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In This Edition

David Corn returns with, "Inspector General Report Says Elaine Chao May Have Violated Federal Ethics Laws."

Ralph Nader remembers a, "Reporter Extraordinaire."

Margaret Kimberley examines, "The Minimal Minimum Wage."

Jim Hightower explains, "Why Billionaires Are Detested."

William Rivers Pitt returns with, "Sanders Is Making Excellent Use Of His Power As Budget Committee Chair."

John Nichols remembers, "Steve Cobble Waged A 50-Year Campaign For Justice And For Peace."

James Donahue is, "Looking At The World Through Rose Colored Glasses."

David Swanson considers, "The Impossible Impeachment Of Joe Biden."

Christina Larson joins us with, "US-China Tensions Threaten Global Climate Change Efforts."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "Trump Was Bored By His Own Speech Until He Got To The Revenge List."

Juan Cole returns with, "Reporters Without Borders Files German 'Crimes Against Humanity' Case against Saudi's Bin Salman For Khashoggi Murder."

Robert Reich demands, "Senate Democrats Can And Must Abolish The Filibuster. Now."

Chris Hedges returns with a must read, "The Age Of Social Murder."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump To Announce He Has Won 2024 Election," but first Uncle Ernie warns of, "The Danger Of The Slowing Gulf Stream."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of J.D. Crowe, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Samuel Corum, C-Span, Daily Mail, Andrew Harnik, Evan Vucci, Chip Somodevilla, Joe Raedle, Inequality Media, Jose A. Bernat Bacete, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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The Danger Of The Slowing Gulf Stream
By Ernest Stewart

"There are many other drivers for variations in European weather, including atmospheric chaos. This is an interesting study and one that needs continued investigation. However, it shouldn't be overinterpreted." ~~~ Tim Palmer ~ professor of climate physics at Oxford

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 Gulf Stream system has weakened to its slowest pace in more than a thousand years, according to scientists, as global warming makes the powerful ocean current that controls much of the Atlantic Ocean slow down.

Two studies published this week reveal global warming is slowing down the ocean current, which carries warm water to Europe, more dramatically than previously expected.

Using sediment data and temperature records to map historical trends, a study in Nature Geoscience found the Gulf Stream system, also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), is travelling at its slowest rate in the last millennium.

"This is highly likely to be caused by our greenhouse gas emissions, because there is no other plausible explanation for this slowdown," said Stefan Rahmstorf, one of the authors and head of earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. "It is exactly what the climate models have been predicting for decades."

The Gulf Stream is a huge ocean current that carries warm water from the tropics up the east coast of North America. The current - which carries more than 100 times the flow of the Amazon River - then cools and sinks down around Greenland, carrying cooler water back south in the deep layers of the ocean.

It has already slowed by 15 per cent in the last century, and Rahmstorf said this was starting to affect weather patterns, such as more frequent heatwaves in southern Europe.

The Amoc not only carries warm water to Europe - it is responsible for the mild winters in the UK - but it also influences storm development. This may cause another mini ice age in Europe that lasted about 600 years the last time around!

The findings of the new study are "worrying," Rahmstorf said. "If this continues, we might be closing in slowly to a tipping point where this circulation could destabilise altogether."

One reason the Amoc system is slowing down is due to melting ice in Greenland, where large volumes of cold fresh water are entering the ocean, and altering the current's natural sinking mechanism.

Increasing rainfall in North America, causing more fresh water to enter rivers, streams and the ocean, and warmer ocean temperatures that reduce the temperature gradient between the tropics and the pole, are also contributing to the slowdown.

Meanwhile, President Biden on Friday dramatically altered the way the U.S. government calculates the real-world cost of climate change, a move that could reshape a range of consequential decisions, from whether to allow new coal leasing on federal land to what sort of steel is used in taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects.

The administration plans to boost the figure it will use to assess the damage that greenhouse gas pollution inflicts on society to $51 per ton of carbon dioxide - a rate more than seven times higher than that used by Lying Donald's administration. But the number, known as the "social cost of carbon," could reach as high as $125 per ton once the administration conducts a more thorough analysis.

In a recent interview, Biden's national climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, said the administration "is setting an initial price to inform its policies and then work more diligently about what the actual cost might be as we move forward, and get the information that we need to be able to do that."

The ultimate figure will be incorporated into decisions across the federal government, including what sort of purchases it makes, the kind of pollution controls it imposes on industry and which highways and pipelines are permitted in the years to come. Just as important, the move sends a powerful signal to the private sector and to ordinary Americans that the choices the country makes now could lock in disastrous consequences on both current and future generations - or help to avert the worst impacts.

"A new social cost of carbon can tip the scales for hundreds of policy decisions facing the federal government," said Tamma Carleton, assistant professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara. "Any policy, project or regulation that lowers emissions will now have a higher dollar value, reflecting the many benefits future Americans enjoy when emissions fall today."



07-17-1951 ~ 02-26-2021
Thanks for fighting the good fight!

09-05-1935 ~ 02-28-2021
Thanks for the film!

08-15-1935 ~ 03-01-2021
Thanks for fighting the good fight!

09-05-1935 ~ 03-02-2021
Thanks for the music!


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.

Elaine Chao speaks at CPAC 2020.

Inspector General Report Says Elaine Chao May Have Violated Federal Ethics Laws
Trump's Transportation secretary allegedly mixed political and personal affairs.
By David Corn

Two months after Elaine Chao resigned as secretary of transportation, in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the Transportation Department responded to an October 2019 congressional request for an investigation of Chao, and forwarded to two House committees an inspector general report that identifies several areas where Chao apparently violated ethics rules. The report notes that in December 2020, the IG had "referred" its investigation to the Trump Justice Department and the US attorney's office in Washington, DC, for possible criminal prosecution, and that both had declined to open an investigation.

In a press release accompanying the release of the IG report, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Oversight and Reform listed four areas where Chao, who is married to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, seemingly "violated Federal ethics laws."

Chao tasked political appointees on her staff to contact the Department of Homeland Security regarding the status of a work permit application for a student studying at an American university who was a recipient of her family's philanthropic foundation.

Chao made extensive plans to include family members in events during a planned, but subsequently canceled, official trip to China in November 2017 that included intended stops at schools and other locations that had received support from her family's international shipping business, the Foremost Group. In an email regarding a meeting with "top leaders" (presumably of the Chinese government), Chao instructed her staff to include her father, her sister, and her sister's husband. Chao's sister was head of the privately held shipping company founded by her father.

Chao directed her public affairs staff to provide support to her father, particularly in the marketing of his personal biography. This included keeping a running list of the awards her father received and editing her father's Wikipedia page. She also instructed her staffers to send a copy of her father's book to the CEO of a major American corporation with a letter requesting that he write a foreword for the book.

Secretary Chao used Transportation resources and staff for personal tasks, such as checking on repairs of an item at a store for her father and having her staffers send Christmas ornaments to her family.

Regarding the last item on the list, the IG report detailed one of the examples:
On September 24, 2017, Secretary Chao sent an email to an [Office of the Secretary of Transportation] staff member with the subject line, "Dr. Chao's [redacted]." In the email, Secretary Chao stated, "He bought a new [redacted] at [the store] 2 years ago. 2 years later, it has malfunctioned. was bought from [redacted] their shop. It was returned to them for repair. The estimate was 6 weeks. [Foremost Group employee] has called and some parts had not come in and it will still require 2 more weeks. This is not right. Please call [redacted] owners and ask them to expedite. I used to go into the store with Dr Chao ....tell them I am SOT [secretary of transportation]." On September 30, 2017, Secretary Chao sent an email to two OST staff members, stating "please call [the store] again and check on status. Dr C still has not heard. Do they send [redacted] for repairs [redacted]? and thus have no control over how long it takes? [OST staffer]: If [OST staffer] is not around, please call [store] and check on when ready." When asked about this incident in during his December 2020 interview with OIG, DOT General Counsel Steven Bradbury said these types of events should be avoided and ideally the Secretary would make other arrangements.
Tell them I am secretary of transportation. That certainly seems to have been an improper use of her government position.

A letter from the Transportation Department's deputy inspector general to the two House committees notes that in October 2019 the committees requested information regarding "potential conflicts of interest and favoritism involving" Chao-specifically whether she or an aide helped steer Transportation Department grants to Kentucky, the state her husband represents in the Senate, and whether she had violated ethics rules by maintaining holdings in a stone and asphalt company called Vulcan Materials.

The IG says, "we concluded that there was not a sufficient basis to initiate a formal investigation into grant awards or the Secretary's financial interest in Vulcan Materials. However, we concluded that a formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted. We initiated our formal investigation in December 2019." That probe led to the report released today, which was finalized after Chao left office.

The report adds that the IG "offered" Chao "the opportunity to share her thoughts regarding the ethics issues under investigation" and "was advised that Secretary Chao had nothing to add."

(c) 2021 David Corn

Reporter Extraordinaire
The Pioneering Pathways of James Ridgeway Share on Facebook
By Ralph Nader

James Ridgeway formally majored in English in the late 1950s, but he really majored in "Reporting" as the editor of the Daily Princetonian. Imagine what it took to put out a daily college newspaper. He had it all in spades and proved it over the next sixty years, with quiet energy and a boundless range of subjects.

I have never met a more honest, meticulous, humble, and productive reporter so persistent in getting the hidden story out to the people, whatever the odds. For Jim, reporting what wasn't going to get reported was his way of seeking justice for the downtrodden, the powerless, and everyone else unfairly afflicted.

He broke many stories with his articles in the New Republic, the then formidable Village Voice, the Guardian, the Nation, and Mother Jones, among other publications that featured his terse, vivid prose.

The books he wrote also marked him as a reporter who saw stories, trends, and stirrings in the society earlier than his peers. Without pretense and ego, he had the key traits of the great reporters - unquenchable curiosity and the rare ability to "read the scene," and maintain a driving empathy. He was immune from being jaded and calmly saw through phonies. He asked short questions to more readily evoke candor or expose evasion.

Ridgeway knew the tradition he was extending in his coverage of corruption, profiteering, and betrayals of duty in government and business. The shoulders he stood on were of the great muckrakers of the early 20th century - Ida Tarbell, Jacob Riis, George Seldes, Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, and I.F. Stone.

I first met Ridgeway while scouring Washington D.C. in 1963-1964 to find someone who would take my findings on suppressed auto safety engineering and boldly report them. It was a tedious search. A visit to the Washington Post resulted in a twenty-minute presentation with a polite editor, who much later told me he thought I was just pitching for an inventor of some car safety device.

I finally walked into the house of the New Republic magazine and was ushered up the stairs to a young Ridgeway deep in thought at his typewriter. He looked at me, saying he just had a few minutes. Well, his curiosity resulted in a major article titled "Car Design and Public Safety." The next year, he broke the fuller story titled "The Dick" about GM and its detectives tailing me, including to the U.S. Congress where I was soon to testify.

Ridgeway had the dual talent of digging into primary sources (Congressional, court transcripts, and internal memos) like I.F. Stone did and also hitting the ground where the affected people were ready to talk if anyone bothered to listen. And, like Lincoln Steffens, he knew that injustice and devastation undocumented would only fester.

That combination made his books prescient. They included The Politics of Ecology (1970), The Last Play: The Struggle to Monopolize the World's Energy Resources (1973), and his early expose of corporate influence on the "University-industry" titled The Closed Corporation: American Universities in Crisis (1968). This book was an early alarm call for what has become deep and destructive corporatism inside higher education.

As corporatization of the mainstream press became more restrictive, Ridgeway went to the free culture of the Village Voice, where he worked for 20 years. When the Voice ownership changed, he started producing documentaries. His book and film, Blood in the Face, was on the far-right militias and other racist groups. The first edition, published in 1991, foreshadowed much of the turmoil we are seeing today. (A revised edition is due to release in June from Haymarket Books.)

During the past ten years, he and his colleagues resolved to focus on the cruelties of solitary confinement, giving voice to inmates so often arbitrarily imprisoned in a cage-size cell for 23 hours a day, trying to fight off going mad or suicide. Their stories were told in the book, Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement (2016). He built an influential project with his longtime editor Jean Casella called Solitary Watch (see:, which received thousands of messages from prisoners and their desperate families. Jim would speak to these people on a regular basis, never exhausting either his empathy or his outrage. He maintained this level of engagement despite his painful ailments.

Add moral and physical courage to this dwindling species of truth-seekers no matter what. His was a generous spirit, sharing credit with others, and a patient mentor to his many interns and young journalists.

When Jim heard that we were organizing an intensive workshop to teach college students investigative reporting skills he offered to help. The 2008 event at Wesleyan University in Connecticut was also to memorialize/commemorate the luminous career of another courageous reporter, David Halberstam. Jim generously spent time with the students during and after the formal sessions. He also documented the entire week's proceedings with his video team. Some of the country's greatest journalists, including Sy Hersh, Jim Wooten, Roberta Baskin, Christopher Hedges, Amy Goodman, David Burnham, and others (see: journeyed to Middletown to train the next generation of reporters and to pay tribute to their late colleague. (I could see the respect they showed to Jim when they greeted him.) Jim sensed that they would be very candid and revealing about their own experiences and the restrictions imposed on reporters by government and business, which they and David and Jim experienced, but heroically resisted. As usual, his forecast was right on.

You can expand Jim's legacy by supporting Solitary Watch ( either materially or with advocacy for expanding state reforms of this arbitrary, cruel, and unusual punishment in both corporate and public prisons.

His wife Pat and son David fervently wish that this work continues in their beloved Jim's memory.

(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).

The Minimal Minimum Wage
By Margaret Kimberley,

Most Democrats either don't want a minimum wage increase or are too afraid of bucking their party's donor class.

The federal minimum wage has been a paltry $7.25 per hour since 2009. In that year Barack Obama was president and the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. That means they could have made it any amount they wanted, but it went from $6.55 to $7.25, a grand total of 70 cents.

We must keep this in mind as the drama of raising the minimum wage plays out in the Biden administration. House Democrats passed Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which does not include any provision to raise the minimum wage. The plan was to raise the meager sum to a less meager sum of $15 per hour, but by the year 2025. Even these crumbs didn't make it into the bill.

The last minute claim that the Senate parliamentarian ruled against allowing the inclusion of minimum wage legislation should be taken as a joke or an insult depending upon one's mood. The obvious effort to skirt responsibility is a typical Democratic Party ploy meant to keep gullible rubes at bay with tortured explanations.

The machinations to avoid doing the right thing may be somewhat complicated, but the reasons behind the inaction are not. Simply put, most Democrats either don't want a minimum wage increase or are too afraid of bucking their party's donor class.

All of the studies, statistics, and articles about the increased wealth of the already wealthy are useless if they don't explain what is happening. The 1% keep their positions secure if they make sure that workers are living in a constant state of insecurity. People who struggle to survive, who work yet who are homeless or who need public assistance to live are less likely to fight for their rights. They are not likely to join unions or even to complain in the workplace. The last thing that U.S. oligarchs want is for workers to feel secure.

A lower minimum wage obviously hurts the people earning that small amount, the ripple effect keeps the entire economy the way the 1% want it. It helps to convince everyone that they are lucky to be working and that they shouldn't expect raises or any protections as employees. They may not even be considered employees at all but instead be turned into "independent contractors," a designation that strips workers of their rights. Real wages haven't gone up in this country in 40 years and that suits fat cat donors and the politicians who depend on their largesse.

It is sad to see the level of denial among some progressives on this and other issues. They scratch their heads and ask why Biden or Nancy Pelosi or Bernie Sanders don't do something to help. They rightly point out that the president of the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris, can disregard the parliamentarian and put minimum wage language in the stimulus bill. But that scenario assumes that she or Biden are interested in doing that and are willing to go against the wishes of the people he promised that "nothing will fundamentally change." Biden himself let the cat out of the bag in a meeting with governors and mayors as he told them the wage increase was unlikely. Floating bad news as a trial balloon is a tried and true political tactic. Progressives need to do as the old saying advises and wake up and smell the coffee. They live in wishful thinking, unreality, and vain hope that the people who have cheated workers for so long will actually do something different. Of course, Republicans are blamed and that suits Democrats just fine. They actually don't care when they lose 900 legislative seats across the country as they did during the Obama administration. They get to continue their phony villains and heroes role playing a la professional wrestling and have ready excuses for doing the opposite of what their people want them to do.

The people who argued for supporting Biden in the name of lesser evilism or harm reduction need to be honest with themselves and others. He and the rest of the Democrats will never defy the people who butter their bread. A party that chooses a woman with a net worth of more than $100 million as Speaker is not one that will go out on a limb for working people. They made their bed with corporate interests and nothing that discomfits that group will be allowed to come to pass.

Let the hand wringing and the silly questions come to an end. There is nothing mysterious about the missing minimum wage legislation. The Democrats don't want it to happen. No one can successfully fight these people without admitting the source of the problem. It just turns out that harm reduction isn't so harmless.

(c) 2021 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.

Why Billionaires Are Detested
By Jim Hightower

The renowned Western Swing bandleader Bob Wills would joyously call out in mid-song, "Take it away, Leon," bringing on a crowd-pleasing instrumental solo by steel guitar maestro, Leon McAuliffe.

But now comes another Leon who's such an off-key, screechy, Wall Street billionaire that crowds are shouting: "Go away, Leon!" He is hedge-fund huckster Leon Cooperman, who first gained public notoriety when he compared Barack Obama's election to Hitler's rise to power, and he later was dubbed "Crybaby Cooperman" after he got all teary-eyed during a TV interview in which he decried "the vilification of billionaires." The sad rich man was weeping about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposal to make the uber-rich pay a modest surtax on the excessive fortunes of money manipulators like him.

For a while, Leon did go away. But this January the whiner was back on TV, blaming stock market gyrations on manipulations by people "sitting at home, getting their [pandemic] checks from the government." Then he plunged again into deep self-pity, deploring the likelihood that Biden will join Sen. Warren's call for the rich to pay their fair share of taxes. "This fair share is a bullsh!t concept," he wailed. "It's just a way of attacking wealthy people." Then he appealed to the real victims of the pandemic to rally behind billionaires like him. We make the world "a substantially better place" with our donations to charity, he asserted, pleading for public gratitude, and exclaiming: "We all got to work together."

Together? While working class and poor have been knocked down, cut off, and stomped on in the past year, America's 651 billionaires - including Cooperman - have collectively jacked up their wealth by a trillion bucks - an average of $1.5 billion each.

Shall we take up a collection and buy this guy a clue? Do yourself a favor Leon - go away for good.

(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

Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks as Neera Tanden, nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget,
testifies during a Senate Committee on the Budget hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on February 10, 2021.

Sanders Is Making Excellent Use Of His Power As Budget Committee Chair
By William Rivers Pitt

After his defeat at the hands of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the 2016 presidential primaries, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders went back to work. Sanders's supporters were in agony that November as they watched Clinton lose to the worst candidate ever put forth by the Republican Party: "Bernie would have won!" The rest is rancid history.

When Sanders declared his intention to run again in 2020, hope blossomed anew. His supporters, and more than a few of the Smart Folks in professional politics, believed the country was ready for Sanders's progressive policy ideas after years of enduring the Trump firestorm. Sanders built a lead in the early primaries against a large and varied pack of Democratic candidates, and for progressives, the chance of a lifetime seemed finally at hand.

It was not to be. A variety of factors - low turnout by young voters who were the backbone of his campaign plan, poor showings in more conservative Southern state primaries, the rise of COVID fears which culminated in the crash stop the nation endured in March, and the thunderclap endorsement of Joe Biden by Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina - ripped the needle off the record for the Sanders campaign. This time, however, the ultimate outcome was far different.

Biden took control of the election rather in spite of himself, won the nomination without the inter-party rancor that came in the aftermath of 2016, and soundly defeated Trump in November. After a pair of unlikely victories in two Georgia Senate races, long weeks of Trumpian tantrums, a slew of right-wing street riots, an attempted coup at the Capitol and the second impeachment of Donald Trump, President Biden found himself with a slim House majority and an even slimmer Senate majority. For the first time in 12 years, Mitch McConnell was not the most powerful person in Washington.

Enter the democratic socialist from Vermont. Those slim majorities gave Democrats control over every congressional committee, and Sanders was given the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee. Putting him in that seat may well measure up to be the most impactful decision any Democrat has made in decades.

The Budget Committee's main purpose "is to develop a concurrent resolution on the budget to serve as the framework for congressional action on spending, revenue, and debt-limit legislation." It is separate from the Appropriations Committee, which decides where specific revenues should be allocated within that larger budgetary framework. "The Senate Budget Committee is also responsible for the enforcement of this concurrent resolution and associated budget laws," according to the committee's information page.

If that all sounds like pretty dusty stuff, it isn't. Like the Appropriations Committee, the Budget Committee is where the money's at, and in Washington, D.C., a great deal of congressional power flows through the choices on who and what gets federal revenues.

One of the great powers of the Budget Committee is the use of reconciliation, which, according to the committee, is "a piece of legislation that is written to bring about specific identified fiscal goals. A reconciliation bill, if passed and signed by the president, carries with it the full force of law." A bill drafted under the rules of reconciliation is immune to the filibuster, and requires only a straight-up majority to pass.

The power of reconciliation is in the hands of Bernie Sanders now, and he has made good use of it. With the Senate tied at 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris standing as the tie-breaking vote, passage of President Biden's most important priorities would have been all but impossible. Thanks to Sanders and his reconciliation tool, Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is days away from becoming law.

The relief bill is only the beginning for Sanders. "Senate Democrats are readying to pass President Biden's infrastructure package through the budget reconciliation process, a recognition they're unlikely to get much Republican support for a potential $2 trillion package," reports Axios. "Sen. Bernie Sanders told Axios on Tuesday he's consulted with the White House about how to prepare for the next round of spending, and he's ready to do it immediately via reconciliation - a process he controls as chair of the Senate Budget Committee. 'If I have anything to say about it, it will, and I think the president wants it to happen,' Sanders said during an interview in the Capitol."

There have been some notable and potentially disruptive bumps in the road due to the use of reconciliation. A $15 minimum wage hike included in the relief bill has been stripped after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled it unworkable under the reconciliation rules. A hue and cry was raised in the ranks of progressive Democrats: an unelected official should not have the power to derail so vital a policy. Calls for the Senate to ignore or even fire MacDonough were made, and one of those voices belonged to Sanders.

"My personal view is that the idea that we have a Senate staffer, a high-ranking staffer, deciding whether 30 million Americans get a pay raise or not is nonsensical," Sanders told reporters on Monday. "We have got to make that decision, not a staffer who's unelected, so my own view is that we should ignore the rulings, the decision of the parliamentarian."

Back in 2001, when then-Senate Parliamentarian Robert Dove ruled against two key provisions in George W. Bush's tax plan, the Republicans fired him and passed the bill. It was a bad look then, and 20 years later, the Senate majority assessed it would be a bad look again. In this instance, Senate Democratic leadership decided "Let's be like the Republicans!" wasn't a wise choice so early in the legislative season, especially with the minority piteously puling over the alleged absence of "unity."

The decision to heed the parliamentarian has not killed the drive for a $15 minimum wage, thanks in no small part to Sanders. "To the best of my knowledge, there will be a vote on the minimum wage, and we'll see what happens," said Sanders. "I intend to offer the bill that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and we'll see how the votes go. If we fail in this legislation, I will be back. We are going to keep going. We are going to raise that minimum wage very shortly to $15 an hour."

Sanders's impact as Budget Committee chairman reached into the Biden administration itself this week, as the nomination of Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) fell to dust. Tanden, a former Hillary Clinton campaign official and vociferous Twitter warrior, found her nomination facing bipartisan push-back captained by Sanders, whose committee oversees the OMB.

As much as Tanden's notoriously caustic Twitter treatment of friends and enemies alike put her nomination in peril, it was her pro-corporate work with the Center for American Progress (CAP) that ultimately did her nomination in. CAP calls itself a progressive organization, but enjoys vast funding from a variety of Wall Street entities. During her time there, Tanden was responsible for maintaining and augmenting those financial relationships, a fact that has rubbed actual progressive organizations raw for years.

In April 2019, Sanders dispatched a letter to CAP underscoring his concerns about Tanden's tactics and behavior. "Neera Tanden repeatedly calls for unity while simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas," he wrote. "I worry that the corporate money CAP is receiving is inordinately and inappropriately influencing the role it is playing in the progressive movement."

Two years later and with real power in hand, Sanders was able to derail the nomination of someone who had plagued him and his campaigns for five years. It could be said that Neera Tanden is the last casualty of the Hillary-Bernie wars, and when all was said and done, Bernie won.

If the failure of Tanden's nomination has angered the Biden administration, they are at pains not to show it. "The state of the Bernie-Biden relationship remains strong, even under stressful circumstances," reports Politico. "With Democrats navigating battles over labor rights and wage policy, the two have back-channeled, applauded each other, and crafted carefully worded statements designed to project peace and the aura of collaboration. It is, in part, a recognition that each side needs the other in order to be successful. It's also driven by a desire to avoid the problems of the past."

Bernie Sanders will never be president. From his chairman's seat on the Budget Committee, however, he has steered vital legislation toward passage in perilous congressional seas, and body-blocked ersatz progressives from positions of significant government power. Just over the horizon lurk all-important issues like infrastructure, immigration, the minimum wage, climate disruption and the ongoing fight against COVID.

After decades shouting truth in the wilderness of U.S. politics, Sanders is making the most of his chance. He is steering the Biden administration toward a genuinely progressive course, and is paying little heed to the fountaining hypocrisies of the Republican right. Two months in, he is already enjoying great success, which means the Biden administration is enjoying great success. Next to Representative Clyburn, Chairman Sanders may be the best friend Joe Biden has ever had.

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

Steve Cobble. (C-Span)

Steve Cobble Waged A 50-Year Campaign For Justice And For Peace
The strategist who started with George McGovern, stood at Jesse Jackson's side, and drafted Bernie Sanders into presidential politics has died.
By John Nichols

Steve Cobble was hailed as a political genius for his historic interventions on behalf of candidates from George McGovern to Bernie Sanders. Yet Cobble, who died Friday at age 69, always said he was just a long-haired student radical who turned to politics because he thought it might be the best way to stop wars and dismantle the military-industrial complex.

"I went off to college to be a National Merit Scholar in mathematics and the Vietnam War came along, and I didn't like it much," Cobble explained with typical understatement when the Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics invited him to speak on the definitional role he had played in American presidential politics. "I don't know whether it brought my politics out or created them, but it brought me into protest politics and it brought me into electoral politics."

Professors, students, and political insiders had gathered on a winter day in 1990 to hear from the master strategist for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's "Rainbow Coalition" presidential bid of two years early. They wanted to know Cobble's secret. Instead, the math whiz who gave up slide rules for delegate counting offered the crowd a corollary.

"Political experts are made, they're not born. To prove that, I guess, I'll offer you an example of how I became an expert," he began.

"I was in New Mexico: an anti-war activist in a kind of a boondocks town with an ag college. It was the kind of place where, when we demonstrated, we were glad the police were there-because there were more cowboys than hippies, or whatever, and we needed their protection. My standard look in those days was: hair down to [below his shoulders], John Lennon glasses, the work shirt-not that I did any work-the blue jeans, the thread belt and the headband."

One Sunday morning in early 1972, Cobble got a call from the state organizer for George McGovern's presidential campaign. A history professor had recommended the student activist as a potential coordinator for the campaign in the state's second-largest county, and Cobble agreed to meet the grizzled political veteran at a local hotel.

"I walk in. I'm 20 years old. Idealistic. Untested. A self-proclaimed radical. A terrifying sight to grandmothers everywhere. In short, I was his worst nightmare walking through that door," recalled Cobble, with the leisurely good humor that was his superpower. "But he was desperate, and I was naïve. McGovern was at about one percent in the polls then, he couldn't be too choosy. So we agreed to give it a try."

"I was sure McGovern didn't have a chance," Cobble explained decades later. "My purpose in doing this was the strategic one of getting enough delegates [to force the party's eventual nominee] to take a stronger anti-war platform position at the convention. That was my goal in the whole thing."

To the surprise of the 20-year-old coordinator, and just about everyone else, McGovern won the county, the state, and the Democratic nomination. Cobble went to the convention as one of the youngest delegates in the history of American politics. "I was now a, quote, genius, unquote."

'We Lost a Giant'

Cobble always presented himself as an accidental "expert." But the progressive stalwart really was, as Texas populist Jim Hightower said, "a helluva strategist." A pioneering advocate for building intersectional campaigns that were as much about issues as they were about candidates, Cobble guided unlikely contenders to unexpected victories and developed strategies that took "protest politics" from the streets to the campaign trail. "He was a proud champion of the movements of the 1960s and what they did to change America, and he never gave up on the dreams of freedom and justice which stirred millions of people to wake up America in the civil rights and peace movements," recalled Representative Jamie Raskin. The Maryland Democrat described Cobble as "a hardcore practitioner of grassroots electoral politics who urged progressives not just to dream big but to organize seriously and systematically in order to win."

The news that Cobble had died inspired an outpouring of love and solidarity for a man who devoted his strategic brilliance not to achieving fame or making money but to waging the campaigns of "people struggling for a kinder and gentler world."

"We lost a giant," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who credited Cobble with developing strategies for winning the delegates who helped his 1988 presidential bid begin a process of transforming the Democratic Party that continues to this day. Yes, Cobble was "a keen strategist," Jackson said. But he was, as well, a "beloved brother" in the decades-long struggle for a more just and peaceful world.

Former Ohio representative Dennis Kucinich, the anti-war Democrat for whose 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns Cobble served as a senior strategist, called the strategist "a brilliant, visionary architect of political movements and campaigns, including mine."

Veteran social change organizer Heather Booth said, "He always seemed to be anticipating the next strategic play."

Cobble, a frequent contributor to The Nation, was a constant campaigner for the movement politics that challenged the Democratic Party's centrist caution-from the McGovern race in 1972, through the Jackson runs of 1984 and 1988, to the groundbreaking "Draft Bernie" campaign he assembled to convince Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. In 1982, Cobble helped New Mexico elect one of the most progressive governors in American history, Toney Anaya. In 1992, Cobble served as political director for the campaign that convinced Illinoisans to send the first Black woman to the US Senate, Carol Moseley Braun. He was, Reverend Jackson said, the "architect of hope" who negotiated the rules changes that opened up the Democratic Party's nominating process, a change that opened up the party for the breakthrough candidacies of Barack Obama and so many others. Cobble traveled to South Africa in the early 1990s to run election training workshops for Nelson Mandela's African National Congress. He was a fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies-the think tank that reflected his blend of rigorous intellect and righteous activism-and the Kennedy School; an adviser to constitutional reformers and impeachment activists with Free Speech for People; and the director of the Arca Foundation, a philanthropy in the forefront of funding democracy-expanding and democracy-building campaigns. He helped organize the National Rainbow Coalition and was the director of the Campaign for a Progressive Future. He counseled former House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers and consumer activist Ralph Nader, who on Sunday hailed his old friend as the rare political strategist "who always believed policy preceded message."

When Cobble walked into a room of candidates and consultants, he invariably took a place in the back. Slowly but surely, everyone who knew anything about politics worked their way over to the man they knew would have the most incisive assessment of the elections that mattered, the strategies that were working, the need for an intersectional politics based on the Rainbow Coalition model and the issues that could not be neglected. Becky Bond recalled that when she was a senior adviser to the 2016 Sanders for President campaign, "we would call him from the campaign trail and ask: How did you handle this dynamic in '88?"

"People turned to Steve for two reasons. First, they respected that he knew how to get things done," said Rainbow Coalition veteran Kevin Alexander Gray. "Second, they respected his values. He didn't start talking about money or buying ads. He started with the principles, the ideas, the issues."

'Healthcare Not Warfare'

The issue that Cobble always came back to was the one he started with: moving the Democratic Party and the country in an anti-war direction. He never stopped believing, as McGovern did, that America needed to "come home...from wars...and from military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation." That faith drew Cobble to campaigns with little chance of winning, and little to pay. He turned down offers from prominent contenders to stand at the side of those who were prepared to take money from the Pentagon to meet human needs.

It was never clear where Cobble's professional life ended and his activism began. That's how he liked it. Cobble devoted decades of his life to building movements that sought to stop wars and to hold accountable those who employed lies to start them. When the leaked "Downing Street Memo" revealed in 2005 that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was aware the Bush administration had manipulated "evidence" about supposed weapons of mass destruction when arguing for the invasion of Iraq, Cobble cofounded the After Downing Street Coalition, which demanded investigations and the impeachment of those who had lied about issues of war and peace.

Cobble took that message nationwide, appearing on C-SPAN, traveling across the country, and working with veteran activist Tim Carpenter to forge a permanent anti-war presence in the Democratic Party around the group, Progressive Democrats of America. Carpenter, who died in 2014, was famous for slapping "Healthcare Not Warfare" stickers on everyone who showed up at PDA events. Steve Cobble wore his proudly-along with his an old McGovern pin. "To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, America couldn't handle the truth in 1972. Nor since, given that we still have an empire stretching across the globe," he recalled. "But George McGovern didn't give up... He kept on fighting to stop our endless wars. He kept on fighting to feed the hungry. He kept on fighting to get America to 'come home.'" As did Steve Cobble.

(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.

Looking At The World Through Rose Colored Glasses
By James Donahue

Reality for most people is unbearable.

We are surrounded by a polluted world. It is polluted not only by toxic waste that has affected the soil that grows our food and oceans where life had its origins, but it fills the air we breathe. Noise invades our solitude. Radio, telephone, television, microwave, low frequency military H.A.A.R.P. (mind control?) signals and ultraviolet rays constantly bombard our space.

There is no peace.

It is impossible to sit for an hour or two of quiet meditation without climbing a mountain, dropping deep down into a cave, or surrounding our bodies with metal and sound proofing materials thick enough to stop the assault.

We live in pain.

It can be physical pain, which comes from disease, physical combat or accidental injury. It also can be mental pain, from the effects of our daily contact with other humans, our jobs and all of the problems listed above.

We live in fear. Most of this emotion is of our own making. We have created a religious system that generates fear. We live among alien life forms that feed on the emotions generated by fear. Thus we are programmed from the time we are little children to be afraid.

We fear the unknown. We fear darkness. We fear failure. We fear each other. And most of all, we fear death. The older people get the more fear-bound we seem to be.

A most sorry lot we have turned out to be.

Yet . . .the few moments of splendor that make the adrenaline rush, the dopamine pump and the heart race don't come very often for us, but when they do, we suddenly know that enduring all of the suffering is worth it, just for these moments.

We wish for more great moments in our life.

Many of us resort to artificial ways to get it. Some people buy expensive new things like cars, boats or houses, but that rush only lasts a few hours before the reality of the payments they are committed to sinks in.

This is the reason narcotics and alcohol are so popular. We go to any lengths to get these things, while at the same time the social programs our society has created go to great lengths to take them away from us. We make laws making the possession and use of the pain killing effects of marijuana, the cocoa leaf, certain mushrooms and the poppy flower punishable by jail and stiff fines. An attempt to ban alcohol in the 1930s was such a failure this law was repealed, but the punishments for consumption of this brain-killing drug in public places can be steep.

The argument given by the church and righteous social "do-gooders" is that these drugs harm our physical bodies and make us dangerous to our fellow man. Therefore, they reason, everybody must suffer during this walk through life without an artificial means of escape. They even went so far as to put Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the so-called "suicide doctor," in prison because he was offering people with incurable illness and pain an early way out.

In our creativity, however, it seems that mankind has either discovered (or been purposefully furnished) an alternative and still legal way of hiding from reality. Instead of breaking the law by smoking marijuana, sniffing cocaine, or feeling the rush of amphetamine, we are opting to make our escape by having our doctors prescribe rose colored glasses.

You know what I mean. We are all rushing to the pharmacy to buy antidepressant drugs. They are called Prozac, Paxil, Zolhoft, Lovan, Effexor, Serzone and Anafranil, to name a few. Pop just one pill a day and suddenly everything seems cheery. The little things no longer bother us, and big problems seem small in their scope.

I think George Orwell predicted the arrival of this pill in his prophetic novel, 1984. Those of you who read this book remember that people had to take their daily dose of a drug that made them happy. It helped get them through a malignant existence under total slavery in an overcrowded world.

That pill is here and people by the droves are gulping it down. Even children.

Child psychologists we hear are pumping mind-altering drugs into our kids as if it were candy. It is good, they say, for overactive children, treating learning disorders, and all kinds of behavioral problems. Anybody who has raised children know that they misbehave. So why not dope them up? It doesn't seem to harm them and it makes them docile so they are easier to control.

A few years back, when my wife and I were parenting, people used television to keep children occupied much of the day. Our generation turned them into couch potatoes at an early age.

But something odd is happening to our society and I think it may be Prozac related. Adults are behaving like zombies while the world around them falls apart. Nobody seems willing to step up and take charge when it comes to protesting wars, fighting global warming, or just running the crooks out of Washington. The masses are happily asleep, with little clue as to what is about to come down on their heads.

Was this by design. Are we a society controlled by drugs that leave us stupefied?

There is yet another odd behavioral effect that we should see as an ominous warning. Certain people, even children, are going unexpectedly berserk. Young people are shooting up schools. People are opening fire in crowded places for no apparent reason. They are driving cars into crowds, and buses filled with people off cliffs or into oncoming trucks.

We have a theory about all of this. We suggest that some people remain sensitive to reality. If not consciously, at least subconsciously they know that society is in big trouble. The Earth is overpopulated and dying. Many people must be eliminated in some way or none of us will live very much longer. We are told there are not enough resources on this planet to feed, clothe and shelter everyone. If true, the fear is that we are going to be killing each other over the spoils.

It is out of sheer frustration that they kill. They don't know what else to do.

We only have ourselves to blame for this condition. As a society we have been happy to sit back and let these outside forces go right on controlling our every move. And our moves are now becoming deadly. If we don't wake up and start fighting back, we warn of the end of the human race, possibly within our lifetime.

(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.

The Impossible Impeachment Of Joe Biden
By David Swanson

Since the presidency of Richard Nixon that I was born during, and since long before that, there's not been a president who - in my view - should not have been impeached, removed, and banned from holding office. There's also not been an impeachment I supported up until the very most recent one. So I'm excessively pro-impeachment or overly selective, depending on your perspective. I'm also disastrously wrong about all of the Democrats or all of the Republicans, depending on your political party.

There are three obvious arguments for dismissing as absurd the very idea of putting "Biden" and "Impeachment" in the same headline:

1) What can he possibly have done yet? (answer momentarily)

2) What, do you love Trump? (not so much, no)

3) How much is Putin paying you? (you got me, just relax and breathe, it's going to be all right)

(Notice the absence of the it'll-take-too-long argument that traditionally held unearned high ranking; the second Trump impeachment laid that one to rest.)

In fairness, there's a fourth argument that I take much more seriously. It goes something like this: The Trump catastrophe is finally over. Even if Biden didn't promise much and has already broken most of his promises, the little bits of good we're getting and hoping to get are significant.

This is obviously true - not in the sense of slowing the demise of human life on earth, but in the sense of lessening the suffering of some people in the short term - though it's not clear that Kamala Harris is particularly different from Joe Biden, except in one thing alone: being young enough to have more than four years in her.

But let's get back to #1. What can he possibly have done? Well, one thing that he's done is dropped bombs on people in Syria. It wasn't the first bombs he'd dropped on Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan, but it was the first time they were accompanied by public announcements, a letter to Congress, a letter to the United Nations, and media interviews.

Congress members who have said anything in response have either approved or they have objected that Biden did this without Congress's approval. In rare cases, however, some of those objecting Congress members have added, almost as a footnote, that Biden clearly violated the United Nations Charter.

This is obvious, with any basic ordinary English-language reading of the UN Charter. You don't get to attack or even threaten another country with attack. The loopholes are for UN-authorized attacks and self-defense. Nobody claims this was UN-authorized. And nobody claims this was self- . . . Just kidding! Self-defense is exactly what the White House claims. It claims to have been acting in self-defense, incredibly enough. Bombing people in a distant country to send a message (according to the Pentagon) to a third country, is, of course, not actually self-defense. But that's the claim.

This is the response from Congressman Ro Khanna:

"Well, this is not an ambiguous case. The administration's actions are clearly illegal under the United States' law and under international law. We do not have any authorization of military force to go into Syria. In fact, President Obama tried and then backed off in getting that authorization. We do not have any authorization of military force to attack Iran. The idea that this was an imminent attack on U.S. self-defense is simply not borne out by the facts. And under international law, for self-defense, we have to go to the United Nations. The administration did not do that. So, my concern is that this president ran on ending endless wars, ran on respecting the United States' and international law, and these actions clearly violate both."
If self-defense has any meaning, it has to exclude something, and if it can't exclude bombing people (with bombs dropped quietly as well as those announced to the press) half-way around the world who haven't attacked your country, then what can it exclude? Clearly, this act violated the UN Charter. Clearly, that is the relevant point, which is why Biden's letter to Congress, and his ambassador's letter to the UN, focus on the UN Charter, falsely and ridiculously claiming to have complied with it.

But if that is the case, what is the point of complaining that Biden did not get Congressional authorization? Congress has no special license to violate the UN Charter. There is no such thing as Congressional authorization to commit a crime. That authorization could not have been obtained, had anyone tried to obtain it, because it does not and cannot exist.

So, what should Congress do? Setting aside what this Congress is likely to do, what - in the wildest fantasy - should it do?

Twice in history, since the creation of the War Powers Resolution in 1973, Congress has passed measures under the War Powers Resolution to prevent war. Both times were during Trump's presidency. Both were vetoed. Both vetoes were not overridden. Once was about Yemen - a measure that eventually Biden announced vague partial compliance with. The other was about Iran and came after a missile strike by Trump not entirely unlike the recent Biden bombing.

Shouldn't Congress do the same thing again? Isn't it nothing but partisanship by Democrats preventing it? Why not use the War Powers Resolution to force a vote and forbid war on Iran and/or Syria and/or Iraq (or add a few more), whether or not it falsely implies that Congress could legally launch a war, and whether or not all such wars are already forbidden by law? Yes, of course.

But what would be the deterrent to presidents of re-forbidding certain wars once threatened or begun, even if you could override a veto? Would it discourage presidents from beginning or continuing or threatening wars? There is no way to answer, as it's never been done. But the best possible outcome seems likely to be the prevention of particular named wars. Without any penalty to a president, merely halting a war seems highly unlikely to prevent the same or future presidents from starting other wars.

So what would a Congress that actually cared do? What might we imagine happening in an impossible world that recognized war as the highest of high crimes, as "the supreme international crime" (in the words of Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson)? According to the U.S. Constitution, the remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors is impeachment.

Yes, the same Constitution is written as if war were permitted. That's because it was. It's also written as though piracy were permitted. That's because it was. But nobody suggests acting on that basis today. The U.S. Constitution makes treaties that the United States is party to the supreme law of the land. Those treaties include the UN Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which ban war. Violating supreme law is the highest of high crimes.

So, of course it's impossible, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be appropriate to impeach the latest impeachable president. The U.S. Congress has only impeached for instigating violence when that violence was directed at the Congress itself, and has never impeached for engaging in violence. But there's a first time for everything.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but repealing AUMFs that presidents don't even mention, or forming antiwar caucuses that require nothing of their members are not steps that are going to end endless war making. They could contribute every so slightly to moving U.S. culture. But unless that culture turns around and stops the warmakers in their tracks, there will be war.

(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.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington.

US-China Tensions Threaten Global Climate Change Efforts
By Christina Larson

WASHINGTON - The world's hopes for curbing climate change hinge on action by two giant nations whose relations are deteriorating: China and the United States. The two countries both say they are intent on retooling their economies to burn less climate-wrecking coal, oil and gas. But tensions between them threaten their ultimate success.

China and the United States are the world's No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters, respectively, pumping out nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that are warming the planet's atmosphere.

The fast cuts in carbon needed to stave off the worst of climate change are all but impossible unless these countries work together and basically trust each other's pledges. During the Trump administration, the U.S. used China's emissions as an excuse not to act, and in the past China pointed to U.S. historical emissions as a reason to resist action.

New details of how quickly China plans to reduce carbon emissions will be revealed Friday when Beijing releases its next Five Year Plan. And in April, President Joe Biden is expected to announce the United States' own new targets for emissions cuts.

The U.S. and China both have appointed veteran envoys as their global climate negotiators, John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua. But while the two senior statesmen worked well together in laying groundwork for the 2015 Paris climate accord, now they face new challenges.

U.S.-China climate diplomacy threatens to be overshadowed by what the United States sees as Beijing's menacing policies toward Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea, conflict over human rights and trade, and U.S. claims of Chinese espionage.

Meanwhile, Chinese officials are upset about restrictions imposed by the Trump administration on trade, technology, Chinese media and students in the U.S., and the State Department's declaration this year that atrocities against China's Muslim minorities are a "genocide."

Kerry, a secretary of state under President Barack Obama who was brought back to be Biden's climate envoy, recently told reporters: "Those issues" with China "will never be traded for anything that has to do with climate. That's not going to happen." But Kerry also called the climate "a standalone issue" with China, drawing criticism from China and from some human-rights advocates in the U.S.

Can climate talks between the two countries survive their other geopolitical battles?

"That's, I think, the huge question," said John Podesta, who oversaw the Obama administration's climate efforts and is close to the Biden administration.

"Can you create a lane where you get cooperation on climate" while more contentious issues are dealt with separately? Podesta asked. "Or do they wind up interfering?"

Xie Zhenhua may help the odds. With his appointment as climate envoy last month, Xie is reprising the role he held during pivotal U.N. climate conferences that struck the world's first major commitments on reducing emissions from fossil fuels.

Prior to his appointment, Xie led a research effort at Tsinghua University in Beijing to map ways for China to stop contributing to global warming by midcentury. His research underpinned President Xi Jinping's surprise pledge in September that China planned to go carbon neutral by 2060 - the first time the country announced a net-zero target.

Joanna Lewis, an expert in China energy and environment at Georgetown University, called Xie "a visionary, and very influential in setting China's domestic policy targets," as well as a skilled negotiator.

Xie's appointment "was a huge overture toward the United States, and particularly to John Kerry," said Angel Hsu, an expert on China and climate change at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Biden has pledged the U.S. will switch to an emissions-free power sector within 14 years, and have an entirely emissions-free economy by 2050. Kerry is also pushing other nations to commit to carbon neutrality by then.

Behind the dry numbers, massive spending on infrastructure and technology is needed to switch to a more energy-efficient economy, running on wind, solar and other cleaner-burning fuels. And Biden has a narrow majority in Congress to push his agenda, with Republicans, as well as some Democrats, opposing his plans.

Climate scientists say countries need to move fast to avert catastrophic temperature rises.

In 2019, coal accounted for 58% of China's total primary energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Last year, as China's government directed economic relief money to infrastructure projects during the pandemic, the country actually upped its net power capacity from coal - by about the equivalent of 15 Hoover Dams, or 30 gigawatts - according to the Global Energy Monitor and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. China also funds building of coal-fired power plants abroad, partly to build influence.

Many experts question whether the construction of coal-fired plants is driven by demand, or simply meant to stimulate the economy during a downturn. Either way, the brand-new coal plants have consequences.

"Every new coal plant that China builds is basically locking in carbon emissions for the next 50 years," said Georgetown's Lewis.

The most important questions now, said Deborah Seligsohn, an expert in Chinese governance and air pollution at Villanova University, are: "How soon can China's carbon emissions peak, and at what level?"

She is watching closely to see what targets are incorporated in the next Five Year Plan, and into China's updated pledges for emission cuts under the Paris climate accord.

The key, climate negotiators say, will be making it worth China's while - financially and in terms of its international standing - to slow down its building and funding of new coal plants and speed up spending on clean energy.

Biden has reached out to European allies as a first step, trying to build consensus among China's trade partners about market and trade-based rewards and disincentives as a way of prodding China to reduce reliance on coal.

"None of these countries are wanting to save the planet and be completely selfless about this," Christiana Figueres, who helped broker the landmark climate deal in 2015, told The Associated Press. "Only if it also serves their interest."

(c) 2021 Christina Larson is an award-winning foreign correspondent and science & technology journalist. She focuses on technology in China and on global environmental issues. Now Global Science & Environment Correspondent for the Associated Press, she is based in Washington, DC, and reports from the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

Trump Was Bored By His Own Speech Until He Got To The Revenge List
It energized him. It turned on all his lights. And as he shared it with all the minions gathered at CPAC in Florida, it made all their lights shine, too.
By Charles P. Pierce

He was very old and in the way, until he got to the hit list. The hit list energized him. It turned on all his lights. It was the pure, uncut evil juju that had been missing from his life for months and, generous demon from the depths of hell that he is, he shared it with all the minions gathered at CPAC in Florida, and it made all their lights shine.

He dropped little jujubes of it amid the torrent of exhausted bigotry that seemed to bore even himself. There was a long stretch of threadbare immigrant-bashing during which he looked like a tired cabaret performer flogging his way through his Cole Porter Medley at a roadside Holiday Inn lounge. But then, he'd toss in something like this:

Actually, as you know, they just lost the White House, but it's one of those. But who knows? Who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time, okay?

Had we had a fair election, the results would have been much different, and we would have had a deal.

...and everyone in the crowd would sit up a little straighter, the enforced torpor of the event dissipating, and the cheers would sound more authentic and heartfelt because his audience knew they were getting the real stuff at last.
I mean, it's being studied, and the level of dishonesty is not to be believed. We have a very sick and corrupt electoral process that must be fixed immediately. This election was rigged and the Supreme Court and other courts didn't want to do anything about it.

We did. If you just take that one element where they didn't go through a legislature, it's illegal, you can't do it. It's in the Constitution. They didn't have the courage, the Supreme Court, they didn't have the courage to act, but instead used process and lack of standing. I was told the President of the United States has no standing. It's my election, it's your election. We have no standing. We had almost 25 ... if you think of it ... we had almost 20 states go into the Supreme Court so that we didn't have a standing problem. They rejected it. They rejected it. They should be ashamed of themselves for what they've done to our country. They didn't have the guts or the courage to make the right decision. They didn't want to talk about it. We had the case led by the great State of Texas. Eighteen states went in. "You don't have standing." Let's not talk about it. They didn't have the guts to do what should be done.

If you're keeping score at home, this rhetoric directed at the Supreme Court is almost exactly what he said about Mike Pence at his infamous January 6 rally that touched off the insurrection at the Capitol. What say you, Chief Justice John Roberts? Justices Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Barrett? You sign up for this?
The Democrats don't have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey; and in the House, Tom Rice, South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez. That's another beauty. Fred Upton, Jamie Herrera Butler, Peter Meyer, John Katko, David Valadeo. And of course the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that? The good news is in her state, she's been censured. And in her state, her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I've ever seen. So hopefully, they'll get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of them all.
This was the meat of it. He wouldn't know most of the people he mentioned if they sat in what used to be his lap. But he knows they voted to impeach him for his role in the insurrection, so they get to hire bodyguards and food-tasters. He doesn't care if one or several of these members of Congress get visited at home by elements of his Fifth Armored Deer Camp Drunk Division.

Get rid of them all. He's not talking entirely about elections and, in any case, he doesn't speak in metaphors.

(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-

"Oh look, another billionaire is mad that he might have to pay more taxes while children in America go hungry and veterans sleep on the street. Cry me a river."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Reporters Without Borders Files German 'Crimes Against Humanity' Case against Saudi's Bin Salman For Khashoggi Murder
How the Bush Family turned off the lights
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - The France-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) has filed a criminal complaint with the Prosecutor-General of the Federal Court of Justices in Karlsruhe, Germany, against crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman and other Saudi officials for the murder of Washington Post columnist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The filing alleges a series of crimes against humanity committed against journalists in Saudi Arabia. The 500-page complaint, in German, presents the cases of 35 journalists, including Khashoggi. The other 34 are journalists and bloggers imprisoned in the kingdom, including blogger Raif Badawi.

The legal action comes on the heels of last week's release by the Biden administration of a 4-page CIA memo assessing that Bin Salman was behind the assassination of Khashoggi.

Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Michael Safi at The Guardian note that the complaint was filed in Germany because German courts claim universal jurisdiction. As a result, a Syrian secret police officer was recently convicted in Germany of torture.

Interestingly, the RSF (the French acronym for Reporters without Borders) argued that Saudi Arabia is guilty of "crimes against humanity," which international law defines as a deliberate, generalized and systematic attack on a civilian population. They identify journalists as the population being targeted by the crown prince and his fellow officials. This definition of crimes against humanity, present in the 2002 Rome Statute, has been incorporated into German law by virtue of a statute that recognizes "crimes against international law." Reporters without Borders argues that journalists are victims of premeditated murder, torture, violence, sexual coercion, forced disappearance, illegal deprivation of physical liberty, and persecution. All of these are crimes against humanity according to German law.

RSF argues that since journalists are responsible for informing the public and holding officials to account, crimes against them are even more serious than in the case of other classes of people. I think they are saying that when journalists are persecuted the result is not only harm to them but also to the entire public, which is no longer able to find out information essential to the public weal or to hold government officials to account.

The complaint named five principal suspects, Mohammed Bin Salman, Saud al-Qahtani, and three others they charge are responsible for the assassination of Khashoggi.

The complaint quotes the CIA memo, released by the Office of Director of National Intelligence, in its entirety.

According to Reporters without Borders, Saudi Arabia ranks 170 out of 180 countries they surveyed on press freedom.

I think that in American law, RSF would have to prove standing, that is, that one of its members had been injured by these Saudi actions. I'm not sure it would be enough that they represent journalists in general. But given that German legislators have a law against breaking international law, all RSF is doing is asking the prosecutor general to find that Saudi Arabia violated that provision. Since German courts claim university jurisdiction, and since they have already convicted a Syrian for crimes he committed in Syria, it would be theoretically possible for the German justice authorities to rule against Bin Salman.

I don't know enough about German law to know if it would be a problem that Germany would have to convict the perpetrators in absentia. Moreover, convicting the heir apparent of a fabulously wealthy and influential country is not like convicting a low level Syrian secret policeman and torturer.

Universal jurisdiction claims by a country's judiciary can be very inconvenient for a country's foreign policy. Belgium's courts used to claim universal jurisdiction, but when a case was brought in them against Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, the Belgium legislature passed a law restricting the courts only to crimes committed on Belgian soil.

What the RSF complaint shows is that Bin Salman is likely to remain a pariah internationally because of his role in murdering Khashoggi, and that if King Salman were wise he would do as Abraham did and be willing to sacrifice his son's political future for the sake of the welfare of Saudi Arabia.

Bonus video:

France 24 English: "Media watchdog seeks German investigation of Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi death"

(c) 2021 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

"The good news is the filibuster is a Senate rule. It's not in the Constitution. It's not even
in a law. Like any other Senate rule it can be changed by a simple majority of senators.

Senate Democrats Can And Must Abolish The Filibuster. Now.
As long as the filibuster is intact, Senate Republicans could keep the Senate in gridlock, and then run in the 2022 midterms on Democrats' failure to get anything done.
By Robert Reich

Mitch McConnell may no longer be Senate Majority Leader, but Republicans can still block legislation supported by the vast majority. That's because of a Senate rule called the filibuster. If we have any hope of safeguarding our democracy and ushering in transformative change, Democrats must wield their power to get rid of the filibuster-and fast.

The filibuster is a Senate rule requiring a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation. Which means a minority of senators can often block legislation that the vast majority of Americans want and need.

It's not in the Constitution. In fact, it's arguably unconstitutional. Alexander Hamilton regarded a supermajority rule as "a poison" that would lead to "contemptible compromises of the public good."

Even without the filibuster, Senate Republicans already have outsized influence. The 50 of them represent 41 and a half million fewer Americans than the 50 Senate Democrats. Wyoming, with 579,000 people gets two senators. California, with 40 million also gets two senators.

Meanwhile, Republican-controlled states are gearing up to pass even more restrictive voting laws along with additional partisan gerrymandering that could enable Republicans in Washington to maintain power for the next decade.

The best way to prevent this is with national election standards through the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act - but these important bills are stymied as long as the filibuster remains in place.

The filibuster is rooted in racism. In the late 19th century, Southern senators crafted the "talking filibuster"-in which a member could delay the passage of a bill with a long-winded speech-in order to protect the pro-slavery Senate minority.

The current version of the filibuster, requiring 60 votes to end debate, was popularized in the Jim Crow era by Southern senators seeking to prevent passage of civil rights legislation. From the end of Reconstruction to 1964, the filibuster was used only to kill civil rights bills.

Senators can now use a process called "reconciliation" to pass legislation on budgetary matters, requiring a bare majority of 51 votes. But the filibuster can still stop bills on voting rights, the climate crisis, campaign finance reform, and other crucial legislation Americans need-and on which Joe Biden has based much of his presidency.

Getting rid of the filibuster is also good politics. As long as the filibuster is intact, Senate Republicans could keep the Senate in gridlock, and then run in the 2022 midterms on Democrats' failure to get anything done.

The good news is the filibuster is a Senate rule. As I said, it's not in the Constitution. It's not even in a law. Like any other Senate rule it can be changed by a simple majority of senators.

With Vice President Kamala Harris now serving as the tie-breaking vote, Senate Democrats can and must abolish the filibuster.

There are a few conservative Senate Democrats who don't like the idea, but Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer can get them to fall in line. That's what leadership is all about. They must end the filibuster and get America moving. Now.

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

The ruling class devotes tremendous resources to mask this social murder.

The Age of Social Murder
The ruling elites, despite the accelerating and tangible ecological collapse, mollify us, either by meaningless gestures or denial.
by Chris Hedges

The two million deaths that have resulted from the ruling elites mishandling of the global pandemic will be dwarfed by what is to follow. The global catastrophe that awaits us, already baked into the ecosystem from the failure to curb the use of fossil fuels and animal agriculture, presage new, deadlier pandemics, mass migrations of billions of desperate people, plummeting crop yields, mass starvation and systems collapse.

The science that elucidates this social death is known to the ruling elites. The science that warned us of this pandemic, and others that will follow, is known to the ruling elites. The science that shows that a failure to halt carbon emissions will lead to a climate crisis and ultimately the extinction of the human species and most other species is known to the ruling elites. They cannot claim ignorance. Only indifference.

The facts are incontrovertible. Each of the last four decades have been hotter than the last. In 2018, the UN International Panel on Climate Change released a special report on the systemic effects of a 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperatures. It makes for very grim reading. Soaring temperature rises-we are already at a 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels - are already baked into the system, meaning that even if we stopped all carbon emission today, we still face catastrophe. Anything above a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius will render the earth unhabitable. The Arctic ice along with the Greenland ice sheet are now expected to melt regardless of how much we reduce carbon emissions. A seven-meter (23-foot) rise in sea level, which is what will take place once the ice is gone, means every town and city on a coast at sea level will have to be evacuated.

Roger Hallam, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, whose nonviolent acts of mass civil disobedience offer the last, best chance to save ourselves, lays it out in this video:

As the climate crisis worsens, the political constrictions will tighten, making public resistance difficult. We do not live, yet, in the brutal Orwellian state that appears on the horizon, one where all dissidents will suffer the fate of Julian Assange. But this Orwellian state is not far away. This makes it imperative that we act now.

The ruling elites, despite the accelerating and tangible ecological collapse, mollify us, either by meaningless gestures or denial. They are the architects of social murder.

Social murder, as Friedrich Engels noted in his 1845 book "The Condition of the Working-Class in England," one of the most important works of social history, is built into the capitalist system. The ruling elites, Engels writes, those that hold "social and political control," were aware that the harsh working and living conditions during the industrial revolution doomed workers to "an early and unnatural death:"

"When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call his deed murder. But when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live - forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence - knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains."

- Friedrick Engels, "The Condition of the Working-Class in England"

The ruling class devotes tremendous resources to mask this social murder. They control the narrative in the press. They falsify science and data, as the fossil fuel industry has done for decades. They set up committees, commissions and international bodies, such as UN climate summits, to pretend to address the problem. Or they deny, despite the dramatically changing weather patterns, that the problem even exists.

Scientists have long warned that as global temperatures rise, increasing precipitation and heat waves in many parts of the world, infectious diseases spread by animals will plague populations year-round and expand into northern regions. Pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, which has killed approximately 36 million people, the Asian flu, which killed between one and four million, and COVID-19, which has already killed over 2.5 million, will ripple across the globe in ever more virulent strains, often mutating beyond our control. The misuse of antibiotics in the meat industry, which accounts for 80 percent of all antibiotic use, has produced strains of bacteria that are antibiotic resistant and fatal. A modern version of the Black Death, which in the 14th century killed between 75 and 200 million people, wiping out perhaps half of Europe's population, is probably inevitable as long as the pharmaceutical and medical industries are configured to make money rather than protect and save lives.

Even with vaccines, we lack the national infrastructure to distribute them efficiently because profit trumps health. And those in the global south are, as usual, abandoned, as if the diseases that kill them will never reach us. Israel's decision to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to as many as 19 countries while refusing to vaccinate the 5 million Palestinians living under its occupation is emblematic of the ruling elite's stunning myopia, not to mention immorality.

What is taking place is not neglect. It is not ineptitude. It is not policyfailure. It is murder. It is murder because it is premeditated. It is murder because a conscious choice was made by the global ruling classes to extinguish life rather than protect it. It is murder because profit, despite the hard statistics, the growing climate disruptions and the scientific modeling, is deemed more important than human life and human survival.

The elites thrive in this system, as long as they serve the dictates of what Lewis Mumford called the "megamachine," the convergence of science, economy, technics and political power unified into an integrated, bureaucratic structure whose sole goal is to perpetuate itself. This structure, Mumford noted, is antithetical to "life-enhancing values." But to challenge the megamachine, to name and condemn its death wish, is to be expelled from its inner sanctum. There are, no doubt, some within the megamachine who fear the future, who are perhaps even appalled by the social murder, but they do not want to lose their jobs and their social status to become pariahs.

The massive resources allocated to the military, which when the costs of the Veterans Administration are added to the Department of Defense budget come to $826 billion a year, are the most glaring example of our suicidal folly, symptomatic of all decaying civilizations that squander diminishing resources in institutions and projects that accelerate their decline.

The American military-which accounts for 38 percent of military spending worldwide-is incapable of combating the real existential crisis. The fighter jets, satellites, aircraft carriers, fleets of warships, nuclear submarines, missiles, tanks and vast arsenals of weaponry are useless against pandemics and the climate crisis. The war machine does nothing to mitigate the human suffering caused by degraded environments that sicken and poison populations or make life unsustainable. Air pollution already kills an estimated 200,000 Americans a year while children in decayed cities such as Flint, Michigan are damaged for life with lead contamination from drinking water.

The prosecution of endless and futile wars, costing anywhere from $5 to $7 trillion, the maintenance of some 800 military bases in over 70 countries, along with the endemic fraud, waste and mismanagement by the Pentagon at a time when the survival of the species is at stake is self-destructive. The Pentagon has spent more than $67 billion alone on a ballistic missile defense system that few believe will actually work and billions more on a series of dud weapons systems, including the $22 billion Zumwalt destroyer. And, on top of all this, the U.S. military emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon emissions between 2001 and 2017, twice the annual output of the nation's passenger vehicles.

A decade from now we will look back at the current global ruling class as the most criminal in human history, willfully dooming millions upon millions of people to die, including those from this pandemic, which dwarf the murderous excesses of the killers of the past including the Europeans that carried out the genocide of the indigenous peoples in the Americas, the Nazis that exterminated some 12 million people, the Stalinists or Mao's Cultural Revolution. This is the largest crime against humanity ever committed. It is being committed in front of us. And, with few exceptions, we are willfully being herded like sheep to the slaughter.

It is not that most people have faith in the ruling elites. They know they are being betrayed. They feel vulnerable and afraid. They understand that their misery is unacknowledged and unimportant to the global elites, who have concentrated staggering amounts of wealth and power into the hands of a tiny cabal of rapacious oligarchs.

The rage many feel at being abandoned often expresses itself in a poisoned solidarity. This poisoned solidarity unites the disenfranchised around hate crimes, racism, inchoate acts of vengeance against scapegoats, religious and ethnic chauvinism and nihilistic violence. It fosters crisis cults, such as those built by the Christian fascists, and elevates demagogues such as Donald Trump.

Social divisions benefit the ruling class, which has built media silos that feed packaged hate to competing demographics. The greater the social antagonisms, the less the elites have to fear. If those gripped by poisoned solidarity become numerically superior-nearly half of the American electorate rejects the traditional ruling class and embraces conspiracy theories and a demagogue-the elites will accommodate the new power configuration, which will accelerate the social murder.

The Biden administration will not carry out the economic, political, social or environmental reforms that will save us. The fossil fuel industry will continue to extract oil. The wars will not end. Social inequality will grow. Government control, with its militarized police forces of internal occupation, wholesale surveillance and loss of civil liberties, will expand. New pandemics, along with droughts, wildfires, monster hurricanes, crippling heat waves and flooding, will lay waste to the country as well as a population burdened by a for-profit health care system that is not designed or equipped to deal with a national health crisis.

The evil that makes this social murder possible is collective. It is perpetrated by the colorless bureaucrats and technocrats churned out of business schools, law schools, management programs and elite universities. These systems managers carry out the incremental tasks that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death work. They collect, store and manipulate our personal data for digital monopolies and the security and surveillance state. They grease the wheels for ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They write the laws passed by the bought-and-paid-for political class. They pilot the aerial drones that terrorize the poor in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan. They profit from the endless wars. They are the corporate advertisers, public relations specialists and television pundits that flood the airwaves with lies. They run the banks. They oversee the prisons. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps and medical coverage to some and unemployment benefits to others. They carry out the evictions. They enforce the laws and the regulations. They do not ask questions. They live in an intellectual vacuum, a world of stultifying minutia. They are T.S. Eliot's "the hollow men," "the stuffed men." "Shape without form, shade without color," the poet writes. "Paralyzed force, gesture without motion."

These systems managers made possible the genocides of the past, from the extermination of Native Americans to the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust to Stalin's liquidations. They kept the trains running. They filled out the paperwork. They seized the property and confiscated the bank accounts. They did the processing. They rationed the food. They administered the concentration camps and the gas chambers. They enforced the law. They did their jobs.

These systems managers, uneducated in all but their tiny technical specialty, lack the language and moral autonomy to question the reigning assumptions or structures.

Hannah Arendt in "Eichmann in Jerusalem" writes that Adolf Eichmann was motivated by "an extraordinary diligence in looking out for his personal advancement." He joined the Nazi Party because it was a good career move. Arendt continued:

"The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.

The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such."

-Hannah Arendt, "Eichmann in Jerusalem"

The Russian novelist Vasily Grossman in his book "Forever Flowing" observed that "the new state did not require holy apostles, fanatic, inspired builders, faithful, devout disciples. The new state did not even require servants - just clerks." This metaphysical ignorance fuels social murder.

We cannot emotionally absorb the magnitude of the looming catastrophe and therefore do not act.

In Claude Lanzmann's Holocaust documentary "Shoah," he interviews Filip Muller, a Czech Jew who survived the liquidations in Auschwitz as a member of the "special detail,"

"One day in 1943 when I was already in Crematorium 5, a train from Bialystok arrived. A prisoner on the 'special detail' saw a woman in the 'undressing room' who was the wife of a friend of his. He came right out and told her: 'You are going to be exterminated. In three hours, you'll be ashes.' The woman believed him because she knew him. She ran all over and warned to the other women. 'We're going to be killed. We're going to be gassed.' Mothers carrying their children on their shoulders didn't want to hear that. They decided the woman was crazy. They chased her away. So, she went to the men. To no avail. Not that they didn't believe her. They'd heard rumors in the Bialystok ghetto, or in Grodno, and elsewhere. But who wanted to hear that? When she saw that no one would listen, she scratched her whole face. Out of despair. In shock. And she started to scream. How do we resist? Why, if this social murder is inevitable, as I believe it is, do we even fight back? Why not give in to cynicism and despair? Why not withdraw and spend our lives attempting to satiate our private needs and desires? We are all complicit, paralyzed by the overwhelming force of the megamachine and bound to its destructive energy by our allotted slots within its massive machinery."

-Filip Muller to Claude Lanzmann, "Shoah"

Yet, to fail to act, and this means carrying out mass, sustained acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in an attempt to smash the megamachine, is spiritual death. It is to succumb to the cynicism, hedonism and numbness that has turned the systems managers and technocrats that orchestrate this social murder into human cogs. It is to surrender our humanity. It is to become an accomplice.

Albert Camus writes that "one of the only coherent philosophical positions is revolt. It is a constant confrontation between man and his obscurity. It is not aspiration, for it is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty of a crushing fate, without the resignation that ought to accompany it."

"A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object," Camus warns. "But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object."

The capacity to exercise moral autonomy, to refuse to cooperate, to wreck the megamachine, offers us the only possibility left to personal freedom and a life of meaning. Rebellion is its own justification. It erodes, however imperceptibly, the structures of oppression. It sustains the embers of empathy and compassion, as well as justice. These embers are not insignificant. They keep alive the capacity to be human. They keep alive the possibility, however dim, that the forces that are orchestrating our social murder can be stopped. Rebellion must be embraced, finally, not only for what it will achieve, but for what it will allow us to become. In that becoming we find hope.

(c) 2021 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ J.D. Crowe ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Donald Trump pointing while speaking at CPAC

Trump To Announce He Has Won 2024 Election
By Andy Borowitz

ORLANDO (The Borowitz Report)-Donald J. Trump will use his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend to announce that he has won the 2024 Presidential election.

According to leaked text from his CPAC speech, Trump will claim that he won the 2024 election in a landslide and "everybody knows it."

Trump will further state that any attempt to allege that the year 2024 has not arrived yet and is, in fact, not scheduled to occur until three years from now is "a rigged hoax."

"This should never be allowed to happen in our country," he will assert.

Asked whether he would support Trump's contention that the year 2024 is not three years away, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, said, "If he said that? Of course."

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 10 (c) 03/05/2021

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