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In This Edition

Norman Solomon explains, "What The Coronavirus Emergency Has To Do With Biden vs. Sanders."

Ralph Nader concludes, "For America's Urgent Health And Safety, Trump Needs To Resign!"

Glen Ford is in the, "Time Of Plague And Meltdown."

Jim Hightower finds, "Pessimism Is The Stealth Enemy Of Progressivism."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "Senators Cash In On COVID-19 As A Plundered Nation Reels."

John Nichols returns with, "If The UK Can Protect Workers From Covid-19 Layoffs, Why Not The US?"

James Donahue wonders, "Is America Preparing To Practice Euthanasia?"

David Swanson asks, "Do You Support The Health Workers?"

David Suzuki says to, "Idle Some More: A Novel Climate Solution."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "Hobby Lobby Adopts The College Spring Breaker's Attitude Towards Coronavirus."

Noam Chomsky returns with a must read, "We Can't Let COVID-19 Drive Us Into Authoritarianism."

Attorney general William Barr wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich tells, "What's Missing From the Coronavirus Bill?"

Jane Stillwater considers the, "Taliban & ISIS."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whisper News reports, "The Trump Guide To Handling A Pandemic," but first, Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Guess Who Is The 'Surplus Population,' America!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Darkow, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Brian McFadden, Tom Tomorrow, Mark Wilson, Brian Blanco, Brendan Smialowski, John Locher, Spencer Selover, Leigh Vogel, CNS News, 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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Guess Who Is The 'Surplus Population,' America!
By Ernest Stewart

"... my heart is lifted tonight by what I heard the president say, because we can do more than one thing at a time. We can do two things. So my message is that let's get back to work. Let's get back to living. Let's be smart about it. And those of us who are 70 plus, we'll take care of ourselves, but don't sacrifice the country. Don't do that. Don't ruin this great America." ~~~ Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick

"The expectation that the next 10 years would be broadly the same as the last 20 or 30 years-this just cannot be expected anymore." ~~~ Sebastian Sippel ~ Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich

"Not only would it be a violation of [habeas corpus], but it says 'affecting pre-arrest.' So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government." ~~~ Norman L. Reimer ~ executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said that he and his fellow old folks should be ready to die to save our economy. Good for Dan, one less Rethuglican in power the better off the world will be. Well, Dan, lead the way and while you're at it take Lying Donald, Pence, Turtle Boy and the rest with you. Lead by example, be like Rand Paul, Dan!

When Dan mentions the economy he means his and their economy, not the bit coins that filter down to you and me, no the economy of the billionaire class. If, I should say when, Wall Street goes belly up they'll be the ones that fall, not us. But have no fear Lying Donald will ride to their recuse, not ours. We'll be the ones losing our homes, cars and such, their jets, yachts, manisions and such will be saved, just like they were in 2008.

Besides the billionaire class only needs about 25 million of us to serve their every need, the rest are just "surplus population" getting in their way, breathing their air, drinking their water, taking up their space! The Nazis knew what to do with the old folks, they had vays of dealing with Grobvater und Grobmutter and any other undesirables. And guess what, this government has vays too!

As it's been made patently clear by Lying Donald and his junta that people don't matter only money does so if we can get back to work, ready or not, the shekels will flow! First on commerce and then with all the old folks that will die removing some of the surplus population with all their Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and foodstamps needs. Anyone can see that it's a double win! Right America?

In Other News

I see where even small levels of global warming can increase the likelihood of extreme events, new research warns. That's prompting scientists to question how accurately disasters in the recent past can be used to predict extreme events today.

A study published Wednesday in Science Advances suggests that some research attributing climate change to individual disasters has underestimated the probability of certain extremes in the last decade. That's especially true of unprecedented hot and wet events.

That's because researchers were basing their analyses on a historical study period extending only up to the year 2005, said author Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University. As it turns out, the warming that's occurred since then has had a big impact on global extreme events.

"The global warming, even just in the 21st century, has created such a substantial increase in the frequency of extreme hot and extreme wet events over these regions that those frequencies fall well outside of the [previously] predicted probabilities," Diffenbaugh told E&E News.

Diffenbaugh's study presents a new method for checking predictions made in previous papers that relied on data from the past. These include some of his own past work, which used CMIP5 simulations to estimate the influence of climate change on extreme heat and precipitation events in the historical period and made predictions about future extremes.

A new suite of climate models, known as CMIP6, is in development and will reflect an up-to-date historical climate period. This explains why predictions from the turn of the 21st century were so out of date about the consequences of global warming. What they thought then, wouldn't happen for 100 years is happening today!

And Finally

I see where the DOJ under William Barr wants to suspend Constitutional rights during the COVID-19 emergency. I was expecting Barr to declare martial law but he went one better. The good thing is he played his hand and there is no chance the House will allow it! Still I wouldn't be surprised if Lying Donald calls for martial law.

The Department of Justice has secretly asked Congress for the ability to detain arrested people "indefinitely" in addition to other powers that one expert called "terrifying!" As bad as that is martial law is far worse. You may recall that the imposition of martial law accompanies curfews; the suspension of civil law, civil rights, and habeas corpus; and the application or extension of military law or military justice to civilians. Civilians defying martial law may be subjected to military tribunal (court-martial). Since timing is everything in life my guess would be just before the November elections? Various governors over the years have declared martial law but only one president has ever declared martial law and that was Abraham Lincoln who on April 27, 1861 on his own authority, which the court later pointed out he didn't have, suspended the right of habeas corpus. See the magazine's Happy Camps section.

Be that as it may, this week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner is attorney general William Barr!

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!


08-21-1938 ~ 03-20-2020
Thanks for the music!

09-08-1939 ~ 03-20-2020
Thanks for the music!

06-04-1940 ~ 03-23-2020
Thanks for the film!

09-29-1960 ~ 03-24-2020
Thanks for the music!

08-11-1947 ~ 03-24-2020
Thanks for the film!


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, 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.

What The Coronavirus Emergency Has To Do With Biden vs. Sanders
By Norman Solomon

On the surface, the coronavirus emergency has nothing in particular to do with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. What's obvious is that Donald Trump's unhinged bluster and inaction let the pandemic get a lethal jump on the United States, people are dying while huge numbers of lives are in jeopardy, and quick drastic steps are imperative. Yet at the same time, the differences between what Biden and Sanders are advocating have enormous implications for what could be done to curb the deadly virus in this country.

The absence of a public health system is consistent with a timeworn pattern of massive holes in the public sector. Biden merely wants to patch up some of the holes, while Sanders wants to build strong structures on truly democratic foundations.

"It is time to ask how we got to where we are, not only our lack of preparation for the virus, but how we end up with an economy where so many people are hurting at a time of massive income and wealth inequality," Sanders said at the close of his recent debate with Biden. "It is time to ask the question of where the power is in America. Who owns the media? Who owns the economy? Who owns the legislative process? Why do we give tax breaks to billionaires and not raise the minimum wage?"

While so-called "moderate" Democrats like Biden don't want to answer -- or even hear -- such questions, Sanders insists on continuing to ask them. Such perseverance has never been more needed than at this pivotal moment, with so many lives in the balance. "Where the power is in America" has everything to do with why the U.S. government's response to the unfolding coronavirus catastrophe has continued to be so anemic, foreshadowing so many more deaths and so much more grief.

It's urgent to implement all-out measures to contain the coronavirus spread (seriously aiming for containment rather than merely "flattening the curve"). Meanwhile, policies are needed to make sure that insurance-industry profiteers and other sectors of corporate America don't get away with rapaciously benefiting from catastrophe in ways that would cause untold misery for vast numbers of people.

A pair of campaign documents released this week -- the Biden "Plan to Combat Coronavirus (Covid-19) and Prepare for Future Global Health Threats" and the Sanders "Emergency Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic" -- convey big differences in approach to the current unprecedented crisis.

Biden proposes to tweak the health care system and aid only some who suffer economic distress. In sharp contrast, Sanders is proposing far-reaching measures that include free health care for all ("Medicare will ensure that everyone in America, regardless of existing coverage, can receive the health care they need during this crisis") and major financial assistance to all ("emergency $2,000 cash payments to every person in America every month for the duration of the crisis").

Calling for programs that would spend at least $2 trillion in response to the coronavirus emergency, Sanders laid out commensurate programs -- to "mobilize on a scale not seen since the New Deal and World War II to prevent deaths, job losses, and economic ruin."

Joe Biden vs. Bernie Sanders is not only an electoral contest between presidential candidates. It's also a contrast of patchwork fixes vs. profound structural changes. Refusal to upset the apple carts of corporate power vs. willingness to fight that power. Tepid adjustments vs. truly transformational agendas.

Sanders was correct when he said last week that "poll after poll, including exit polls, show that a strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda." Days ago, the Bernie 2020 campaign sent out a mass email declaring that "our campaign has won the battle of ideas."

Whether the ideas that Sanders is championing can appreciably shape the government's response to the coronavirus will have a lot to do with how successful the United States can be in limiting its terrible effects.

(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."

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus response while flanked by Vice
President Mike Pence during a briefing with health insurers at the White House on March 10, 2020.

For America's Urgent Health And Safety, Trump Needs To Resign!
Trump is unable to accept the ferocious reality of this pandemic.
By Ralph Nader

Leaning on sober-minded experts in infectious diseases at his daily news conferences, Trump is frantically trying to look good. But the old delusionary Trump keeps resurfacing. On Monday, he rated his coronavirus performance at a perfect ten. On Tuesday, he lied to the public about his knowing it was a pandemic "long before it was called a pandemic." The facts are just the opposite. On February 28th, Trump called COVID-19 a Democratic hoax (See the March 18, 2020 article in the New York Times).

Trump is unable to accept the ferocious reality of this pandemic.

Donald J. Trump is so consumed by his all-defining ego as to be occupationally insane. He is imperiling the public health of the entire country. If Trump endangered his family as he has endangered the country, he would be institutionalized. Again and again, Trump replaces realities with fantasies. He fibs, flails, fails, scapegoats, and never admits he was wrong or mistaken. Trump insists that the media heap undeserved praise on him, and solicits fawning, obsequious compliments from his cabinet members and staff. He just cannot absorb essential information.

Trump's negligence is even worse than is often recognized. In 2018, his White House's National Security Council disbanded the pandemic response team after Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, who headed the program, was told to leave his position. Last week, Trump vacuously said he didn't know that this happened. Even though, the press had repeatedly reported Trump's decision, Trump refused to take any responsibility. Trump insanely cut USAID's tiny Predict Program tracking infectious diseases, while bulking up the bloated military weapons budget. Stockpiling redundant nuclear bombs but not precious medical equipment and facilities.

It is clear that Trump's failed administration is responsible for our staggering unreadiness as the current catastrophe metastasizes, leaving America greatly vulnerable. But Trump doesn't see it that way. When asked about the role he played in the U.S. government's gross failure to anticipate and contain coronavirus, Trump responded, "I don't take responsibility at all."

Trump is crazily still pressing to weaken nursing home regulations designed to reduce deadly infections among millions of elderly residents. He stubbornly persists even after COVID-19 interrupted his golf game. He hates these rules because Obama issued them-his vendetta against Obama is all-consuming.

One of Trump's biggest goals is to get rid of Obamacare without any replacement plan. When Democrats repeatedly stopped his efforts in Congress, Trump decided to turn to a prolonged court case. Would a rational president mindlessly cut desperately needed healthcare coverage for thirty million Americans during a pandemic? The potential victims even include Trump's own supporters!

The corporations now want varieties of bailouts because of the virus crisis, and Trump and the Republicans are pouring Niagara's of red ink into the federal budget. Yet Trump and his congressional cronies continue to starve the IRS that is unable to recover over $400 billion in uncollected taxes every year because of its inadequate budget. The IRS budget is lower than it was in 2011 and lack of funding has forced layoffs of thousands of employees. It is impossible for the IRS to properly audit many global corporations or even respond to inquiring taxpayers without long delays.

Would a sane president be fanatically disabling disease and injury prevention programs at federal agencies and boast about such "deregulation"? Trump continues to favor crooked/for-profit universities that rip off students and leave them impoverished with debt.

It gets worse. Year after year, Trump tried to cut the budgets of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health, and the US contribution to the World Health Organization, including their pandemic prevention work. This is criminal negligence. His recent federal budget sent to Congress on February 10, 2020 still advocated these capricious cuts, along with more money for the bloated Pentagon budget than asked for by the Generals.

Last week, Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, called for President Trump to resign. (You can see his statement at

Lunging between vicious vitriol and manipulative flattery, Trump never did know how to get out of the holes he dug. Here is how to get him out of this one: he should be a patriot for the sake of America and just resign. This is not the time for Captains Queeg or Ahab. The ship of state is sailing toward disaster and the President is incapable of transforming his temperamental dysfunctions. (See: Fake President: Decoding Trump's Gaslighting, Corruption, and General Bullsh*t by Mark Green and Ralph Nader).

(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).

Time Of Plague And Meltdown
Mass Murder by Corporate Duopoly
By Glen Ford

The shrinking of the public health sector is a capitalist crime, abetted by the two corporate parties.

Tens of thousands of people, disproportionately Black and brown, are marked for death by coronavirus in the coming weeks and months because the United States political system allows only corporate parties to govern. By ensuring that the Dictatorship of Capital is immune to effective electoral challenge, the duopoly system has made the people of the United States less healthy than the rest of the developed world, and far more vulnerable to epidemics of all types. As dutiful servants of Capital, the Democratic and Republican parties have for more than 40 years facilitated a Race to the Bottom (austerity) that has steadily lowered working people's living standards and slashed social service supports, including the number of hospital beds, which have declined by more than half a million since 1975 despite a population increase of 114 million.

Barack Obama and his Democrat-controlled Congress saved the oligarchy from self-destruction in the Great Recession, and then collaborated with the resurgent Republicans in a "Grand Bargain" to ensure that social services, including local and state public health systems, would never recover lost revenue and personnel. The pruning and hyper-privatization of medical care was overseen mainly by Democrats in the big cities, and largely by Republicans on the state level, with both parties in general agreement that the public health sector was less "efficient" and "innovative" than for-profit medicine. The public health sphere became even more dependent on private suppliers, including overseas sources. Inventories of ventilators, masks and other equipment and gear were kept to a minimum, in line with the private sector's "just-in-time" profit-maximizing philosophy. But time ran out when the coronavirus hit, and there is now no possibility of avoiding many tens of thousands of deaths due to a shortage of equipment, beds and health care personnel.

The shrinking of the public health sector is a capitalist crime, abetted by the two corporate parties. Not content to lessen the life-chances of their own citizens, the duopoly parties screamed for sanctions that have crippled the health sectors of Venezuela and Iran, killing tens of thousands before anyone had heard of COVID-19. The United States is a global vector of suffering and death, through the policies of its corporate party tag-team. When deadly diseases are set in motion, the crime becomes mass murder-suicide.

Donald Trump is singularly stupid, incompetent and self-dealing, but these very qualities make him incapable of effecting any fundamental change in national systems, for good or ill. Congress rebuffed his attempts to cut funding of the Centers for Disease Control -- but that matters little in the current crisis because there is no national health system for the CDC to bolster, direct and rally. U.S. healthcare has been shrunken, privatized and made wholly incapable of coping with mass contagion - which never arrives "just in time."

It was too late long before Trump. And, if Fast-Talking-Slow-Thinking Joe Biden succeeds the Orange Menace next January, there will be no prospect of constructing a true national health care system. Biden says he'll veto a Medicare for All bill if it comes across his desk in the Oval Office. But without single payer healthcare, no national system is possible. In effect, Biden is campaigning for president on a platform of mass death. Biden's biggest supporters -- Black Americans -- will continue to die in disproportionate numbers whichever of the two corporate parties is in power because the Race to the Bottom (Race to the Graveyard) is ruling class policy, and both parties serve the ruling class.

If, by some miracle, Bernie Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee, and then president, his legislative agenda will be opposed by the bulk of his own party officials and officeholders. The corporate party faithful have rallied around Hapless Joe because he can be depended on to defend the interests of the party's rich funders - to continue the Race to the Graveyard. To make sure that Democrats understand who is boss, the world's 8th richest oligarch, Michael Bloomberg, is purchasing the party outright (see "Bloomberg Wants to Swallow the Democrats and Spit Out the Sandernistas"). Bloomberg this week transferred $18 million of his campaign funds to the Democratic National Committee - actually, money that he previously transferred from his own accounts to his self-funded presidential campaign. The DNC will soon be answerable directly to a New York billionaire whose mission is to make the Democratic Party an even more hostile environment for austerity-busting politicians like Sanders and his young enthusiasts. Medicare for All is an austerity trip-wire that shall not be crossed, but without a single payer system there can be no national health care system.

Nevertheless, those Americans that survive the Great Epidemic and Meltdown of 2020 will demand a New Health Care Deal. Having been frightened out of their locked-down wits by the crisis-induced realization that economic precarity is the national working class condition, many millions will also demand a new social contract that provides for a modicum of economic security. But these are concessions that the Democratic Party, overseen by Bloomberg-the-Enforcer, cannot champion. Infectious disease and growing immiseration and precarity are crises for the masses, but the cure - an end to the Dictatorship of Capital - represents an existential crisis for the ruling class. The revolution will not be organized in the Master's houses - Democrat or Republican.

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

Pessimism Is The Stealth Enemy Of Progressivism
By Jim Hightower

There's a short-circuit in the political convictions of some progressive-minded voters these days.

While big majorities are making clear that they need and want bold, transformative changes in today's rigged system, many of them are not voting that way in this year's Democratic presidential primary elections. After 30 years of being knocked down and held down, nearly a majority of Americans now say our corporate-controlled economy needs "a complete overhaul" - yet "Go-slow-Joe" Biden, who supports only small, incremental tinkering with the corporate system, is getting many of their votes. Why?

One factor is the constant drumbeat by the mass media and the Democratic Party establishment that the progressive agenda is too radical, too hot... too democratic! They lie that while you might want strong progressive change, most do not, so Trump will win if you vote your true beliefs. This is just establishment fearmongering, pitting you against neighbors who actually agree with you. But it spreads a crisis of confidence in one's own convictions.

A second big factor is the subliminal pall of political pessimism that 30-plus-years of elitism, inequality, and unfairness has cast over our democracy. There's a widespread sense (especially among young people) that transformative political change can't happen. After all, folks constantly see Big Money, corporate lobbyists, right-wing Republicans, and weak-kneed Democrats combine to stiff the people's will.

So the great challenge for the long-term progressive movement is not to convince a majority of people that our ideas and candidates are right for them. They already agree with that. Rather, the need is to defeat the debilitating force of cynicism by educating, organizing, and mobilizing around the myriad of everyday examples of grassroots people battling the bastards... and winning!

(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

Sen. Richard Burr is among four Republican senators now reported to have dumped millions of
dollars in stock holdings after receiving briefings on COVID-19 weeks ago, before the market crash.

Senators Cash In )n COVID-19 As A Plundered Nation Reels
By William Rivers Pitt

There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
~ W.H. Auden, "September 1, 1939"
According to the United Nations, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced 850,000,000 students worldwide out of school. Here in the United States, where the all-holy profit motive supersedes feeding children, school closures have deprived perhaps 30 million children from low-income families, perhaps more, of their primary source of nutrition.

See, in the U.S., low-income people are expected to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." One hears and reads this self-satisfied idiom all the time. It is especially popular in conservative media circles, where it is peddled by right-wing "thinkers" on the right-wing dole who wouldn't know a bootstrap from a hard day's work if it slapped them.

In point of historical fact, it is physically impossible to pull oneself up by way of a bootstrap, just as it is impossible to escape the cycle of poverty and deprivation in a nation devoted to protecting its wealthiest citizens at the expense of everyone else.

The propaganda on this point has become so deeply ingrained that, before COVID-19, the existence of hungry children in the U.S. was blamed on the children themselves, and on the families struggling to support them. When confronted with this shameful reality prior to COVID-19, Atlas shrugged. I'm eating, not my problem.

As of this writing, schools are closed in 39 states. In New York City, the decision to close the public schools was a tortured one even in the face of a ravening pandemic, because administrators knew that shuttering the schools meant depriving hundreds of thousands of children of their most reliable meals of the day. This crisis has been repeated in cities and states across the country as the coronavirus chews through our gossamer, unprofitable, mostly theoretical social safety net.

A week ago, the Trump administration made it clear that rerouting federal revenue away from programs to help hungry kids eat remains a high priority for his government. Only a federal judge's intervention on Monday kept 700,000 people from being deprived of food stamps in the midst of what may come to be remembered as the greatest challenge this nation has ever faced.

This is what plunder looks like, once plunder has had its way. Donald Trump did not do this all by himself; he is merely the vivid avatar of a long phenomenon. For that matter, the effects of the core ethos of U.S. capitalism - "peel the land" - are hardly relegated to hungry children deprived of school lunches. Plunder has peeled our health care, our labor, our very lives, and the extent of the damage done by this generational campaign has been laid bare by something you can only see through a microscope.

"From coast to coast, local and state officials complain that shortages of everyday supplies are disrupting efforts to sharply ramp up testing," reports The Washington Post, "which is key to identifying the spread of disease. The scarcity is hampering both the ability of health-care workers in hospitals to draw samples to send to laboratories and the ability of those laboratories to confirm infection."

Why? Because there was no money to be made in being prepared, in making test kits we might not need, in having unprofitable community hospitals remain open merely because they serviced low-income neighborhoods. COVID-19 is why we needed to be prepared, needed to protect everyone behind a stout medical infrastructure free from the profit motive, but all of that went by the boards because "health care" is a commodity to be traded like petroleum, and for pennies on the dollar.

At this moment, at the highest levels of government, arguments are being put forth that pharmaceutical corporations and insurance companies should still be able to financially ruin people if they contract a disease that may come to afflict half the country, if not more.

There is simply too much money to be made to do the right thing.

That, right there, is plunder.

Late-stage capitalism in extremis.

Millions may die, so wring out whatever coppers are there to be snatched. Sharks in a feeding frenzy understand this ethos full well when bits and chunks of flesh are floating by, waiting to be gobbled. You can see it in the faces of Jim Inhofe, Richard Burr, Ron Johnson and Kelly Loeffler, four Republican senators who dumped millions of dollars in stock holdings after receiving confidential briefings on COVID-19 weeks ago, before the market crash.

Of course, there is the show. Donald Trump is now a "wartime president" by his own bedraggled reckoning, because violence and the threat of same are the last recourse of the naked tyrant. Trump's suddenly realized war footing against COVID-19 has not put a damper on his trade war, however, even though it is an additional anchor on a shattered economy.

The U.S. government, devoted in calm times to all things capitalist, has suddenly discovered a deep vein of socialism within itself now that the virus has exposed the vulnerable underbelly of the system. All the major industries - the banks, the airlines, the banks again - have their hands out, expectant in the way of spoiled children who are accustomed to being first in line.

Maybe you'll get a check for $1,000, maybe more. How that will bridge the gap during a crisis that is expected to last 18 months or more is as enormous a question as asking how a society that feeds its children through underfunded schools and ties health care to a certain kind of employment will endure the shocks to come. Because they are coming. The long siege of COVID-19 has only just begun.

A little over one year ago, I wrote this: "We stand today upon the fulcrum of history, a crossroads at midnight with a blood moon rising. Down one road lies fire, flood, famine, failure and the final triumph of greed. What awaits down the other road is unknown, terra incognita, a mystery to be solved one gentle step at a time.... The road we have been on is littered with bones and sorrow. The road we must take is strange, and new, and dangerous, and difficult. There are no promises, other than it will be - by dint of our collective will - better than the way that is failing before our eyes. This crossroads is freedom distilled, and the time to choose is now."

:Posit: The ultimate point of "social distancing" is to limit the number of coronavirus cases requiring a hospital bed, because there are millions of people who need, or will need, those hospital beds for reasons other than the coronavirus. Women giving birth, people injured in car accidents, heart attack victims, kids who fall out of trees ... those people, in addition to the towering necessity of protecting our elders, are who we seek to protect.

We need hospitals, respirators, tests, and people trained to help the afflicted to offset the horrors to come.

I have a vision of this nation un-fucking itself and building those hospitals in a Manhattan Project-level effort, opening shuttered hospitals, turning out tests and respirators the way we once turned out bombers and tanks by the thousands.

Recession? Here's a hammer.

Trump made a big show on Wednesday of ordering military hospital ships to anchor off the coasts of New York and California, but those ships will not be ready to take on patients for weeks. The capitalists have no pants, and as their nethers flap in futility, it is going to fall to us - we who must practice social distancing - to come together.

It can happen, it must happen, and it will happen only if we stand upon this fulcrum of history and understand that the pursuit of profit and growth for the sake of profit and growth alone is the ethos of the virus that has attacked us. We are better than that. We must be, if we wish to avoid getting mowed down like the spring grass newly growing upon this frightened and quieted world.

(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.

Workers board up a bar in Nevada. All nonessential businesses have been ordered to close in response to coronavirus.

If The UK Can Protect Workers From Covid-19 Layoffs, Why Not The US?
House members Rosa DeLauro and Mark Pocan have a plan to keep Americans working.
By John Nichols

The British government announced Friday that it would launch an ambitious initiative to prevent mass layoffs amid the coronavirus outbreak. The plan will provide grants to cover up to 80 percent of the salaries of millions of workers whose jobs are now threatened. In return, employers will keep them on payroll during the economic crisis that is only beginning to unfold.

"We are starting a great national effort to protect jobs," declared the chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative politician Rishi Sunak, when he announced the part of the British response that seeks to avoid nothing less than a depression.

"We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort-and stood together," he tweeted. "It's on all of us."

The British initiative won't save every job or ease all the pain, but it is an example of how to go big to fight layoffs and save small businesses-and some congressional progressives are taking it to heart.

As House Democrats and Senate Republicans spar over how aggressively to respond, the example set by the UK's Conservative-led government reminds us how miserably uninspired and insufficient the US response to layoffs has been so far.

"[Sunak] said there would be no limit on the funding available to pay people's wages," The Guardian reported. "The payments will be backdated to the start of March, will be up and running within weeks, open initially for at least three months, and could be extended if necessary."

Describing the program in epic terms-"unprecedented measures for unprecedented times"-the chancellor said, "I know that people are worried about losing their jobs, about not being able to pay the rent or mortgage, about not having enough set by for food and bills.... to all those at home right now, anxious about the days ahead, I say this: you will not face this alone." He also pleaded with companies that are on the brink of collapse to avoid shutting down. "The government is doing its best to stand behind you. And I'm asking you to do your best to stand behind our workers."

There's good reason to believe the plan could succeed.

Work-sharing initiatives are not a new idea in Europe. Germany has long experience with them. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, a New York Times headline from August 2010 read, "Defying Others, Germany Finds Economic Success." Reporting strong economic growth when other countries were struggling, the Times piece noted that a "vast expansion of a program paying to keep workers employed, rather than dealing with them once they lost their jobs, was the most direct step taken in the heat of the crisis."

More recently, Deutsche Welle explained, "One of the major reasons-if not the major reason-for the recession back then not ending up in a massive job cull was the unprecedented expansion of short-time work programs especially in the manufacturing and service industries across the nation."

With the coronavirus outbreak spawning an epic economic upheaval in the United States, congressional Progressive Caucus cochair Mark Pocan says the federal government should ramp up support for work-sharing initiatives to avert mass unemployment. "At a time when workers live in fear of losing their next paycheck, we must do everything in our power to protect their livelihoods." He'd like to go as big as Britain or Denmark, which this week established a program in which the government covers 75 percent of the salaries of employees who would otherwise have been laid off-while their employers pay the remaining 25 percent.

Pocan acknowledges that could be a tough sell with the Republican Senate. But he and Representative Rosa DeLauro, the Connecticut Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, argue that this is just the kind of idea that needs to be part of the federal stimulus plan. So they have developed a pair of bills that build on existing US programs to help avoid as many layoffs as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bills, the Preventing Layoffs During a Public Health Emergency Act and the Layoff Prevention Act, would expand federal support for state work-sharing programs and provide additional incentives for businesses that keep American workers on the payroll for at least some portion of the week. Under their plan, companies that are preparing to lay off workers would be able "to reduce hours instead of their workforce-helping them save on rehiring costs-while employees will keep their jobs and receive a portion of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to make up for lost wages."

There's interest among top House Democrats, Pocan says, though he expects Republicans will fight over how much additional funding the federal government might provide for state UI programs, which is necessary to make the initiative work. But, with DeLauro, he'll fight for the most ambitious approach possible because, Pocan says, "Work sharing is one of the most impactful tools we can utilize to reduce widespread layoffs nationally during this pandemic."

DeLauro, a longtime advocate for work-sharing initiatives, championed them during the 2008 financial crisis and succeeded in incorporating financing and grant provisions for a work-sharing initiative dubbed "Short-Time Compensation" in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.

During President Obama's tenure, existing work-sharing programs were extended and new ones were developed. Eventually, 29 states embraced the concept. Unfortunately, the federal financing lapsed toward the end of his presidency. "Work sharing programs were a bright spot in the aftermath of the financial crisis," DeLauro says, "and we should immediately reinstate federal support for them in the next coronavirus response package."

She explains:

Working people and families are facing an unprecedented threat to their economic security, and many do not know how they are going to be able to put food on the table and pay their bills. Congress can help make a difference in people's lives right now. By expanding federal support for work-sharing programs, workers would be able to keep their jobs and companies can avert layoffs and costly rehiring. Moreover, with fewer workers unemployed, there is less of a burden on the Unemployment Insurance benefits system-which is currently being strained in many states.
DeLauro and Pocan's proposals can be ramped up quickly.

"More than half of all states already have work-sharing programs that give small businesses and their workers the flexibility to reduce employee hours while allowing workers to collect partial unemployment insurance to compensate for lower hours," explains Pocan, a union printer who has for years operated a small business in Wisconsin. He argues that the legislation would help small-business owners like himself-as well as sole proprietors-keep the doors open.

"People are getting hit so hard, from so many directions. This helps workers keep their jobs and keep money in their pockets, and it gives small business owners a fighting chance to stay afloat."

(c) 2020 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.

Is America Preparing To Practice Euthanasia?
By James Donahue

Richard Foster, actuary for the government's Medicare and Medicaid programs, said a discovery that a glitch in a proposed 2014 health-care law would have let a few million "middle-class" citizens qualify for nearly free health insurance. He wrote that the error was keeping him up at night.

Foster rested easy, however. Once this "problem" was discovered, the rush was on in Washington to institute a fix before the law went into effect. The mistake would have qualified up to 3 million retirees on fixed incomes for health benefits without facing the costly deductable that slams the pocketbooks of those who can least afford to pay.

Anyone that has been treated by a doctor or admitted to a hospital recently knows how devastating the medical bills that arrive in the mail can seem . . . even for those that have some form of health insurance. Imagine the cost for those left hanging with no health insurance coverage at all. This crisis has grown to a point where the sick, elderly, unemployed and low income workers are choosing not to seek medical help rather than risk going without food or failing to pay important things like rent and utility bills.

There are some who believe that the current Trump promise of a financial bail-out for the working and elderly people during the corona virus shut-down will also fall short of personal need.

Some like James Verone of Georgia have chosen creative ways to try to solve their medical problems. Left unemployed, without health insurance, and too crippled with pain to even hold a part-time job to stay alive, Verone held up a bank, demanded only a dollar, and then waited for the police to arrest him for bank robbery. He was choosing a life in prison, a warm bed to sleep in, three meals a day and prison health care as an improvement to the life he was being forced to live on the street.

Verone was manipulating a system that still demands, by law, that jail and prison inmates get treated for medical problems at state expense during their incarceration. The cold hearts in state and federal governments haven't gotten around to shutting off that service yet. Now that Verone has drawn it to public attention, it will probably only be a matter of time.

There is a myth that some aboriginal tribes once practiced euthanasia, or the killing of sick, elderly and disabled people, when there was a shortage of food. There has been a story that some Eskimo tribes sent the elderly off to die alone on the ice when they reached a point when they were no longer able to benefit the tribe. This story has been found to be untrue. In reality, most aboriginal tribes place the elderly . . . especially the grandmothers . . . in high regard. This seems to be true throughout the world. Except in America.

Here the rising cost of medical care, the high cost of prescription drugs, and the failure of government to provide adequate health care for everybody, may already be forcing a silent and unspoken practice of senilicide.

While most emergency rooms and medical clinics make it a practice to treat all patients that walk in their doors, the ones that have no insurance and no obvious means of paying for treatment receive no more than minimum treatment before being sent on their way. How many sick, poverty stricken and elderly Americans are silently choosing pain and death because they cannot afford to visit a doctor's office or get the care they really need in those local medical clinics? This question is especially acute now that we are trapped in a total shut-down over the dreaded corona virus.

The Eskimos didn't really do it, but it appears that America is preparing to send the unwanted sick and elderly out on icebergs to die.

(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.

Do You Support The Health Workers?
By David Swanson

U.S. politics has for three-quarters of a century been shaped by the question "Do you support the troops?" The understood meaning of the question has been "Do you want members of the military to live or do you wish them dead?" The effective meaning of the question has been "Do you want unlimited unaccountable spending on weaponry and endless wars or are you an evil traitor?"

Such a question cannot be answered or undone, but it can be replaced with a different question.

What if we were to ask this question: Do you support the health workers? The understood meaning could be: Do you think that doctors and nurses and emergency medical technicians and health workers by whatever names should live or do you wish them dead? Are you grateful for their service? Do you believe they should have the sort of armor or protective clothing and equipment their colleagues in China have? Do you think they should have the tests and treatments they need to accomplish their mission, and that people should follow their guidance?

(Perhaps also: Do you think they should get on airplanes first and get special parking spaces and be thanked by everyone they meet? But if we don't have to get carried away, let's not.)

The effective meaning could be: Should the United States strive to achieve a decent standing in the international healthcare race? Should it address crises and routine health issues with enough resources and energy and dedication to achieve levels of health and lifespan and infant mortality and disease suppression to rival rather than be shamed by other nations? Should everyone do their part by engaging in behavior that supports the needs of the health workers? Should there be glory for those who volunteer to assist health workers in times of grave peril?

There should be a slight twist, however, in our transferring of troop language to health workers. We should try to do it without the corruption or the nationalism. The United States already spends more on healthcare than any other country, but it does so extremely inefficiently. While our new ideology should allow unlimited increases in health spending, the focus should be on results. That means a single-payer system has to be understood as more supportive of the health workers than insurance company profits, paid sick leave is health worker loyal far more than overcharging for faulty ventilators is, and open research shared worldwide is health worker friendly because it benefits the mission of better health far more than corporate monopolies do.

When I saw that Tom Hanks had coronavirus, I immediately thought of Inferno, the movie starring Tom Hanks, not the book. As in virtually all movies, Hanks had to save the world individually and violently. But when Hanks actually came down with a contagious disease in the real world, what he had to do was follow proper procedures and play his bit role to avoid spreading it further, while encouraging others to do the same.

The heroes we need are not to be found on Netflix and Amazon, but are all around us, in hospitals and books. They're in The Plague by Albert Camus, where we can read these words: "All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it's up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences."

(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.

Where could idleness be introduced?

Idle Some More: A Novel Climate Solution
By David Suzuki

In his marvellous 1932 essay, "In Praise of Idleness," philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote, "I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous." His words could provide direction as we strive to remedy the climate crisis.

Russell advocated for a gradual reduction in paid labour to four hours a day. This, he argued, would facilitate full employment, provide more time for creative pursuits and contribute to the public good. "In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day, every person possessed of scientific curiosity will be able to indulge it, and every painter will be able to paint without starving," he wrote.

In the 1930s, Russell understandably didn't mention environmental protection - although he alluded to the human ability to alter the planet. But there's no reason we can't build on his thinking and find in idleness a climate solution.

His thesis concerns paid work. But his point could be understood as a call for less activity in general, a request to sit still. Everything we do uses energy. Doing is polluting. Doing is warming. Almost by its very nature, doing contributes to the climate emergency.

When my kids were small, we had an insightful pediatrician who would approach mild sickness with the words, "Well, we could try medication or we could do nothing." He taught me that holding back, avoiding action, is sometimes - although not always - a worthy choice.

Where could idleness be introduced?

What about transportation? Environmentalists urge us to abandon gas-powered vehicles and embrace electric ones. The latter are excellent and certainly part of the solution to the climate emergency, but perhaps we need to go further. Maybe the problem isn't just fossil-fuelled movement but movement overall - not only how we move but that we move so much.

Even driving an electric vehicle can contribute to environmental crises. Beyond the ecological impacts from manufacturing them, they can facilitate other climate-altering activities - we can take our Tesla to the butcher shop or the airport. Perhaps the deeper solution isn't travelling by electric vehicle but calling travel itself into question. Maybe the best thing we can do is the least.

In this vein, we might consider sleeping more. Asleep, we generally use fewer appliances and lights and require less hot water, heating and air conditioning. Time spent in bed is time not spent driving. Throughout Canada, an additional hour, or even half-hour, of sleep per night could represent a significant reduction in fuel - to say nothing of health benefits for sleep-deprived people.

What if we encouraged people to nap during the day? It sounds far-fetched, but emergencies require novel thinking. We could set up cots at schools and businesses, ask people to turn off lights and devices and lie down for 30 minutes. We could call it "nap club." Not everyone would participate, of course, but those who did might find it a delightful mid-afternoon refreshment. Cities like Tokyo, London and New York now have "nap bars" and "nap cafes." Toronto has a company called Nap It Up that rents beds for 25-, 55- or 85-minute snoozes.

As bears pose little threat when hibernating, so humans reduce their destructiveness when sleeping. Inactive, we're less harmful.

And consider that the Buddha didn't reach enlightenment until he decided to stop doing everything. He just sat down under a big old Bodhi tree!

That doesn't mean we should adopt ubiquitous idleness. Rather, we should consider selective idleness. When it comes to climate activism, for example, we require more, not less. We need to mobilize greater numbers of people and expand our influence.

But even here non-doing has a place. Environmentalists are often asked to travel to distant conferences as part of their work. They should feel free to refuse these offers. If a meeting isn't essential - and, granted, figuring out what's essential isn't always easy - they should consider staying home.

Illnesses force idleness on people. We require time in bed to recuperate; rest is non-negotiable. So, too, the climate situation demands idleness from society. We must listen to the body in sickness; we must listen to the planet in crisis. At the very least, we need to slow down.

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

Hobby Lobby Adopts The College Spring Breaker's Attitude Towards Coronavirus
Don't worry: God spoke to the CEO's wife.
By Charles P. Pierce

The Greens are the people who run the Hobby Lobby empire and, after they won their great victory by which corporations can pretend to be religious in order to refuse to pay for birth control, the Greens have been having a bit of a rough time. They spent bazillions of dollars to build a Museum of The Bible in Washington that has turned into a magnet for all manner of thieves and grifters. First, the Greens got caught smuggling artifacts out of Iraq and, last week, it was revealed that they'd been taken for suckers by people who peddled the Greens alleged fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were as fake as their corporation's piety.

Then, of course, the pandemic came to town, and people were told to stay home and not go to work. However, the Greens took the matter to a higher authority. From the Christian Post:

"Today, that title takes on such a different meaning than I ever imagined before because we are at war with this latest virus," he wrote, and quoted the late Dr. Billy Graham. "We are to pray in times of adversity, lest we become faithless and unbelieving. We are to pray in times of prosperity, lest we become boastful and proud. We are to pray in times of danger, lest we become fearful and doubting. We are to pray in times of security, lest we become self-sufficient."

Green said the Lord put on Barbara's heart three profound words to remind us that He's in control. "Guide, Guard, and Groom. We serve a God who will Guide us through this storm, who will Guard us as we travel to places never seen before, and who, as a result of this experience, will Groom us to be better than we could have ever thought possible before now."

This is plainly nuts. It also is plainly un-Christian to exploit an underpaid workforce at a time of international crisis. We've all seen those easily deplorable videos of drunk college kids partying hardily down south during spring break. Here we have a major corporation telling its employees to risk their health because God spoke to the CEO's wife. Who's worse, really? Those ancient scrolls are not the only phony thing about Hobby Lobby's religiosity.

Hobby Lobby chief Steve Green will keep his stores open because God spoke to his wife, Jackie.

Ominously, it seems that American business is starting to panic, and that the fervor of its participation in this whole social distancing thing is starting to fade. The president* seems to be sweating a bit now, too. From Axios:
Amid dire predictions for jobs and the economy, the White House is beginning to send signals to business that there's light at the end of the tunnel - that the squeeze from nationwide social distancing won't be endless. Trump tweeted at 10 minutes to midnight: "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD [which began a week ago, March 16], WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!" Vice President Pence, who heads the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, had signaled the change in tone earlier when he said the CDC will issue guidance today allowing people exposed to the coronavirus to return to work sooner by wearing a mask for a certain length of time.
And, while the Greens had the Almighty to advise them on proper epidemic prophylaxis-the Greens should pardon the term-the president* has his own outside experts. These include a sex counselor, a third-rate Ann Coulter, and an actor who got himself thrown off the electric Twitter machine for a spell. From Mediaite:
On Monday morning, a series of retweets gave a clear indication of which way he is leaning. Among those posts shared by the president, a Tweet from sex counselor Dr. Dawn Michael. "The fear of the virus cannot collapse our economy that President Trump has built up," Dr. Michael wrote. "We The People are smart enough to keep away from others if we know that we are sick or they are sick! After 15 days are over the world can begin to heal!" Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren and actor James Woods also made cameos in the president's tweet spree. Lahren's comment criticized the idea of releasing prisoners who are vulnerable to the coronavirus. "So we are all basically on house arrest but they are letting the prisoners out?" Lahren wrote. "Sounds like a brilliant idea." And Woods took a shot at former Vice President Joe Biden.
From the start, the president*'s response to the pandemic has been driven by his desire to run for re-election as the creator of The Greatest Economy There Absolutely Ever Was. (And on racism, which sadly is still available to him with the whole Chinese Virus business.) He slow-walked testing so that the economy wouldn't suffer. And I am increasingly of the belief that the whole 15-day plan originally was a temporizing measure designed by desperate advisers merely to placate an unstable and volatile president*. Now, we're coming to the end of it, and the president* seems to be convincing himself-and a number of other people-that once we hit March 31, we're all in the clear. From Bloomberg: Blankfein had supported "extreme measures" to flatten the virus curve, but said those at lower risk of the disease should return to work "within a very few weeks", pointing out dangers a longer shutdown would bring to the economy. One also has to wonder whether or not Blankfein's nerves are on fire because of the sudden semi-bipartisan popularity of certain liberal economic theories in the Congress at the moment. Maybe he should call the Greens and see if they found any prayers for nervous capitalists down in the notions aisle.

(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-

"Mother Nature has the upper hand, and she is using the trappings of modern life-air travel, burgeoning population and low-income country megacities, encroachment on natural habitats, and an interconnected global just-in-time delivery system-to extend her reach."
~~~ Mark Olshaker,

President Trump's hands are seen as he speaks to the press after a meeting with nursing industry
representatives on the response to COVID-19, at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 18, 2020.

We Can't Let COVID-19 Drive Us Into Authoritarianism
By Noam Chomsky

As the COVID-19 pandemic turns the global political and economic order on its head, two vastly different futures appear possible. At one end of the spectrum, societies facing the toll of the virus may collapse into authoritarianism. But at the other end of the spectrum, we have the possibility of learning the lessons of this disaster - another colossal market failure enhanced by a neoliberal assault and now Trump's wrecking ball.

The current crisis offers a powerful argument for universal health care and rethinking deeper problems of our societies. Which outcome will prevail depends on the strength of aroused public opinion, as described in the examples that follow, which are adapted from my book Internationalism or Extinction.

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to start with a brief reminiscence of a period which is eerily similar to today in many unpleasant respects. I'm thinking of 80 years ago. It happened to be the moment of the first article that I remember having written on political issues. Easy to date: it was right after the fall of Barcelona in February 1939.

The article was about what seemed to be the inexorable spread of fascism over the world. In 1938, Austria had been annexed by Nazi Germany. A few months later, Czechoslovakia was betrayed, placed in the hands of the Nazis at the Munich Conference.

In Spain, one city after another was falling to Franco's forces. February 1939, Barcelona fell. That was the end of the Spanish Republic. The remarkable popular revolution, anarchist revolution, of 1936, '37, '38, had already been crushed by force. It looked as if fascism was going to spread without end.

It's not exactly what's happening today, but, if we can borrow Mark Twain's famous phrase, "History doesn't repeat but sometimes rhymes" - too many similarities to overlook. When Barcelona fell, there was a huge flood of refugees from Spain. Most went to Mexico, about 40,000. Some went to New York City, established anarchist offices in Union Square, secondhand bookstores down 4th Avenue. That's where I got my early political education, roaming around that area. That's 80 years ago. Now it's today.

We didn't know at the time, but the US government was also beginning to think about how the spread of fascism might be virtually unstoppable. They didn't view it with the same alarm that I did as a 10-year-old. We now know that the attitude of the State Department was rather mixed regarding what the significance of the Nazi movement was.

Actually, there was a consul in Berlin, US consul in Berlin, who was sending back pretty mixed comments about the Nazis, suggesting maybe they're not as bad as everyone says. He stayed there until Pearl Harbor Day, when he was withdrawn - the famous diplomat named George Kennan. Not a bad indication of the mixed attitude towards these developments. It turns out, couldn't have known it at the time, but shortly after this, 1939, the State Department and the Council on Foreign Relations began to carry out planning about the postwar world, what the postwar world would look like. And in the early years, right about that time, next few years, they assumed that the postwar world would be divided between a German-controlled world, Nazi-controlled world, most of Eurasia, and a US-controlled world, which would include the Western Hemisphere, the former British Empire - which the US would take over parts of the Far East. And that would be the shape of the postwar world. Those views, we now know, were maintained until the Russians turned the tide. Stalingrad, 1942-1943, the huge tank battle at Kursk, a little later, made it pretty clear that the Russians would defeat the Nazis. The planning changed. Picture of the postwar world changed, went on to what we've seen for the last period since that time. Well, that was 80 years ago.

Today we are not facing the rise of anything like Nazism, but we are facing the spread of what's sometimes called the ultranationalist, reactionary international. The Middle East alliance consists of the extreme reactionary states of the region - Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt under the most brutal dictatorship of its history, Israel right at the center of it - confronting Iran. There are severe threats that we're facing in Latin America. The election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil put in power the most extreme, most outrageous of the right-wing ultranationalists who are now plaguing the hemisphere Lenin Moreno of Ecuador took a strong step towards joining the far-right alliance by expelling Julian Assange from the embassy. He was picked up quickly by the UK, and will face a very dangerous future unless there's a significant popular protest. Mexico is one of the rare exceptions in Latin America to these developments. In Western Europe, the right-wing parties are growing, some of them very frightening in character.

There is also a counter-development. Yanis Varoufakis, the former finance minister of Greece, a very significant, important individual, along with Bernie Sanders, has urged the formation of a Progressive International to counter the right-wing international that's developing. At the level of states, the balance looks overwhelmingly in the wrong direction. But states aren't the only entities. At the level of people, it's quite different. And that could make the difference. That means a need to protect the functioning democracies, to enhance them, to make use of the opportunities they provide, for the kinds of activism that have led to significant progress in the past and that could save us in the future.

I want to make a couple of remarks below about the severe difficulty of maintaining and instituting democracy, the powerful forces that have always opposed it, the achievements of somehow salvaging and enhancing it, and the significance of that for the future. But first, a couple of words about the challenges that we face, which you heard enough about already and you all know about. I don't have to go into them in detail. To describe these challenges as "extremely severe" would be an error. The phrase does not capture the enormity of the kinds of challenges that lie ahead. And any serious discussion of the future of humanity must begin by recognizing a critical fact, that the human species is now facing a question that has never before arisen in human history, a question that has to be answered quickly: Will human society survive for long?

Well, as you all know, for 70 years we've been living under the shadow of nuclear war. Those who have looked at the record can only be amazed that we've survived this far. Time after time it's come extremely close to terminal disaster, even minutes away. It's kind of a miracle that we've survived. Miracles don't go on forever. This has to be terminated, and quickly. The recent Nuclear Posture Review of the Trump administration dramatically increases the threat of conflagration, which would in fact be terminal for the species. We may remember that this Nuclear Posture Review was sponsored by Jim Mattis, who was regarded as too civilized to be retained in the administration.

There were three major arms treaties: the ABM Treaty, Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; the INF Treaty, Intermediate Nuclear Forces; the New START treaty.

The US pulled out of the ABM Treaty in 2002. And anyone who believes that antiballistic missiles are defensive weapons is deluded about the nature of these systems. The US has just pulled out of the INF Treaty, established by Gorbachev and Reagan in 1987, which sharply reduced the threat of war in Europe, which would very quickly spread. Massive public demonstrations were the background for leading to a treaty that made a very significant difference. It's worth remembering that and many other cases where significant popular activism has made a huge difference. The lessons are too obvious to enumerate. The Trump administration withdrew from the INF Treaty; the Russians withdrew right afterwards.

If you take a close look, you find that each side has a kind of a credible case saying that the opponent has not lived up to the treaty. For those who want a picture of how the Russians might look at it, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the major journal on arms control issues, recently had a lead article by Theodore Postol pointing out how dangerous the US installations of anti-ballistic missiles on the Russian border - how dangerous they are and can be perceived to be by the Russians. Notice, on the Russian border. Tensions are mounting. Both sides are carrying out provocative actions. In a rational world, what would happen would be negotiations between the two sides, with independent experts to evaluate the charges that each is making against the other, to lead to a resolution of these charges, to restore the treaty. That's in a rational world. But it's unfortunately not the world we're living in. No efforts at all have been made in this direction. And they won't be, unless there is significant pressure.

Well, that leaves the New START treaty. The New START treaty has already been designated by the figure in charge (who has modestly described himself as the greatest president in American history) the worst treaty that ever happened in human history, the usual designation for anything that was done by his predecessors. Trump added that we've got to get rid of it. If in fact this comes up for renewal right after the next election, a lot is at stake. A lot is at stake in whether that treaty will be renewed. It has succeeded in very significantly reducing the number of nuclear weapons, to a level way above what they ought to be, but way below what they were before. And it could go on.

Meanwhile, global warming proceeds on its inexorable course. During this millennium, every single year, with one exception, has been hotter than the last one. There are recent scientific papers, by James Hansen and others, which indicate that the pace of global warming, which has been increasing since about 1980, may be sharply escalating and may be moving from linear growth to exponential growth, which means doubling every couple of decades. We're already approaching the conditions of 125,000 years ago, when the sea level was about roughly 25 feet higher than it is today. With the melting, the rapid melting, of the Antarctic's huge ice fields that point might be reached. The consequences of that are almost unimaginable. I mean, I won't even try to depict them, but you can figure out quickly what that means.

While this is going on, you regularly read in the press euphoric accounts of how the United States is advancing in fossil fuel production. It's now surpassed Saudi Arabia. We're in the lead of fossil fuel production. The big banks, JPMorgan Chase and others, are pouring money into new investments in fossil fuels, including the most dangerous, like Canadian tar sands. And this is all presented with great euphoria, excitement. We're now reaching "energy independence." We can control the world, determine the use of fossil fuels in the world.

Barely a word on what the meaning of this is, which is quite obvious. It's not that the reporters, commentators don't know about it, that the CEOs of the banks don't know about it. Of course they do. But these are kind of institutional pressures that just are extremely hard to extricate themselves from. Try to put yourself in the position of, say, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the biggest bank, which is spending large sums in investment in fossil fuels. He certainly knows everything that you all know about global warming. It's no secret. But what are the choices? Basically, he has two choices. One choice is to do exactly what he's doing. The other choice is to resign and be replaced by somebody else who will do exactly what he's doing. It's not an individual problem. It's an institutional problem, which can be met, but only under tremendous public pressure.

And we've recently seen, very dramatically, how the solution can be reached. A group of young people, the Sunrise Movement, organized, got to the point of sitting-in in congressional offices, and aroused some interest from the new progressive figures who were able to make it to Congress. Under a lot of popular pressure, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, joined by Senator Ed Markey, actually placed the Green New Deal on the agenda. That's a remarkable achievement. Of course, it got hostile attacks from everywhere: it doesn't matter. A couple of years ago, it was unimaginable that it would be discussed. As the result of the activism of this group of young people, it's now right in the center of the agenda. It's got to be implemented in one form or another. It's essential for survival, maybe not in exactly that form, but some modification of it. Meanwhile, the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists last January was set at two minutes to midnight. That's as close as it's been to terminal disaster since 1947. The announcement of the settlement - of the setting - mentioned the two major familiar threats: the threat of nuclear war, which is increasing, and the threat of global warming, which is increasing further. And it added a third for the first time: the undermining of democracy. That's the third threat, along with global warming and nuclear war. And that was quite appropriate, because functioning democracy offers the only hope of overcoming these threats. They are not going to be dealt with by major institutions, state or private, acting without massive public pressure, which means that the means of democratic functioning have to be kept alive, used the way the Sunrise Movement did it, the way the great mass demonstration in the early '80s did it, and the way we continue today.

The novel coronavirus is bringing about a hideous calamity - which was foreseen, and could have been prevented. Credible worst-case analyses find that millions may die, as usual with the poor and more vulnerable suffering the most, worldwide. There have been other health catastrophes in human history. The "Black Death" killed at least a third of the population of Europe, which recovered. There will be recovery in this case too, at a terrible human cost.

We also face other threats, which are incomparably more severe, even if not as disruptive to daily life - today. One is the threat of virtually total destruction by nuclear war, which is ominous and increasing. Another is the threat of environmental catastrophe, which is imminent and devastating.

There will be no recovery. And there is no time to waste in dealing with the threats decisively.

In the face of the immense tragedy of COVID-19, it may seem cruel to place the calamity in perspective, and also to urge a search for its roots. But realism is nonetheless imperative, at least if we hope to avert further disasters.

At the roots are colossal market failures and deeper malignancies of the socioeconomic order, raised from crisis to disaster by the brutal capitalism of the neoliberal age. Matters worth considering, particularly in the most powerful country in world history, which faces a decision as to whether to allow the battering ram to continue to be wielded with full devastating force.

(c) 2020 Noam Chomsky is a philosopher, social critic, political activist, and pioneering linguist. Having served as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955, Chomsky is the author of dozens of books, with his most recent book, Who Rules the World?, published in 2016

The Dead Letter Office-

Will gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Generalstaatsanwalt Barr,

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 attempt to repeal parts of the US Constitution using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse, 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 Barr, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

What's Missing From the Coronavirus Bill?
By Robert Reich

The public health and economic crises we're experiencing are closely related. They reveal in stark terms the dangerous mythology of trickle-down self-sufficiency and the need for policies that respond to the real needs of people who are or will soon be affected.

But Trump doesn't seem to understand that. Before agreeing to an actual coronavirus relief bill, his administration was considering more corporate tax cuts, tax cuts targeted to the airlines and hospitality industries, and a temporary payroll tax cut.

But tax cuts will be useless. They'll be too slow to stimulate the economy, and won't reach households and consumers who should be the real targets. And they'll reward the rich, who don't spend much of their additional dollars, without getting money into the hands of the poor and middle-class, who do.

Thankfully, Congress has moved forward on some of the most urgent priorities like free coronavirus testing, strengthening unemployment insurance and food security programs. But it doesn't go far enough.

Instead, Congress must immediately provide an emergency $500 billion to help all Americans protect themselves and their families, and keep the economy going.

The money should be used for:

Coronavirus testing and treatment. Diagnostic tests should be mandatory and universal, and free. And everyone with the virus should have access to treatment and to any future vaccines, regardless of ability to pay.

Guaranteed paid sick leave for ALL employees. The current relief bill does cover paid sick leave for some but has huge carve-outs, exempting all companies with over 500 employees and some small businesses under 50 employees. That exclusion could affect up to 20 million Americans. Without guaranteed paid sick leave and family leave, workers who are sick will not remain home and will end up exposing others.

Extended unemployment insurance. Without it, large numbers of Americans will be furloughed or laid off without adequate income to support themselves and their families. As it is, unemployment insurance reaches a measly 27 percent of the unemployed.

Extended Medicaid. No one should avoid seeing a doctor because of fears about out-of-control medical bills. Right now, 28 million Americans have no health insurance, and countless more are reluctant to see a doctor because of large deductions or co-payments. Especially in a health emergency, health care should be available to all regardless of ability to pay.

Immediate one-time payments of $1,500 to every adult and $500 per child, renewable if necessary. Some consumers might spend the money right away to meet rent if they lose their regular paycheck. Others might have stronger balance sheets and spend the money at whatever uncertain date the virus is contained.

Suspension of the Trump administration's "public charge" rule that enables federal officials to deny green cards to immigrants who use social safety net programs. Programs like, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Women Infants and Children are more important than ever.

For the same reason, testing and treatment should be available to undocumented immigrants, without fear of deportation.

Trickle-down economics and trickle-down public health are deeply flawed. Corporate tax cuts won't save us. The coronavirus doesn't distinguish between rich and poor. We are in this imminent health and economic emergency together, and our own health and wellbeing are dependent on the health and wellbeing of everyone else.

Each of us is only as healthy as the least-healthy among us.

(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

Taliban & ISIS
Why they'll get COVID but their wives won't!
By Jane Stillwater

Don't you just love irony? Saudi and Afghan men have been trying to keep Saudi and Afghan women under cover for years now. And now it turns out to be a good thing after all. Can you guess why? Have you ever even seen a burka -- let alone tried to actually wear one? A coronavirus wouldn't dare attempt to slip covertly under one of those. Hell, burka-wearing women can't even hardly see out of them let alone allow any germs to break in.

While Taliban and ISIS thugs will be dropping like flies, Saudi and Afghan women will be perfectly safe. Misogyny's a bitch. Ha!

PS: It's also kind of ironic that American banksters and mega-corporations are going to receive all kinds of socialistic and welfare bailouts regarding this coronavirus epidemic -- while the rest of us? Not so much. In fact, not at all.

And wearing a burka in public is clearly not going to save us from the terrible bankruptcy epidemic that is currently sweeping America too. Only the federal government can do that. "But if you give us money to help us through this pandemic nightmare, won't that be socialism?" Not if you are a billionaire oligarch. It's only socialism if you are just another American peon like me.

PPS: Stay safe. Shelter in place of course. But also try to pump up your immune system. That might not help -- but then again it just might give us a slight edge. Boil up some hot tea and then inhale the steam. That might make the viruses unhappy. Worth a shot, right? Eat your veggies and take your vitties.

Give up smoking, sugar, sugar substitutes and processed food. Be kind. Get plenty of sleep -- but then what else have we got going on right now? Stop wasting money on attacking poor vulnerable places like Yemen, Palestine, Syria and Iran -- and on building that freaking Wall. Give all those billions to us generic Americans instead. We need it more. Can't hurt. Might help.

(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
~~~ John Darkow ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

The Trump Guide To Handling A Pandemic
By The Waterford Whisper News

THANKS to president Donald Trump America has moved from a status 'this is a non-existent problem made up by the evil leftie socialists to scare the stock market' two weeks ago to 'here's how to decide which child to eat first when you run out of food' today.

Any world leader looking to replicate the complete lack of success exuded by President Trump need look no further than the guide below, which has been cobbled together thanks to input from the man himself.

Here's how to handle a pandemic Donald Trump style:

Appoint Typhoid Mary as head of the CDC.

Drop everything you're doing to rush to the bedside of the stock market and hold a vigil.

Say something reassuring like "I don't need to listen to experts, I've watched maybe 10, 20 second of the trailer to 'Contagion' on Youtube. I know everything now."

At all times look like a deer caught in the headlights who has just repeatedly soiled itself.

Magically expand the amount of testing you are doing simply by putting a 'USA' baseball cap on your head. Do nothing else. Job done. Mission accomplished.

Don't just 'handle' a pandemic, grope it, hug it, kiss it, take a bath in it. Don't wash for days.

Hold a national day of prayer in response to people screaming "we need some actual fucking help you moron."

Abolish and defund the physical copies of evidence which states you personally defunded and abolished a pandemic taskforce.

Tell America Covid-19 will be gone by sundown after you personally instructed law enforcement to treat the disease like it was an unarmed African American teenager.

Saying something else reassuring like "don't worry, I'll be okay. The rest of you, oh boy, you're fucked. You will not die in vein though, I still expect to be elected again. Yay me."

Continue to portray an image of complete control by telling members of the public requiring advice and guidance to listen to The Who's back catalogue on Spotify.

Lead by example when it comes to social distancing; to do this make sure you appear on screen during live TV addresses with administration staff and experts and recreate what would happen if colony of ants tried to mount a discarded apple core at the same time.

Say another reassuring thing like "I'm not responsible for any of this, because to be responsible you have to have at least four brain cells and jokes on you America, because I lose count after two."

(c) 2020 Waterford Whisper News

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 13 (c) 03/27/2020

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