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In This Edition

Norman Solomon concludes, "Republican Hypocrisy Is No Reason To Support Neera Tanden."

Ralph Nader wonders, "Why Didn't Speaker Pelosi Want Witnesses?"

Jesse Jackson says, "Our Fundamental Right To Vote Is Under Attack."

Jim Hightower considers, "A Wealth Of Riches, A Poverty Of Morals."

Jesica Corbett joins us with, "Gerry Connolly Goes Off on Jim Jordan: 'I Didn't Vote To Overturn An Election. And I Will Not Be Lectured By People Who Did!'"

John Nichols reports, "As Pandemic Profits Put Bezos On Track For Trillionaire Status, Tish James Asks: At What Cost?"

James Donahue finds, "America's Wars Strangely Linked To Narcotics Trade."

David Swanson gives, "A Global Demand To 35 Governments: Get Your Troops Out Of Afghanistan / A Thank You To 7 That Already Have."

David Suzuki returns with, "Clearing The Air On Fossil Fuel Pollution."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "Donald Trump Is Now At The Mercy Of A New York District Attorney."

Greg Palast returns with, "Texas Gets Lay'd."

Robert Reich is, "Unrigging The GOP's Minority Rule."

James D. Zirin joins us with, "Are Judges Just Politicians In Robes?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "Mars Rover To Self-Isolate For 14 Days Before Exploring Planet," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "At Least We're Back In The Game."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Cole, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Brian McFadden, Alex Wong, Jim Watson, Michael Fleshman, Mandel Ngan, United Nations, Joe Raedle, Peter Dazeley, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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At Least We're Back In The Game
By Ernest Stewart

"We have to ratchet up the commitments now if we are to stay on course to averting a catastrophic three degree Fahrenheit warming." ~~~ Michael Mann

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

I see where the U.S. has officially rejoined the Paris Agreement on global warming. But thanks to Lying Donald, "The world has moved on from American leadership on climate and will be skeptical of our commitment to stay engaged," says Joel Rubin ~ former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Obama-Biden Administration. Scientist Michael Mann argued that the United States must go "well beyond those Paris commitments" as President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement Friday. "We have to ratchet up the commitments now if we are to stay on course to averting a catastrophic three degree Fahrenheit warming," said Mann, the author of "The New Climate War," during a Friday evening interview on CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith." "We have to increase our commitments and the other countries of the world have to do that."

The move to reenter the Paris Climate Agreement was a departure from the Lying Donald's administration's climate policy. In 2017 Lying Donald announced his intention to withdraw from the agreement. He formally notified the United Nations in 2019, and the U.S. left the Paris Agreement the following year after a waiting period. Mann explained that during that time, the United States "lost four years of opportunity here to address the greatest challenge that we face."

Joel Rubin, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama-Biden Administration, told "The News with Shepard Smith" that "there's now a higher bar set for America's return to the climate battle on the world stage."

"The world has moved on from American leadership on climate and will be skeptical of our commitment to stay engaged," said the national security expert who worked on both climate change policy and renewable energy programs in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "This has always been the albatross around the American role on multilateral climate diplomacy - a lack of strong legislative support for it."

Domestically, the crisis in Texas exposed how vulnerable power grids can be during extreme weather, which experts warn could get worse because of global warming. Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall even underscored the danger of climate change during a White House press briefing on Thursday.

"The extreme weather events that we're experiencing this week across the central, southern, and now the eastern United States do yet again demonstrate to us that climate change is real and it's happening now, and we're not adequately prepared for it," Sherwood-Randall said.

Mann explained that global warming could be a factor contributing to the anguish in Texas amid freezing temperatures.

"There is some evidence that climate change might be leading to an increase in the incidents of these sorts of events, but there is no question that if we look collectively at all of the extreme weather events we've seen in recent years, unprecedented heat waves and droughts and wildfires and super storms, we can see the fingerprint of human influence on our climate in these devastating events," Mann said.

Rubin said that Biden's next task is to pass legislation to create meaningful change in reducing America's carbon footprint, so what happened in Texas, doesn't happen more frequently.

"Doing this would not only be a strong signal to the world that we're serious, it would also finally break the Gordian knot that has undercut America's credibility on the global stage when it comes to fighting climate change," said Rubin. "That's a necessary political battle. It's going to be brutal, but the alternative of not having it is much much worse."

Who knows, under Biden, there maybe hope for us yet?



07-02-1952 ~ 02-20-2021
Thanks for the music!

03-24-1919 ~ 02-22-2021
Thanks for the read!

08-12-1953 ~ 02-24-2021
Thanks for the music!

07-16-1955 ~ 02-24-2021
Thanks for the sound!

06-07-1940 ~ 02-24-2021
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) 2021 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Neera gives the corporate salute!

Republican Hypocrisy Is No Reason To Support Neera Tanden
By Norman Solomon

Most corporate media outlets have depicted President Biden's effort to win Senate confirmation of Neera Tanden as a battle to overcome Republican hypocrisy about her "mean tweets," name-calling and nasty partisanship. But there are very important reasons to prevent Tanden from becoming the Office of Management and Budget director. They have nothing to do with her nasty tweets and everything to do with her political orientation.

Tanden has a record as one of the most anti-progressive operators among Democratic Party movers and shakers. Long enmeshed with corporate elites, she has been vehemently hostile to the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. Progressive activists have ample cause to be alarmed at the prospect of her becoming OMB director -- one of the most powerful and consequential positions in the entire Executive Branch.

Yet some leaders of left-leaning groups have bought into spin that carefully ignores Tanden's fervent embrace of corporate power and touts her as eminently suitable for the OMB job. Media coverage has been a key factor. The newspaper owned by the richest person on the planet, Jeff Bezos, is a good example.

With the Tanden battle intensifying last weekend, the Washington Post launched an opinion spree to defend her while repeatedly expressing alarm and indignation that she might not be confirmed. The day after news broke that Tanden's nomination was in serious trouble, the newspaper's barrage started with a piece by right-wing pundit Hugh Hewitt, who urged Senate Republicans "to forgive the small stuff and encourage the recruitment of talent." That was on Saturday.

On Monday, the Post's editorial board weighed in, proclaiming the newspaper's official position: "Yes, Ms. Tanden has been undiplomatic," but hypocritical GOP senators had approved Donald Trump's nominees who were even nastier, and the Senate should confirm her.

By then, the national media mold was set, and countless words quickly poured into it -- including six more pro-Tanden pieces that the Post published in the next two days. On Tuesday, the Tanden defenders were staff columnists Greg Sargent and Karen Tumulty as well as the paper's chief political correspondent Dan Balz. On Wednesday, staff columnists Dana Milbank and Jennifer Rubin shared the polemical duties with feminist author Jill Filipovic.

The Post's writers denounced conservative objections to confirming Tanden as director of OMB, which the newspaper has aptly described as "the nerve center of the federal government." Meanwhile, there was no space for substantive criticism of Tanden; the paper's opinion section didn't offer a pixel with a contrary outlook, let alone a progressive critique.

Much of the left has a strong aversion to Tanden. Days ago, Common Dreams reported on "her history of pushing cuts to Social Security, disparaging Medicare for All and other popular ideas, and raising money from massive corporations." As president of the Center for American Progress, she sought and received between $1.5 million and $3 million in donations from the United Arab Emirates monarchy; later, CAP remained silent about a bipartisan congressional resolution to end the U.S. government's assistance to the continual Saudi-UAE warfare killing huge numbers of Yemeni civilians.

But some progressive organizations have voiced support for Tanden's nomination, turning a blind eye to such matters as her close fundraising ties with corporate elites, Big Tech, Wall Street, Walmart, health insurers and military contractor Northrop Grumman. Yet ties like that would create foreseeable conflicts of interest in the top OMB job, which oversees regulatory processes across the federal government.

It was not a good sign when a usually-laudable progressive organizer told CNN viewers that Tanden should be confirmed. And -- given Tanden's record of opposing Medicare for All, opposing a $15 federal minimum wage and advocating for collaboration with Republican leaders in potential cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- something is seriously amiss when a leading advocate for women's health rights urges confirmation.

In a tweet last week, NARAL's president Ilyse Hogue called Tanden "a committed progressive" and added: "How about assessing her work, competence and vision instead the tone her tweets? Stop sinking good women because they are outspoken."

Oddly, the director of the excellent Revolving Door Project, Jeff Hauser, publicly defended Tanden days ago, telling the New York Times: "The last decade has seen mediocre or worse cabinet appointments rubber-stamped by the Senate with regularity. It is unconscionable that the rare exception to that norm might be based on feelings hurt by imprudent tweets and suggests that senators vote more on egos than substance."

I contacted Hauser for clarification, since it seemed that he was using the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans to justify support for Tanden's nomination. In effect, he appeared to be adding some drops of WD-40 to hinges on the particular revolving door that Tanden is trying to move through.

When I asked Hauser if he supported confirmation of Tanden and whether he considered her to be part of the revolving-door phenomenon, he replied: "We oppose the arguments actually endangering her confirmation, which are from [Sen. Joe] Manchin and [Sen. Susan] Collins and the like and hold that it makes sense to confirm the likes of Richard Grenell and Brett Kavanaugh but not Neera Tanden. But we do not lobby, so we do not formally urge votes one way or another once a person is actually nominated for a job."

Hauser added: "I don't think Tanden is 'revolving door,' but I stand by the concerns I raised about CAP fundraising in the Washington Post." Ironically, the Post news article that Hauser was citing, published in December 2020, scrutinized Tanden's longtime corporate entanglements via her Center for American Progress and reported: "Founded in 2003 by allies of Bill and Hillary Clinton, CAP is widely viewed as a Democratic administration-in-waiting, with a revolving door between the think tank and the White House."

At RootsAction, which has been working to defeat Neera Tanden's nomination, my colleague Jeff Cohen has a very different perspective than what can be heard from Tanden's enablers: "We've opposed Tanden not because of her 'mean tweets' but because of her close funding relationships with corporate titans and foreign governments. What's stunning is the silence from Senate Democrats about the potential conflicts of interest raised by her decade of aggressive fundraising from powerful interests."

That kind of silence, whether from the U.S. Senate or from big-budget progressive groups, could dangerously help the Biden administration to do its worst instead of its potential best.

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

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speak at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

Why Didn't Speaker Pelosi Want Witnesses?
As Republican strategist Kevin Philips noted years ago, the Republicans go for the jugular while the Democrats go for the capillaries.
By Ralph Nader

On the morning of February 13, 2021, just before the Senate impeachment trial abruptly ended with Trump's acquittal, Constitutional law specialist Bruce Fein and I sent the following plea to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

More than 240 years of heroic sacrifices by our forebearers to plant the seeds of a government of the people, by the people, for the people are not being furthered by your shortsighted eagerness for an abbreviated gravely historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. The trial has thus been shorn of "smoking gun" witnesses and full exposure of his daily wrecking ball against the Constitution rooted in Mr. Trump's unprecedented, brazenly monarchical pronouncement on July 23, 2019, "Then I have Article 2, where I have the right to do anything I want as president." Mr. Trump was as determined as his words.

He usurped the congressional power to tax and spend.

He defied hundreds of congressional subpoenas and demands for testimony or information to disable oversight and to substitute government secrecy for transparency.

He turned the White House into a crime scene with serial violations of the Hatch Act.

According to former national security advisor John Bolton, fortified by the Mueller Report, he made obstruction of justice "a way of life" at the White House.

He appointed principal officers of the United States without Senate confirmation in violation of the Appointments Clause.

He transgressed both the letter and spirit of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses.

He flouted his obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed by dismantling enforcement of environmental, safety, consumer protection, and labor laws.

January 6, 2021 was but the predictable culmination of Mr. Trump's unalloyed contempt for the Constitution and rule of law. If Article 2 crowns the president with limitless power, then to incite the use of force and violence against the legislative branch of government to prevent the vice president from counting state-certified electoral votes, falls squarely within his vast dictatorial domain.

We submit you will be committing a dereliction of constitutional duty if you do not immediately make the demand to subpoena witnesses in the pending second impeachment trial.

The subpoenas should be issued to at least the following: Donald Trump, Mike Pence, William Barr, John Bolton, Christopher Krebs, Brad Raffensperger, Jeffrey Rosen, Rudy Giuliani, Jeffrey Clark, and Pak Byung-Jin (B.J. Pak).

Your immediate call for witnesses critical to fortifying the impeachment evidence will be the definitive test of your resolve to convict Donald J. Trump and your understanding of the serious and gravity of the impeachment charges. A trial without key witnesses possessed of crucial incriminating testimony diminishes the seriousness of the proceedings and the huge stakes for the future of the American republic.

The haunting question that history will raise will be this: Why didn't Speaker Pelosi call the witnesses?

The Senate resumed its trial on Saturday, February 13th at 10:00 am. Soon, came the revelation of an exchange between Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler's (R-Wash.) on January 6th with House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), regarding his telephone conversation with Donald Trump during the storming of Congress. What followed was a call for witnesses by a Senate vote of 55-45. Eureka! The window for Republican witnesses previously rejected by Democratic House Managers was reopened. There was another chance to overcome Speaker Pelosi's desire for a quick trial without witnesses.

Then came another reversal pressed by President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Democratic leaders told the House managers to huddle privately with Trump's defense lawyers to strike a deal. They did. They would place a mere statement from Rep. Beutler into the trial record and call no witnesses. The Republicans couldn't have been more delighted, knowing that the Democratic leadership wanted the trial over that day before Congress went on a weeklong vacation.

Before the deal, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) predicted on NPR that there would be a call for witnesses, requiring a deferral of the trial for two weeks. How mistaken he was about his party's defeatism and rejection of going forward with a full hand.

They could have added to their single impeachment Article of inciting an insurrection, two more articles-intimidating Mike Pence and others plus Trump's refusal to call back the attackers during their riot. Those three articles would have made for a more powerful case against Trump's defense attorneys, in the opinion of former federal judge Michael McConnell.> An even stronger impeachment and one deterring future wannabe Trumps was to pair the president's physical attack on the Capitol with his four-year institutional attack on the Congress with his constant usurpation of the legislative branch's constitutional authority (some noted above).

For reasons yet to be divulged, the Democrats, as they did with the first impeachment of Trump, were unwilling to use the full evidence subpoena powers they possess. Trump can now run again, vitiating the rule of law and debasing our democratic institutions. As Republican strategist Kevin Philips noted years ago, the Republicans go for the jugular while the Democrats go for the capillaries.

(c) 2021 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

It took decades to overcome the Jim Crow laws imposed at the end of Reconstruction.

Our Fundamental Right To Vote Is Under Attack
In state after state, Republicans want to suppress voting because they know they are a minority party..
By Jesse Jackson

The fundamental right in a democracy-the right to vote-is once more under siege. In state after state, Republican legislators have introduced literally hundreds of bills designed to suppress voting.

Their passion is fueled by Donald Trump's big lie that the presidential election was "stolen" from him. Their targets are minorities-African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans, and the young. They call themselves Republicans, but their lineage comes not from Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, but from Jefferson Davis, the southern Democrat who led the Confederacy in its battle to keep Blacks enslaved.

The current debates have a haunting history. After the South was defeated in the Civil War, Congress passed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. Often termed the "second founding," these amendments ended slavery (13th), guaranteed equal protection under the laws (14th) and prohibited discrimination in the right to vote (15th).

The defeated south then began what was called Reconstruction. To be readmitted to the Union, they had to create new constitutions that rendered equal rights to all. In some states, newly freed Blacks constituted the majority. In many states, a new fusion politics began, often bringing the newly freed Black citizens together with small farmers and merchants against the old plantation aristocracy. In states like North Carolina, the new majorities passed remarkable progressive reforms in public education, public works, progressive taxation, land redistribution and more.

The white plantation aristocracy could not abide the new order. They organized a systematic effort to suppress the new coalitions. America's first domestic terrorist organization, the Ku Klux Klan, unleashed a wave of violence against newly freed Blacks and the whites who joined them. An estimated 5,000 Blacks were lynched. The violence that included setting fire to Black stores and neighborhoods was designed to drive Blacks and their allies out of polling booths and the South.

The plantation aristocracy successfully took back power, then imposed Jim Crow laws that made it virtually impossible for Blacks to vote. The federal government failed to check the violence, and in 1876, in a corrupt deal, Republicans agreed to end Reconstruction and remove the remaining federal troops. In 1896, to its lasting shame, the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson ratified the surrender, declaring separate but equal laws constitutional. It took more than 50 years before the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act restored the right to vote to African Americans.

Today's Republican Party is founded on the reaction to the civil rights movement. From the 1964 Goldwater presidential campaign on, Republicans traded hats with southern Democrats to become the party of state's rights, white sanctuary and opposition to racial equality.

Today's Jefferson Davis Republicans know that they are increasingly a minority party. In Georgia, Arizona, Texas, North Carolina and other states, Republicans fear they will lose control. Once more, intimidation, mass incarceration and violence are used to intimidate.

After the last election, Trump rallied his supporters with the big lie that the election was stolen, inciting them to sack the Capitol and to march on state legislatures. Worse, even after the riot, 147 Republicans in the House and Senate voted to overturn the election.

The violence, just as in Reconstruction, is combined with a systemic campaign to suppress the right to vote. In 33 states, legislators have introduced 165 bills to restrict voting, the Brennan Center on Justice reports. In nine states, Republicans have introduced legislation to limit mail-in voting (nearly half of votes in the 2020 election were cast by mail due to the pandemic). In 10 states, Republicans are pushing more stringent voter ID requirements, knowing that these discriminate against minorities (25% of African Americans but only 8% of whites have no government-issued photo IDs). Other states are pushing to prohibit the use of student IDs to make it harder for the young to vote, roll back automatic voter registration laws, end Election Day registration or reduce the number of days for early voting.

In Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, Republicans control all branches of government, giving them power to gerrymander districts in the redistricting after the 2020 census.

Once more the Supreme Court has aided and abetted these anti-democratic actions. The right-wing majority gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. For the first time, there will be no prior review by the Justice Department to limit racially discriminatory gerrymandering. Then in Rucho v. Common Cause, the "gang of five" ruled that the courts would no longer review challenges to partisan gerrymandering. No federal court will stand in the way of discriminatory outrages.

It took decades to overcome the Jim Crow laws imposed at the end of Reconstruction. It required mass demonstrations, immense courage on the part of ordinary heroes, and finally the leadership of Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr., among others, to begin to correct the injustice.

We can't wait decades this time. Jefferson Davis Republicans are once more intent on imposing minority rule, and using the law and a partisan majority on the Supreme Court to enforce it. They're using both terrorist threat and legal measures to intimidate and impede voters. Once more it will take popular opposition-demonstrations, voter registration and mobilization drives, popular education and engagement-to protect the right to vote. The House of Representatives has passed a law, HR 1, to expand and protect the right to vote. The bill is likely to face universal opposition from Republican senators, unless popular mobilization forces some to stand up.

It is time for ordinary heroes once more.

(c) 2021 Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

A Wealth Of Riches, A Poverty Of Morals
By Jim Hightower

Let's say you're a millionaire. That's a lot of money, right? Now let's say you're a billionaire. That's a lot more money! But how much more?

Think of all those dollars as seconds on a clock. A million seconds would total 11 days - but a billion seconds equals nearly 32 years! Rich is nice, but billionaire-rich is over the moon - and the wealth of billionaires is now zooming out of this world. There are only 2,200 of these uberrich dudes in the world, but the wealth stashed away by these elites hit a new record this summer, averaging more than $4 billion each. They've even pocketed an extra half-billion bucks on average in the midst of the COVID-19 economic crash.

Bear in mind that these fortunate few did nothing to earn this haul. They didn't work harder, didn't get one-digit smarter, didn't create some new breakthrough product to benefit humankind - they could just crank back in their gold-plated La-Z-Boys and let their money make money for them.

Then there are multimillionaire corporate chieftains who are cashing in on their own failure. Having closed stores throughout America, fired thousands of workers, stiffed suppliers and creditors, taken bailout money from taxpayers, and even led their corporations into bankruptcy, the CEOs of such collapsing giants as Hertz, J.C. Penney, and Toys "R" Us have grabbed millions of dollars in - believe it or not - bonus payments! The typical employee at J.C. Penney for example, is held to part-time work, making under $12,000 a year. Thousands of them are now losing even that miserly income as the once-mighty retailer is shutting 154 stores. Yet, the CEO was paid a $4.5 million cash bonus before the company filed for bankruptcy this year.

And still, the corporate establishment wonders why the people consider it a club of heartless, greedy bastards.

(c) 2021 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Rep. Gerry Connolly, (D-Va.) speaks during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing February 24, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Gerry Connolly Goes Off on Jim Jordan: "I Didn't Vote To Overturn An Election. And I Will Not Be Lectured By People Who Did!"
The congressman added that "you lose the right to complain about partisanship once you've fanned the flames of violent insurrection."
By Jessica Corbett

Rep. Gerry Connolly unloaded on a Republican congressman who suggested Wednesday that Democratic lawmakers' concerns about the operations of the United States Postal Service and controversial changes sought by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy were partisan rather than rooted in wanting to better serve the public.

Connolly (D-Va.) was responding to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing that included testimony from DeJoy, Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom, USPS Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb, and American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein.

"I didn't vote to overturn an election. And I will not be lectured by people who did!" declared Connolly, chair of the committee's Subcommittee on Government Operations, which has legislative and oversight jurisdiction over the Postal Service.

Jordan was among the 147 Republicans in Congress who voted to overturn the results of the November election-which former President Donald Trump decisively lost to President Joe Biden-even after a violent insurrectionist mob incited by Trump and GOP lawmakers stormed the Capitol, triggering Trump's second impeachment.

During the hearing, Jordan asked DeJoy a series of questions suggesting that Democrats and other critics opposed changes the postmaster general pushed ahead of the election for political reasons, noting that neither President Joe Biden nor Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the committee's chair, has recently demanded he resign.

"What's different between February 24, 2021 and August 24, 2020. What happened in those six months?" Jordan asked DeJoy, who last year experienced protests at his home in North Carolina over his management of the Postal Service amid the coronavirus pandemic. "What could explain the Democrats' difference in attitude?"

After initially trying to tell Jordan that he didn't want to "participate" in what he was suggesting, the postmaster general ultimately guessed that the supposed shift in Democratic "attitude" was related to either DeJoy's new strategic plan for the USPS or last year's election.

"We had an election. It was all a charade," Jordan said about Democratic criticism of delays that followed disruptive operational changes DeJoy made at USPS as the public health crisis made voting by mail particularly popular and important. "It was all about politics. It was all about the election." DeJoy declined to share whether he agrees with Jordan's charge that Democrats sought "chaos and confusion" related to mail-in ballots, saying that "it was a very sensitive time for the nation and there was a lot of activity-" before being cut off by Jordan.

Connolly, who spoke immediately after Jordan, said, "All the gaslighting that we just heard does not change facts."

The Democrat then asked Dimondstein: "Am I making this up, as Mr. Jordan apparently would have you believe, that the president of the United States last summer, Donald J. Trump, publicly said voting by mail would lead to massive fraud? Did he say that, or am I imagining that?"

The union leader responded that he didn't believe Connolly was imagining it, then recalled Trump's comments about blocking Covid-19 relief for the Postal Service and its impact on mail-in ballots.

"The point is, it was Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, who was planting the idea-aided and abetted by disruptive changes proposed by a new postmaster general and a compliant Board of Governors-that actually eroded the public confidence in the ability to vote by mail," Connolly said. "That wasn't a Democratic narrative; that was a Republican narrative by the president of the United States and [his] enablers."

Connolly, who said that he is "damn proud" of being a Democrat, then took aim at Republicans on the committee, saying that he won't be lectured to about partisanship by GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the November election.

Asked at the hearing how long he planned to serve as postmaster general, to which he was appointed by the Board of Governors, Dejoy said, "A long time-get used to me."

Biden has faced pressure from dozens of Democratic lawmakers to swiftly fill vacancies on the board to stop DeJoy from making further changes and ultimately facilitate his removal. The president on Wednesday named a voting rights advocate and two Democrats to fill three of the four open positions; Senate confirmation is required.

"I applaud President Biden's nominations of three new members to the Postal Service Board of Governors. It is crystal clear that the Postal Service's performance and its financial condition have deteriorated significantly, and new and better leadership is urgently needed," said Maloney. "I also commend the president for his continuing commitment to appoint individuals who represent the diversity of America. The board nominations today reflect that commitment."

(c) 2021 Jessica Corbett Follow her on Twitter: @corbett_jessica.

Jeff Bezos testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law on Online Platforms and Market Power on July 29, 2020.

As Pandemic Profits Put Bezos On Track For Trillionaire Status, Tish James Asks: At What Cost?
"Since the pandemic began," says New York's attorney general, "it is clear that Amazon has valued profit over people."
By John Nichols

It is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has made the rich richer. The billionaire class in the United States added $1 trillion in wealth during the 10-month period from March 2020 to the start of 2021, according to Forbes. But not all billionaires are created equal, and one billionaire has benefited more than most: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The richest man in the world is now worth $191 billion. That's up $73 billion-a better than 70 percent spike-since the pandemic took hold and Amazon took off as the definitional corporation for a moment when almost everyone was shopping from home. Amazon, which was just passing the $1 trillion valuation mark at the start of 2020, is now pushing past $1.7 trillion. And Comparisun's "Trillion Dollar Club" study reports, "Despite losing an estimated $38 billion as part of his recent divorce, Jeff Bezos is still by far the world's richest person and his net worth has grown by 34 percent on average over the last five years, which could potentially see him become the world's first trillionaire as early as 2026, at which point he'll be aged 62."

So how is Bezos celebrating his plenitude? By attacking New York Attorney General Tish James for calling out Amazon's failure to protect workers from the pandemic that is making the company and its founder obscenely wealthy.

Even as Amazon has been seeking in recent weeks to present itself as a benevolent behemoth-with a new ad campaign and moves to cozy up to the Biden administration-the company's lawyers sought earlier this month to preempt the legal accountability that James is in a position to demand. Amazon's attorneys filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court on February 12 claiming that James would be exceeding her authority if she went after the online retailer for failing to follow safety protocols and protect workers at its New York City warehouses. The company's complaint claimed that "Amazon has been intensely focused on Covid-19 safety and has taken extraordinary, industry-leading measures grounded in science, above and beyond government guidance and requirements, to protect its associates from Covid-19." James, a courageous prosecutor who has taken on former president Donald Trump, among others, did not blink.

"Throughout this pandemic, Amazon employees have been forced to work in unsafe conditions, all while the company and its CEO made billions off of their backs," she declared. "This action by Amazon is nothing more than a sad attempt to distract from the facts and shirk accountability for its failures to protect hardworking employees from a deadly virus. Let me be clear: We will not be intimidated by anyone, especially corporate bullies that put profits over the health and safety of working people. We remain undeterred in our efforts to protect workers from exploitation and will continue to review all of our legal options."

Then she sued the tech giant that has been dogged by protests from workers in New York who say the company has prioritized profits over employee health and safety. Citing "flagrant disregard for health and safety requirements [that] threatened serious illness and grave harm" to workers at Amazon facilities in the New York City boroughs of Queens and Staten Island, the suit charges: "Amazon has cut corners in complying with the particular requirements that would most jeopardize its sales volume and productivity rates, thereby ensuring outsize profits at an unprecedented rate of growth for the company and its shareholders."

The lawsuit details the results of an investigation that the attorney general's office says "uncovered evidence showing that Amazon's health and safety response violated state law with respect to cleaning and disinfection protocols, contact tracing, and generally permitting employees to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from the risk of COVID-19 infection, among other things."

These are not new complaints. Last March, after Amazon fired Christian Smalls, a management assistant at the Staten Island warehouse, for organizing a walkout of workers to protest the company's coronavirus response, the father of three said, "I got e-mails and texts and phone calls from all over the nation calling me a hero for speaking up because people are afraid." Since then, Amazon workers around the world have objected, organized, and, in Alabama, forced a historic unionization vote.

But the suit by James has got the company especially agitated-and litigious. Why? Because, as the head of what many see as the most powerful law enforcement arm of any state government in the nation, James has the authority to crack down on a corporation that has a long history of avoiding accountability. She also has the stature to shine a light on how Amazon has cashed in on Covid-19. The state's lawsuit does just that with this charge: "Over the course of the pandemic, Amazon netted more $130 billion in profits from online sales-representing 35 percent growth from its pre-pandemic earnings and a 10 percent higher growth rate than in prior years-at the expense of its frontline workers who have experienced significant risks of COVID-19 infection while working at Amazon."

"Since the pandemic began, it is clear that Amazon has valued profit over people and has failed to ensure the health and safety of its workers," says James. "The workers who have powered this country and kept it going during the pandemic are the very workers who continue to be treated the worst. As we seek to hold Amazon accountable for its actions, my office remains dedicated to protecting New York workers from exploitation and unfair treatment in all forms."

In addition to asking a judge to require Amazon "to take all affirmative steps" to "adequately protects the lives, health, and safety of its employees"-and to award back pay and damages to Smalls and another former employee, Derrick Palmer-the attorney general's suit proposes to make Amazon "give up the profits it made as a result of its illegal acts."

Amazon objects to the suggestion that it values profits over people. But its own attempts to sell itself as a model employer keep falling short. Under pressure from James and other attorneys general, the company reported in October that it had counted 19,816 presumed or confirmed Covid-19 cases among frontline employees at its Amazon and Whole Foods Market facilities across the United States. Making comparisons with the overall infection rate in the general population, the company's PR team declared the figure to be "lower than the expected number." It also acknowledged, "Wide availability of data would allow us to benchmark our progress and share best practices across businesses and industries." Yet Amazon did not update the number as the pandemic surged in the fall of 2020 and the winter of 2020/2021.

Amazon has been even less forthcoming when it comes to the death toll at its facilities. When the 19,816 number was released, "how the 19,816 workers became infected was left unsaid," a PCMag review noted. "The company also refrained from estimating how many infected workers later died from the virus."

We know Amazon workers have died. Last May, a USA Today headline announced, "Another Amazon warehouse worker dies from COVID-19 bringing total to 8." That story concluded with a cheery note: "Amazon has seen a spike in overall demand for its services as people stay at home due to coronavirus and have more necessities delivered. A recent projection shows Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could reach trillionaire status by 2026."

As media outlets continue to speculate about Bezos's burgeoning wealth-and that of other coronavirus "winners"-the lawsuit that's been filed by Tish James raises the essential question for essential workers: At what cost?

(c) 2021 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

America's Wars Strangely Linked To Narcotics Trade
By James Donahue

Since the Vietnam conflict there has been a peculiar connection with the place where our troops are fighting and the trafficking of narcotics into the United States. We don't think this is by accident.

Could it be that the trafficking of hard and addictive mind-destroying drugs has become such a lucrative multi-billion dollar industry since Nixon launched America's "War On Drugs" that this alone has been the real incentive for the United States to be continually at war somewhere in the world?

From yet another point of view, we have heard the suggestion that the massive influx of such hard drugs as heroin and cocaine, and the official "crack down" beginning during the time of the great hippie movement and the distribution of such mind-expanding drugs as psilocybin mushrooms, peyote and LSD, may have been a deliberate diversion designed to prevent people from stumbling into what could have been a natural spiritual awakening to a new reality.

Notice that the mere possession or use of such things as the "magic mushroom" or LSD is regarded as a felony and punishable by a prison term. People merely caught in possession or passing marijuana to friends are serving time in jails. Yet these substances are not found to be addictive or harmful to human health. Albert Hofmann, who first synthesized LSD, continued to use this substance throughout his life. He recently died at the age of 102.

The Vietnam War was raging and the hippie movement was in full force when President Richard M. Nixon came into office in 1969. It was Nixon who launched the War On Drugs which forced narcotics operations deep into the shadows, brought about a steep increase in the cost of street drugs, and made organized criminals dealing in the narcotics trade very wealthy. It also launched deadly gang wars as dealers fought over one-another's turf. The killing at the U.S.-Mexican border is rooted in the narcotics trade and big money.

Stories were told about secret poppy fields in Laos and Vietnam and shipments of heroin to the United States on military aircraft. It was said that a lot of the heroin rode home with the bodies of dead soldiers.

One heavy heroin smuggling business was run by Leslie "Ike" Atkinson who was convicted of operating from a bar he ran in Bangkok, Thailand from 1968 to 1975. The record shows that Atkinson and his organization shipped the narcotic on U.S. Air Force aircraft to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and other military bases where it was sold to American distributers.

Atkinson was caught after a woman got suspicious about one of the packages he sent, thinking that it contained a bomb, and called the police. We wonder how many other heroin operations like this went undetected, and may still be in business?

Was Nixon, a known amphetamine user, a deliberate participant in an organized crime plot to force the narcotics trade into the shadows and set gangs up for huge profits?

Consider what happened when Ronald Reagan got into the White House. His "Just Say No" drug policy helped escalate the Nixon War on Drugs to an even higher level. During his term Congress set mandatory minimum sentencing for convicted drug offenders, thus setting off a massive new business venture involving housing a massive influx of jailed and prison inmates. Consequently, new prisons were built and their operation, much of it passed to private enterprise, became yet another big business in America.

At last count, the United States had 2.3 million people serving time in prison. We have the largest prison population in the world and the highest rate of prisoners per capita of all other nations. One out of every 142 Americans are in prison. Almost one-half million are doing time for drug charges.

It was during the Reagan years that the Iran-Contra Scandal broke. We all watched the hearings on our television screens and heard how Oliver North and the CIA were involved in a narcotics smuggling ring in the United States designed to help finance the Contras, a counter-revolutionary group seeking to gain power in Nicaragua. The operation was dubbed Reagan's "Secret War."

What was really going on all over the United States during that period was that cocaine, and later cheap crack cocaine was suddenly appearing on the streets. What was once a rich man's drug that sold for something like $2000 an ounce then was available at prices that made it easily available to poor and middleclass Americans. Cocaine became the social drug of choice.

How did that happen? In 1998, after years of federal investigations by the Kerry Congressional Committee, the CIA admitted to its involvement in drug trafficking in the United States. The agency was allowing cocaine trafficking by the Contras to raise money to support its war.

At least that was the official story.

Notice now that our troops are again fighting an unnecessary and unwinnable war, this time in Afghanistan, where the poppy flower is a primary crop. And behold, heroin is suddenly becoming a popular drug of choice once more. Is this by accident?

While all of this narcotic trafficking is going on throughout the United States, the War on Drugs continues to remain on the books. Until voters forced changes in anti-marijuana laws, billions of federal dollars were being wasted every year financing a constant attack by local and federal narcotics officers against cannabis growers. The War on Drugs became big business even for law enforcement officers, the courts as well as the prison system. While state laws have been relaxed, the federal ban against marijuana production, sale and use remains on the books.

By-and-large, the narcotics trade is thriving, and it will continue to do so until something is done to bring an end to this insane War On Drugs. Now that the money spigot is wide open, however, it may take a miracle to turn it back off.

(c) 2021 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

A Global Demand To 35 Governments: Get Your Troops Out Of Afghanistan / A Thank You To 7 That Already Have
Target: Governments with Troops Occupying Afghanistan
By David Swanson

The governments of Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, UK, and US all still have troops in Afghanistan and need to remove them. These troops range in number from Slovenia's 6 to the United States' 2,500. Most countries have fewer that 100. Apart from the United States, only Germany has over 1,000. Only five other countries have more than 300.

Governments that used to have troops in this war but have removed them include New Zealand, France, Jordan, Croatia, North Macedonia, Ireland, and Canada.

We plan to deliver a big THANK-YOU to every government that removes all of its troops from Afghanistan, along with the names and comments of every signer of this petition.

The U.S. government is the ring-leader, and the bulk of its killing is done from the air, but - given the deficiency in democracy in the U.S. government, which is now on its third president who promised to end the war but hasn't - it is critical that other governments withdraw their troops. Those troops, present in token numbers, are there to legitimize behavior that could otherwise be recognized as lawless and outrageous. A government lacking the courage to reject U.S. pressure has no business sending any number of its residents to kill or risk dying in a U.S./NATO war.

This petition will be signed by people in each nation involved in the war, including the nation of Afghanistan.

Please sign the petition, add comments if you have anything to add, and share with others. If you want to be part of delivering the petition to a particular government, contact World BEYOND War.

Sponsored by
World Beyond War

To: Governments with Troops Occupying Afghanistan
From: Ernest Stewart

We, the people of the world, demand that every government with troops still in Afghanistan remove them.

We thank and applaud those governments that have done so.

(c) 2021 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Shifting from fossil fuels to cleaner energy and protecting natural systems that absorb pollution and greenhouse gases also benefit economies.

Clearing The Air On Fossil Fuel Pollution
By David Suzuki

Rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical to avoiding increasing climate change impacts. Doing so won't immediately stop the world from heating, but it will improve life quickly. Because gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide remain in the atmosphere for varying lengths of time (CO2 for 300 to 1,000 years, methane and nitrous oxide for far less time), temperatures will rise even after we've stopped pumping them into the atmosphere.

But pollution will decrease quickly. Particulate matter levels, especially, start to drop almost immediately. That's important, because particulates kill a lot of people and make many more ill - even more than previously thought.

A new study from U.S. and U.K. universities, including Harvard, found more than eight million people died from fossil fuel pollution in 2018, accounting for about 18 per cent of global deaths. Previous studies estimated about 4.2 million people a year died from all outdoor particulate matter sources, including wildfires, dust and agricultural burns.

New and improved research tools and methods allowed scientists to differentiate between particulates from fossil fuels and other sources, to measure more accurately and to determine links between particulate pollution and deaths.

"Our study adds to the mounting evidence that air pollution from ongoing dependence on fossil fuels is detrimental to global health," said co-author Eloise Marais, former Harvard postdoctoral fellow and now associate professor in the University College London geography department. "We can't in good conscience continue to rely on fossil fuels, when we know that there are such severe effects on health and viable, cleaner alternatives."

Reducing death and adverse health effects and slowing climate disruption would be worthwhile on their own. But shifting from fossil fuels to cleaner energy and protecting natural systems that absorb pollution and greenhouse gases also benefit economies. Experts argue the economic value of improving air quality by reducing fossil fuel burning far outweighs the costs.

"Over the next 50 years, keeping to the 2 degrees C pathway would prevent roughly 4.5 million premature deaths, about 3.5 million hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and approximately 300 million lost workdays in the US," said Duke University earth sciences professor (and a lead IPCC author) Drew Shindell, testifying to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform in 2020, before the new research showing the higher number of deaths from fossil fuels.

That would lead to hundreds of billions of dollars in benefits annually from improved labour productivity and health in the U.S. alone. "Aggressive decarbonization" could also reduce the death toll by 40 per cent over 10 years.

Smog and particulate matter increase strokes, cardiopulmonary disease, respiratory infections and damage to lungs, brains, skin and other organs, with many detrimental consequences for babies and children. Pollution also exacerbates COVID-19 effects.

As David Roberts wrote in Vox, this undermines the argument that it's pointless for countries like Canada and the U.S. to reduce emissions if others like China and India aren't keeping pace. It might make it harder to keep global average temperatures from rising more than 1.5 or 2 C, but "the air quality benefits will manifest, no matter what the rest of the world does."

For climate, new research offers hope that reducing emissions will increase gains faster than previously thought. By factoring in to a greater extent the ability of natural systems like forests, wetlands and oceans to absorb greenhouse gases like CO2, scientists have determined that quickly reaching "net-zero" emissions could stabilize global warming over a relatively short time. (Reducing emissions to "net zero" means not releasing any more than are being removed from the atmosphere.)

Although another study shows the world is "committed" to dangerous warming because of greenhouse gas concentrations already in the atmosphere, rapidly cutting emissions could buy time to adapt to some impacts and develop technological fixes.

No matter how you look at it, there's no reason to continue burning fossil fuels, destroying carbon sinks like forests, wetlands and oceans, and producing and consuming more products than natural systems can handle. Changing how we think and act, conserving energy and shifting to cleaner sources, and revising outdated economic systems will improve human health, social justice and equity. And it will be far less costly than doing little or nothing.

It's past time to get serious about fossil fuel pollution.

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

Donald Trump Is Now At The Mercy Of A New York District Attorney
It's almost as though the entire constitutional system is (belatedly) trying to rid itself of the ergot poisoning it willingly ingested in the fall of 2016.
By Charles P. Pierce

On the matter of the former president*'s taxes, the Supreme Court of the United States on Monday decided that it pretty much doesn't want any part of the former president* of the United States, and it delivered the former president* up to the tender mercies of a New York District Attorney. From the Washington Post:

After a four-month delay, the court denied Trump's motion in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents.
It is plain that the Court waited until after the election and its prolonged aftermath were over before washing its hands of the former president*, which is an ominous sign for him, and his family, and his various flunkies and enablers.
District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has won every stage of the legal fight - including the first round at the Supreme Court - but has yet to receive the records he says are necessary for a grand jury investigation into whether the president's companies violated state law. The current fight is a follow-up to last summer's decision by the high court that the president is not immune from a criminal investigation while he holds office. "No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority in that 7 to 2 decision.
It's almost as though the entire constitutional system is (belatedly) trying to rid itself of the ergot poisoning it willingly ingested in the fall of 2016. Given the existing prion disease that entered the Republican Party when it ate the monkey-brains of "movement" conservatism, the effects were profound. From the American Society For Microbiology:
Sometimes known as St. Anthony's fire (for the group of monks who attempted to help during one particularly bad outbreak), the illness most frequently surfaced in the summers after cold, wet winters that were followed by long, damp springs. Entire families would find themselves afflicted with either symptoms of burning and eventual gangrene in the hands and feet or with epileptic-like convulsions, headaches and hallucinations.
Perhaps the latter will pass one day, but I am not optimistic.

(c) 2021 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"I think it is fair to say that in many ways the Democratic Party has become a party of the coastal elites, folks who have a lot of money, upper-middle-class people who are good people, who believe in social justice in many respects.... But I think for many, many years the Democratic Party has not paid the kind of attention to working-class needs that they should've."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Texas Gets Lay'd
How the Bush Family turned off the lights
By Greg Palast

Maybe because Texas gave us that wet-lipped huckster Ted Cruz, you think the state deserves to freeze in the dark.

I get that, but it's not their fault, at least not the victims burning family heirlooms to stave off frostbite.

"What happened was entirely predictable," power distribution expert attorney Beth Emory said of the blackouts. She told me this twenty years ago, after the first blackouts in Texas and California, following the cruel experiment called "deregulation" of the power industry.

Until 1992, the USA had just about the lowest electricity prices in the world and the most reliable system.

For a century, power companies had been limited by law to recovering their provable costs plus a "reasonable," i.e. small, profit. But in 1992, George H. W. Bush, in the last gasps of his failed presidency, began to deregulate the industry.

"Deregulate" is a misnomer. "De-criminalize" describes it best. With the "free market" supposedly setting the price of power, Texas-based Enron was freed to use such techniques as "Ricochet," "Get Shorty," and "Death Star" to blow prices through the roof when weather shut down power plants. (This week was not the first game of Texas Gouge'm.)

Enron was not the only Lone Star power pirate. Houston Power & Light was "ramping" plants up and down at odd hours which whistleblowers said was deliberate.

Bush's son "Shrub," Texas Gov. George W. Bush, signed a law in 1999 forcing the state's hapless customers to accept any price the "free" market dictated. Enron's CEO Ken Lay showed his appreciation by becoming Baby Bush's number one donor for Dubya's presidential ambitions.

This week, wholesale electric prices in Texas, normally $50 per megawatt-hour, busted over $9,000/MWHR. Again. It happens with every cold snap and heat wave. One shop owner, Akilah Scott-Amos, showed the Daily Beast her electric bills which blew up from $34 per month to $450 for a single day. (Update: Akilah just reached out to us via Twitter and told us the balance she owes has now risen to a staggering $11,048.75 due to surge pricing!)

On Saturday, February 13, 2021 Griddy customer Akilah Scott-Amos was charged $456.78 for a single day's power. Last year, she paid $33.93 for the entire month of February. Cutting the Power Lines to Texas

Every state in America interconnects their power lines to provide back-up in case of emergencies. Except Texas. To prevent federal regulation, Texas deliberately has refused to connect its lines to other states.

The federal government, which has restored a modicum of protection, can only police utilities that are connected to the national grid. So, Texas literally cut itself off from the rest of the USA's electric system.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott blames windmills for this week's deadly disaster - some wind farms froze.

But California is sitting on massive excess power capacity. With 80,000 megawatts of capacity, the Golden State often gives away power free to other states. This week, the sun is shining here in LA - and our solar, wind and hydro generators could easily un-thaw Texas if the Lone Star hadn't been Lay'd by the Bushes.

Of course, the rulers of Texas, the beneficiaries of freezer-burn pricing, know this. This week, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Trump's first Energy Secretary, said, "Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business."

Well, Rick and Ted can tan in Cancun while oxygen machines in Laredo shut down.

The solution: democracy

I didn't need a crystal ball in 1998 when I predicted that California, Texas, Oregon and Rio de Janeiro would go dark and cold if they de-regulated their power markets.

In a series of lectures at Cambridge University, the London School of Economics and the University of Sao Paolo [yes, I had a life before journalism], I said, in academic terms, the screamingly obvious: There is no such thing as a "free" market in electricity. Electricity isn't a bagel. You can't skip it in the morning when the price goes berserk nor shop at another electricity store.

The alternative to blackouts and price gouging is Democracy. Regulation is merely the enforcement of publicly voted rules to protect the public from economic overlords.

This alternative to free market mania was first applied by the man who electrified America, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Listen to FDR:

To the people of the country I have but one answer on this subject. Judge me by the enemies I have made. Judge me by the selfish purposes of these utility leaders who have talked of radicalism while they were selling watered stock to the people and using our schools to deceive the coming generation. My friends, my policy is as radical as the Constitution of the United States. I promise you this: Never shall the Federal Government part with its sovereignty or with its control of its power resources while I'm President of the United States.
To make his point, the Roosevelt Justice Department arrested the nation's top utility executive and busted up his holding companies.

Democratizing the electric system also produced another alternative to Ken-Lay-ism: socialism. In the 1930s, much of America had no electric service. Roosevelt launched the massive rural electric cooperatives, Tennessee Valley and Bonneville Power Administrations, and other publicly-owned systems that provide cheap, reliable non-profit power to one fifth of America.

Darkness at noon in Portland

The reason Portland, Oregon, went dark this week goes back to July 20, 2005, when the Governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, vetoed a bill that would have allowed the city's residents to take ownership of the Enron-owned power system.

According to my professors, Milton Friedman and George Stigler, the problem with the formerly regulated and publicly-owned systems is that they were too reliable. Utilities, which could only charge what they spent, supposedly "gold plating" the system - i.e. invested too much into making sure it works.

The privateers of Portland and of Houston can now pocket the savings from letting their systems decay. And they have.

So, the solution to the deadly darkness is obvious: More Roosevelt, less Bush.

My treatise on the utility industry, co-authored with Jerrold Oppenheim and Theo MacGregor, was published by the United Nations International Labor Organization as Democracy and Regulation: A Guide to the Control of Privatized Public Services [Pluto Press 2003].

(c) 2021 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

Unrigging The GOP's Minority Rule
By Robert Reich

The Republican Party is shrinking. It's lost the popular vote in seven of the past eight Presidential elections. Since Trump's attempted coup, more Americans are abandoning it every day.

Yet even as a shrinking minority party, the GOP intends to entrench themselves in power over the majority. Here's their playbook - and what the rest of us can do to stop them.

1. In presidential elections, they'll continue to try to win enough swing states to dominate the Electoral College and win the presidency.

The answer is to make the Electoral College irrelevant by having states join the growing movement to pass laws giving all their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

2. In the Senate, they'll continue to try to win enough seats in mostly white, sparsely populated rural states to outvote highly populated urban states.

The answer here is for Congress to grant statehood to Washington D.C., and to work with Puerto Rico, which recently voted in favor of statehood, on a concrete path to self-determination.

3. They also aim to use the Senate filibuster to block the majority. The answer is to eliminate the filibuster, which Senate Democrats can do without a single Republican vote.

4. Finally, the GOP will use its control over state governments to gerrymander congressional districts and gain disproportionate power in the House. And they will pass even more laws making it harder for Democrats to vote.

The answer is to prevent gerrymandering and voter suppression by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act - which Democrats can do with a simple majority of 51 votes once they eliminate the filibuster. The values of the Republican Party do not reflect the values of most Americans. It should not be allowed to silence the voices of the majority.

(c) 2021 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Led by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader over the past four years, Trump managed
to appoint 231 federal judges, plus three new Supreme Court justices, an enviable record.

Are Judges Just Politicians In Robes?
Having seen that appointed judges refuse to toe the party line at the federal level, the GOP has decided to employ partisan gerrymandering to change the way judges are elected at the state level.
by James D. Zirin

Donald Trump's disgraced lawyer, Roy Cohn famously said, "F*** the law, who's the judge!"

Chief Justice Roberts, defending judicial independence, said that there is no Republican or Democratic way of deciding cases. In his confirmation hearings he likened judges to baseball umpires, calling balls and strikes, oblivious to the score or the team or the player. There is a certain tyranny in analogy.

Trump believed that judges are simply politicians in robes. He thought that they would return a favor like any other politician. That's the way it went down in Roy Cohn's Bronx or Fred Trump's Queens where Donald grew up.

So Trump professed to be astounded when he brought 61 lawsuits to try to overturn the election, and was thrown out of court every time. Predictably, some of the sharpest judicial rebukes came from Democrats; he was amazed, however, when some of the key decisions came from Republicans-even Republicans he had appointed.

No state was blunter in its rejection of Trump's claims than the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In a blistering decision in December a Philadelphia federal appeals court issued a sizzling 21-page ruling repudiating Trump's effort to stop Pennsylvania's certification process. "Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here." These words were written by Judge Stephanos Bibas. The irony is that Judge Bibas was appointed to the bench for life by Trump himself.

Judge Bibas affirmed a district court ruling, which had likened Trump's suit to "Frankenstein's monster," saying it was replete with "strained legal arguments" and "speculative accusations ...unsupported by evidence." Those words were written by an Obama appointee, Matthew Brann, a former Republican official and member of the conservative Federalist Society.

Safe to say, Republicans have not done well in the federal courts. So they have pushed back. Led by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader over the past four years, Trump managed to appoint 231 federal judges, plus three new Supreme Court justices, an enviable record. After the impeachment trial in the senate, Trump described McConnell as a "dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack." With friends like that, who needs enemies?

As for the Pennsylvania state courts, the bench is overwhelmingly Democratic. Unlike the case with the federal courts, state court judges are elected for a term of years, and come up through the political process. When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which tilts Democratic 5-to-2, reviewed Trump's attempt to overturn the state's election results last November, Justice David N. Wecht spoke for a unanimous court in condemning the gambit as "a dangerous game," an exercise in futility. Revealing what judges do and how judges think, Justice Wecht stated in no uncertain terms: "It is not our role to lend legitimacy to such transparent and untimely efforts to subvert the will of the people."

At the Pennsylvania state court level, the GOP is eager to put its thumb on the scales of justice. Stung by the repeated rebuke of its positions by state court judges, Pennsylvania Republicans have embarked upon a plan to change the entire way judges are selected.

The plan, which would require voter approval in a statewide referendum, changes elections for judges with a scheme to divide the state into judicial districts drawn by the GOP dominant legislature. Under this proposal, the rural conservative areas in the state would place the judges on the Supreme Court and seek to change its ideology. Of course, the GOP drive has triggered an immediate Democratic response called "Why Courts Matter Pennsylvania."

It appears unlikely that the Republicans can get their act together in the legislature in time to put the referendum on the ballot in May. If they miss the May deadline, there will be an all-out war in November.

The whole scenario is an assault on the justice system. The courts, ever since John Marshall wrote Marbury v. Madison in 1803, are supposed to rein in the legislature when it gets out of hand. Now the legislature is trying to influence how the courts decide cases-a cynical subversion of judicial independence and the constitutional system.

Pennsylvania is the fifth state to try this one. Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Kentucky have already revamped their judicial systems to provide for electoral districts. If Pennsylvania succeeds, other states will surely follow.

Race is of course an issue. In Texas, Republicans have weakened the votes for judges in certain Black and Latino communities by moving these areas into different districts.

And then there is drop box and mail in voting, the bane of Trump's existence. In Georgia, Republicans want to ban or severely limit these practices entirely. Arizona doesn't like mail-in voting either, and the GOP is introducing legislation to prevent it.

Having seen that appointed judges refuse to toe the party line at the federal level, the GOP has decided to employ partisan gerrymandering to change the way judges are elected at the state level. O tempora! O mores!

(c) 2021 James D. Zirin, a former federal prosecutor, is the author of "Plaintiff in Chief-A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3500 Lawsuits."

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ John Cole ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Mars Rover To Self-Isolate For 14 Days Before Exploring Planet
By The Waterford Whispers News

NASA's groundbreaking Perseverance rover has touched down on the surface of Mars, where it will now remain in isolation for 14 days to ensure it does not spread Covid-19, unlike some of you we could mention.

Although the chances of transmitting Covid-19 from a mechanical 6-wheeled exploratory vehicle to whatever microbial life may exist in water droplets on Mars is infinitesimally small, officials at NASA have stated that they're taking 'no chances' and that 14 days isn't that long in the lifespan of the rover to ensure everything is done right.

"Now I'm not saying that this plan is in place for any particular reason, but a lot of us here at NASA had to self-isolate earlier in the year because an unnamed co-worker went on Spring Break and came back to work with Covid the very next day" said a senior Perseverance technician, looking directly at IT specialist Olive Sullivan over in the corner.

"So we're taking no chances. We'd quite like to visit Mars some day, and we don't want to land and find out that Perseverance has dropped some bug that mutated with a Martian strain of the flu, that just kills us by touch the second we touch down. Some of us didn't even like having to get the mandatory PCR tests and stay locked up in our rooms away from our families for 14 days when we had 'the incident' here, right Olive? We didn't like that, did you? No, didn't think so."

Meanwhile the AI onboard Perseverance has noted that it's 'nice' to be on the barren, storm-ravaged surface of Mars, where prospects look a lot better than they do on Earth right now.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 09 (c) 02/26/2021

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