's not a radical plan. That's smart economics and smart politics. "We need to go bold," says Khanna,"Let's give everyday Americans the support they need: $2,000 every month until we're out of this."

(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.

Has Slavery Really Been Abolished?
By James Donahue

Every school child knows the story about Abraham Lincoln and the great American struggle to free the slaves.

What the text books don't teach, and most adult Americans don't understand, is that slavery was never really abolished in America. What happened was a shifting from a landowner relationship with his "owned" workers, to an industrial relationship of controlled workers in a capitalistic system.

The Civil War was a battle over political ideologies. The question of freeing slaves was not the issue. The war was fought over the right of states to maintain autonomy, and decide for themselves issues like slavery, as opposed to controls under a strong central government. That the Union Army won this battle, and opened the door for cheap labor to serve the industrial revolution, appears to have been a wrong turn in American history.

Even Lincoln's famous Emancipation Proclamation, that many believe was a declaration that led to the end of slavery, has been misinterpreted.

Ron and Don Kennedy, in their book "The South was Right," wrote: "A reading of the proclamation will show that Lincoln declared free those slaves who were held 'within any state or part of a State the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States.' In other words, he declared free those slaves over whom he had no control."

The Kennedys go on to say: "Indeed the six parishes of Louisiana that were at that time under Yankee control were specifically excluded from this great document of freedom, as were the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia! The proclamation states that these excepted areas are 'left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued'."

A key to the thought processes going on among the American aristocrats at the time may be found in the knowledge that Ulysses S. Grant's wife kept personal slaves throughout the war. Her slaves were not freed until the 13th Amendment was enacted. Grant was quoted as saying that the slaves were maintained in his home because "good help is so hard to come by these days." I wonder if he started that thread-worn cliche.

Indeed. The issue has always been cheap labor to do the work of the few wealthy individuals who own and operate affairs of the nation.

The development of a workable steam engine prior to the Civil War launched the industrial revolution. Coal miners, fruit pickers, factory workers and a wide variety of other laborers were needed. This demand intensified after Henry Ford invented the concept of assembly line production.

My father, who grew up just after the turn of the Twentieth Century and lived through the Great Depression years, talked about painting barns and picking strawberries in Kansas for a dollar a day. He worked 10-hour days, and thought it was good money.

Indeed, a dollar seemed to buy a lot in those days, just as a wage of $100 a day seems good to some people now.

When you look at the whole picture with an objective eye, however, you realize that slavery still exists in America, but in a more subtle way than it did in 1861.

Slaves in those days, who were lucky enough to be placed in a good home, had their needs provided for them. They worked without pay, but were given a place to live and sleep, they were fed and clothed. A smart slave owner wanted his work force to be healthy and happy so the farm work was done on time. Unfortunately, not all slave owners were benevolent and kind and the horror stories about the things that happened on these plantations are still remembered.

Setting human wickedness aside, the technical difference between "owned" slaves and "free" laborers is that contemporary workers must spend the wages they earn to provide for themselves. Often, with both husband and wife holding full-time jobs, and the children farmed off to day-care centers and public schools, families still lack the means to buy food, clothing and shelter. The extra cost of buying a badly needed automobile to get people to and from their jobs, paying taxes, insurance, and paying doctor bills, can be overwhelming.

True, the "free" worker has the independence to quit one job and seek another, when economic times are good. And if he or she gets lucky, the new job might pay a few cents more an hour than the old one, or offer a better health insurance package. But that is about the best we can hope for. Because of the current economic slump those jobs are drying up for all but the most skilled workers and wages have not been keeping up with the rising cost of living.

The concept of real freedom . . . the freedom that we can only dream about . . . used to be dangled like the proverbial carrot in front of the mule. We called it retirement. What most people never realized was that retirement benefit programs, including the federal Social Security system, were designed to provide only a few months of payment before the "average" retired person died.

In other words, the slave system keeps everyone's noses to the grindstone until we are worn out and of no more value to the masters we serve. We spend our lives slaving for a wealthy few that own and control the corporation we labor for. There is little time to pursue our personal bliss.

That the life span of Americans has been on the increase in recent years has stirred our government to push the time for drawing Social Security benefits a little farther out on the stick. While I was eligible to draw Social Security at 62, my wife, who is two years younger than I am, had to wait until she was 65. New proposals are on the table to force workers to stay on the job until age 70 before they can fall into the social security net.

How many great artists, writers or inventors have been so caught up in the rush to earn enough badly needed cash to provide for their families, they never get time to bring their creative talent to fruition?

With this thought in mind, I ask if Lincoln was really the Great Emancipator? Did the Civil War free anybody? True, the outcome of the Civil War set the stage for equality among the blacks, but even that turned out to be a lie. The blacks continue struggling for the things they were promised even to this day.

The concept of equality has been a fairy tale.

After the attacks of September 11, most Moslems and certainly people of Middle Eastern origin are clearly not equal in the United States. We singled out the Japanese Americans and placed them in concentration camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ask the American Indians about equality. Or the Chinese and Irish laborers who slaved for big business interests as the nation's railroads and factories went into production.

People who come to this country from other lands still pledge allegiance to our flag and proclaim their gratitude. Indeed, living conditions for the masses are much worse in other parts of the world. But they could have been so much more here.

All that we think we are as Americans, is an illusion.

(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.


Why Samantha Power Should Not Hold Public Office
By David Swanson

It took a variety of approaches to market the 2003 war on Iraq. For some it was to be a defense against an imagined threat. For others it was false revenge. But for Samantha Power it was philanthropy. She said at the time, "An American intervention likely will improve the lives of the Iraqis. Their lives could not get worse, I think it's quite safe to say." Needless to say, it wasn't safe to say that.

Did Power learn a lesson? No, she went on to promote a war on Libya, which proved disastrous.

Then did she learn? No, she took an explicit position against learning, publicly arguing for the duty not to dwell on the results in Libya as that might impede willingness to wage war on Syria.

Samantha Power may never learn, but we can. We can stop allowing her to hold public office.

We can tell every U.S. Senator to reject her nomination to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Samantha Power, as "Human Rights Director" at the National Security Council and Ambassador to the United Nations, supported the U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen and Israeli attacks on Palestine, denouncing criticisms of Israel and helping block international responses to the attacks on Yemen.

Power has been a major proponent of hostility toward Russia and of unfounded and exaggerated allegations against Russia.

Power has, in lengthy articles and books, shown remarkably little (if any) regret for all the wars she's promoted, choosing instead to focus on her regret for missed opportunities for wars that didn't happen, especially in Rwanda - which she misleadingly depicts as a situation not caused by militarism, but in which a military attack would have supposedly reduced rather than increased suffering.

We don't need war advocates who use more humanitarian language. We need peace advocates.

President Biden has nominated a far less enthusiastic war proponent than usual to direct the CIA, but it's not clear how much that will matter if Power is running USAID. According to Allen Weinstein, a co-founder of the National Endowment for Democracy, an organization funded by USAID, "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."

USAID has financed efforts aimed at overthrowing governments in Ukraine, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. The last thing we need right now is a USAID run by a habitual "intervener."

Here's a link to an online email-your-senators campaign to reject Samantha Power.

Here's some more reading:

Alan MacLeod: "A Record Of Hawkish Intervention: Biden Picks Samantha Power To Head USAID"

David Swanson: "Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell"

The Intercept: "Top Samantha Power Aide is Now Lobbying to Undermine Opponents of Yemen War"

David Swanson: "Lies About Rwanda Mean More Wars if Not Corrected"

(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.

This use of tax dollars to discredit climate science is egregious, but it's peanuts compared to the more than $1.5 billion the Alberta government has invested in the Keystone XL pipeline.

Alberta Inquiry Steps Tnto A Past Era's Dark Denial
By David Suzuki

That anyone today could deny the overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence for human-caused climate disruption is shocking. You don't even need a science background to see its worsening effects occurring worldwide, from record high temperatures to increasing extreme weather events and wildfires. For a government - especially one in Canada - to spend taxpayer money on reports that deny climate science is deplorable.

But that's what the Alberta government has done. Its $3.5 million public inquiry into what it calls "foreign-funded anti-energy campaigns" ("energy" only meaning fossil fuels and not renewable sources) commissioned and posted reports that University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski called "textbook examples of climate-change denialism."

One was written by a University of Calgary political science professor who once got caught setting up accounts to funnel donations to Friends of Science, a climate-science denial organization. Barry Cooper's submission, for which the inquiry paid $6,125, falsely refers to "the growing scientific skepticism regarding the so-called consensus view regarding anthropogenic climate change."

Another commissioned report, costing $27,840, quotes British writer and climate science denier James Delingpole. That report, by U.K. historian and home-school teacher Tammy Nemeth, repeats arguments that numerous scientific studies have debunked. Olszynski says it "relies on generalizations, speculation, conjecture, and even conspiracy."

And, as University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach noted, Energy In Depth, an offshoot of the Washington, D.C.-based Independent Petroleum Association of America, which got $50,000 for its report, could itself be considered "a foreign funded advocacy group."

This use of tax dollars to discredit climate science is egregious, but it's peanuts compared to the more than $1.5 billion the Alberta government has invested in the Keystone XL pipeline (with millions more in loan guarantees and lobbying) - a project that depended on continuation of the previous anti-environment U.S. administration for survival. Canada's federal government also supported Keystone XL, which the new U.S. administration has now cancelled, and spent $4.5 billion of our money to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Texas-based company Kinder Morgan.

Despite some strong federal climate policies, this ongoing support for a polluting, destructive, fading industry shows governments still don't fully grasp the severity of the climate crisis, or the many benefits - for everything from human health to the economy - of quickly reducing energy use and shifting to cleaner sources.

The Alberta inquiry's commissioned reports show that many efforts by industry, government and media to prop up the dying and damaging oil, gas and coal industries are little more than propaganda to stall adoption of cleaner alternatives for the sake of short-term profit. If the inquiry had better evidence for the need to continue extracting and shipping one of the dirtiest, most environmentally devastating fuels known, it wouldn't have to rely on debunked misinformation, conspiracy theories and discredited authors.

There's no denying that extracting, transporting and burning oil, coal and gas pollutes air, land and water and is contributing to a dangerously warming world, and that oilsands bitumen is among the dirtiest, most inefficient fossil fuels. We've also known about its climate implications for decades but have failed to transition gradually and are now faced with having to do so with greater urgency.

The most compelling arguments for keeping the fossil fuel industry going are economic: it contributes to GDP growth and creates jobs. But an economy that relies on destructive practices and on constant growth on a finite planet doesn't fit with our current reality. And beyond the fact that we need to reconsider the ways we work - with innovations like shorter and more flexible work hours and better compensation - clean industries provide greater and better employment opportunities.

It's somewhat of a relief that the new U.S. administration is indicating it will take climate disruption seriously, and has some promising policies and initiatives, from rejoining the Paris Climate Accord to cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline. But it will take more than that to get the U.S. and the world on track to meeting commitments the world's nations signed onto to avoid the worst impacts of global heating.

To start, we must move beyond the nonsensical denial that characterizes the recent Alberta inquiry reports, and we must stop subsidizing fossil fuels. We can only resolve the crisis if we recognize it and take it seriously.

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

Asa Hutchinson's Comments On Marjorie Taylor Greene Show Exactly Where The Bar Is For Republicans
This humiliating performance puts Hutchinson right in the party's mainstream.
By Charles P. Pierce

Asa Hutchinson was a big noise in Washington back in the 1990's, when the Republicans in the House were chasing Bill Clinton's penis all over the Beltway. He was one of the House managers when that snipe hunt made it to the Senate. Later, he ran the DEA under President C-Plus Augustus and then became a deputy secretary of Homeland Security. Asa then went home and got himself elected governor of Arkansas twice, eight years apart. He got elected in 2014. He will leave office this year under his state's term-limits law for state officials. In brief, in terms of politics, Asa Hutchinson absolutely has nothing to lose. Which makes this tap-dancing he did on one of the Sunday Showz all the more embarrassing. Asked by Martha Raddatz about celebrity crackpot Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Hutchinson proceeded to run through the entire "Moses Supposes" number from Singin' In The Rain.

Raddatz pushed back. Hutchinson danced faster, It got worse.

RADDATZ: But, Governor, you-you say you shouldn't-you shouldn't go after someone because they think of something a little bit different. She believes in conspiracy theories, that there are pedophiles running Washington. That's not just a little bit different.

HUTCHINSON: I reject that and I-I would not vote for her. I would not vote for her. The second question is, should the House of Representatives make a disciplinary call on her? I'm not going to get in the middle of that. They're going to have to make that-that judgment. But, you know, whenever you have a broad diversity of the party, you reject the extreme elements. It's not mainstream GOP. And that's what we've got to get back to. We've got to have a regard for those people that supported Donald Trump. We want-because they have a message. They have a concern. But at the same time, we don't want to gloss over the terrible actions that happened at the Capitol. We need to hold people accountable for that. That is critically important.

Actually, governor, what's critically important is that, with absolutely no political penalty you can pay, you couldn't say flat-out that: a) space lasers do not cause wildfires, b) expressing a desire to ventilate the Speaker of the House is a bad idea, c) there is no video of Hillary Rodham Clinton's wearing an infant's face as a mask, d) that an airplane hit the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and e) that real children were really shot at Sandy Hook and at Parkland. How hard is that? Too hard for Republicans, apparently. You wouldn't vote for her, governor? Try not to go out too far on that limb, big guy. And they have a message? A message? This isn't a message. It's a schizoid episode.

However, this humiliating performance puts Asa Hutchinson right in the Republican mainstream. Crazy is in the saddle and rides mankind, or at least that portion of it that is loyal to the Republican Party. And the madness is deepening with every new revelation that, yes, the fingerprints of El Caudillo Del Mar-a-Lago are all over the insurrectionist violence at the Capitol, and that his plans for continued political viability include a healthy portion of outright political violence fueled by outright political insanity. Julia Ainsley of NBC News reported:

In preparing Homeland Security officials for questions about Rittenhouse from the media, the document suggests that they note that he "took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners." Another set of talking points distributed to Homeland Security officials said the media were incorrectly labeling the group Patriot Prayer as racists after clashes erupted between the group and protesters in Portland, Oregon.It is unclear whether any of the talking points originated at the White House or within Homeland Security's own press office.
Meanwhile, also over the weekend, we learned of a curious action taken by Christopher Miller, the heretofore obscure bureaucrat hoisted into the position of acting Secretary of Defense after he'd lost re-election to Joe Biden. From National Memo:
In testimony before the House this week, Capitol Police and D.C. National Guard officials acknowledged that by Jan. 4 they understood that "... the January 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020. We knew that militia groups and white supremacist organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target. "On that same day, former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller issued a memo to the secretary of the Army placing some extremely unusual limits on National Guard forces for that event. It's not a to-do list. It's a list of thou shalt nots. A long list. A list that says guard forces can't arrest any of the pro-Trump protesters, or search them, or even touch them.
On Sunday, The New York Times went 8,000-words long of what now can only be called an attempted coup d'etat and, very likely, one that is ongoing down in Palm Beach with little or no pushback from the mainstream Republican Party, or even from that small fraction of the party that can be described as Not Insane. From the NYT:
Across those 77 days, the forces of disorder were summoned and directed by the departing president, who wielded the power derived from his near-infallible status among the party faithful in one final norm-defying act of a reality-denying presidency. Throughout, he was enabled by influential Republicans motivated by ambition, fear or a misplaced belief that he would not go too far.

In the Senate, he got early room to maneuver from the majority leader, Mitch McConnell. As he sought the president's help in Georgia runoffs that could cost him his own grip on power, Mr. McConnell heeded misplaced assurances from White House aides like Jared Kushner that Mr. Trump would eventually accede to reality, people close to the senator told The Times. Mr. McConnell's later recognition of Mr. Biden's victory would not be enough to dissuade 14 Republican senators from joining the president's last-ditch bid to nullify millions of Americans' votes.

The choice already is made. One party is in rebellion against the constitutional order.

(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-

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

Even in the American empire's neocolonial phase, the role of the U.S. military and the CIA was to kick
open doors through which American businessmen could "follow the flag" to set up shop and develop new markets.

The Decline And Fall Of The American Empire
Instead of opening doors for American big business or supporting America's diplomatic position in the world, the U.S. war machine has become a bull in the global china shop, wielding purely destructive power to destabilize countries and wreck their economies.
By Medea Benjamin

In 2004, journalist Ron Suskind quoted a Bush White House advisor, reportedly Karl Rove, as boasting, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." He dismissed Suskind's assumption that public policy must be rooted in "the reality-based community." "We're history's actors," the advisor told him, "...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Sixteen years later, the American wars and war crimes launched by the Bush administration have only spread chaos and violence far and wide, and this historic conjunction of criminality and failure has predictably undermined America's international power and authority. Back in the imperial heartland, the political marketing industry that Rove and his colleagues were part of has had more success dividing and ruling the hearts and minds of Americans than of Iraqis, Russians or Chinese.

The irony of the Bush administration's imperial pretensions was that America has been an empire from its very founding, and that a White House staffer's political use of the term "empire" in 2004 was not emblematic of a new and rising empire as he claimed, but of a decadent, declining empire stumbling blindly into an agonizing death spiral.

Americans were not always so ignorant of the imperial nature of their country's ambitions. George Washington described New York as "the seat of an empire," and his military campaign against British forces there as the "pathway to empire." New Yorkers eagerly embraced their state's identity as the Empire State, which is still enshrined in the Empire State Building and on New York State license plates.

The expansion of America's territorial sovereignty over Native American lands, the Louisiana Purchase and the annexation of northern Mexico in the Mexican-American War built an empire that far outstripped the one that George Washington built. But that imperial expansion was more controversial than most Americans realize. Fourteen out of fifty-two U.S. senators voted against the 1848 treaty to annex most of Mexico, without which Americans might still be visiting California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah and most of Colorado as exotic Mexican travel spots.

In the full flowering of the American empire after the Second World War, its leaders understood the skill and subtlety required to exercise imperial power in a post-colonial world. No country fighting for independence from the U.K. or France was going to welcome imperial invaders from America. So America's leaders developed a system of neocolonialism through which they exercised overarching imperial sovereignty over much of the world, while scrupulously avoiding terms like "empire" or "imperialism" that would undermine their post-colonial credentials.

It was left to critics like President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to seriously examine the imperial control that wealthy countries still exercised over nominally independent post-colonial countries like his. In his book, Neo-Colonialism: the Last Stage of Imperialism, Nkrumah condemned neocolonialism as "the worst form of imperialism." "For those who practice it," he wrote, "it means power without responsibility, and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress."

So post-World War Two Americans grew up in carefully crafted ignorance of the very fact of American empire, and the myths woven to disguise it provide fertile soil for today's political divisions and disintegration. Trump's "Make America Great Again" and Biden's promise to "restore American leadership" are both appeals to nostalgia for the fruits of American empire.

Past blame games over who lost China or Vietnam or Cuba have come home to roost in an argument over who lost America and who can somehow restore its mythical former greatness or leadership. Even as America leads the world in allowing a pandemic to ravage its people and economy, neither party's leaders are ready for a more realistic debate over how to redefine and rebuild America as a post-imperial nation in today's multipolar world.

Every successful empire has expanded, ruled and exploited its far-flung territories through a combination of economic and military power. Even in the American empire's neocolonial phase, the role of the U.S. military and the CIA was to kick open doors through which American businessmen could "follow the flag" to set up shop and develop new markets.

But now U.S. militarism and America's economic interests have diverged. Apart from a few military contractors, American businesses have not followed the flag into the ruins of Iraq or America's other current war-zones in any lasting way. Eighteen years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq's largest trading partner is China, while Afghanistan's is Pakistan, Somalia's is the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Libya's is the European Union (EU).

Instead of opening doors for American big business or supporting America's diplomatic position in the world, the U.S. war machine has become a bull in the global china shop, wielding purely destructive power to destabilize countries and wreck their economies, closing doors to economic opportunity instead of opening them, diverting resources from real needs at home, and damaging America's international standing instead of enhancing it.

When President Eisenhower warned against the "unwarranted influence" of America's military-industrial complex, he was predicting precisely this kind of dangerous dichotomy between the real economic and social needs of the American people and a war machine that costs more than the next ten militaries in the world put together but cannot win a war or vanquish a virus, let alone reconquer a lost empire.

China and the EU have become the major trading partners of most countries in the world. The United States is still a regional economic power, but even in South America, most countries now trade more with China. America's militarism has accelerated these trends by squandering our resources on weapons and wars, while China and the EU have invested in peaceful economic development and 21st century infrastructure.

For example, China has built the largest high-speed rail network in the world in just 10 years (2008-2018), and Europe has been building and expanding its high-speed network since the 1990s, but high-speed rail is still only on the drawing board in America.

China has lifted 800 million people out of poverty, while America's poverty rate has barely budged in 50 years and child poverty has increased. America still has the weakest social safety net of any developed country and no universal healthcare system, and the inequalities of wealth and power caused by extreme neoliberalism have left half of Americans with little or no savings to live on in retirement or to weather any disruption in their lives.

Our leaders' insistence on siphoning off 66% of U.S. federal discretionary spending to preserve and expand a war machine that has long outlived any useful role in America's declining economic empire is a debilitating waste of resources that jeopardizes our future.

Decades ago Martin Luther King Jr. warned us that "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

As our government debates whether we can "afford" COVID relief, a Green New Deal and universal healthcare, we would be wise to recognize that our only hope of transforming this decadent, declining empire into a dynamic and prosperous post-imperial nation is to rapidly and profoundly shift our national priorities from irrelevant, destructive militarism to the programs of social uplift that Dr. King called for.

(c) 2020 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stand back
to back in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

The Real Reason The GOP Don't Want Biden's Plan? They Fear It Will Work
The Real Reason The GOP Don't Want Biden's Plan? They Fear It Will Work
By Robert Reich

Ten Senate Republican have proposed a COVID relief bill of about $600 billion. That's less than a third of Biden's plan. They promise "bipartisan support" if he agrees.

Their proposal isn't a compromise. It would be a total surrender. It trims direct payments and unemployment aid that Americans desperately need. Biden should reject it out of hand.

Republicans say America can't afford Biden's plan. "We just passed a program with over $900 billion in it," groused Senator Mitt Romney.

Rubbish. We can't afford not to. Millions of people are hurting.

Besides, with the economy in the doldrums it's no time to worry about too much spending. The best way to reduce the debt as a share of the economy is to get the economy growing again.

Beyond COVID relief, Biden has other proposals waiting in the wings, such as repairing aging infrastructure and building a new energy-efficient one. These would make the economy grow even faster over the long term-further reducing the debt's share.

There's no chance that public spending will "crowd out" private investment. If you hadn't noticed, borrowing is especially cheap right now. Money is sloshing around the world in search of borrowers.

It's hard to take Republican concerns about debt seriously when just four years ago they had zero qualms about enacting one of the largest tax cuts in history, largely for big corporations and the super-wealthy.

If they really don't want to add to the debt, they have another alternative: A tax on super-wealthy Americans.

The total wealth of America's 660 billionaires has grown by a staggering $1.1 trillion since the start of the pandemic, a 40 percent increase. They alone could finance almost all of Biden's COVID relief package and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic. So why not a temporary emergency COVID wealth tax?

Let's be honest. The real reason Republicans don't want Biden's plan is they fear it will work.

This would be the Republican's worst nightmare: All the anti-government claptrap they've been selling since Ronald Reagan will be revealed as nonsense.

Government isn't the problem and never was. Bad government is the problem, and Americans have just had four years of it. Biden's success would put into sharp relief Trump and Republicans' utter failures on COVID and jobs.

If Biden gets his plans through, he and the Democrats would reap the political rewards in 2022 and beyond. Democrats might even capture the presidency and Congress for a generation. After FDR rescued America, the Republican Party went dark for two decades.

Trumpian Republicans in Congress have an even more diabolical motive for blocking Biden. They figure if Americans remain in perpetual crises and ever-deepening fear, they'll lose faith in democracy itself.

This would open the way for another strongman demagogue in 2024-if not Trump, a Trump-impersonator like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, or Trump Junior.

If Biden is successful, though, Americans' faith in democracy might begin to rebound-marking the end of the nation's flirtation with fascism. If he helps build a new economy of green jobs with good wages, even Trump's angry white working-class base might come around.

Biden doesn't really need Republicans, anyway. With their razor-thin majorities in both houses of Congress, Democrats can enact Biden's plans without a single Republican vote.

My worry is Biden may want so much to demonstrate bipartisanship that his plans get diluted to the point where Republicans get what they want: Failure.

Forget bipartisanship. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans didn't give a hoot about bipartisanship when they and Trump were in power.

If Republicans try to stonewall Biden's COVID relief plan, Biden and the Democrats should go it alone through a maneuver called "reconciliation," allowing a simple majority to pass budget legislation.

If Republicans try to block anything else, Biden and the Democrats should scrap the filibuster-which now requires 60 senators to end debate. The filibuster isn't in the Constitution. It's anti-democratic, giving a minority of senators the power to block the majority. It was rarely used for most of the nation's history.

The filibuster can be ended by a simple majority vote. Democrats now have the power to scrap it. Biden will have to twist the arms of a few recalcitrant Democrats, but that's what presidential leadership often requires.

The multiple crises engulfing America are huge. The window of opportunity for addressing them is small. If ever there was a time for boldness, it is now.

(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

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event to announce new cabinet nominations at the Queen Theatre on December 11, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

The Imperial Presidency Under Joe Biden
Joe Biden may not believe in the imperial presidency, but it could be all he has.
by Tom Engelhardt

Joe Biden's got a problem-and so do I. And so, in fact, do we.

At 76 years old, you'd think I'd experienced it all when it comes to this country and its presidencies. Or most of it, anyway. I've been around since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. Born on July 20, 1944, I'm a little "young" to remember him, though I was a war baby in an era when Congress still sometimes declared war before America made it.

As a boy, in my liberal Democratic household in New York, I can certainly remember singing (to the tune of "Whistle While You Work") our version of the election-year ditty of 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower faced off against Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson. The pro-Republican kicker to it went this way: "Eisenhower has the power, Stevenson's a jerk." We, however, sang, "Eisenhower has no power, Stevenson will work!" As it happened, we never found out if that was faintly true, since the former Illinois governor got clobbered in that election (just as he had in 1952).

I certainly watched at least some of the 1960 televised debates between Eisenhower's vice president, Richard Nixon, and John F. Kennedy-I was 16 then-that helped make JFK, at 43, the youngest president ever to enter the Oval Office. I can also remember his ringing Inaugural Address. We youngsters had never heard anything like it:

"[T]he torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans-born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage - and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world...Ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country."
While a college freshman at Yale, I saw him give a graduation speech in New Haven, Connecticut. From where I was standing, he was as small as one of the tiny toy soldiers I played with on the floor of my room in childhood. It was, nonetheless, a thrill. Yes, he was deeply involved in ramping up the war in Vietnam and America's global imperial presence in a fiercely contested "Cold War." Most of us teens, however, were paying little attention to that, at least until October 1962, in what came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, when he addressed us on the radio, telling us that Soviet missile sites were just then being prepared on the island of Cuba with "a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere." As a generation that grew up ducking-and-covering under our school desks in nuclear-attack drills, young Americans everywhere, my 18-year-old-self included, imagined that the moment might finally have arrived for the nuclear confrontation that could have left our country in ruins and us possibly obliterated. (I can also remember sitting in a tiny New Haven hamburger joint eating a 10-cent - no kidding! - burger just over a year later when someone suddenly stuck his head through the door and said, "The president's been assassinated!")

And I can recall, in the summer of 1964, hitchhiking with a friend across parts of Europe and trying, rather defensively, to explain to puzzled and quizzical French, Italian, and German drivers the candidacy of right-wing Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, who was running against Kennedy's vice president and successor Lyndon B. Johnson. Goldwater was the Trump of his moment and, had I been in the U.S., I wouldn't have given him the time of day. Still, as an American in Europe I felt strangely responsible for the weirder political aspects of my country and so found myself doing my damnedest to explain them away-perhaps to myself as much as to anyone else. In fact, maybe that was the secret starting point for TomDispatch, the website I would launch (or perhaps that would launch me) just after the 9/11 attacks so many years later.

The Coming of a "Presidential Dictatorship"

Although I never saw Lyndon Johnson in person, I did march through clouds of tear gas in Washington, D.C., to protest the bloody and disastrous conflict - the original "quagmire war" - that he continued to fight in Vietnam to the last Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian. By then, as I was growing up, presidencies already seemed to be growing down and starting to look ever grimmer to me. And of course, as we all now know, there was far worse to come. After all, Johnson at least had reasonably forward-looking domestic policies in an age in which economic inequality was so much less rampant and the president and Congress could still accomplish things that mattered domestically - and not just for the staggeringly richest of Americans.

On the other hand, Richard Nixon, like Goldwater, a "southern strategy" guy who actually won the presidency on his second try, only ramped the Vietnam War up further. He also plunged his presidency into a corrupt and criminal netherworld so infamously linked to Watergate. And I once saw him, too, in person, campaigning in San Francisco when I was a young journalist. I sat just rows away from the stage on which he spoke and found myself eerily awed by the almost unimaginable awkwardness of his gestures, including his bizarrely unnatural version of a triumphant V-for-what-would-indeed-prove-to-be-victory against antiwar Democratic candidate George McGovern.

For Nixon, the V-for-defeat would come a little later and I would spend endless hours watching it - that is, the Watergate hearings - on an old black-and-white TV, or rather watching his imperial presidency come down around his ears. Those were the years when the Pentagon Papers, that secret trove of internal government documents on Vietnam war-making by successive White Houses, were released to the New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg. (His psychiatrist's office would later be burgled by Nixon's "plumbers" and he would play a key role in the fall of the house of Nixon.)

It was in those same years that former Kennedy aide and "court historian" Arthur Schlesinger wrote the book he classically titled The Imperial Presidency. And it was then, too, that Senator William Fulbright described the same phenomenon in his book The Crippled Giant, this way:

"Out of a well-intended but misconceived notion of what patriotism and responsibility require in a time of world crisis, Congress has permitted the president to take over the two vital foreign policy powers which the Constitution vested in Congress: the power to initiate war and the Senate's power to consent or withhold consent from significant foreign commitments. So completely have these two powers been taken over by the president that it is no exaggeration to say that, as far as foreign policy is concerned, the United States has joined the global mainstream; we have become, for purposes of foreign policy - and especially for purposes of making war - a presidential dictatorship."
Amen. And so it largely remains.

The Executive Order

Keep in mind that those were still the good-old days before George W. Bush launched his own imperial war on significant parts of the planet with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, based only on an open-ended, post-9/11 congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force. That first AUMF and a second one passed a year later would then be cited by the presidents to follow, whether to "surge" in Afghanistan or drone assassinate an Iranian leader at Baghdad International Airport. Congress declare war? You mean Congress have anything (other than endlessly funding the Pentagon) to do with the mess that an American world of warfare has created?

So, before Donald Trump ever left The Apprentice, the presidency had already become an imperial one on the world stage. Meanwhile, Congress and the White House could still work together domestically, but just in Republican (or in the case of Bill Clinton, Republican-style) administrations largely to further the yawning gap between the 1% of wealthy Americans and everyone else.

Otherwise, especially in the Obama years (when Mitch McConnell took control of the Senate in all his oppositional splendor), the imperial presidency began to gain a new domestic face thanks to executive orders. What little Barack Obama could do once the Republicans controlled Congress would largely be done through those executive orders, a habit that would be inherited big time by Donald Trump. On entering office, he and his crew would promptly begin trying to wipe out Obama's legacy (such as it was) by executive orders and similar actions.

Trump's presidency would certainly be the most bizarrely "imperial" of our time, as he and his team worked, executive act by executive act, to essentially burn the planet down, destroy the environment, lock Americans in and everyone else out, and dismantle the country's global economic role. And in the end, in the most imperially incoherent way imaginable, with Republican congressional help, Trump would come at least reasonably close to rather literally destroying the American democratic system ("fake election"!) in the name of his own reelection.

It couldn't have been more bizarre. Today, in a country experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic like no other and with a Congress so evenly split that you can almost guarantee it will get next to nothing done, any president who wanted to accomplish anything would have little choice but to be imperial. So who could be surprised that Joe Biden launched his presidency with a flurry of executive actions (30 of them in his first three days), mainly in the Trumpian style - that is, taken to reverse the previous executive actions of The Donald).

Grandpa Joe

I doubt it's happenstantial that the vibrantly imperial, yet still domestically democratic, country that elected the young John F. Kennedy would, 60 years later, elect a 78-year-old to replace a 74-year-old in the White House. Joe Biden will, in turn, join forces with the 80-year-old Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, while butting heads with the 78-year-old Minority Leader of the Senate to "run" a country that hasn't been able to win a war since 1945, a pandemic nation of such staggering inequality as to be nothing short of historic.

As a senator who arrived in Washington just as Watergate was unfolding, Joe Biden presented himself as the opposite of the corrupt Nixon and so an opponent of an imperial presidency. And as he recently claimed in a phone conversation with the PBS News Hour's David Brooks, he's still evidently not a fan of it. And yet in a Congress unlikely to do much of anything, including convicting the previous president of incitement to insurrection, what choice does he have? The way has been paved and he's already on that ever-wider imperial road to...well, history suggests that it's probably hell.

Joe Biden may not believe in the imperial presidency, but it could be all he has. Congress is in disarray; the courts, stacked with Mitch McConnell conservatives, will be against much of whatever he does; and those wars launched by George W. Bush and now spread disastrously across significant parts of the Greater Middle East and Africa are anything but over.

Yes, Donald Trump was a nightmare. Still, as I wrote years ago, he was always the mosquito, not the virus. I think it tells you something, thinking back to the vibrant 43-year-old John Kennedy in 1960, that Americans, with the worst outbreak of Covid-19 on the planet, would choose to elect a former vice president who was an exceedingly familiar old man. In our moment of crisis, we have grandpa in the White House.

And yet what could be more striking than a country, not so long ago considered the planet's "lone superpower," its "indispensable nation," that simply can't stop fighting distant and disastrous wars, while supporting its military financially in a way that it supports nothing else? As it happens, of course, the "costs" of those wars have indeed come home and not just in terms of a "Green Zone" in Washington or veterans assaulting the Capitol. It's come home imperially, believe it or not, in the very form of Grandpa Joe.

Joe Biden is a decent man, acting in the early days of his presidency in decent ways. He's anything but Donald Trump. Yet that may matter less than we imagine. The odds are, hesitant as I am to say it, that what we face may not prove to be an imperial presidency but an imperial-disaster presidency, something that could leave Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and crew in the shade.

At 76 - almost as old, that is, as our new president - I fear that Donald Trump was just our (particularly bizarre) introduction to imperial disaster. We now live on a distinctly misused planet in a country that looks like it could be going to the dogs.

As I said when I began this piece, Joe Biden has a problem (what a problem!) and so do I. So do we all. We could be heading into American territory where no one of any age has been before.

(c) 2021 Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's His sixth and latest book, just published, is A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books).Previous books include: Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (with an introduction by Glenn Greenwald). Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 (co-authored with Nick Turse), The United States of Fear, The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's, The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from here.

The Cartoon Corner-

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

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

White House Unveil Official Lapdog
By The Waterford Whispers News

US PRESIDENT Joe Biden has unveiled an official White House lapdog to compliment 'First Dogs' Champ and Major, WWN understands.

Oh Boris is very attentive, but sadly not too bright. He does hang on President Biden's every word though," shared one official with knowledge of the talking Biden has done towards his new lapdog.

Like Biden's dog Major, Boris is a rescue but uniquely for a lapdog, Boris was not abandoned by his owners rather he was discovered after he abandoned Northern Ireland.

"They have a very special relationship, Joe will occasionally let him in the house, but Boris will always has to use the dog flap and bless him, it's a struggle for him to fit through," shared an official. "He just about answers to his name. Now, to give him his credit he has mastered one trick; when Joe tells him to jump the fluffy little fool jumps so high it's scarcely believable," added the official, who found the spectacle a little pathetic if she was being honest.

Those with knowledge of Boris the lapdog have stated that the not so bright shaggy haired pup believes he can become Biden's favourite lapdog on account of the fact Boris's ancestors, aggressive bulldogs, were famous for being trained to attack Biden's Irish ancestors and viciously maul them.

It is believed Boris, who will be allowed very limited treats and be kept in a small back garden with no light, will tell members of his pack that Biden has given them unlimited juicy bones and acres of rolling hills to run roam free in.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 06 (c) 02/05/2021

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