Please visit our sponsor!

In This Edition

Bernie Sanders orates, "Avoiding War With Russia Over Ukraine Is Not Weakness-It Is The Right Thing To Do."

Ralph Nader considers, "Ezra Klein And His Vast Inner Space."

Margaret Kimberley examines, "Eric Adams' Black On Black Crime."

Jim Hightower explains, "How To Get Congress To Reform Our Broken Healthcare System."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Trump's Post-Election Vengeance Campaign Has Split The Republican Party In Two."

John Nichols reports, "Congressional Staffers Are Organizing A Much-Needed Union."

James Donahue says, "Let's Dismantle The Federal Reserve."

David Swanson asks, "But How Do You Stop Putin And The Taliban?"

David Suzuki wonders, "Can Carbon Capture Help Resolve The Climate Crisis?"

Charles P. Pierce wonders has, "The Super Bowl's Sexual Anarchy(!) May Have Distracted You From The CIA's Hijinks."

Juan Cole says, "What Israel Is Doing To Palestine Just As Bad As What Russia Is Doing To Ukraine, But US Doesn't Care."

Robert Reich warns, "Beware Of This Deadly Mix: Oligarchic Economics And Racist, Nationalist Populism."

Thom Hartmann wonders, "How Can America Avoid The Bloodshed & Chaos Of Civil War?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports,"US Intelligence Indicates Russia Assembling Power Rangers Robot At Ukraine Border," but first, Uncle Ernie warns, "UN Sounds 'Red Alert' On Global Warming."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Daryl Cagle, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Chip Somodevilla, Michael Appleton, Drew Angerer, Tom Williams, Charles Ommanney, Mayoral Photography Office, ETA+, Ross D Franklin, Nile, Jim Hightower, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments -

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

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

Visit me on Face Book

UN Sounds 'Red Alert' On Global Warming
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"We can't wait to tackle the climate crisis. The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. And the cost of inaction keeps mounting." ~~~ Joe Biden

I see where the UN report on global warming to sound red alert. Nearly 200 nations kick off a virtual meeting Monday to finalize what promises to be a harrowing scientific overview of accelerating climate impacts that will highlight the urgent need to cut emissions and prepare for the challenges ahead.

The world is already feeling the effects of global warming, driven largely by the burning of fossil fuels, with last year seeing a cascade of deadly floods, heat waves and wildfires across four continents.

The upcoming update from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is set to outline in stark detail what the best available science tells us are the impacts of the changing climate - past, present and future.

During a two-week gathering, diplomats and scientists will vet, line-by-line, an all-important Summary for Policymakers, boiling down an underlying report thousands of pages long.

An early draft of the IPCC review seen by Agence France-Presse (AFP) in 2021 makes clear the extent to which devastating climate impacts are a here-and-now reality.

In some cases this means that adapting to intolerably hot days, flash flooding and storm surges has become a matter of life and death.

"Even if we find solutions for reducing carbon emissions, we will still need solutions to help us adapt," said Alexandre Magnan, a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in Paris and a co-author of the report, without commenting on the report's findings.

Species extinction, ecosystem collapse, crippling health impacts from disease and heat, water shortages - all will accelerate in the coming decades even if the carbon emissions that drive global warming are drawn down, the report is likely to find.

"This is a real moment of reckoning," said Rachel Cleetus, Climate and energy policy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"This not just more scientific projections about the future," she said. "This is about extreme events and slow-onset disasters that people are experience right now."

The report comes three months after pledges at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow to halt deforestation, curb methane emissions, phase down coal-fired power and boost financial aid to developing countries.

IPCC assessments are divided into three sections, each with its own volunteer "working group" of hundreds of scientists.

In August 2021, the first installment on physical science found that global warming is virtually certain to pass 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), probably within a decade.

That is the heating limit envisioned in the Paris Agreement, beyond which impacts become more severe.

This second report on impacts and adaptation, due for release after the two-week meeting, is likely to underscore that vulnerability to extreme weather events - even when they are made worse by global warming - can be reduced by better planning.

This is not only true in the developing world, noted Imperial College professor Friederike Otto, pointing to massive flooding in Germany last year that killed scores and caused billions in damage.

"Even without global warming there would have been a huge rainfall event in a densely populated geography where the rivers flood very easily," said Otto, a pioneer in the science of quantifying the extent to which climate change makes extreme weather events more likely or intense.

The latest report will also likely zero in on how climate change is widening already yawning gaps in inequality, both between regions and within nations.

This means that the people least responsible for climate change are the ones suffering the most from its impacts.

Not only is this unjust, experts and advocates say, it is a barrier to tackling the problem.

"I do not think there are pathways to sustainable development that do not substantively address equity issues," said Clark University professor Edward Clark, a lead author of one of the reports chapters.

Earth's surface has warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century.

The 2015 Paris deal calls for capping global warming at "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally the more ambitious limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This report is sure to reinforce that goal.

"There are limits - for ecosystems and human systems - to adaptation," said Cleetus. "We cannot adjust to runaway climate change."

Indeed, the report will probably emphasize more than ever before dangerous "tipping points," invisible temperature trip wires in the climate system for irreversible and potentially catastrophic change.

Some of them - such as the melting of permafrost housing twice as much carbon as in the atmosphere - could fuel global warming all on their own.

At the same time, scientists are only just beginning to get a handle on so-called cascading and compound impacts - how Greenland's melting ice sheet, for example, affects ocean currents across the globe.

"There is a finite set of choices we can make that would move us productively into the future," said Carr. "Every day we wait and delay, some of those choices get harder or go away."

On the practical side, this years "Super Bowl" was the hotest one on record! Imagine paying $3,000 for the cheapest seat in the house and passing out from heat stroke!


11-25-1928 ~ 02-10-2022
Thanks for the art!

11-27-1946 ~ 02-12-2022
Thanks for the film production and direction!

12-01-1938 ~ 02-14-2022
Thanks for the music!

01-14-1947 ~ 02-15-2022
Burn baby burn!

07-02-1943 ~ 02-15-2022
Thanks for the film direction and production!

04-09-1932 ~ 02-16-2022
Thanks for the film!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

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

U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leaves the Capitol following a vote on January 31, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

Avoiding War With Russia Over Ukraine Is Not Weakness-It Is The Right Thing To Do
We must do everything possible to find a diplomatic resolution to prevent what would be an enormously destructive war in Ukraine.
By Bernie Sanders

The following are the remarks, as prepared for delivery, by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday, February 10, 2022 as he called for diplomatic efforts to deescalate the crisis over Ukraine:

Mr. President, I rise to address the looming crisis in Ukraine.

As I speak today, Europe, for the first time in almost 80 years, is faced with the threat of a major invasion. A large nation threatens a smaller, less powerful neighbor, surrounding it on three sides with tens of thousands of troops, tanks and artillery. We must never forget the horrors that a war in the region would cause and must work hard to achieve a realistic and mutually agreeable resolution-one that is acceptable to Ukraine, Russia, the United States and our European allies-and that prevents what could be the worst European war in over 75 years.

My friends, as we have painfully learned, wars have unintended consequences. They rarely turn out the way the planners and experts tell us they will. Just ask the officials who provided rosy scenarios for the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, only to be proven horribly wrong. Just ask the mothers of the soldiers who were killed or wounded in action during those wars. Just ask the millions of civilians who became "collateral damage."

The war in Vietnam cost us 59,000 American deaths and many others who came home wounded in body and spirit. In fact, a whole generation was devastated by that war. The casualties in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are almost incalculable.

In Afghanistan, what began as a response to those who attacked us on September 11, 2001, eventually became a twenty year-long, $2 trillion war in which over 3500 Americans were killed along with tens of thousands Afghan civilians. George W. Bush claimed in 2003 that the United States had "put the Taliban out of business forever." Sadly, as we all know, the Taliban is in power right now.

The war in Iraq-which was sold to the American people by stoking fear of a "mushroom cloud" from Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction-led to the deaths of some 4,500 U.S. troops, and the wounding-physical and emotional-of tens of thousands of others. It led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the displacement of over 5 million people, and regional destabilization whose consequences the world continues to grapple with today.

The military intervention in Vietnam started slowly, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began much more quickly, but what they all share is that the foreign policy establishment insisted that they were necessary. That there was no alternative to escalation and war.

Well, it turns out that they were wrong. And millions of innocent people paid the price.

That is why we must do everything possible to find a diplomatic resolution to prevent what would be an enormously destructive war in Ukraine.

No one knows exactly what the human costs of such a war would be. There are estimates, however, that there could be over 50,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine, and millions of refugees flooding neighboring countries as they flee what could be the worst European conflict since World War II.

In addition, of course, there would be many thousands of deaths within the Ukrainian and Russian militaries. There is also the possibility that this "regional" war could escalate to other parts of Europe. What might happen then is even more horrifying.

But that's not all. The sanctions against Russia that would be imposed as a consequence of its actions, and Russia's threatened response to those sanctions, could result in massive economic upheaval-with impacts on energy, banking, food, and the day to day needs of ordinary people throughout the entire world. It is likely that Russians will not be the only people suffering from sanctions. They would be felt in Europe. They would be felt here in the United States, and around the world.

And, by the way, any hope of international cooperation to address the existential threat of global climate change and future pandemics would suffer a major setback.

Mr. President, we should be absolutely clear about who is most responsible for this looming crisis: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Having already seized parts of Ukraine in 2014, Putin now threatens to take over the entire country and destroy Ukrainian democracy. There should be no disagreement that this is unacceptable. In my view, we must unequivocally support the sovereignty of Ukraine and make clear that the international community will impose severe consequences on Putin and his fellow oligarchs if he does not change course.

With that said, Mr. President, I am extremely concerned when I hear the familiar drumbeats in Washington, the bellicose rhetoric that gets amplified before every war, demanding that we must "show strength," "get tough" and not engage in "appeasement." A simplistic refusal to recognize the complex roots of the tensions in the region undermines the ability of negotiators to reach a peaceful resolution.

I know it is not very popular in Washington to consider the perspectives of our adversaries, but I think it is important in formulating good policy.

I think it is helpful to consider this: One of the precipitating factors of this crisis, at least from Russia's perspective, is the prospect of an enhanced security relationship between Ukraine and the United States and Western Europe, including what Russia sees as the threat of Ukraine joining the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO), a military alliance originally created in 1949 to confront the Soviet Union.

It is good to know some history. When Ukraine became independent after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russian leaders made clear their concerns about the prospect of former Soviet states becoming part of NATO and positioning hostile military forces along Russia's border. U.S. officials recognized these concerns as legitimate at the time.

One of those officials was William Perry, who served as Defense Secretary under President Bill Clinton. In a 2017 interview, Perry said and I quote, "In the last few years, most of the blame can be pointed at the actions that Putin has taken. But in the early years I have to say that the United States deserves much of the blame... "Our first action that really set us off in a bad direction was when NATO started to expand, bringing in eastern European nations, some of them bordering Russia."

Another U.S. official who acknowledged these concerns is former U.S. diplomat Bill Burns, who is now head of the CIA in the Biden administration. In his memoir, Burns quotes a memo he wrote while serving as counselor for political affairs at the US embassy in Moscow in 1995, and I quote: "Hostility to early NATO expansion is almost universally felt across the domestic political spectrum here." Over ten years later, in 2008, Burns wrote in a memo to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and I quote "Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin)... In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players... I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests." So again: these concerns were not just invented out of thin air by Putin.

Clearly, invasion by Russia is not an answer; neither is intransigence by NATO. It is important to recognize, for example, that Finland, one of the most developed and democratic countries in the world, borders Russia and has chosen not to be a member of NATO. Sweden and Austria are other examples of extremely prosperous and democratic countries that have made the same choice.

Mr. President, Vladimir Putin may be a liar and a demagogue, but it is hypocritical for the United States to insist that we do not accept the principle of "spheres of influence." For the last 200 years our country has operated under the Monroe Doctrine, embracing the premise that as the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has the right to intervene against any country that might threaten our alleged interests. Under this doctrine we have undermined and overthrown at least a dozen governments. In 1962 we came to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union in response to the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba, 90 miles from our shore, which the Kennedy Administration saw as an unacceptable threat to our national security.

And the Monroe Doctrine is not ancient history. As recently as 2018 Donald Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, called the Monroe Doctrine "as relevant today as it was the day it was written." In 2019, former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton declared "the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well."

To put it simply, even if Russia was not ruled by a corrupt authoritarian leader like Vladimir Putin, Russia, like the United States, would still have an interest in the security policies of its neighbors. Does anyone really believe that the United States would not have something to say if, for example, Mexico was to form a military alliance with a U.S. adversary?

Countries should be free to make their own foreign policy choices, but making those choices wisely requires a serious consideration of the costs and benefits. The fact is that the U.S. and Ukraine entering into a deeper security relationship is likely to have some very serious costs-for both countries.

Mr. President, I believe that we must vigorously support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to deescalate this crisis. I believe we must reaffirm Ukrainian independence and sovereignty. And we must make clear to Putin and his gang of oligarchs that they will face major consequences should he continue down the current path.

My friends, we must never forget the horrors that a war in the region would cause and must work hard to achieve a realistic and mutually agreeable resolution-one that is acceptable to Ukraine, Russia, the United States and our European allies-and that prevents what could be the worst European war in over 75 years.

That is not weakness. That is not appeasement. Bringing people together to resolve conflicts non-violently is strength, and it is the right thing to do.

(c) 2022 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. Sanders ran to become the Democratic Party presidential nominee in both 2016 and 2020 and remains the longest-serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders and @BernieSanders

Ezra Klein And His Vast Inner Space
By Ralph Nader

I read the New York Times in print, flipping pages and reading through all the various sections. Over the past year, a nearly life-size face appears in many full-page ads. This same ad appears in any section of the Times including the coveted pages of the Sunday New York Times Magazine. The same full-page ad has been printed at least 100 times.

The ad intensely promotes the Ezra Klein Show! - a New York Times Podcast featuring their newest star.

Mr. Klein, formerly from the Washington Post and Vox, holds forth with interviews that range far and wide but not as far and wide as reality would seem to demand from such a well-read, inquiring young mind of 37 years. This repetitive full-page ad, once you get beyond his portrait, the top of his black t-shirt, and the American flag, tells you what to expect, to wit:

"How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? What are the effects of markets infiltrating our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? How can our food system be more just? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present? How can conversations and ideas help us to better understand?...... Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation about something that matters."
Do large advertisers on his Podcasts like Facebook and Fidelity Investments invite you to patronize them? Podcasts are a key component of the New York Times business model that is designed to reach the younger aliterate generation and others who have a short attention span. Mr. Klein, also an occasional columnist for the paper, declares that only the Times management makes the decisions about ads, and that he has nothing to do with the corporations wrapped around his content. Alas Mr. Klein has no say, he would insist, over how the Times promotes him. I wonder. He could at least vary the ad, which hasn't changed an iota. For example, the ad could feature some eyebrow raising or enlightening excerpts and exchanges between him and his guests.

How about varying the graphics to avoid the humdrum reaction by readers seeing the same presentation over and over again? (Attempts to reach the head of the advertising and graphics departments at the Times by phone and by email were not successful.)

Even a corporate critic told me that listening to Ezra's show "is a great education." Yet direct words like "corporate crime," "corporate welfare," "corporate greed," and "corporate control" over our political economy, culture, children, genetics, war machine, tax inequities, health care chaos, housing and food supply are rarely used in promotions or podcast questioning, despite their authentic pulling power. The preferred word is "markets," not the power-hungry CEO or a named corporation plundering the innocents. Ezra did, however, have an entire show with Noam Chomsky, a globally recognized public intellectual, war and corporate critic, and mega-author. For years the Times news and editorial pages have reduced Chomsky to a virtual non-person.

As a deliberative progressive, Mr. Klein probably has a nuanced view of his full-page promotions that expands well beyond delights of ego. A full-page in the Times is valuable journalistic real estate. These pages could be filled with news and features on subjects neglected by the New York Times, including issues involving New York City.

For example, the 50-year performance of the New York student Public Interest Research Group's accomplishments remains largely ignored, other than its Straphangers Campaign monitoring the City's subways. NYPIRG is part of the most productive nationwide civic student movement in modern U.S. history (See

It has also been puzzling to see the Times use valuable pages endlessly promoting the same book by their ace White House reporter, Peter Baker, or their columnist Paul Krugman. Month after month, with diminishing returns, these ads produce very modest Amazon rankings and other sales. Large space is taken up which might cause loyal readers to say, "Enough, already, we want more print content from all those talented underutilized reporters."

Graphics, seen by the Times as necessary in a visual age to attract readers, have been allowed to go way overboard. Graphic designers now reign supreme over what were the most valuable pages in American journalism such as the front pages of the Sunday Review and the Sunday Business Section. Often full-page graphics exude no message; and are little more than eye candy.

Readers of the print edition these days tend to be serious and more elderly. They can be forgiven for feeling robbed of the content that once graced these front pages, such as the brilliant investigative financial reporting by Gretchen Morgenson, whose reporting gave many CEOs indigestion at their Sunday morning breakfast. That was before she left when the editors decided to make the section "more business friendly."

Returning to Ezra Klein, here is my entreaty. You're a big star. Superstar athletes, such as Tom Brady, LeBron James and others weigh in on management decisions. This level of intervention by you is hardly a major stretch. Enough of these full-page, diminishing return promotions. Promote what you've mined from your podcast, and free some space for reporters hungry for space to cover the uncovered. Imagine trading some ad space for a story on what the tiny financial transaction sales tax, collected and instantly rebated in the billions of dollars each year by New York State, is all about. The Times Albany reporters would like getting that assignment at last.

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

Eric Adams and Joe Biden

Eric Adams' Black On Black Crime
By Margaret Kimberley

The mass incarceration state was built to lock up as many Black people as possible and discussion of even modest reforms is shut down. Such was the case in New York where the mayor and police commissioner smeared Manhattan's district attorney, forcing him to backtrack on his campaign promise of reducing the number of prison sentences. The Black face rises to the high place because of adherence to white supremacist ideology.

The term "black on black crime" is a particularly pernicious trope. It is a ruse used to absolve the systemic racism which kills Black people in a plethora of ways. It invalidates Black people's suffering and gives license to law enforcement and its many acts of brutality.

Ironically, it also describes what is happening among a group of Black officials in New York City. The new mayor and his police commissioner committed a brazen political mugging of the Manhattan District Attorney.

New York City mayor Eric Adams personifies the political imperative to perpetuate an unjust system. Adams was a police officer himself before he went into politics. He has promised to give the police everything they want, including those things that Black people do not want. His mayoralty is a classic case of the dangers of Black faces being in high and inherently corrupt places.

Adams uses fear of crime to gain support for stop and frisk procedures and bringing back the plain clothes units which killed men like Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo. New Yorkers are propagandized by the media into thinking that a police presence makes them safer and that criminal justice rules should never be questioned. Those who don't believe in police state impunity are intimidated into changing their minds.

Alvin Bragg is Manhattan's District Attorney and he quite rightly campaigned on a promise of seeking jail time less frequently. Shortly after taking office he issued a memo giving guidance to his prosecutors which detailed what crimes should be charged by his office and when incarceration should be requested. Bragg proposed no prosecution for sex work, misdemeanors, or non-payment of transit fares. Despite what his detractors claim, none of his proposals gave license to commit violent crimes. He seeks to help the mentally ill and unhoused and give them access to assistance instead of to a jail cell. But he was immediately attacked despite making sensible proposals to reduce incarceration in a way that would not endanger the public.

The Adams administration police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, made clear that there would be no justice allowed while she and her boss are in office. She very publicly undercut Bragg with an email sent to every NYPD officer claiming that Bragg made them less safe. "I have studied these policies and I am very concerned about the implications to your safety as police officers, the safety of the public and justice for the victims."

Bragg's biggest offense was proposing the end of charging for resisting arrest, unless there is also a felony charge. Resisting arrest is a catch all charge meant to intimidate or to ensure jail time. It is often used to defend against police brutality. The person who ends up hospitalized or dead after a police encounter is nearly always said to have resisted arrest. Sewell and others have lied about Bragg and what he clearly states.

Bragg also had the misfortune of issuing his recommendations shortly before two NYPD officers were killed. None of the particulars in that case were related to his positions on jail time, but his enemies made the most of a tragedy. The two officers were funeralized with great pomp at St. Patrick's Cathedral, with a phalanx of thousands of police in attendance. The copaganda was thick and Bragg became a target. One of the widows condemned Bragg in the eulogy to her husband, "This system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even the members of the service. I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA." While Bragg was being labeled as soft on crime, Joe Biden visited New York to echo the tough on crime mantra. Of course Biden's failure to do what voters want and his dismal performance with the ongoing covid pandemic have made him very unpopular. Coming to New York in the wake of police funerals and claiming he'll get guns off the streets by giving the police millions of dollars was a political win for him. He diverted attention away from his shortcomings and returned to his days in the senate where he championed the crime bill which devastated Black communities.

Bragg succumbed to the pressure and undercut himself by meeting with Sewell, and then giving a mea culpa of clarifications that were not needed. He has gone from scorn to approval because he now says he will act like other prosecutors and put Black people in jail as often as possible.

Adams and Sewell have the media and other politicians behind them. Bragg has popular support from the people who voted for him but they do not act in the cohesive way that he needed. If there were a movement dedicated to fighting police state brutality in all of its forms, Bragg would have been protected. Instead political expediency, lies, racism, and cynicism won the day. If an elected district attorney can be bullied into submission, what are the odds for the average person? The odds aren't good if individuals act alone. A vocal and organized movement is what Black people need all over the country to end the scourge of mass incarceration and the political power that ensures its continuation.

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

How To Get Congress To Reform Our Broken Healthcare System

By Jim Hightower

For $3.5 Trillion a year, shouldn't we Americans have a world-class healthcare system? Yet, while we spend the most of any advanced nation in the world to get care (more than $10,000 a year per person), we get the worst results.

No surprise then, that the "Medicare-for-All" idea is now backed by 85 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of Independents, and (get this) 52 percent of Republicans! So... why isn't Congress responding to this overwhelming public demand for universal coverage?

I suspect that one big reason for Washington's big yawn over the people's plea for sweeping reform is that our lawmakers do not personally feel the financial pain and emotional distress that are inflicted on millions of regular Americans by a system built on private greed. After all, their health needs are met by a double-dose of the socialistic care that they so furiously deny to our families.

First, they are given big taxpayer-subsidies to cover the cost of their insurance with you and me paying about 72 percent of the price. But, second, there's a secretive medical center located right in the US Capitol building that provides a full-blown system of - shhhhh - healthcare socialism to our governing elites.

Called the OAP (Office of the Attending Physician), it provides a complete range of free medical service for lawmakers. No appointment needed and no waiting - they walk in and doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists, and other professionals tend to them right away. No need to show an insurance card, and they never get a bill, but they do get what a former OAP staffer calls "The best healthcare on the planet." Thus, members feel no urgency to restructure a system that's working beautifully - for them.

So, to get good care for all of us, we might start by taking away the pampered care that lawmakers have quietly awarded to themselves.

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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a news conference after a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill on February 1, 2022, in Washington, D.C

Trump's Post-Election Vengeance Campaign Has Split The Republican Party In Two
By William Rivers Pitt

The Trump wing of the Republican Party (and by "wing" I mean three-quarters of the bird) has continued its post-election vengeance tour apace, stopping recently at the Republican National Committee (RNC) to pummel two of the party's far right congresspeople for being insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger have been dealing with this Trumpian agita for a while now, but the RNC forcefully took it to a whole new gear.

"Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line," RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement denouncing the recalcitrant duo. "They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol."

...and all manner of cats came blasting from the bag. That 1/6 horror show, the one that killed five people, is "legitimate political discourse?" Starting now, or is this retroactive back to, say, Appomattox? The RNC issued a non-reversing reversal - "We didn't mean the violent protesters!" - while no lesser light than Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came down with both feet on the idea that the attack on the Capitol was anything other than "a violent insurrection."

So it came to pass that the violence at the heart of Trump's crusade has finally split the party most visibly in two. The most powerful Republican congressman and the most powerful Republican, period, are at each other's throats while partisans of each side line up to denounce the other. If the Republican Party splits for real, not just cosmetically or in a momentary fit of pique, the ultimate irony will be the fact that McConnell and his ilk are primarily responsible for the creation, care and feeding of the violently racist horde at his gate.

Faced with this context, I can't help but be surprised to hear members of the Republican Party describe certain behaviors by fellow Republicans as "anti-American." Really? I ask myself. Since when, exactly? While some immigration activists and many others within the big tent of the left have valiantly sought to stake a claim to the word "American" and give it a positive meaning rooted in democracy and inclusion, the cynic in me always returns to the fundamentally violent and racist roots of the United States, which was formed through a crucible of genocide and slavery by white supremacists who more often than not believed God put them there to plunder and conquer. Leave out the God part, and the butchery was still exceedingly and attractively lucrative.

At its peak, slavery was this continent's first billion-dollar industry, containing the original nucleotides of American-style capitalism, right down to the concept of a thoroughly fungible, eternally replaceable and therefore cost-efficient workforce. This peerless crime - still bereft of justice save for the easy cracking of statues - is the banner to which the modern Republican Party has flocked to.

The party has embraced brazen racism and its right-wing militant banner-carriers with the kind of gusto not seen since George Wallace stood in front of the Alabama State House bleating about, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" It is no accident that the scaled heart of the party burns brightest in the presence of its father/king, an egotistical cartoon caricature who would happily put half the country to the torch if it garnered positive coverage from Fox News.

People want to know what Donald Trump was doing while his minions violently sacked the Capitol, seeking to murder his vice president. I imagine he was laughing. On the inside, the outside and everywhere between, laughing fit to split. January 6, 2021, was the best day of his life.

Simultaneously, in 20 years the Republicans have never missed a chance - by way of war, legislation or both - to loot the Treasury and enrich their wealthy friends. Trump pulled it off in December of 2017, to the tune of almost $2 trillion. Speaking of history, some of the people who get a slice of that Treasury pie go on to fund increasingly violent right-wing groups and their protests, which like Trump's rallies serve to make "the movement" seem larger and more menacing than it actually is.

Case in point: The Ottawa truck strike, which was originally focused on vaccine mandates but has devolved into a seething cauldron of every galaxy-brained conspiracy theorist who can find their way there. It is supposed to look organic, this truck protest, sui generis and therefore troubling to the status quo... except for the fact of the millions of dollars flowing into the protest across Canada's southern border. Expect very similar protests to start popping off on this side of the lakes, and soon. Ottawa, I strongly suspect and fear, was a testing ground for a new level of right-wing hostility. Cops do fine against unarmed protesters. Facing down a wall of snarling Macks and Peterbilts? I mean, assuming they don't agree with the ones behind the wheel.

So, some boxes to check. Racist? Yes. Violent? Yes. Organized? Yes. Funded by wealth? Yes. Shock troops (i.e. analogous to KKK cells spread nationally)? Yes.


Well... one may sugarcoat history until the cake collapses on itself. This country was forged in violence; that even a garbled Second Amendment exists at all speaks to the passion some have for a right to deal death as they please and choose. Violence is and has always been the "American" way, a truth that has inspired millions of others to oppose it and its racist peddlers at all available turns.

It's all out there now; a majority of Republicans aren't interested in even pretending to be anything other than exactly what they are. The racism, the mob mentality, the denial of bare-faced fact: The Republican Party has been actively feeding this beast since the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, when the North and South exchanged political parties over the basic question of human worth and dignity. A reckoning for all those years spent stoking the simmering flames of hate to keep the party base engaged could prove to be the cul-de-sac where final ownership of "Republican" is decided once and for all.

And that's the best part of all: This is Mitch's Republican Party as much as it is Trump's. Racism, violence, plunder and fear: In the end, they both believe in fundamentally the same things, and that is as American as an 18-wheel Freightliner gleaming in the conquered desert sun. Call them "anti-American" if you need the sugar, but the taste of it won't change.

(c) 2022 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.

Aides wait outside of the Senate Democrats luncheon in the US Capitol on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

Congressional Staffers Are Organizing A Much-Needed Union
Members of Congress need to activate key provisions of the Congressional Accountability Act for the organizing effort to move forward
By John Nichols

Union representation leads to better pay and improved conditions in every kind of workplace, but especially in high-pressure settings where hours are long and demands are intense. Yet workers in congressional offices are not unionized, since provisions in the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 which would have cleared the way for organizing drives were never implemented. That's something that needs to change, as a new study from the Congressional Progressive Staff Association reveals.

The association surveyed more than 500 staffers in the House and Senate in January and found: about half of the respondents have struggled to pay bills, with the percentage slightly higher among non-management staff; over a quarter do not have at least one month's rent in savings in case of an emergency; 39 percent currently or previously have taken on debt to make ends meet; and one-third of nonmanagement staff have had to take on a second job to supplement their income, while many others have not been able to due to the demand of their working hours.

"If we want to retain top talent in our nation's capital, then we need to make sure staff can afford to live there," said Alexandra Weinroth, communications director for Democrats on the House Budget Committee and president of the bipartisan Women's Congressional Staff Association, after the report was released.

Low pay is a serious issue in congressional offices, where workers can make as little as $29,000 a year. But money matters were not the only concern. The survey also found that workers have expressed concerns about sexual harassment; inadequate Covid-19 safety protections; and security after the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which exposed the vulnerability of those working in congressional offices. And, while Democratic lawmakers may be more enlightened than Republicans when it comes to defending against insurrectionists, members of Congress from both parties have over the years come under fire for failing to maintain safe and respectful offices.

So it was welcome news Friday when a group of workers on Capitol Hill announced the formation of the Congressional Workers Union, launching an effort to "unionize the personal offices and committees" of members of Congress. The organizers explained:

After more than a year of organizing as a volunteer group of congressional staff, we are proud to publicly announce our efforts to unionize the personal offices and committees of Congress, in solidarity with our fellow workers cross the United States and around the world. While not all offices and committees face the same working conditions, we strongly believe that to better serve our constituents will require meaningful changes to improve retention, equity, diversity, and inclusion on Capitol Hill. We call on all congressional staff to join in the effort to unionize, and look forward to meeting management at the table.
As New York Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, "Capitol Hill…sounds like a perfect place for a union." And the congressional workers could get one, joining the many Capitol Hill workers who are already unionized, including Capitol police officers and employees of the Library of Congress, if House and Senate Democrats keep the promise of their party platform. In it, Democrats declared: "We must unrig the rules that block workers from having the union they want and update our labor laws to make it more possible."

In order to do so, however, they will need to thwart Republican opposition and potential obstruction from "centrist" Democrats such as West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

US Representative Andy Levin (D-Mich.), a former union organizer who is a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, signaled that, at the request of the new union, he will take steps to activate the necessary provisions of the Congressional Accountability Act so that the organizing drive can go forward. On Wednesday, Levin introduced his resolution, with 130 cosponsors. That's significant. But House GOP Conference chair Elise Stefanik made it clear this week that Republican House members will oppose the effort, saying: "We do not support unionizing on the Hill."

On the Senate side, Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, an ardent supporter of organized labor, says he's working with fellow senators to get a resolution passed in the chamber. He'll have to make sure he can get a "skeptical"-though not formally opposed-Manchin on board. But the general response from Democrats has been positive.

President Biden has indicated that he is supportive, as is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said, "As a former union member myself, consider me on board. I believe we can make Capitol Hill union strong and give our staff the protection and support that unions offer." And former Congressional Progressive Caucus cochair Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat who remains a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, said, "As a card-carrying union member myself, consider me on board!"

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

Let's Dismantle The Federal Reserve
By James Donahue

Americans and perhaps some of the elected representatives in Washington seem to believe that we all must depend upon the Federal Reserve to stabilize the nation's financial system and keep the wheels of commerce running smoothly.

Indeed, we once considered Alan Greenspan, long-time chairman of the Federal Reserve, as one of the most powerful and influential figures in the world of finance. Next the bearded face of Ben Bernanke filled that void and today Janet Yellen wields the same power that Greenspan once did. But why?

Writer David Quinn in an article for The Cutting Edge said most Americans erroneously believe the Federal Reserve is part of our government. It is, however, a privately held corporation owned by stockholders representing the largest banks in the land. The Federal Reserve holds its power because Americans have been led to believe that they should have it.

Quinn wrote that "if the American public understood what their (Federal Reserve) policies have done to their lives, they would be rioting in the streets.

"In less than one century the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States has destroyed our currency and has allowed bankers to gain unwarranted power over the country. They had the ability and opportunity to bring down the worldwide financial system," Quinn wrote.

The U. S. Constitution gives the power of making money to the Congress. Congress also has the power of regulating its value. The Constitution also requires that money be coined of gold or silver, and that paper bills, if used, must be backed by their printed value by gold or silver maintained in government vaults.

Thomas Jefferson, a former president and one of the framers of the Constitution, once warned that "if we turn our monetary system over to the bankers our children will wake up as slaves to the country we fought to free." Jefferson understood the power of greed that has historically emanated from the hearts of the few that rise to possess and control the wealth.

In 1913, the very thing that Jefferson warned us about happened. On Christmas Eve that year, while many members were home with their families for the holidays, a key number of congressmen met for a special session in Washington to pass the Federal Reserve Act. This is an unconstitutional act that turned over the U. S. monetary system to a few international bankers. The act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, who advocated a better system of stabilizing the monetary system.

With the banks under the control of the Federal Reserve, the rules for printing money changed. Our dollar bills once were considered a representation of their value in gold stored in places like Ford Knox, Kentucky. The old bills once stated this. Now our bills are identified as Federal Reserve notes. This means that they are loans or I.O.U.s and are no longer backed up in value by gold reserves. And that is in clear violation of the Constitution.

Did the Federal Reserve bring the stability to our monetary system as President Wilson had hoped? Indeed, it did not. By 1928 America and the world banking system was plunged into the Great Depression, largely because of the same kind of reckless banking activities and false printing of paper dollars that brought about the current world economic crisis.

While climbing out of the Great Depression and numerous "recessions" over the years, we have experienced a slow decrease in the value of the dollar, caused by the Federal Reserve's printing of more money than there have been gold reserves to back up the value. This, in turn, has been causing an inflationary spiral that has been slowly destroying the American capitalistic/industrial system.

Notice that one day after the Republicans gained control of the Congress and the promise of a stronger yoke on the nation's financial system in mid-term elections, the Federal Reserve announced a decision to print another $600 billion under the guise of propping up the big banks.

Older Americans can remember a time just after World War II when a new automobile could be purchased for $1000 and gasoline sold at the pump for 25 cents a gallon. We worked in those days for a dollar an hour and thought it was good money. A good house in 1960 could be purchased for $25,000 or less.

That was a time when jobs were plentiful. There was opportunity for advancement and if the job we had didn't work out, we could move on to find employment elsewhere. Employers used things like health insurance benefits and paid vacation time to coax good workers to stay on the job.

We thought we were living in an era of promise and opportunity. Little did we know that the robber barons were hard at work, dismantling the monetary system that made it possible for us to enjoy that way of life.

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

But How Do You Stop Putin And The Taliban?
By David Swanson

When I suggest not stealing billions of dollars from Afghanistan, and thereby not causing mass starvation and death, otherwise intelligent and informed people tell me that human rights demands that theft. Starving people to death is a means of protecting their "human rights," in fact. How else can you (or the U.S. government) stop Taliban executions?

When I respond that you (the U.S. government) could ban capital punishment, stop arming and funding the world's top executioners from Saudi Arabia on down, join the world's major human rights treaties, sign onto and support the International Criminal Court, and then - from a credible position - seek to impose the rule of law in Afghanistan, sometimes people think that over as if none of it had ever occurred to them, as if basic logical steps had been literally unthinkable, whereas starving millions of little kids to death for their human rights had somehow made sense.

I also have yet to run across a single person in the United States not engaged in peace activism who doesn't believe that the United States needs to stop "aggression" by "Putin" in Ukraine. Maybe I don't interact enough with Fox News viewers who want a war with China or Mexico and think Russia is a less desirable war, but it's not clear to me that such a person would dispute the spontaneous irrational Putinesque plot against Ukraine so much as just not care about it.

When I respond that if Russia had put Canada and Mexico into a military alliance, stuck missiles in Tijuana and Montreal, run giant war rehearsals in Ontario, and endlessly warned the world of a looming U.S. invasion of Prince Edward Island, and if the U.S. government had demanded that the troops and missiles and military war pacts be removed, our televisions would be telling us those were perfectly reasonable demands (which wouldn't erase the fact that the United States has an enormous military and loves to threaten war, or the worse-than-irrelevant fact that the United States has domestic governmental flaws) - when I say all that, sometimes people act as if I've just revealed a mind-bending secret.

But how is that possible? How can perfectly smart people have no idea that NATO promised not to expand eastward when Russia agreed to the reunification of Germany, no idea that NATO has expanded right into the former USSR, no idea that the U.S. has missiles in Romania and Poland, no idea that Ukraine and NATO have built up a huge force on one side of Donbas (like Russia subsequently on the other), no idea that Russia would have liked to be an ally or member of NATO but was too valuable as an enemy, no idea that it takes two to tango, no idea that peace has to be carefully avoided but war diligently manufactured - and yet numerous very serious ideas to tell you regarding how to halt Putin's invasions?

The answer is not a pleasant one, but I think it's unavoidable. The thousands of people who've spent the past month giving interviews and making webinars and writing articles and blog posts and petitions and banners and teaching each other obvious facts about Ukraine and NATO exist in a different world from 99 percent of their neighbors who exist in the world created by newspapers and televisions. And this is extremely unfortunate because nobody - not even the weapons dealers already trumpeting the profits to be made in this war - wants war more badly than do newspapers and television outlets.

"Does Iraq have WMDs?" was not just a question they gave the wrong answer to. It was an absurd piece of propaganda prior to anyone answering it. You don't get to invade and bomb a country whether or not its government possesses weapons. If you did, the world would have had the right to invade and bomb the United States which openly possessed all the weapons it falsely accused Iraq of having.

"How do you stop Putin's invasion?" is not just a question they are giving the wrong answer to. It is an absurd piece of propaganda prior to anyone answering it. Asking it is part of a campaign to provoke just the invasion that the question pretends to be interested in preventing. Without threatening any invasion, Russia laid out two months ago what it wanted. The propaganda question "How do you stop Putin's invasion?" or "Don't you want to stop Putin's invasion?" or "You aren't in favor of Putin's invasion, are you?" is premised on avoiding any awareness of the perfectly reasonable demands made by Russia while pretending instead that an "inscrutable" Asian monarch is inexplicably threatening irrational and unpredictable measures that can nonetheless best be forestalled by threatening, scaring, provoking, and insulting him. Because if you actually wanted to prevent a war in Donbas rather than create one, you would simply agree to the perfectly reasonable demands made by Russia in December, end this madness, and shift to addressing non-optional crises such as the Earth's ecosystems and nuclear disarmament.

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

Although carbon capture and storage hasn't really taken off in Canada, or globally, proposals
are mounting from corporations, pipeline companies, oilsands consortiums and chemical manufacturers.

Can Carbon Capture Help Resolve The Climate Crisis?
By David Suzuki

Global heating is accelerating. Yet we continue to pump out fossil fuel emissions and destroy forests, wetlands, bogs, grasslands and marine kelp forests that remove, convert and store atmospheric carbon.

Human well-being and long-term survival depend on quickly shifting course, but our failure to act sooner means we must also remove greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. One solution is to do what plants do: capture carbon dioxide and store it or convert it to something else.

Most carbon capture facilities remove CO2 emissions from industrial operations. Less common but garnering interest are "direct air capture" technologies, which extract CO2 from the atmosphere. CO2 from both is normally injected into deep geological formations for permanent storage, but it can also be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic fuels, or used for other products and purposes. CO2 from industrial operations is often injected into oil and gas wells to force more "product" out.

Letting plants do their work - by protecting and restoring green spaces, planting trees and preventing wildfires - is an efficient, cost-effective way to capture carbon on a large scale, but technology can play a role in site-specific carbon reductions and converting CO2 to other products. Whether it's viable on a large enough scale to make a dent is another question.

The few existing carbon capture and storage facilities have been costly and not overly effective. One in Saskatchewan has an unimpressive capture rate and uses CO2 from a coal-fired power plant to extract more oil, so any climate benefits are negligible. Alberta has two plants, which cost $1.24 billion. The provincial government has promised more funding - even using carbon tax money.

Despite industry claims that facilities can capture more than 90 per cent of emissions, Shell's Quest project to capture carbon from a fossil or "blue" hydrogen facility (used to upgrade oilsands bitumen) removed about 48 per cent of CO2 a year and 39 per cent of total emissions between 2015 and 2019, according to a Global Witness report. It captured 4.81 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, including methane, but emitted 7.66 million tonnes - all to process oil that will eventually be burned!

Fossil fuel and other industries have latched onto carbon capture, utilization and storage as a way to continue business as usual, raking in profits - and government subsidies, including tax credits. Claims of significant reductions in operations emissions don't account for the much greater emissions from burning the end products in cars and factories.

Organizations like the International Energy Agency say it's needed to address the climate crisis. But it's expensive, and injecting massive amounts of CO2 into the ground, whether to force more oil or gas out or to store it, may not be problem-free. Converting it to something useful, such as fuels, could be a partial solution, but the fuels must be clean.

Although carbon capture and storage hasn't really taken off in Canada, or globally, proposals are mounting from corporations, pipeline companies, oilsands consortiums and chemical manufacturers.

Most would inject operations-generated CO2 deep underground, storing it in porous rock - requiring a lot of "pore space." As with most "out of sight, out of mind" approaches, there could be unintended consequences. For one, the CO2 could leak. And, although people once thought no life existed below bedrock, bacteria have since been found kilometres underground - including methanogens, which convert CO2 to methane, a shorter-lived but much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

The IEA says "emissions reduction targets cannot be met without employing the technology, estimating 7.6 gigatonnes of carbon would have to be captured annually around the world to achieve net-zero emissions." That's almost 200 times what's being captured now, a Narwhal article explains.

Technological innovation is critical to resolving the crisis, but governments shouldn't subsidize expensive, time-consuming, often unproven technologies aimed more at keeping the fossil fuel industry alive than helping resolve climate disruption. And we can't use current or future technologies to justify continuing to overload the atmosphere with CO2.

To meet our 2030 climate targets and beyond, we must stop burning fossil fuels and focus on readily available, affordable solutions, such as renewables, electrification and efficiency. Technologies that truly help with the necessary transition are important, but we must also ensure that natural systems are a major part of our carbon capture efforts.

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

The Super Bowl's Sexual Anarchy(!) May Have Distracted You From The CIA's Hijinks
Senators Wyden and Heinrich have flagged a CIA surveillance program with a dubious legal foundation.
By Charles P. Pierce

You all may have been distracted by the Sexual Anarchy! that broke loose during the Super Bowl halftime show. (Personally, my favorite Super Bowl memory from this year will be star Cincinnati kicker Evan McPherson's blowing off halftime to stay on the field and watch the show, which is the most placekickerish move I've ever seen a placekicker make.) But a couple of senators broke the glass and pulled the lever on what our friends in the CIA have been doing. From Reuters:

In the letter dated April 13, 2021, Senators Ron Wyden, of Oregon, and Martin Heinrich, of New Mexico, warned top U.S. intelligence officials that an unspecified "bulk collection" program was operating "entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection." The Democrats said that even lawmakers on the Senate's Intelligence Committee were unaware of the nature of the program until the dissemination of a secret report by U.S. intelligence oversight authorities in March of 2021.
More than even the slipperiest of slippery public officials, the CIA has an ability to wedge itself through the tiniest cracks in any piece of legislation.
A Feb. 10, 2022 statement from the CIA released along with the declassified material said agency officials are required to "take reasonable steps to limit the information collected to only that which is necessary to achieve the purpose of the collection." Privacy protections are "embedded in these foundational procedures," it added.
I'm sure they are-deeply embedded, very much like the ruins of Troy were "embedded" in Turkey for all those centuries. From the AP (via the Washington Post):
The CIA on Friday said the program highlighted by the senators and another disclosed this week are "repositories of information about the activities of foreign governments and foreign nationals." In a statement, the agency said the programs were classified to stop adversaries from compromising them.

The agency also said it kept members of congressional oversight committees "fully and currently informed of its classified activities related to these two programs." "In the course of any lawful collection, CIA may incidentally acquire information about Americans who are in contact with foreign nationals," the agency statement said. "When the CIA acquires information about Americans, it safeguards that information in accordance with procedures approved by the Attorney General, which restrict the CIA's ability to collect, retain, use, and disseminate the information."

Don't worry, though, because our Fourth Amendment rights have...pop-ups on their side.
The CIA released a series of redacted recommendations about the program issued by an oversight panel known as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. According to the document, a pop-up box warns CIA analysts using the program that seeking any information about U.S. citizens or others covered by privacy laws requires a foreign intelligence purpose. "However, analysts are not required to memorialize the justification for their queries," the board said. Additional documents released Thursday also revealed limited details about a program to collect financial data against the Islamic State. That program also has incidentally snared some records held by Americans.
Pretty clearly, Wyden and Heinrich are onto something, even if it's only regulations that need tightening. That "incidentally" in the last sentence is practically sweat-soaked from all the work it's doing. Every 10 to 15 years since Congress first blew the whistle on the CIA's illegal surveillance work within the United States, those regulations need tightening again. (Right now, it appears, the CIA is running this program under the authority not of Congress, but rather, of an executive order first signed by...Ronald Reagan.) This particular bunch of custodes always needs a considerable amount of custodiet-ing.

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

The Quotable Quote -

"There is far too little discussion in Washington about the collapse of the middle class , almost no discussion at all about the incredible income inequality and wealth inequality in this country, and the fact that we're moving toward an oligarch form of society."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

What Israel Is Doing To Palestine Just As Bad As What Russia Is Doing To Ukraine, But US Doesn't Care
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - The US government has been accused of hyping the crisis between the Russian Federation and the Ukraine, where some 120,000 Russian troops have been massed on Ukraine's borders. US intelligence says Russia has plans to invade imminently, while Ukrainian leaders say they do not see any such signs.

Joe Biden was vice president in 2014 when President Vladimir Putin abruptly ordered troops into the Crimea, which likely has led to his sensitivity on the current conflict. Crimea had been part of the Ukraine since 1954, when the Soviet Union's Presidium of the Supreme Soviet transferred it from the Russian SSR to the Ukrainian SSR. Putin argued that the transfer had been premised on Ukraine and Russia being in the same Union, and when Ukraine became independent Crimea should revert to Russia, which had held it since the Tsars took it from the Ottomans.

While Ukraine gets heavy television news coverage in the US now, equally aggressive Israeli actions against Palestine are completely ignored. Israel plotted to seize the remaining Palestinian territories in the West Bank from the late 1950s through the 1960s, and when it launched the 1967 War on its neighbors it took advantage of its swift victory also to sweep in and occupy the Palestinians, who were not combatants.

Israel illegally annexed part of the West Bank, adding it to its district of Jerusalem. That put the nearly 400,000 Palestinians in and around East Jerusalem in legal limbo, since they reject Israeli citizenship but are prevented by Israel from having a state of their own. They are viewed by Israeli authorities essentially as temporary residents, and they can be expelled at will. When Israel annexed their land, contravening the Fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of occupied populations, it also cast them into a limbo regarding property rights. Israelis are claiming to actually own their buildings and homes, and are gradually throwing them into the street (or illegally exiling them from their homeland). When you are stateless you have neither human or property rights.

Israel has settled 200,000 Israeli squatters in and around Palestinian East Jerusalem, which is illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids occupying powers to settle their own citizens in occupied territory. The Geneva Conventions were enacted to prevent situations such as developed during WW II when Nazi Germany occupied Poland and began expelling native Poles and settling Germans there in their stead.

This weekend, far right-wing Israelis provoked further trouble in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Al Jazeera English reports that Itamar Ben Gvir of the supremacist Religious Zionism Alliance, stormed the neighborhood and set up a tent on the front yard of a Palestinian family's residence. He maintains that despite constant patrols by Israeli security forces and constant surveillance of the occupied Palestinians, Israeli squatters in Palestinian land are not safe. He was responding to an alleged fire-bombing aimed at Israeli settlers.

Ben Gvir advocates ethnically cleansing the five million occupied Palestinians.

Middle East Eye: "Israeli settlers storm Palestinian family home in Sheikh Jarrah"

Ben Gvir's Black Shirts provoked clashes with local Palestinians, at which point Israeli security forces intervened with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber-coated metal bullets, injuring over 30 persons, sending six to hospital, and arresting eight.

There isn't any legal difference in international law between israel's annexation of East Jerusalem (and plans to annex more of the West Bank) and Russia's annexation of the Crimea.

Actually, Russia has a much better claim on the Crimea than Israel does on Palestinian territory, since at least Crimea was part of Russia in living memory. The main objection to the 2014 Russian invasion is that the UN Charter forbids aggressive military action to resolve territorial disputes between neighbors. Russian claims, if legitimate, should have been pursued legally and diplomatically. Worse, Putin shot himself in the foot, since he spooked Europe that Russia was a military threat to the continent's calm and its security, which provoked a rush by Montenegro and North Macedonia to join NATO. Further, even in Sweden some politicians are talking about joining. And Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine would join today if NATO would let them in.

It is true that Washington was unwise to seek NATO expansion in the 1990s and early zeroes, and that the expansionism caused some of Russia's angst. But Russia's own interventions in Crimea and Syria, which no one forced on Moscow, have also raised alarms among nearby countries and made a NATO security umbrella attractive.

After the Afghanistan debacle, Biden would prefer to avoid another foreign policy setback, and his strategy is to throw loads of illumination on Russian actions on the Ukraine border in hopes of deterring further Putin adventurism. The Russian annexation (or as Moscow might put it, repossession) of the Crimean Peninsula provoked US financial sanctions on Russian officials around Putin, which the later clearly deeply resents.

But note that despite Israel's aggressive annexation and occupation of Palestinian land, the US has held the Israeli leadership harmless and has denounced any move to hold it accountable for its war crimes against the Palestinians.

(c) 2022 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

'Capitalism is consistent with democracy only if democracy reduces the inequalities and poverty that accompany unbridled profit-seeking.'

Beware Of This Deadly Mix: Oligarchic Economics And Racist, Nationalist Populism
A treacherous alliance is growing that will undermine democratic institutions in the US and elsewhere
By Robert Reich

The United States presents itself as the beacon of democracy in contrast to the autocracies of China and Russia. Yet American democracy is in danger of succumbing to the same sort of oligarchic economics and racist nationalism that thrive in both these powers.

After all, it wasn't long ago that Donald Trump - who openly admired Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin - encouraged racist nationalism in America while delivering much of the US government into the hands of America's super-rich.

Now state-level Republicans are busily suppressing votes of people of color and paving the way for a possible anti-democratic coup, while the national Republican party excuses the attack on the Capitol - calling it "legitimate political discourse" - and censors Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the only two congressional Republicans serving on the panel investigating that attack.

America's oligarchic wealth, meanwhile, has reached levels rivaling or exceeding those of Russia and China. During the pandemic, America's 745 billionaires increased their holdings by 70%, adding $2.1tn to their wealth in just over a year.

A portion of this wealth is going into politics. As early as 2012, more than 40% of all money spent in federal elections came from the wealthiest of the wealthiest - not the top 1% or even the top tenth of the 1%, but from the top 1% of the 1%.

Now, some of this wealth is supporting Trumpism. Peter Thiel, a staunch Trump supporter whose net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $2.6bn, has become one of the Republican party's largest donors.

Last year, Thiel gave $10m each to the campaigns of two proteges - Blake Masters, who is running for the Senate from Arizona, and JD Vance, from Ohio. Thiel is also backing 12 House candidates, three of whom are running primary challenges to Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for the events of January 6.<> It's not just Republicans. Last year, at least 13 billionaires who had previously donated to Trump lavished campaign donations on Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

The combination of oligarchic wealth and racist nationalism is treacherous for democratic institutions in the US and elsewhere. Capitalism is consistent with democracy only if democracy reduces the inequalities, insecurities, joblessness, and poverty that accompany unbridled profit-seeking.

For the first three decades after the second world war, democracy did this. The US and war-ravaged western Europe built the largest middle classes the world had ever seen, and the most buoyant democracies.

The arrangement was far from perfect, but with the addition of civil rights and voting rights, subsidized healthcare (in the US, Medicare and Medicaid), and a vast expansion of public education, democracy was on the way to making capitalism work for the vast majority.

Then came a giant U-turn, courtesy of Ronald Reagan in America and Margaret Thatcher in Europe. Deregulation, privatization, globalization, and the unleashing of finance created the Full Monty: abandoned factories and communities, stagnant wages, widening inequality, a shrinking middle class, political corruption and shredded social support.

The result has been widespread anger and cynicism. Even before the pandemic, most people were working harder than ever but couldn't get ahead, and their children's prospects weren't any better. More than one out of every six American children was impoverished and the typical American family was living from paycheck to paycheck. At the same time, a record high share of national wealth was already surging to the top.

Starting last July, America did an experiment that might have limited these extremes and reduced the lure of racist nationalism. That's when 36 million American families began receiving pandemic payments of up to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for each child under six).

Presto. Child poverty dropped by at least a third, and the typical family gained some breathing space.

But this hugely successful experiment ended abruptly in December when Senator Joe Manchin joined 50 Republican senators in rejecting President Biden's Build Back Better Act, which would have continued it.

They cited concerns over the experiment's cost - an estimated $100bn per year, or $1.6tn over 10 years. But that's less than big corporations and the rich will have saved on taxes from the Trump Republican tax cut of 2018. Repeal it, and there would be enough money. The cost is also less than the increase in the wealth of America's 745 billionaires during the pandemic. Why not a wealth tax?

The experiment died because, put simply, the oligarchy didn't want to pay for it.

Oligarchic economics coupled with racist nationalism marks the ultimate failure of progressive politics. Beware. When the people are no longer defended against the powerful, they look elsewhere.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He 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

How Can America Avoid The Bloodshed & Chaos Of Civil War?
There is an active movement within the United States trying to start a civil war -- and we have two and a half years before the 2024 election to put this country back on track
By Thom Hartmann

Congressman Adam Kinzinger is worried about a second American civil war. "I don't think that's too far of a bridge to recognize," he said earlier this week, adding, "It's going to be armed groups against armed groups, targeted assassination and violence."

There is an active movement within the United States trying to start a civil war. They're armed and serious, having already tried to kidnap and murder the Governor of Michigan and the Vice President of the United States.

You may not recall names like Pat Crusius, Anders Breivik or James Fields, but members of a dozen different white supremacist groups in America can tell you details of the lives of the El Paso murderer of 23 Hispanic people, the Norwegian killer of 77 "liberals" (most children), and the man who killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens of others at the "Jews Will Not Replace Us" rally in Charlottesville. All are heroes to the movement.

They're also students of how to start civil wars. They believe that when a certain threshold of mistrust and grievance is hit, all it takes is a small event to trigger much wider bloodshed. They've internalized the lessons Barbara F. Walter lays out in her seminal book How Civil Wars Start.

Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie and his gun-loving friends get it, too. Massie recently argued that the tipping point will come when "30 to 40 percent could agree that [the American government] was legitimate tyranny and it needed to be thrown off" and openly argued that people should be sufficiently well-armed to take on the US Marines. (The clip's at the bottom of this story.)

Finishing that sentence, Massey added, "they [those trying to bring down the American government] need to have sufficient power without asking for extra permission – it should be right there and completely available to them in their living room in order to effect the change."

His buddies on the podcast where he made this assertion went even farther, saying that Americans should be able to possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons to, presumably, fight against America's police and military and take down our government.

So, how did we get here, and what's the best way to avoid bloodshed and chaos?

The "how we got here" part began in a big way with the Reagan Revolution in 1981, when Republicans took over the government and flipped us out of FDR's New Deal and into Milton Friedman's neoliberalism.

Reagan's neoliberalism not only took a meat-axe to unions and working people, it began the destruction of the most critical currency a government has: trust.

That decade also saw the first generation of non-white immigrants allowed into the US because of immigration law reform in 1965 as well as a 3-million person immigrant surge that Reagan "legalized" in 1986 getting "the browning of American" underway.

And around that time came the GOP's "voter fraud" hysteria, along with Reagan's assertion that "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem."

Those two memes together have destroyed the faith once held by millions of Americans' in our government itself.

Reagan cut taxes on the morbidly rich from 74 percent down to 25 percent while raising taxes on working-class people 11 times, massively widening the American inequality gap.

There wasn't a single billionaire in the country when he took that unprecedented step: today there are hundreds, and their money bins are so overflowing that they're shooting themselves into outer space with the loose change spilling out.

Working people were totally left behind by the Reagan Revolution, as Republicans in business, state governments, and on the Supreme Court went gunning for labor unions, which had been a traditional base of support for the Democratic Party. Within a decade we went from a third of Americans having union job and wage protections to fewer than ten percent. Today it's under six percent.

As a result, income at the bottom 90 percent of the wage scale have been functionally frozen since the 80s and, in many cases, have actually declined; the standard of living a single wage-earner could provide a family in 1980 now requires two people working full time jobs.

People will tolerate a lot of privation and pain if they've grown up with it, but when you take things away from people, they notice it and react with rage. In this case, Reaganism stole a middle class lifestyle from millions of working class white people, and they're pissed.

As the white working class woke up to how they'd been screwed, Limbaugh and Fox came along to tell them who was responsible: all those dark-skinned people they were seeing in increasing numbers.

As Walter documents in How Civil Wars Start, when an ethnic, language, or racial majority of a population experiences a rapid (one or two generation) significant loss of status and wealth - as happened in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Syria - grievance politics come to the fore and revolutionary groups made up of the newly disenfranchised appear.

Pretty soon you have armed militias and open rebellions against the rule of law; it often happens so fast that afterwards people say they never saw it coming.

That's where we're at in America now, and it was first set up by the election of 1981.

Reaganism (aka neoliberalism) took a huge bite out of the wealth and power of working class white people, reducing millions from the middle class to the working poor.

Reagan also negotiated what became NAFTA and the WTO, which led to over 60,000 factories and tens of millions of jobs moving offshore, and no president since has taken a significant action to stop or even slow the process.

Then came Donald Trump, not only pointing out how Republicans in his billionaire class were ripping off working people but doubling down by telling Americans all the way back in the 2015 primaries that our entire political system is "rigged" against working class white voters.

Pointing out the truth about how Reaganism gutted the middle class (America's middle class, once around 65% of us, slipped below the 50% of the population mark in 2015) let Trump wipe the floor that year with his primary opponents, and today his Big Lie about the 2020 election is believed by more than half of all Republican voters.

And, while not usually mentioned in the mainstream press, just attend a Trump rally or ask any of his followers: they believe all that "voter fraud" is being committed by Black people in big cities, a meme Trump hammered for five years and continues to spout with lies about "busloads" of people crossing state lines to vote twice.

When there's a shared sense of grievance combined with mistrust of government, these white supremacists know, small events can flare into a wider civil war without warning.

The idea isn't new within the white supremacist movement; they just haven't yet hit a critical mass. Tim McVeigh thought he'd trigger a war against the Clinton administration when he blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building in an imitation of the inciting incident in the white supremacist novel The Turner Diaries.

In that book - now the "bible" of the white supremacist movement, according to the FBI - the hero Earl Turner blows up a Federal Building but the government overreacts by sending agents out to confiscate guns from the good, patriotic white people across the nation. They rise up and begin an orgy of chaos and death; in the end the "mud races" are all dead (including Jews) and the white supremacist hero helps run the new "European culture" nation.

All of this racism, outrage, and anger has also been amplified since around 2008 when Obama was elected president, coincidentally with the near-universal adoption of smartphone-based social media, whose algorithms were described yesterday by Tristan Harris on Brian Stelter's On The Media show as a "civil war for profit business model."

So, what do we do?

Walter and other political observers point out that the way to diminish the power and appeal of rightwing terror movements and recover trust in a government is at least a two-step process.

First, Americans have to trust that their democracy works. That means adopting systems and laws like virtually every other developed nation in the world has to inspire and retain trust in their political system.

Canada, for example, has an independent, nonpartisan national voting agency ("Elections Canada") that's transparent and makes sure the vote is available to all citizens. Canadian law also puts a cap on money in politics that limits the influence of both the morbidly rich and giant corporations, and funds education in civics and critical thinking.

Second, the Americans who've been the victims of Reaganism's gutting of the middle class have to stop feeling like they're constantly on the edge of panic. When more than half the country would be crippled by an unexpected $1000 expense, you're sitting on a power keg.

Other advanced democracies have solved this problem by expanding union rights and the social safety net, including free or low-cost medical care and debt-free college/trade school education.

When people have a good job and income, they tend not to become terrorists. America's slogan could become, "If Canada can do it, why can't we?"

And, finally, as I lay out in my new book The Hidden History of Big Brother, Congress must come to terms with the damage caused by social media algorithms designed to maximize outrage and profits at the expense of rational discourse, shared facts/reality, and democracy itself.

We have two and a half years before the 2024 election to put this country back on track and the Biden administration has offered legislation that would have done much of this, including Build Back Better that would restore the American middle class, along with serious voting rights reforms that would restore trust in the integrity of elections.

They were blocked by every Republican in the House and Senate along with two turncoat Democrats in the Senate, but if Democrats can expand their majorities in the election this November, America will have another chance to avoid Kinzinger's nightmare scenario.

It may be our last.

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

The Cartoon Corner -

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Daryl Cagle ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

US Intelligence Indicates Russia Assembling Power Rangers Robot At Ukraine Border
By The Waterford Whispers News

THERE'S further unease and tension growing at the Ukranian border as exclusive US intelligence leaked to WWN suggests Russia is currently assembling a large scale Power Rangers robot.

"As we feared it's exactly like the one when the blue, pink, red, yellow and black fuse to create a Megazord," White US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin revealed to media once this intel was leaked.

The robotic structure, somewhere in the region of 100ft with glowing red eyes, is in addition to the estimated 150,000 troops amassed at Ukraine's border which has been the focus of NATO's concerns in recent weeks.

It is unclear if Russia developed this technology after turning the Rangers' mentor Zordon or making contact with noted Rangers nemesis Lord Zedd.

"While the Megazord activisation sequence hasn't been initiated, we believe such an occurrence is imminent," added Austin, batting back claims that the Russians were doing this as part of a 'psyop' distraction, or simply 'taking the piss'.

In yet more disturbing news a family of five in Wisconsin are believed to have targeted by Russians after the family sat down to their morning cereal only to discover their milk had gone sour, a clear Russian ploy.

"There is no low these bastards won't stoop to," confirmed an enraged Austin, who said that while the US wasn't yet at 'fake WMDs evidence' levels of anger they weren't far off.

(c) 2022 The Waterford Whispers News


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 07 (c) 02/18/2022

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

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

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

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

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