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In This Edition

Norman Solomon says, "In A Dark Time, The Eye Begins To See."

Ralph Nader concludes, "Trump Minimizing and Sugarcoating Coronavirus Perils; Bernie Must Continue Campaign."

Glen Ford examines, "Late-Stage Imperial Omni-Crisis: Death By Virus And Internal Contradictions."

Jim Hightower wonders, "What Happened To Trump's Peace Deal?"

William Rivers Pitt warns, "We Need A President Who Cares If We Live Or Die. Instead We Have Trump."

Randall Amster studies, "The New Abnormal."

James Donahue answers, "Who Was Saint Patrick?"

David Swanson gives the, "Top 10 Reasons The U.S. Government Is Blowing This."

David Suzuki asks, "If Corporations Have Legal Rights, Why Not Rivers?"

Charles P. Pierce says, "Trump's Coronavirus Presser Was An In-Kind Contribution To Joe Biden's Campaign."

Juan Cole explains, "Why Burning Fossil Fuels Is To Today's Pandemics As Fleas Were To The Black Death."

Representative Matt Gaetz R/Fla wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich wonders, "Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?"

Jane Stillwater says, "Mission Accomplished."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Biden Extends Olive Branch To Biden Supporters." but first, Uncle Ernie exclaims, "We All Fall Down!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Darcy, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Scott Eisen, Felix Engelhardt, Smith Collection, Doug Mills-Pool, Anadolu Agency. Jane Stillwater, Jim Hightower, AFP, 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 Vidkun Quisling Award-
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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We All Fall Down!
By Ernest Stewart

Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.
Ring-a-round the rosie. ~~~ Children's song

Caught in a loop! Caught in a loop! Caught in a loop! ~~~ Ruby Tuesday ~ Tired of the Green Menace?

Matt Gaetz is a hypotwit ~~~ Tweety Bird

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

Lying Donald's fumbling of the COVID-19 virus maybe as bad as Woodrow Wilson's bumbling of the 1918-1919 flu. By 1919 the flu had taken 700,000 American lives mostly caused by soldiers coming back during and after World War one and by brilliant ideas of having military parades attended by hundreds of thousands of parade goers, here's an example:

"On the afternoon of Sept. 28, 1918, about 200,000 people crammed onto the sidewalks in Philadelphia to watch a two-mile parade snake through downtown in the midst of World War I. Billed as the city's largest parade ever, it featured military planes and aggressive war-bond salesmen working the crowds, passing on the virus."
Within a week of the parades all 32 of Philadelphias hospitals were jammed to the rafters with influenza victims. Did I mention that the Philadelphia parade was but one of dozens of similar gathering that help to spread the flu. 50 Millions people died fron the flu world wide. That's more than twice the deaths caused by the war itself, around 20 million. Many more than when the "black death" swept Europe in the middle ages.

The plague arrived in Europe in October 1347 and ran until 1352, when 12 ships from the Black Sea docked at the Sicilian port of Messina. It too came from China, and worked it's way westward. Before it was through it had claimed some 20 million victims and killed one third of Europe's population.

While Lying Donald hemed and hawed state governors took the lead and called off parades, concerts and gathering of people. Shut down school systems, closed cafe's, bars, theatres, gyms, and the like. Some estimate that upwards of 2 million people might still die in America because of Lying Donald's stupidity. Remember, at first, according to Lying Donald it was all a Democratic plot, COVID-19 was fake news!

To pay for his tax give-a-way to the ruling class Lying Donald started dismantling government units that were designed to protect against pandemics.

The cuts started in 2018, as the White House focused on eliminating funding to Obama-era disease security programs. In March of that year, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, whose job it was to lead the U.S. response in the event of a pandemic, abruptly left the administration and his global health security team was disbanded.

That same year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was forced to slash its efforts to prevent global disease outbreak by 80% as its funding for the program began to run out. Also cut was the Complex Crises Fund, a $30 million emergency response pool that was at the secretary of state's disposal to deploy disease experts and others in the event of a crisis. (The fund was created by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.)

Overall in 2018, Trump called for $15 billion in reduced health spending that had previously been approved, as he looked at increasing budget deficits, cutting the global disease-fighting budgets of the CDC, National Security Council (NSC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Health and Human Services (HHS) in the process.

So, if grand-pater and grand-mater suddenly bite the big one, you have Lying Donald to thank for it, babies on up are dying, which includes you too, America!

In Other News

I see where the coronavirus could complicate the challenges of global warming, which presents serious, if longer-term, threats of its own, at a point when it was crucial to make rapid strides. For example, if capital markets lock up, it's going to become incredibly difficult for companies to secure the financing necessary to move ahead with any pending solar, wind, and battery projects, much less propose new ones. The only thing that is keeping the stock market from going into a death spiral is corporate greed which Lying Donald is feeding with more socialism for his masters.

Then global oil prices took a historic plunge on Monday, driven by a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia as well as coronavirus concerns. Cheap gas could make electric vehicles, already more expensive, a harder sell for consumers. It's why Tesla's stock crashed on Monday.

China produces a huge share of the world's solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and grid storage projects. Companies there have already said they're grappling with supply issues as well as declines in production and shipments, which have in turn slowed some renewables projects overseas. Any resulting clampdown on trade with the nation where the outbreak originated, which some members of the Lying Donald's administration are pushing for, will only further disrupt these clean-energy supply chain and distribution networks.

Rising health and financial fears could also divert public attention from the problem. Global warming has become an increasingly high priority for average voters in recent years, and the motivating force behind a rising youth activist movement around the world, building pressure on politicians to take serious action. But in the midst of an economic downturn and public health crisis, people would understandably become more focused on immediate health concerns and pocketbook issues-i.e. their jobs, retirement savings, and homes. The longer-term dangers of climate change would take a back seat.

As I've said on many occasions as the ice thaws world wide a whole new group of never before known viruses emerge to play havoc with mankind as well. Like the arctic which is caught in a loop that makes the area keep getting warmer and warmer we humans may get caught up in a similar virus loop!

And Finally

U.S. Con-gressman Rep. Matt Gaetz Rethuglican/Florida is off on a paid sick leave for thinking he might have contacted the Covid-19 virus and has self-quarantine himself at home and is still at it even though his tests came back negative. He can just lay around in his underwear and collect $3480.00 from you every week! Of course, that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what he makes in bribes from the corpo-rats!

You may recall that back in 2013 when Gaetz was a Florida Con-gressman he voted against giving Florida workers paid sick leave as back then he was a paid goon for Disney World which is the largest employer in the state (70,000) which was against giving their employees a paid sick leave. Imagine that. Matt is what Tweety Bird called a hypotwit!

Matt is what I call this week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner!

Keepin' On

If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep telling you the truth!


01-09-1941 ~ 03-12-2020
Thanks for the film!

04-13-1935 ~ 03-17-2020
Thanks for the film!

02-07-1932 ~ 03-17-2020
Thanks for the adventure!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2020 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, 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.

'In A Dark Time, The Eye Begins To See'
The Bernie 2020 Campaign Represents a Fight That Must Continue
By Norman Solomon

"In a dark time," poet Theodore Roethke wrote, "the eye begins to see."

No matter who wins the Democratic presidential nomination, many millions of people will refuse to unsee what has become all too clear. On the verge of spring 2020, we can see what we're up against:

** A crowing media establishment, eager to relegate the Bernie Sanders campaign to the political margins.

** A gloating Democratic Party establishment, glad to rally around Potemkin candidate Joe Biden and extol his carefully crafted facade.

** Overall, interlocking systems based on greed and corporate power instead of shared resources and genuine democracy.

On Tuesday night, there was no mistaking the smug joy of studio pundits and Democratic Party operatives on networks like AT&T-owned CNN and Comcast-owned MSNBC. Meanwhile, the New York Times rushed into print yet another all-out attack piece masquerading as a "news" article about Sanders.

Dominant media have routinely slanted coverage to make Sanders look bad, often bypassing context and skewing facts. It was just another day at the office last week when the Times front-paged a flagrant smear of Sanders as a supposed propaganda tool of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. A former U.S. ambassador to Moscow quickly denounced the story as a "distortion of history."

Such regular deceptions from a range of corporate media shouldn't surprise us, but they should never cease to outrage us. The same is true of the rampant corporate sleaziness in the upper reaches of the Democratic National Committee.

Corporate media and corporate Democrats want the Bernie 2020 campaign -- and the grassroots energy behind it -- to melt away. That's not going to happen.

Movements that have been propelling the Sanders campaign are here for the long haul -- as determined to keep fighting for social justice as top corporate executives are determined to keep collecting huge paychecks. (And that's saying something.)

The chances of Bernie winning the nomination have sharply diminished, but it's still possible. And no matter what: movements for basic social change and democracy will vitally persist with long-term struggles to wrest power out of the hands of oligarchs and their functionaries.

Candidates who rushed to endorse Biden after his big victory in South Carolina -- Michael Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker -- each personify, in their own way, what's so corrosive about standard-issue Democratic Party leaders. Their backgrounds and personalities vary widely, but they share a political space of opportunism and ultra-coziness with corporate power. (Meanwhile, during the crucial aftermath of her withdrawal from the race after Super Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren shed new light on her political character when she decided not to endorse Sanders.)

The antidote to anti-democratic poisons has nothing to do with cynicism, passivity or defeatism. The solutions will come from realism, activism and ongoing insistence that a better world is possible -- if we're willing to keep fighting for it.

(c) 2020 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Sanders Says Coronavirus A Red Flag for Current Dysfunctional and Wasteful Healthcare System:
'We are only as safe as the least insured person in America.' The Hotel Vermont, March 11, 2020 in Burlington, Vermont.

Trump Minimizing and Sugarcoating Coronavirus Perils; Bernie Must Continue Campaign
Bernie needs to continue his campaign to the Party's convention. Just like Jesse Jackson did in 1984 and Ronald Reagan did in 1976.
By Ralph Nader

Donald Trump can't fake his way through the coronavirus. It's spreading and doesn't respond to his delusions. Donald is flailing, failing, fibbing, stumbling, and scapegoating. With the stock market collapsing and the economy shaking, Donald fears defeat in November. Trump is a daily clear and present danger and he is the worst person to handle the COVID-19 crisis.

Last weekend, Trump and Mike Pence met with Brazilian officials at Mar-a-Lago, after which Brazilian President Bolsonaro's press secretary tested positive for COVID-19. Despite his potential exposure, Trump refuses to take the test for coronavirus. He should take paid sick leave and let competent, experienced people take the reins to combat the virus.

"Be calm," he says, "it will go away." "This is like the flu." On February 26, he falsely said the number of U.S. COVID-19 cases "within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero." The dangerous falsehoods continue to pour from his fevered mind.

Trump knows that during his tenure, he took innumerable actions that have made the United States more defenseless against this pandemic and other threats. He and the evil John Bolton aggressively moved to disable pandemic prevention forces in the U.S. government, boosted by supine, maniacal right-wing talk radio show hosts (Rush Limbaugh said the virus is "just a cold"). In 2018, the head of the pandemic response team, Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, left the National Security Council amid Bolton's restructuring. Once Ziemer was gone, Bolton dismantled the entire pandemic response team. Trump also pushed to slash the budgets of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health. Congress stopped the cuts but couldn't repeal the destructive policies of Trump and his henchmen.

Trump insanely decided to cut USAID's Predict program, a critical federal program that tracked infectious diseases. At the same time, he poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the bloated military empire budget with congressional complicity. According to Public Citizen, Trump wanted to cut the CDC's 2021 budget by $1.3 billion, down 19% from the previous year. The proposed CDC budget cuts included cutting $25 million in funding for the "preparedness and response programs."

This is sheer madness: Trump has chosen death over life. Draft-dodger Trump is stockpiling mass destruction weapons that can blow up the world many times over. But the determined golfer, right in the midst of this COVID-19 surge, did not stockpile ventilators, face masks, testing kits and other critical equipment and materials. Hospital capacity is perilously low and the number of reserve medical and nursing personnel is too small. What about readiness here at home?

Failing to head off a pandemic is what can be expected from a regime that sugarcoats and covers up its criminal negligence by not protecting the American people. Trump blathered about China since day one, but he allowed the U.S. drug companies to continue to outsource the production of most drugs to China and India. We're utterly dependent on that fragile supply chain because Big Pharma wanted to make even bigger profits-despite the handouts they already get in the form of big tax credits and free research and development of drugs by the National Institutes of Health. The U.S. government doesn't even have price ceilings on drugs, allowing pharmaceutical companies to gouge Americans. There's a real possibility of drug shortages soon.

Trump is trying to buy himself out of trouble through red ink deficit spending in the tens of billions to cushion businesses. At the same time, he balks at eliminating the huge tax cut he gave to big business and the wealthy to provide paid sick leave, paid medical care for the uninsured, and other assistance people will need. Poor people will especially need broader medical coverage, protections from evictions, and food assistance during the predicted crisis. Unemployment compensation funds need to be expanded during this coming recession.

New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote that "We're all socialists in a pandemic." That brings us to the daily vindication of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Suddenly, everyone - the banks, Wall Street, the airlines, the hospitality and tourist business, beleaguered small business, and others are expecting government agencies to help in all kinds of ways. The same CEO fat cats who, in the past decade, dumped seven trillion dollars of profits into unproductive, stock buybacks for their compensation metrics are looking to the government to stabilize their debt-ridden companies.

When I was campaigning for president in 2008 during the stock market crash, we hoisted a large banner at an anti-Wall Street rally that read, "Socialism bails out Capitalism." Bernie recognizes our mixed private/public economy. He wants a better balance so that the few/powerful, in their greed do not disproportionately benefit while the many powerless suffer. Bernie wants what western European democracies have long provided for all their people: Universal health care, tuition-free education (like we have for public high schools), living wages, stronger labor unions, and cooperatives, and other social safety net benefits long overdue in the world's biggest economy.

So long deprived of what they've earned, from frozen wages to looted pensions and consumer gouging, the people should shout out "what's the big deal, we are long overdue."

Bernie needs to continue his campaign to the Party's convention. Just like Jesse Jackson did in 1984 and Ronald Reagan did in 1976. To drop out is to calamitously let down his supporters, including voters yet to vote. He would forfeit going after Trump, with media coverage, in ways faltering and gaffe-prone Joe Biden can't or won't. He would lose his leverage, backed by legions of small donors, to get concessions from Biden and his entrenched Democrats. Besides, Biden could stumble before the convention.

So it's not just about voting margins in primaries; it's about policies for the present and future of America. Politics is about timing; now Bernie's proposals will receive more attention from everybody affected.

And everybody is affected by the looming coronavirus pandemic.

(c) 2020 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).

Late-Stage Imperial Omni-Crisis: Death By Virus And Internal Contradictions
By Glen Ford

The epidemic reveals the stark truth, that the US dismantled and privatized its public health system, to fatten the pockets of the oligarchy and render working people more helpless and dependent.

The nation that considers itself to be the apex of capitalist achievement on planet Earth turns out to have no health care system worthy of the name - a testament to the sucking moral vacuum at America's imperial, white settler colony core. A lowly virus - a form of being that exists at the very border between "life" and "not-life" - has revealed the world's superpower as butt-naked and very much afraid.

"The failing. Let's admit it," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on March 14 at a White House briefing. Fauci's outfit is one of 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and its Epidemic Intelligence Service. But this vast alphabet soup of agencies could not find enough coronavirus testing kits to cope with an outbreak in the tiniest Pacific island micro-state -- much less a nation of 330 million. As of March 11, the U.S. had tested only 7,000 people - in the most ad hoc and scientifically unproductive manner imaginable. By March 17, the total national count stood at 54,087 tests given, with 5,723 positive and 90 recorded deaths. But the pattern of testing is everywhere inadequate and in some states all but non-existent, ranging from 12,486 tested persons in Washington, the second-hardest hit state, to only 146 tested persons in Georgia. All 146 tested Georgians are also listed as infected, which indicates that Georgia only tests people that show up very sick at its hospitals. New York, with the highest number of infected, had only tested 7,206 people as of early this week, with a relatively high percentage of them infected.

These are not statistics of a failing health care system, but of a country that has no system - the conclusion reached by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. "The dirty little secret, which will soon become apparent to all, is that there is no real public health system in the United States," wrote Reich in his Newsweek column. "America is waking up to the fact that it has almost no public capacity to deal with it. Instead of a public health system, we have a private for-profit system for individuals lucky enough to afford it and a rickety social insurance system for people fortunate enough to have a full-time job."

There are no buttons for the Centers for Disease Control to push in response to the epidemic, because decades of corporate duopoly privatization has hollowed out the U.S. public health sector, so that it barely functions on good days. Even the Veterans Administration hospital system, the closest thing the U.S. has to "socialized" medicine on the British model, has been forced by corporate members of Congress to outsource much of its services to for-profit companies and cut in-house treatment capacity to the bone. This is the "creative destruction" that the oligarchs who own the U.S. brag about -- their great contribution to civilization. Thus, local, state and federal officials must resort to calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to build the needed hospital beds from the ground up, while the epidemic rages, citing the U.S. military experience with ebola in West Africa. If that is the rationale, then the U.S. should also call on Cuba for rescue from the coronavirus, since Havana sent 256 doctors, nurses and other health professionals to provide direct care to ebola victims - while the U.S. military refused to touch even one sick African.

Poor Bernie Sanders. Had the epidemic struck a month earlier, it would have provided a ghastly mass education on the non-existent state of the U.S. public health system, presumably resulting in landslide support for the Medicare-for-All advocate. But then, maybe not. When U.S. realities are filtered through a monopoly corporate media lens, truth becomes as scarce as the hospital beds, ventilators and protective gear that is missing from the public health sphere. The Black political (misleadership) class, which is wholly answerable to one of the corporate parties responsible for systematically destroying public health care, would still have endorsed the oligarchs' champion, Joe Biden, as instructed - and then blamed the epidemic on Trump. However, as Robert Reich noted, "the system would be failing even under a halfway competent president." Competence can't provide beds, kits, gear, equipment, medicines and doctors and nurses that don't exist.

Not soon enough, but very shortly, much of the nation will learn more than they ever wanted to about the pathology of late stage, "Race to the Bottom" capitalism, under the most stressful circumstances of curfew, economic panic, and mass sickness and death. Just as there is no public health system because the Lords of Capital grew fatter through the wholesale privatizing of health services, so have these same oligarchs prospered from the unrelenting assault on the rest of the social safety net, and from the imposition of the "shit job," "gig" economy. The goal of the austerity regime and "gig" employment is to make working people so insecure, so desperate, that they will accept any job, at any wage, under any conditions and schedule. To achieve this capitalists' nirvana, the state must be stripped of the tools that previous generations created to provide working people with healthier and more economically secure lives. These are the same tools that are missing, thanks to privatizing capitalist stooges like Joe Biden, now that the epidemic has hit.

There are now no easy buttons to push to force employers to pay workers that obey civil authorities' instructions to stay home, or to compel private medical corporations to forego anticipated profits by turning over their inventories and facilities to the State, for the sake of the common good. Therefore, corporate politicians, from Trump down, are proposing one-time payouts of cash for the commoners, in addition to the usual trillions in bailouts and gifts to corporations and banks. In the absence of a real system of labor regulation enforcement, or an unemployment compensation structure that could actually reach most of the working population, "helicopter money" is the quickest and best that the corporate-owned state can do. More importantly, the one-off payouts leave no trace of a safety net behind, once the epidemic is over. The "Race to the Bottom" can resume under calmer circumstances (the Lords of Capital dearly hope).

Of course, that assumes the stock market was reacting to the global spread of coronavirus when it lost the most points in history this month, rather than unraveling of its own contradictions. It appears to many observers that late stage capitalism -- and its protective armor, U.S. imperialism - are suffering from multiple crises, and deeply sick. The price of Texas crude has dropped to about $25, a symptom of a profound slowdown in the world economy. The capitalist "crisis of legitimacy" may have passed the point of no-return, as the Corporate State proves daily that it cannot perform the basic function of protecting the lives of its citizens. And those citizens have become aware that the oligarchs - their rulers -- are the vectors of mass insecurity, sickness and death. President Trump, through his Department of Housing and Urban Development, has suspended all evictions and foreclosures until the end of April -- a move that candidate and president Barack Obama refused to make, at the height of the 2007-08 crisis. If even "the worst president in history" takes such a step, the Democratic "opposition" will find it difficult to resist much more comprehensive demands from its "base" - with or without an active Sanders "movement." The austerity "Race to the Bottom" regime may become a casualty of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile China, the society that presents the largest threat to U.S. world domination, appears to have pulled itself out of health crisis through the exertions of its amazing command economy. The Chinese have delivered 10,000 coronavirus kits to Poland and are "airlifting masks, respirators and other critical supplies" to Italy to make up for Germany and France's refusal to provide these vital medical goods to their European Union partner. Just as China pulled the planet out of the Great Recession, it may also emerge even stronger from the Coronaviris crisis.

"Aunty" Maxine (Waters) and "Uncle" Jim (Clyburn) can rally frightened Black voters around Biden and other corporate servants, but they cannot save the system from its internal contradictions. The Black Misleaders' days are also numbered, along with their masters.

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

What Happened To Trump's Peace Deal?
By Jim Hightower

When dealing in matters of war and peace, shouldn't a president sort of know what he or she is doing? But that's not Donald Trump's way.

On February 29, he grandly announced that he had cut a peace deal to end America's deadly, costly war against Afghanistan's repressive Taliban. But - oops! - only three days later, the war suddenly restarted.

What happened is that poor Donald is simply in over his head in dealing with the complex and perplexing collection of regional warlords who make up the Taliban's fierce and treacherous fighting force. Indeed, just hours before his peace accord literally blew up in his face, Trump bragged that he had talked personally with "the leader of the Taliban" and been assured that they wanted peace. But it turns out that the guy our President called was not the leader of that fractious group of warriors, but a career Taliban politician who had long ago had a falling out with the warlords.

As the CIA's former chief of counterterrorism could have told Trump, if asked, the contingent of dealmakers he was talking to "are largely disconnected from and disrespected by the Taliban's senior leadership." But, as we've learned, it's not this president's style to listen to people smarter and more knowledgeable than he is. So that's why his peace deal lasted three days.

The larger lesson, though, is that brute military force by an outside power - whether in Afghanistan, Vietnam, or wherever next - is not a path to victory, much less peace. For years, even as Bush, Obama, Trump, and their political enablers were bragging that they were bringing democracy to Afghanistan, they were jiving and outright lying. As one strategic Army planner has now admitted: "We didn't know what we were doing."

Tell that to the thousands who've died from the ignorance and lies of our so-called leaders.

(c) 2020 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

President Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office about the widening coronavirus crisis on March 11, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

We Need A President Who Cares If We Live Or Die. Instead We Have Trump
By William Rivers Pitt

So the kids they dance and shake their bones
And the politicians throwin' stones
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down
Ashes, ashes, all fall down...
-"Throwing Stones," John Perry Barlow / Bob Weir
We have a bad national habit of allowing a low bar to be set for our leaders, especially when we already know their flaws. A bad politician in a debate, for example, can be said to have done well if they didn't accidentally light their podium on fire; by thwarting their own dim-bulb arsonist tendencies, they "outperformed expectations."

The nation needed a president last night, if only for about 10 minutes. Instead, we got Donald J. Trump, who went on prime-time network television from the Oval Office and set the Resolute desk - once the work station of John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama - fully on fire with a Molotov cocktail of lies, nonsense and rank xenophobia that plunged the nation deeper into turmoil and distress.

Like many millions of Americans along with billions around the world, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is of immediate and pressing concern for me. I do not believe this thing is going to turn into the lost chapter from Stephen King's The Stand - though the burial pits in Iran that are visible from space do fit the profile - but I am charged to guard the health and welfare of an elderly mother with lung issues and a daughter who attends public school.

For reasons virologists are striving to understand, the virus seems to be going out of its way to spare children, thank Dog, but my mother sits directly in the pandemic's crosshairs. COVID-19 surrounds our corner of New Hampshire on five sides according to the Johns Hopkins outbreak map, and if the pattern from China to Italy to Seattle to Boston holds true, one or all of those five outbreak locations will soon bloom. We have been lucky here, but that luck will not hold forever.

Like those millions and billions, this thing is knocking on my door. I needed a president to tell me about the availability of testing for the virus, about deliberate actions taken to contain the spread, about social distancing and other preventative measures, about preparedness for a disruption that may last weeks. I needed to know there was a steady hand on the wheel, if only for a few minutes. I needed to know the facts if I am to properly protect my people, and by proxy my community.

Of course, this president let me down. Donald Trump's barefaced unreliability is the single most reliable aspect of his existence, and last night, it was a cold and bracing wind upon a vexed and troubled land.

The gross xenophobia of Trump's prime-time address, like virtually every other aspect of his "leadership," was both astonishing and thoroughly unsurprising in equal measure. His invocation of a war against a "foreign virus" was a perfect echo of his racist attacks upon immigrants and refugees. Linking diseases to outsiders is an old canard peddled by dubious leaders down through history. Last night, it was precisely the wrong medicine, a hot dose of hate intended only for his base.

And then there were the lies, and the other lies, and more lies to boot.

Trump told the country that major U.S. insurance companies "have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments." Before the echo from the speech faded, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a muscular insurance industry lobbying group, jumped up to say no, nope, no coverage for treatment. Only "for testing," they said.

Translation: Here's a free test. Oh, looks like you have the virus. Good luck affording the treatment, which could become financially debilitating in a day. Help yourself to some hand sanitizer before you leave, but please make sure to sanitize your hands before touching the hand sanitizer. How? Not my problem.

"We need data, meaning the ability to test more people to understand where community transmission might be occurring," counsels Aaron E. Carroll in The New York Times. "We need to protect those who are most vulnerable, supporting their ability to self-quarantine. We need to convince people who might be sick, even mildly so, to stay home. And we need to make it economically possible for them to do so. Without quick action, what we're seeing in other countries may happen here, with terrible consequences."

Even the tests are hard to come by. On Thursday morning, Congress was informed that only 11,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted to date nationwide. That translates to about five tests for every million citizens. South Korea, by comparison, is currently conducting 10,000 tests per day. Great Britain, with its national health care system, has had accurate drive-through COVID-19 testing available for a week. You don't even have to get out of your car. Beep twice for the obvious lesson here.

I am not going to bother trying to parse President Fuckwit's galactic "European travel ban" garble-warble from last night. As with his claims regarding insurance coverage, his foray into internationalism once again devolved into a festival of market-bending nonsense that sent stocks into yet another tailspin on Thursday.

"Although he read from a prepared script as he delivered a rare prime-time televised address to the nation from the Oval Office," reports an intensely polite Washington Post, "Trump incorrectly described his own policy." This is a kind way of saying the president of the United States exploded an already-fragile set of international relationships by getting even the simplest, broadest details of his own policy wrong on live television before a global audience.

In the face of a pandemic, this president has counseled tax cuts as a cure, a gambit George W. Bush perfected after September 11. Meanwhile, the NBA has suspended its season until further notice, the NCAA basketball tournaments will be played in empty stadiums if they are played at all, Tom Hanks and his wife have the virus and found out because they are in Australia where testing is also readily available, a Senate staffer has tested positive as well, but never fear, because Jared Kushner is "in total control" of the crisis for the White House.

Donald Trump cares about nothing beyond what is in the service of Donald Trump. He is facing this pandemic as if it were a nettlesome campaign speedbump. I am facing this pandemic in low terror of what it means for my family, wondering if I am ready as I strive to be so. In this, I am far from alone.

In the absence of presidential leadership, never mind minimal presidential competence, we must be our own leaders and take care of our families and communities as best we can. We play with a stacked deck - the potential collapse of an overwhelmed for-profit health system, tens of millions uninsured, half a million homeless, millions more who are elderly, infirm or immunocompromised - as we watch what Italy and other nations are enduring.

This is coming, in one form or another, and as Donald Trump has made clear, all we have is each other, because we don't have much else.

(c) 2020 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.

Empty shelves are visible at a Target retail store in Contra Costa County, San Ramon, California,
as residents purchase all available stock of toilet paper, paper towels, canned goods, hand sanitizer
and other essential items during an outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, March 12, 2020.

The New Abnormal
By Randall Amster

This is a moment, to be sure. There aren't many of this magnitude over the course of a lifetime, and the effects can linger for decades after the immediate emergency passes. Whatever shape the trajectory of the coronavirus takes in the weeks ahead, the sociocultural implications alone are staggering and will continue to reverberate. Moments of crisis can call forth panic and fear, evidently, but they can also elicit bonds of community and expressions of solidarity. Whatever transpires, it will be meaningful.

Like you, I'm trying to make sense of this moment. Grade schools are closed and my university is going virtual for the foreseeable future. Mainstream stores are getting picked clean (despite people outwardly dismissing suggestions of panicking), while the local food coop's bulk aisle seems to have more people looking out of place and unsure about how to bag and tag their gleanings. Then the President takes the pulpit, reminding us that this is the greatest disaster response ever and that everyone else is to blame.

've spent (too) many years studying, researching, teaching, and just plain grooving on dystopian and apocalyptic parables. As a grad student back in the Y2K days, one of my earliest solo courses explored film and literature in the genre (circa 2000). In the years between, I taught courses on utopian theory and practice, visiting intentional communities and other experiments in living. Now, I'm facilitating a seminar course on "ecotopian visions" that explores similar themes of action, imagination, and emotion.

I share this here to provide some context for my observations. I don't know what will happen next, obviously, and this is clearly an unprecedented situation-like an earthquake or hurricane but on a national/global scale, and with a more complex vector of human impact while leaving infrastructure basically intact. Holding this up to the arc of narrative depictions, it feels like we've just entered the second reel of the flick: innocent observation has yielded to improvised adjustment, as reality sets in.

In the third reel, things often deteriorate to the point where all bets are off that a recovery to "business as usual" will ever be possible-all while a plucky band of protagonists makes their way through the rubble together. Some of them get picked off in the process: will it be the portly comic-relief character, the flower child urging kindness, the lone person of color on the core team? We're not there yet, and this could still turn out to recede in a few weeks' time. Unfortunately, that doesn't make for a movie.

Even at this relatively early juncture, though, the seeds of disconcerting drama are sown. As my teen son said upon returning from a provisioning (scavenging?) run to a few local stores, 'it's a lot to take in to see our country so messed up right now.' True, although the "bare cupboard" hoarding aesthetic on display also suggests just how paper-thin the line between business as usual and Lord of the Flies might be. (At least it seems that way, notwithstanding any indiscriminate neighborliness just outside the media gaze.)

If the only choices are between "Business as Usual" (BaU) and pandemic pandemonium, then the former will be preferable to most. Yet that only serves to mask the deeper realization that BaU wasn't working so well to begin with, and is a primary reason we're in this remarkable moment at all. The simmering cauldron of political vitriol, reifications of otherness, escalating inequality, endless war, even more endless waste, and a rapidly warming world hasn't exactly set us in good stead to weather the storm.

Still, there is an obvious silver lining here, which might help us either (a) move into reel three with our dignity intact or (b) refuse to go back to the "long emergency" normality of BaU if this crisis too shall pass. What the last few days have shown us, for better or worse, is that apparently we can mobilize at a societal level: deeply rooted social norms can change quickly and ingrained purchasing patterns can be upended. As it turns out, the no-exit view of impossible change at scale wasn't quite, you know, true.

We can afford such musings in reel two, caught up in the heady anxiety of preparation and transition, staring into the abyss of close quarters and too much idle time to think. There's a certain exhilaration in seeing the old normal wane, even as there's terror in not knowing where the new normal will settle-or if/when it ever will. We have no template for this moment, coping with a speculative viral neutron bomb that has emptied stores, streets, and social interfaces in rapid fashion. None of this is remotely normal.

Indeed, it's all so strange, yet familiar. We've seen this story unfold, or at least something in the general area. A culture obsessed with end-time prophecies and zombie-apocalypse allegories is always a step away from the precipice. There's a cyclicality to this moment, a routineness to the rupture. Somehow we've made the mundane apocalyptic, and the apocalypse mundane. 'Are we allowed to play outside?' asks my erstwhile cynical teen, on cue. 'Yes, totally, I was hoping you would.' Now let's normalize that.

(c) 2020 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., is Director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University. Among his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009) and the co-edited volume Exploring the Power of Nonviolence: Peace, Politics, and Practice (Syracuse University Press, 2013).

Who Was Saint Patrick?
By James Donahue

March 17 is St. Patrick's Day all over the world. People in the United States, Japan, Argentina, Russia, Great Britain and Malaysia are all among the people of the world who join the Irish in celebrating the holiday by wearing green, tipping green ale, holding parades and telling Irish jokes.

So who was Saint Patrick, and how did the day become such an international time of celebration?

Little is really known about St. Patrick. Most school children will say the man was known for driving the snakes out of Ireland, but that is a strange tale. Ireland, which is a large body of land surrounded by water, has never had snakes.

All that is known about the man was that he was born in Scotland in the year 387 C.E., was the son of a Roman family, and at the age of 16 was kidnapped by Irish marauders who sold him into slavery to a Celtic chieftain named Milchu in the County of Antrim, Ireland.

In Patrick's own writings, known as the Confessio, we learn that Milchu was a high priest among the druids. Thus Patrick learned the Celtic and Druid beliefs. He eventually escaped his captivity, made his way to St. Martin's monastery at Tours, and studied Catholicism under St. Germain at Auxerre. After entering the priesthood, St. Germain sent Patrick back into Ireland to win the "heathen" Celts into Christianity. He died on March 17, 493 C.E..

While credited with bringing Catholicism to Ireland and remembered for leading many people to the faith, Patrick was not declared a saint by the Vatican until 1631. After that time the Irish began holding a religious feast day celebrating the day of St. Patrick's death.

Strangely, not all of the Irish are ripe with praise for the ministry of St. Patrick. That country has been severely divided between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. Yet for some strange reason, the celebration of St. Patrick's Day has grown into a world-wide event. For most it appears to be more of a rite of spring than a remembrance of the missionary work of a Catholic priest.

The celebration didn't really get recognized as a major event until after the Irish began migrating in large numbers to the United States. It was there that parades, the introduction of the shamrock and green beer, and all of the other frivolous activities associated with the day were introduced.

Some writers suggest that St. Patrick's Day gave the Irish a special day of national pride. The celebrations had little if anything to do with religion.

This is clearly evident in the fact that people of all ethnic, religious and political backgrounds all over the world join with the Irish in tipping one for St. Patrick on March 17.

(c) 2020 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.

Top 10 Reasons The U.S. Government Is Blowing This
By David Swanson

10. Recognizing that a problem that has grown severe in other countries could grow severe in the United States would require thinking of the United States as existing in the same world, susceptible to the same forces, as everyone else. A willingness to recognize that would have led to earlier action and wiser action more coordinated with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the United States is supposed to be exceptional.

9. Recognizing that there are crises that can't be addressed by shooting or bombing anyone would have led to different preparations and different emergency responses. Newt Gingrich, who took the lead in preventing demilitarization after the supposed end of the cold war, thinks now is the time to invest in human needs. David Frum, who helped launch the past 19 years of wars, agrees. But CNBC has published an op-ed proposing that NATO declare war on coronavirus. It's too late boys, the military madness has taken hold. This is a country where people shoot guns at hurricanes. Trump fired the team of people that was supposed to deal with pandemics, and claims he doesn't even know he did it - and probably he doesn't. The U.S. government has been reduced to an appendage of a military, so that even the remaining officials who are supposed to be dealing with coronavirus publicly rely on studies from rightwing think tanks to know what it is that they themselves have supposedly done.

8. There is widespread belief across the political and ideological spectrum in the United States that one can invent reality, that one can pick which channels to watch, which social media to block out, which experts to believe, etc. - and create a reality that's actually real, that actually exists outside of one's head. So, if you'd rather not stay home for two weeks, no problem! Just read something that says you don't have to!

7. The United States is alone among wealthy nations in lacking basic health coverage as a human right for all. This prevents proper planning and prevention, and leaves people without a doctor to call, and without the ability to afford healthcare if they could get it.

6. The United States is a similar outlier when it comes to lacking paid sick leave and financial security. Millions of people cannot afford to stay home; if they do they'll soon have no home to stay home to. Others already have no home to stay home to. The U.S. reality reinforces the ideology that established it, which holds that we're not all in this together.

5. The U.S. government is so corrupted that it can dump money on banks but not on human beings. Any crisis is an opportunity to attack what's left of the safety net, not an occasion to make use of it. What's needed is a guaranteed income, paid leave, expanded Social Security, and forgiveness of debt. But all that comes oozing out of the swamp are banker bailouts, threats to Social Security, and excuses.

4. A lot of people have gone to a lot of trouble to try to stop Bernie Sanders' campaign, which promises a platform including enhanced Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and taxation of the wealthy and corporations and financial transactions. How would it look to have to enact some of these policies as emergency measures right in the middle of trying to destroy Bernie's campaign, right in this moment when he himself is on the edge of joining in the pretense that he's already lost? That would be a real shame.

3. Through a majorly corrupt election system, the United States has put into an office holding beyond-royal levels of power, an absolute imbecile with zero interest in the public good. Were Donald Trump to try to help, he'd only make things worse. And he has very little motivation to try. The so-called opposition in Congress has refused to even try to impeach him for dozens of serious offenses, and granted him virtual immunity by impeaching and acquitting him with a far weaker charge. He knows he won't be impeached now.

2. Failing to take the biggest problems seriously is a well-established habit. Coronavirus seems different to some people. By shifting a bit of pocket change from billionaires to people who need to stay home from work, millions of lives could be protected from risk. Such a calculation is unfamiliar to ethics classes in U.S. academia, where the question is always whether one should save lives by murdering a smaller number of lives. But it's also unfamiliar to the U.S. public, media, and government. Failing to invest in a Green New Deal puts billions of lives at risk. Failure to rein in the nuclear weapon profiteers does too. The lack of a decent healthcare system is a long-established killer. Poverty and homelessness and mass-incarceration are long-accepted horrors, made virtually invisible by their normalization, deadly and devastating though they are. What's surprising is the extent to which anyone is taking coronavirus seriously, not the failure to take it seriously enough.

1. The United States has been suffering under a prolonged and severe shortage of democracy, self-governance, civic engagement, and activism. Beyond the overworked, over-drugged population watching too much television, we're dealing with a system of "news" and communications that educates people against activism, that sells disempowerment in between every pair of ads for cars and beers. If people won't take mass collective action in response to any of the other abuse they've been dealt in recent decades, they certainly won't figure out how to do so when gathering in large groups is itself the problem that needs to be addressed.

(c) 2020 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.

The Maori negotiated a treaty settlement with the government recognizing that the
Whanganui River, or Te Awa Tupua (which refers to the entire river system "and
all its physical and metaphysical elements"
), has the rights of a legal person.

If Corporations Have Legal Rights, Why Not Rivers?
By David Suzuki

A popular sign at climate marches reads, "System Change, Not Climate Change."

What does system change look like? Environmental crises such as climate disruption and plastic pollution have led many to suggest it means moving from a perpetual-growth economic system to a circular one, reforming land management to co-management with Indigenous Peoples and shifting from extractive, polluting energy sources to renewables.

Our society is constantly evolving its ideas and approaches. There are no doubt systems changes that have not yet been dreamed of. But in considering how to make systems more equitable and sustainable, one change underpins all others: a change in our relationship with nature.

The Western relationship is one of dominance. Government agencies that manage ecosystems are called "natural resource" departments, inferring that nature is a resource for human exploitation. Every inch of the planet has been petitioned for human ownership. The mainstream view is that nature is property, not a living, generative force. It's a perspective upheld by our legal systems. People "own" farm animals, we can legally deplete the ocean of fish, and when private companies drain public aquifers for profit, communities must go to court to challenge them.

Under Western legal systems, the concept of "personhood" includes rights, powers, duties and liabilities. In many countries, corporations are recognized as having legal "personhood" and accompanying rights as well. Recently, as a reflection of Indigenous leadership and world views, the legal rights of personhood have in some instances been extended beyond people and corporations to nature itself.

In New Zealand, after centuries of advocating for a river they identified as their life force, the Maori negotiated a treaty settlement with the government recognizing that the Whanganui River, or Te Awa Tupua (which refers to the entire river system "and all its physical and metaphysical elements"), has the rights of a legal person.

According to David Boyd, author of The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution that Could Save the World, this recognition, formalized in law in early 2017, means that, "In short, the Whanganui River is no longer owned by humans but by itself, Te Awa Tupua." The law puts the interests of the river first and contains safeguards against privatization and harm, and enables citizens to sue government and corporations on the river's behalf.

When the legislation passed - with support from all political parties - New Zealand Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said, "Our environment, however we want to describe it, is our ancestor and from where we come, and, therefore, we owe our environment everything - our life, our existence, our future. The law slowly is starting to find ways - clumsy and not perfect by any means, but it is slowly trying to find ways to understand that core concept."

New Zealand offers an introduction to an unfolding story. Numerous initiatives worldwide are aimed at bestowing legal personhood and accompanying rights to nature, including rivers, forests and mountains. New Zealand has since given the same rights to a 2,000-square-kilometre former national park known as Te Urewera and to Mount Taranaki.

Unfortunately, in addition to being clumsy, some of these laws contain loopholes government can use to override nature's rights. Enforcement in many regions has also proven to be a challenge, especially when changes to mainstream resource extraction practices are required.

Some Indigenous experts also point to significant limitations with the Western concept of "legal personhood," especially when viewed alongside Indigenous laws. Anishinaabe-Metis lawyer and law professor Aimee Craft said in an email, "Indigenous laws tell us that nibi (water) is living - it has life and can take life. Recognizing the agency and spiritedness of water is distinct from the concept of legal rights of water or personhood. Indigenous legal orders can provide insight into the mechanisms by which we can honour our responsibilities to water, in all of its forms."

The Western relationship with nature has led to climate and biodiversity crises. System change does not happen overnight. But it has begun, and this is a source of hope. As many Indigenous Peoples worldwide have articulated, we come from nature and are kin to it. We don't own it. To develop news systems of sustenance and respect, we must move collectively beyond seeing nature as merely something to exploit.

(c) 2020 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Trump declares national emergency in coronavirus fight

Trump's Coronavirus Presser Was An In-Kind Contribution To Joe Biden's Campaign
Meanwhile, we should be serious for a bit. Listen to the serious people. Look, as Mr. Rogers advised us, for the helpers.
By Charles P. Pierce

Someday, in the dim twilight of our gotterdammerung, when we're fighting tooth and claw for the last edible nematode on the planet, let's all take a moment to recall that Yamiche Alcindor of PBS once tried to save the world as we once knew it.

YA: You said you don't take responsibility, but you did disband the White House pandemic office, and the officials working in that office left the administration abruptly. What responsibility you take for that? And officials that worked in the office said the White House lost valuable time? What do you make of that?

THE PRESIDENT: It is a nasty question. What we have done is we have saved thousands of lives because of the quick closing. And when you say me, I didn't do it. We have a group of people. I could ask, perhaps my administration, but I could ask tony about that, because I don't know anything about it. You say we did that. I don't know anything about it.

Having already denied responsibility for any mistakes that had been made in relation to the global pandemic here at home, the president* then explained that he was not responsible for anything that happened within his administration. If there were a cock to crow in the Rose Garden, he'd be dead from exhaustion by now.

Anyway, the press conference was a joke but, in its defense, it probably counts as an in-kind contribution to Joe Biden's eventual general election campaign.

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Four Women" (Nina Simone): Yeah, I still pretty much love New Orleans.

Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: Here are some horses being treated for horse flu in England in 1949. It is not easy work, as you can tell from the people trying to get the horse to take the pill. I have a feeling that by about week two of self-quarantine, Grandpa and Meemaw are going to be pretty much in the same temper. History is so cool. Is it a good day for dinosaur news, Nature? It's always a good day for dinosaur news!

Here we describe an exceptionally well-preserved and diminutive bird-like skull that documents a new species, which we name Oculudentavis khaungraae gen. et sp. nov. The find appears to represent the smallest known dinosaur of the Mesozoic era, rivalling the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae)-the smallest living bird-in size. The O. khaungraae specimen preserves features that hint at miniaturization constraints, including a unique pattern of cranial fusion and an autapomorphic ocular morphology9 that resembles the eyes of lizards.
We all have our miniaturization constraints, after all, not that it matters or anything. Even tiny dinosaurs lived then to make us happy now.

We should be serious for a bit. Listen to the serious people. Look, as Mr. Rogers advised us, for the helpers. They really are out there. For the first time, I've aged into a "vulnerable category." It feels very weird. I also have Medicare, which I adore, and which I wish everybody had. My mother was hit with polio during the 1950s and spent considerable time in an iron lung. It scarred her for life. Epidemics do that. Call your kids. Call your folks. Keep in touch.

The shebeen will conduct business as usual, unless, of course, I get hit by another car. My self-quarantine has been materially affected by the cancellation of all sports, especially the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments. (I am severely Markus Howard-and-Sabrina Ionescu-deprived. I also am suffering from a severe Ernie-Jet-and-Chuck depletion.) It was the right call and I'm glad they made it, but damn, it really does put a hole in my year. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Wash your damn hands and stay above the snake-line, or the ghosts of a hundred angry nuns will descend upon you and ruin your whole day.

(c) 2020 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"There are no winners here. Only degrees of losing."
~~~ Charles O'Shea ~ the lead retail analyst at Moody's

A heated-up earth is one where pandemic diseases will thrive.

Why Burning Fossil Fuels Is To Today's Pandemics As Fleas Were To The Black Death
By Juan Cole

Sheri Fink at the NYT reports that Center for Disease Control scientific modeler Matthew Biggerstaff estimated in a conference call that the coronavirus pandemic could last for many months or as long as a year and could infect half to two-thirds of the population of the United States. Between 200,000 and 1.7 million people could die.

The Trump administration could have avoided this prospect by swinging into action with testing kits, tracking cases, and selective isolation practices months ago. Instead, Trump did nothing, and indeed, tried to deny the severity of the threat. He has still been lying about it this week, worried about how the outbreak will affect the stock market or the economy or, apparently, his image. But his weird insouciance and clear cluelessness had the opposite effect of the one he was going for, tanking the market. It wouldn't have been necessary to close down so many things and harm the economy so deeply if steps had been taken early on.

There is an exact analogy between Trump's treatment of Covid-19 and his treatment of the climate emergency. In both cases, he and his surrogates attacked the science and took pride in giving the finger to reality. Trump actually promotes coal and petroleum, the dirtiest fossil fuels, as though he is impatient to see the lower floors of his Trump Tower in Manhattan under water. Likewise, he takes pride in holding infectious rallies and shaking hands. Last weekend, he met with another Covid-19 and Climate Emergency denialist, Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, whose government spokesman was along for the trip and was a carrier of Covid-19. So Trump and the Mar-a-Lago gang were exposed because of being damn fools.

People who don't believe in science might have difficulty accepting this, but the climate emergency is deeply connected to disease and the potential for epidemics, according to the scientists at the World Health Organization. That's right. The high end threat of one-point-seven million dead Americans is only the beginning if we go on burning coal, petroleum and other hydrocarbons. We are putting some 36 billion metric tons (about 40 billion US tons) of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. This is like blowing up atomic bombs in the sky constantly, lots of them. It makes things hot.

It also makes things dirty. Poor lung health is a serious risk factor for dying of Covid-19, and people who live near coal power plants or along highways or in cities with car- and power-plant-polluted air typically have poor lung health. Breathing air polluted by burning hydrocarbons produces the lung disease of emphysema the same way smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 29 years would. It is worth noting that Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus, is China's 14th most air-polluted city. (And that is saying something. When I went to Beijing in 2015, I could barely see two feet in front of my face sometimes, and my trip to the Great Wall was spoiled by impenetrable smog.) Some proportion of Covid-19 deaths in China were certainly because of the long history of burning masses of coal there. (China has made slow progress in moving to renewables, reducing coal-generated electricity from 85 percent to 60 percent; but 60 percent is a lot, and China won't even stop building new coal plants until 2030).

As for the novel coronavirus itself, we do not know if China's warmer winters compared to a century ago allowed it to thrive during a season when the cold used to sterilize things. Some viruses actually like it to be warmer- MERS is like that. The virus is thought to be a zoonose, transmitted among bats or perhaps pangolins, which crossed directly to humans because people in Wuhan eat those meats. Guess what? The climate emergency is going to set bats, pangolins and many other animals in motion, fleeing as their food dies out in mass extinctions, and their habitats heat up, or dry out, or burn down or are flooded. The resultant mass migration of animals will put them in direct contact with human populations, hugely expanding the chance that pathogens will leap from them to humans. Further, the negative impact of global heating on livestock raising could push people in some parts of the world toward eating more bushmeat, raising the chances of cross-species infection.

Worse, a heated-up earth of the sort we are creating for our children and grandchildren will have loads of thriving pandemic diseases, helped on by the expansion of the tropics. Renee Cho at Columbia University's Earth Institute observed,

"Malaria killed 627,000 in 2012 alone. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change will be associated with longer transmission seasons for malaria in some regions of Africa and an extension of the disease's geographic range." Then there is cholera, dengue fever, the hantavirus, the West Nile virus, etc., etc.
If we go on heating the earth so radically and rapidly, pandemics could become a way of life. For one thing, in those areas like the US Southwest that will be made dryer by the climate crisis, people's mucus membranes will be dryer and so won't be able to keep the moisture needed to expel bacteria and viruses.

The tragedy is that we already have the solution. It is cheaper to build and run new wind and solar farms than just to try to go on operating a coal plant. Loads of electric vehicles are coming online with respectable range and at an increasingly affordable price. We don't have to put ourselves and the next generations through hell. It is a matter of political will.

(c) 2020 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 Dead Letter Office-

Jail house Matt

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer Gaetz,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge Samuel (the con) Alito.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your blocking a vote on an emergency paid sick leave bill while using your government paid sick leave, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-23-2020. We salute you herr Gaetz, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?
By Robert Reich

It used to be that people who owned a lot of things could protect themselves and their things by erecting sturdy houses and, if necessary, putting a lock on the door. Today, it seems, that's not enough. It's estimated that three million American households live within gated communities - twenty thousand of them, often equipped with private security guards and electronic surveillance systems. Some years ago, the town of Rosemont, Illinois, erected a beige wrought-iron fence. Rosemont is a suburb of Chicago, with a population of four thousand, and it has one of the largest auxiliary police forces in the United States.

A wall is being erected around the nation, too - an outer perimeter, separating the United States from the Third World. So far, our national wall extends along only sixty-four miles of the nearly two-thousand-mile border with Mexico, but Congress has appropriated funds for lengthening it and also fortifying it.

The urge to erect walls seems to be growing, just as disparities in wealth are widening. Many of the Americans who reside within gates like Rosemont's have become substantially wealthier during the past several years, whereas a great many Americans who live outside the gates have not. (One man, appropriately named Bill Gates, has a net worth roughly equaling the combined net worth of the least wealthy forty percent of American households.)

On a much larger scale, inhabitants of the planet who reside at latitudes north of the national wall are diverging economically from those who live south of it. The consequence is that at both perimeters - the town wall and the national wall - outsiders are more desperate to get in and insiders are more determined to keep them out. Yet the inconvenient fact is that increasingly, in the modern world, the value of what the insiders own and of the work they do depends on what occurs outside.

Half a world away from Rosemont are places whose currencies, denominated in bahts, ringgits, rupiahs, and won, began toppling more than a year ago, and seem to have come to rest only in the last several weeks at levels far below where they started. This has caused most of these countries' citizens to become far poorer. An Indonesian who had worked for the equivalent of three dollars and thirty-three cents a day before the rupiah's decent is now working for about one dollar and twelve cents. Efforts by the International Monetary Fund to build back the "confidence" of global investors in these nations by conditioning loans on the nation's willingness to raise interest rates and cut their public spending have had the unfortunate side effect of propelling more of their citizens into ever more desperate poverty. After the tremors spread to Russia last summer, and it defaulted on its short-term loans, the worldwide anxiety grew, spreading all the way to Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, with the widest gap between rich and poor. In return for its promise of austerity, Brazil is now set to receive an international line of credit totaling forty-one and a half billion dollars, designed to convince global investors that its currency will not lose its value, and that, therefore, there is no reason for them to take their money and run.

All this commotion has also diminished the economic security of quite a number of people who thought of themselves as safely walled in. Recent government data show that in the third quarter of the year, the profits and investments of Americans companies shrank for the first time since the recession year of 1991. This is largely because their exports to Asia and Latin America have continued to drop, while cheap imports from these regions are undercutting their sales in the United States. In consequence, they have been laying off American workers at a higher pace, and creating new jobs at a slower pace, than at any time in recent years.

We do not know how many residents of Rosemont will lose their jobs or the value of their stock portfolios because of the continuing global crisis. No burglars will climb over the steel barrier now walling off the United States and then scale Rosemont's beige wrought-iron fence, but some residents of Rosemont will lose a bundle nonetheless.

The major risks of modern live now move through or over walls, sometimes electronically, as with global investments, but occasionally by other means.

A lethal influenza virus originating among a few Hong Kong chickens could find its way to Rosemont via a globe-trotting business executive. Drugs are flowing across the border as well, not because the walls are insufficiently think but because the people behind them are eager to buy. Something these is in capitalism that doesn't love a wall.

So why do we feverishly build more walls when they offer us less and less protection? Perhaps it is because we feel so unprotected of late. Amid all the blather about taking more personal responsibility for this or that, there is a growing fear that random and terrible things can happen to us. Solid walls at least create the illusion of control over what we call our own, and control is something we seem to need more of these days, when almost anyone can be clobbered by a falling baht.

(c) 2020 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

Mission Accomplished
How America has been slowly shutting down since 9-11
By Jane Stillwater

Are you planning to vote for Joe Biden? Sure, why not -- go for it. You've already voted for Bush, Obama and Trump. Joe is totally the logical next choice. He will happily escort America's oligarchs just one more giant step up their fabulous Stairway to Heaven. Apparently Americans just love them some Deep State.

"But what's in it for me?" you might ask. Boy do I have a list!

1. Since 9-11, our pension plans have slowly but surely been raided by Wall Street -- with generous help from the Federal Reserve. Sucks to be old.

2. Since 9-11, America has become a surveillance state.

3. Since 9-11, slowly but surely our economy has eroded -- from our pockets to theirs.

4. Since 9-11, foreign misadventures have taken us to the cleaners. Holy shite!

5. Since 9-11, our.... Well, something to do with our infrastructure and healthcare slowly decaying and leaving us oh so vulnerable to COVID 19. Are you in lock-down right now with no nurses to hold your hand if you are infected? You shoulda thought of that years ago. Somebody should have.

6. Since 9-11, has your rent gone up? A lot?

I could go on. But I don't want to. Don't have the time. Have to go risk my life buying toilet paper.

"But, Jane," you might say, "It's the coronavirus's fault." Always somebody else's fault -- never the Deep State's. Don't bother me. Go vote for Biden. Or Trump.

(c) 2020 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jeff Darcy ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Biden Extends Olive Branch To Biden Supporters
By The Onion

PHILADELPHIA-In a largely measured speech calling for party unity after a string of primary victories, former Vice President Joe Biden took to the stage Tuesday night to extend an olive branch to Biden supporters.

"I appreciate the enthusiasm and energy of Joe Biden's voters, and I want any of his supporters who feel lost or counted out to know that there is a place for them with my campaign," said Biden, stressing that while he and the vice president did not see eye to eye on every issue, they both shared values that represented a bold new vision for the American people.

"Of course, I might have occasionally clashed with Joe Biden in the more strained moments of recent debates, but we also worked together for many years in the Senate. At the end of the day, whether you're a Biden supporter or a Biden supporter, we have the same goal, which is to get Trump out of the White House and replace him with Joe Biden."

At press time, pundits launched into fevered speculations that the candidate's speech could contain hints Joe Biden was mulling the choice to appoint Joe Biden as vice president.

(c) 2020 The Onion

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 12 (c) 03/20/2020

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