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In This Edition

Chris Hedges explores, "The Pimps Of War."

Ralph Nader examines, "Sanders' Hearing On Corporate Greed Goes Unnoticed By Corporate Media."

Margaret Kimberley observes a, "Black Political Distraction."

Jim Hightower asks, "Who's Making Our Medicine?"

William Rivers Pitt wonders, "Why Is Merrick Garland Throttling The Trump Investigation?"

John Nichols asks, "Why Did Ron Johnson Oppose Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson?"

James Donahue remembers, "A Memorable Easter Sunday."

David Swanson says we're, "Learning The Wrong Lessons From Ukraine."

David Suzuki wonders, "Will The World Again Hit 'Snooze' On Latest Climate Alarm?"

Charles P. Pierce says, "I'm Surprised These Secret Service Agents Are Allowed Outside By Themselves."

Juan Cole asks, "Why Did The Saudis Invest $2 Bn With Jared Kushner?"

Robert Reich explains, "How The Supreme Court Could Make Your Life More Dangerous."

Thom Hartmann exclaims, "Nationalize The US Fossil Fuel Industry-Now!"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion explains, "What To Know About Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' Bill," but first, Uncle Ernie reports, "NASA Scientists Arrested At Global Warming Protests."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Dave Fitzsimmons, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Kevin Dietsch, Carolyn Kaster, Mr. Fish, Drew Angerer, Olivier Douliery, NBC, Jim Watson, Drew Hays, Jim Hightower, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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NASA Scientists Arrested At Global Warming Protests
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"I'm a climate scientist. "Don't Look Up" captures the madness I see every day" ~~~ Peter Kalmus ~ NASA scientist

I see where scientists from all over the world protested last Wednesday after release of a new climate report by the United Nations.

After a startling new climate report released last week by the United Nations, more than a thousand scientists protested around the world on Wednesday, including a climate scientists at NASA.

Scientists chained themselves to the doors of oil-friendly banks, blocked roadways and occupied government buildings.

"The scientists of the world are being ignored and it's got to stop," said Peter Kalmus, a California-based father of two and NASA climate scientist. "We're going to lose everything. We're not joking. We're not lying and we're not exaggerating."

Kalmus delivered an emotional plea at the doorway of the JP Morgan Chase building in downtown Los Angeles. He was arrested with colleagues who chained themselves to the bank's doors. Kalmus wrote an op-ed about his experience for The Guardian.

Kalmus said, "If everyone could see what I see coming, society would switch into climate emergency mode and end fossil fuels in just a few years."

The latest U.N. report written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns the civilized world is nowhere near its CO2 emission goals. It states that dramatic, deep emissions reductions are urgently needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the century's end.

According to NASA's official position on climate change, carbon dioxide from human activity is increasing more than 250 times faster than it did from natural sources after the last ice age.

"The effects of human-caused global warming are happening now, are irreversible on the timescale of people alive today, and will worsen in the decades to come," NASA states on its website.

The effects include changes in precipitation patterns, more droughts and heatwaves, stronger hurricanes, and rising sea levels between 1-and-8 feet before the end of the century. In the last week or so there have been over two hundred tornadoes in the US. There is consensus among scientists worldwide that widespread damage to wildlife, ecosystems and civilization is already happening at a faster rate than previously predicted.

"It's the 11th hour in terms of Earth breakdown, and I feel terrified for my kids and terrified for humanity," Kalmus said.


07-27-1929 ~ 04-09-2022
Thanks for the read!

02-28-1955 ~ 04-12-2022
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Until the next time, Peace!

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

The coterie of neocons and liberal interventionists who orchestrated two decades of military fiascos
in the Middle East and who have never been held to account are now stoking a suicidal war with Russia.

The Pimps Of War
The only way to halt the global assault on the human rights of workers is to unionize.
By Chris Hedges

The same cabal of warmongering pundits, foreign policy specialists and government officials, year after year, debacle after debacle, smugly dodge responsibility for the military fiascos they orchestrate. They are protean, shifting adroitly with the political winds, moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back again, mutating from cold warriors to neocons to liberal interventionists. Pseudo intellectuals, they exude a cloying Ivy League snobbery as they sell perpetual fear, perpetual war, and a racist worldview, where the lesser breeds of the earth only understand violence.

They are pimps of war, puppets of the Pentagon, a state within a state, and the defense contractors who lavishly fund their think tanks - Project for the New American Century, American Enterprise Institute, Foreign Policy Initiative, Institute for the Study of War, Atlantic Council and Brookings Institute. Like some mutant strain of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they cannot be vanquished. It does not matter how wrong they are, how absurd their theories, how many times they lie or denigrate other cultures and societies as uncivilized or how many murderous military interventions go bad. They are immovable props, the parasitic mandarins of power that are vomited up in the dying days of any empire, including ours, leaping from one self-defeating catastrophe to the next.

I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent reporting on the suffering, misery, and murderous rampages these shills for war engineered and funded. My first encounter with them was in Central America. Elliot Abrams - convicted of providing misleading testimony to Congress on the Iran-Contra Affair and later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush so he could return to government to sell us the Iraq War - and Robert Kagan, director of the State Department's public diplomacy office for Latin America - were propagandists for the brutal military regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as the rapists and homicidal thugs that made up the rogue Contra forces fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, which they illegally funded. Their job was to discredit our reporting.

They, and their coterie of fellow war lovers, went on to push for the expansion of NATO in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, violating an agreement not to extend NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany and recklessly antagonizing Russia. They were and are cheerleaders for the apartheid state of Israel, justifying its war crimes against Palestinians and myopically conflating Israel's interests with our own. They advocated for air strikes in Serbia, calling for the US to "take out" Slobodan Milosevic. They were the authors of the policy to invade Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Robert Kagan and William Kristol, with their typical cluelessness, wrote in April 2002 that "the road that leads to real security and peace" is "the road that runs through Baghdad."

We saw how that worked out. That road led to the dissolution of Iraq, the destruction of its civilian infrastructure, including the obliteration of 18 of 20 electricity-generating plants and nearly all the water-pumping and sanitation systems during a 43-day period when 90,000 tons of bombs were rained down on the country, the rise of radical jihadist groups throughout the region, and failed states. The war in Iraq, along with the humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, shredded the illusion of US military and global hegemony. It also inflicted on Iraqis, who had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11, the widespread killing of civilians, the torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners, and the ascendancy of Iran as the preeminent power in the region. They continue to call for a war with Iran, with Fred Kagan stating that "there is nothing we can do short of attacking to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons." They pushed for the overthrow of President Nicholas Maduro, after trying to do the same to Hugo Chavez, in Venezuela. They have targeted Daniel Ortega, their old nemesis in Nicaragua.

They embrace a purblind nationalism that prohibits them from seeing the world from any perspective other than their own. They know nothing about the machinery of war, its consequences, or its inevitable blowback. They know nothing about the peoples and cultures they target for violent regeneration. They believe in their divine right to impose their "values" on others by force. Fiasco after fiasco. Now they are stoking a war with Russia.

"The nationalist is by definition an ignoramus," Yugoslav writer Danilo Kis observed. "Nationalism is the line of least resistance, the easy way. The nationalist is untroubled, he knows or thinks he knows what his values are, his, that's to say national, that's to say the values of the nation he belongs to, ethical and political; he is not interested in others, they are no concern of his, hell - it's other people (other nations, another tribe). They don't even need investigating. The nationalist sees other people in his own images - as nationalists."

The Biden administration is filled with these ignoramuses, including Joe Biden. Victoria Nuland, the wife of Robert Kagan, serves as Biden's undersecretary of state for political affairs. Antony Blinken is secretary of state. Jake Sullivan is national security advisor. They come from this cabal of moral and intellectual trolls that includes Kimberly Kagan, the wife of Fred Kagan, who founded The Institute for the Study of War, William Krystol, Max Boot, John Podhoretz, Gary Schmitt, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Frum, and others. Many were once staunch Republicans or, like Nuland, served in Republican and Democratic administrations. Nuland was the principal deputy foreign policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

They are united by the demand for larger and larger defense budgets and an ever expanding military. Julian Benda called these courtiers to power "the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia."

They once railed against liberal weakness and appeasement. But they swiftly migrated to the Democratic Party rather than support Donald Trump, who showed no desire to start a conflict with Russia and who called the invasion of Iraq a "big, fat mistake." Besides, as they correctly pointed out, Hillary Clinton was a fellow neocon. And liberals wonder why nearly half the electorate, who revile these arrogant unelected power brokers, as they should, voted for Trump.

These ideologues did not see the corpses of their victims. I did. Including children. Every dead body I stood over in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Gaza, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen or Kosovo, month after month, year after year, exposed their moral bankruptcy, their intellectual dishonesty, and their sick bloodlust. They did not serve in the military. Their children do not serve in the military. But they eagerly ship young American men and women off to fight and die for their self-delusional dreams of empire and American hegemony. Or, as in Ukraine, they provide hundreds of millions of dollars in weaponry and logistical support to sustain long and bloody proxy wars.

Historical time stopped for them with the end of World War II. The overthrow of democratically elected governments by the US during the Cold War in Indonesia, Guatemala, the Congo, Iran and Chile (where the CIA oversaw the assassination of the commander-in-chief of the army, General Rene Schneider, and President Salvador Allende), the Bay of Pigs, the atrocities and war crimes that defined the wars in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, even the disasters they manufactured in the Middle East, have disappeared into the black hole of their collective historical amnesia. American global domination, they claim, is benign, a force for good, "benevolent hegemony." The world, Charles Krauthammer insisted, welcomes "our power." All enemies, from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, are the new Hitler. All US interventions are a fight for freedom that make the world a safer place. All refusals to bomb and occupy another country are a 1938 Munich moment, a pathetic retreat from confronting evil by the new Neville Chamberlain. We do have enemies abroad. But our most dangerous enemy is within.

The warmongers build a campaign against a country such as Iraq or Russia and then wait for a crisis - they call it the next Pearl Harbor - to justify the unjustifiable. In 1998, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, along with a dozen other prominent neoconservatives, wrote an open letter to President Bill Clinton denouncing his policy of containment of Iraq as a failure and demanding that he go to war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. To continue the "course of weakness and drift," they warned, was to "put our interests and our future at risk." Huge majorities in Congress, Republican and Democrat, rushed to pass the Iraq Liberation Act. Few Democrats or Republicans dared be seen as soft on national security. The act stated that the United States government would work to "remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein" and authorized $99 million towards that goal, some of it being used to fund Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress that would become instrumental in disseminating the fabrications and lies used to justify the Iraq war during the administration of George W. Bush.

The attacks of 9/11 gave the war party its opening, first with Afghanistan, then Iraq. Krauthammer, who knows nothing about the Muslim world, wrote that "the way to tame the Arab street is not with appeasement and sweet sensitivity but with raw power and victory...The elementary truth that seems to elude the experts again and that power is its own reward. Victory changes everything, psychologically above all. The psychology in the [Middle East] is now one of fear and deep respect for American power. Now is the time to use it." Removing Saddam Hussein from power, Kristol crowed, would "transform the political landscape of the Middle East."

It did, of course, but not in ways that benefited the US.

They lust for apocalyptic global war. Fred Kagan, the brother of Robert, a military historian, wrote in 1999 that "America must be able to fight Iraq and North Korea, and also be able to fight genocide in the Balkans and elsewhere without compromising its ability to fight two major regional conflicts. And it must be able to contemplate war with China or Russia some considerable (but not infinite) time from now [author's emphasis]."

They believe violence magically solves all disputes, even the Israeli-Palestinian morass. In a bizarre interview immediately after 9/11, Donald Kagan, the Yale classicist and rightwing ideologue who was the father of Robert and Fred, called, along with his son Fred, for the deployment of US troops in Gaza so we could "take the war to these people." They have long demanded the stationing of NATO troops in Ukraine, with Robert Kagan saying that "we need to not worry that the problem is our encirclement rather than Russian ambitions." His wife, Victoria Nuland, was outed in a leaked phone conversation in 2014 with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, disparaging the EU and plotting to remove the lawfully elected President Viktor Yanukovych and install compliant Ukrainian politicians in power, most of whom did eventually take power. They lobbied for US troops to be sent to Syria to assist "moderate" rebels seeking to overthrow Basha al-Assad. Instead, the intervention spawned the Caliphate. The US ended up bombing the very forces they had armed, becoming Assad's de facto air force.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, like the attacks of 9/11, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Putin, like everyone else they target, only understands force. We can, they assure us, militarily bend Russia to our will.

"It is true that acting firmly in 2008 or 2014 would have meant risking conflict," Robert Kagan wrote in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, lamenting our refusal to militarily confront Russia earlier. "But Washington is risking conflict now; Russia's ambitions have created an inherently dangerous situation. It is better for the United States to risk confrontation with belligerent powers when they are in the early stages of ambition and expansion, not after they have already consolidated substantial gains. Russia may possess a fearful nuclear arsenal, but the risk of Moscow using it is not higher now than it would have been in 2008 or 2014, if the West had intervened then. And it has always been extraordinarily small: Putin was never going to obtain his objectives by destroying himself and his country, along with much of the rest of the world." In short, don't worry about going to war with Russia, Putin won't use the bomb.

I do not know if these people are stupid or cynical or both. They are lavishly funded by the war industry. They are never dropped from the networks for their repeated idiocy. They rotate in and out of power, parked in places like The Council on Foreign Relations or The Brookings Institute, before being called back into government. They are as welcome in the Obama or Biden White House as the Bush White House. The Cold War, for them, never ended. The world remains binary, us and them, good and evil. They are never held accountable. When one military intervention goes up in flames, they are ready to promote the next. These Dr. Strangeloves, if we don't stop them, will terminate life as we know it on the planet.

(c) 2022 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, holds a hearing on March 30, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

Sanders' Hearing On Corporate Greed Goes Unnoticed By Corporate Media
Massive coverage of the war in Ukraine does not offend advertisers, while the corporate war on consumers directly involves corporate advertisers.
By Ralph Nader

It is exceedingly rare for a major congressional committee to hold hearings on "corporate greed" leading to corporate profiteering and surging prices on consumer goods. On April 5, 2022, Senate Budget Chairman, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) chartered uncensored territory on corporate avarice with a lead witness, former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Although the hearing covered bread and butter issues, the mainstream corporate media ignored it. Massive coverage of the war in Ukraine does not offend advertisers, while the corporate war on consumers directly involves corporate advertisers.

Corporate greed takes hundreds of thousands of American lives every year (think the opioid disaster, the tobacco cancer business, the toxins in the air and water), not to mention injuries and illnesses stemming from corporations that put extra profit over concerns about public health and safety.

However, at the Senate hearing, Sanders chose to focus on the economic exploitation of consumers. Here is his introductory remark:

Across every major industry, prices continue to rise - this includes a 38 percent increase in the price of gasoline, a 44 percent increase in the price of heating oil, a 41 percent increase in the price of a used car, a 24 percent in the price of rental cars, and a 17 percent increase in the price of furniture. Further, Tyson Foods recently increased beef prices by 32 percent, the price of chicken by 20 percent and the price of pork by 13 percent. As prices increase, corporate profits hit a record high of nearly $3 trillion in 2021, up 25 percent in a single year.
He might have added that the companies profiting from these price increases paid a record low amount in federal income taxes. Moreover, the net worth of their richest shareholders soared in the midst of the pandemic.

Sanders denounced $900 billion in stock buybacks last year alone (a sign of excessive pricing power). In 2020, he added, the CEOs of major U.S. companies on average "made nearly 350 times more than the median worker."

Senator Sanders could have noted that Apple's CEO Tim Cook is making $50,000 an hour or about $850 a minute this year! (No, those are not typos).

Big corporations always have misleading, but plausible excuses. They are currently blaming the war in Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the global supply chain pile-up in our ports for high prices. Well, who created the supply chain requiring U.S. consumers to buy all kinds of products from countries thousands of miles away that could have been produced here in the USA? It was Big Business CEOs who pushed corporate-managed "free trade" agreements through from Washington to Beijing. Their avaricious mantra was that their "free trade" pacts would lower prices for consumers. Really? Aside from clothing, look at the sky-high prices for your imported iPhones, your computers, cars, and drugs. The corporate boosters of the global trade pacts pocketed the excess profits from the backs of serf labor abroad.

Professor Robert Reich rebutted the corporate excuses for their higher prices by pointing out the detrimental impact on consumers of concentrated corporate power in such industries as gas and meat. With profits at a 70-year high and the companies flush with cash, why are they raising prices? His answer: "Because they can, and they can because they don't face meaningful competition."

Just the reverse is true. These industries dominated by a few corporations "have the power to raise prices because it makes it easy for them to informally coordinate price increases ... without risking the possibility of losing customers, who have no other choice," he testified.

"If markets were competitive," he continued, "companies would keep their prices down to prevent competitors from grabbing away customers." The reason they're raising prices rather than absorbing increased costs is that they have pricing power in their locales, as does Proctor & Gamble for diapers and toilet paper. In addition to their soaring profits, Reich showed how corporations even make money off of inflation beyond their rising costs. Tyson Foods CFO admitted this power (See the full, well-documented testimony by Professor Reich, which includes reforms.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the malicious, duplicitous ranking Republican member of the Budget Committee, had as his witness, professor Michael Faulkender who worked for Trump's Treasury Department. Faulkender blamed the Federal Reserve's monetary policy (funded by banks and headed by a Trump nominee) and excessive demand fueled by Washington's stimulus programs for price increases. This is the usual GOP routine of blaming the government for everything, even a government under the thumb of the corporate lobby. He neglected to mention that given soaring profits, companies in a competitive industry would absorb rising costs to keep their customers. Instead, these companies are passing on these costs, plus adding profit, fueling ever-higher inflation.

Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the government's abdication of antitrust enforcement - shaped by corporatist lobbying - allowed countless merger after merger in industry after industry to occur. But Faulkender did not dwell on this dimension of the corporate state or the relentless corporate urge to merge so they can buy their customers instead of earn them.

The Biden White House has proposed stronger antitrust and consumer protection measures. They want to tax billionaires and unproductive stock buybacks - the latter being a long-time desire of President Biden. But there is no energy by his Party in Congress compared to the energy by the GOP to stop these measures. Besides, both parties are dialing for the same corporate campaign cash - a daily begging that dilutes the reformists' ardor.

The media blackout on Sanders's hearing is partly the Senator's fault. He knows how to hold a highly energetic public hearing. You have witnesses who have worked in the trenches against corporate profiteering, victims of these profiteers, and subpoenaing corporate executives like Tim Cook of Apple if they don't testify voluntarily. There also needs to be proponents of strong corporate crime legislation.

If Democrats can't organize a determined hearing, that generates massive media coverage, how do they expect to make these popular issues front and center in the coming November elections? How do they expect to rebut the twistificating Republicans from succeeding in blaming the Democrats for these corporate-bred inflationary pressures on voters? The Democrats haven't even formulated the slogans for such an offensive.

The Democratic leadership has to decide what they want most - votes or more corporate campaign money to further enrich their consultants who themselves are often conflicted due to their own business clients.

Unfortunately for the American people, the knowledgeable civic community is not catching the ears of the Democratic Party candidates. Regular reports show incumbent Democrats feeling despair and defeatism over the prospect of the lying, corrupt, corporatist, and clever GOP taking control of Congress next year.

Wake up to the winning ways of addressing ALL THE PEOPLE with economic and moral policies that connect with where people live, work and raise their families. Learn from FDR!

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

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama at the White House, April 5, 2022

Black Political Distraction
By Margaret Kimberley

Having a new Black SCOTUS justice or bringing Barack Obama out of retirement for a photo opportunity won't raise Joe Biden's poll numbers or stave off defeat in the mid-term elections. Only fulfilling campaign promises and giving the people what they need will help Biden and the democrats.

The Black political class and the democratic party are once again infantilizing Black voters instead of giving them what they need and want. They pass useless legislation and stage political performances because they have lost the trust of the people. Biden's poll numbers continue to drop. He now has a lackluster 40 percent approval rating for the simple reason that he hasn't done what he promised during his 2020 presidential campaign.

Biden said he would provide student loan debt relief, raise the minimum wage, and improve the government response to the covid crisis. His friends in corporate media covered for him by claiming that stimulus and child tax credit payments would "cut child poverty in half." That claim was never true and now that tax credit is gone along with the much touted Build Back Better legislation. Not only does covid continue to kill, with 1 million dead in the past two years, but the millions of Americans who are uninsured no longer have free treatment, testing, or vaccinations.

The Black political class have so little to show for their efforts that they now resort to passing legislation so meaningless that it insults the collective intelligence of Black people. One example is the passage of the Emmett Till Anti Lynching bill. Congress failed to pass anti-lynching legislation when the public murder of Black people was a common occurrence. But now the lynchers are not local white citizens councils and Ku Klux Klan members. It is the police who kill an average of three people every day, and one of those persons will be Black.

Despite this continuing bloodshed committed against their constituents, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has never even attempted to pass legislation which would protect the public from summary police execution. There is plenty of kente cloth and posturing but the CBC go along with Biden's plan to add $30 billion in funding to states and localities to hire more police, the people who actually commit lynch law in this country.

When they aren't virtue signaling about lynching, Black politicians are passing legislation about hairstyles. The legislation, Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN Act) would prohibit discrimination against people with natural hair. The House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act but it faces what is called an uncertain future in the Senate. That means it probably won't be taken up at all.

No Black person is in favor of hair based discrimination, but there are far more important issues that need to be addressed. The democrats are rightfully worried about the November 2022 mid-term elections and are in danger of losing control of the House. Their response is what one would expect from a faux leftish party.

They bring out their faux leftish former president, Barack Obama. Obama appeared at the white house to celebrate the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare. Obamacare enshrined corporate control over health care and gave people the right to purchase insurance which is too expensive. Medicaid expansion was the most important aspect of Obamacare but it was never accepted by most of the southern states, the region with the largest Black population.

Pulling out the Barack Obama card didn't help Hillary Clinton secure votes where she needed them in 2016. Similarly, his presence is unlikely to help Biden in 2022. Biden and the democrats are hamstrung by their reliance on the oligarchic class, the people he promised, "Nothing will fundamentally change." They won't allow Build Back Better or student loan debt relief or universal health care and so the people go without what they need the most. Thus the CROWN Act is born.

The problem for Biden and the democrats is that the entire political system is in disrepute. They post on Twitter about expensive health care and give the impression they will actually do something about this crisis. But they can't fool all the people all the time. Inflation is eating away at the well being of millions of people. The party in power takes a hit when times are hard. Ridiculous propaganda about "Putin's price hike" won't get the votes they need.

Senator Cory Booker may wax elegiac about the CROWN Act, or move Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown-Jackson to tears with maudlin oratory, but those performances won't move the needle as much as democrats hope. Booker and his colleagues are joined at the hip with Biden and none of them even go through the motions of asking a hard question.

Ultimately the people are the losers, getting none of what they need while being fed very obvious propaganda. It is true that nothing has fundamentally changed. Black voters know it and they will not fall for the charade on Election Day.

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

Who's Making Our Medicine?

By Jim Hightower

Let's talk pills. To treat everything from allergies to heart problems, half of Americans take a prescription medicine every day, and nearly all of us reach for the pill bottle on occasion.

It's perfectly safe, though, because the Food and Drug Administration regulates the ingredients that go into those medicinal compounds, right? Yes - assuming they're produced in the USA.

Mostly, no. Take antibiotics. The New York Times reports that ingredients for the majority of these bacteria fighters are "now made almost exclusively in China and India," as are the components of dozens of other major drugs. Unbeknownst to most Americans (and to our doctors), China has become the world's pre-eminent supplier of medicines. As one major drug company puts it: "If tomorrow China stopped supplying pharmaceutical ingredients, the worldwide pharmaceutical industry would collapse."

What's at work here is mindless globalization and deregulation. Our politicians threw open the US market to drug imports, while also letting foreign manufacturers go uninspected and unregulated. So, companies located in China can cut corners and undercut our own regulated pill makers. America's last producer of penicillin's ingredients, for example, shut down in 2004, leaving us dependent on China.

FDA - our supposed watchdog - doesn't even know where a drug's ingredients come from. Why? Because drug companies say they don't like to reveal their sources - so they don't. The Times found that one federal database lists the existence of about 3,000 foreign drug plants that ship to the US, while another lists 6,800. No one knows which is correct, if either.

This is ridiculous. For the sake of America's health, security, and economy, let's regulate all pill makers and rebuild our own industry.

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

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2022.

Why Is Merrick Garland Throttling The Trump Investigation?
By William Rivers Pitt

Between plague, disruptive invasions, economic consternation and the ceaseless bilge tide of right-wing social warfare, it's been hard of late for an attempted coup by the former president of the United States against the government of the United States to make a dent in the 24-hour news cycle. I'm not sure what to make of that, but it may have something to do with the fact that the last major investigation into presidential malfeasance that actually changed anything was first gaveled to order when I was 3 years old.

The Watergate hearings are the gold standard by which all since have been judged, and have been judged almost universally to be lacking. The Church Committee hearings? The CIA, NSA and FBI are stronger and more ubiquitous now than William Colby could have imagined in his wildest dreams.

Iran/Contra? The most significant figures were pardoned, Oliver North got a TV show on Fox News, and Ronald Reagan remains a living saint in the minds of most Republicans.

The September 11 Commission? Don't make me laugh. George W. Bush tried to name Henry Kissinger as chair, and that's all you need to know about the chance that non-event stood of accomplishing anything of merit.

Mueller? Mueller? Mueller? Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! I rest my case.

Five decades worth of whitewash has been splashed over the doings of the worst people in government, said washings coming by way of "committees" which always seem to declare in the end that everyone is guilty, so no one is to blame. Either that, or they've been overturned tubs for blowhards to stand on and crow about the onerous burdens borne by white Christian capitalists in this strange and shabby place.

My faith in the investigative powers of government, when faced off against various centralized money powers that would just as soon stay out of the spotlight, thank you very much, is dialed down to pretty much nil. So you will forgive me if I am not salivating over the labors being put forth by the January 6 select congressional committee, the New York attorney general or the Manhattan district attorney. Only one of the three - New York Attorney General Letitia James - appears to be making palpable progress, likely because she does not have Merrick Garland flopped across her path like a heat-stroking bison.

Ah yes, U.S. Attorney General Garland, that perfectly named inert decorative object. Once, his name was a conjuring word encapsulating the serial misdeeds of Mitch McConnell. Now, denied a seat on the high court, Garland has become perhaps the most frustrating person in the District of Columbia.

The January 6 committee has been stacking damning evidence outside his door for months now with little to show for it. Aside from catching COVID, the only newsworthy act Garland has done to date is to prevent an entirely different congressional committee from fully investigating the boxes of classified material that somehow waddled from the White House to Mar-a-Lago when Donald Trump finally left office:

House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., is alleging that the Department of Justice is "obstructing" the panel's investigation into former President Donald Trump by blocking the National Archives from handing over relevant documents.

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland Thursday, Maloney said the DOJ is "preventing" the National Archives from cooperating with the committee's request for documents and information, "including an inventory of 15 boxes of documents recovered from the former president's Mar-a-Lago residence."

The committee is conducting the investigation, Maloney said, because it has jurisdiction over the Presidential Records Act and is trying to determine the full scope of Trump's potential violations of that law.

It was announced late yesterday that the Department of Justice would (finally) open its own investigation into those missing boxes of classified materials. "The investigation into the handling of the presidential documents," reports Truthout's Chris Walker, "is still in its early stages." Of course it is.

Speaking of the virus, the number of people growing entirely fed up with AG Nope Lump is exploding exponentially, and now includes United States District Judge David O. Carter. Trump attorney John Eastman - he of the now-infamous how-to-overthrow-the-election memo - has been laboring mightily to keep a cache of emails exchanged from January 4 to January 7, 2021, between the core planners of the Capitol assault out of the 1/6 committee's hands. Upon granting that committee access to the documents, Judge Carter went on at length to underscore how there are obvious crimes here. Between the lines of his decision: What the Almighty hell is taking so long up at Main Justice?

"This may have been the first time members of President Trump's team transformed a legal interpretation of the Electoral Count Act into a day-by-day plan of action," wrote Carter in his decision. "In another email thread, Dr. Eastman's colleagues discuss whether to publish a piece supporting his plan, and they touch on state lawsuits only to criticize how they are being handled by the Trump campaign. In a different email thread, Dr. Eastman and a colleague consider how to use a state court ruling to justify Vice President Pence enacting the plan. In another email, a colleague focuses on the 'plan of action' after the January 6 attacks."

See Marjorie Cohn's detailed breakdown of the Carter ruling for a fulsome understanding of how rare and significant it is for a judge to swing the lumber like this.

Such a lugubrious case of the slows on the part of Garland's office is apparently having a trickle-down effect on the Manhattan district attorney. District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. made some ink a few weeks back when two of his top prosecutors investigating potential illegal activities by Trump and his organization abruptly resigned. Attorneys Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz walked after Bragg allegedly informed them he was not prepared to move forward with criminal charges.

The Pomerantz resignation letter pulls no punches in this regard: "I believe that Donald Trump is guilty of numerous felony violations of the Penal Law in connection with the preparation and use of his annual Statements of Financial Condition. His financial statements were false, and he has a long history of fabricating information relating to his personal finances and lying about his assets to banks, the national media, counterparties, and many others, including the American people. The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes - he did."

Bragg has promised he is not downplaying the Trump investigation, and now says he intends to continue his inquiry until all avenues have been covered. Pomerantz and his cohort of prosecutors are not so sanguine. "I and others believe that your decision not to authorize prosecution now will doom any future prospects that Mr. Trump will be prosecuted for the criminal conduct we have been investigating," he wrote in his resignation letter. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of future endeavors, never mind present ones.

In the ever-expanding cosmos of Trump investigations, only Attorney General James appears to remain on track toward something worthy of the effort. This is probably due to the fact that her focus is civil law and not criminal - nowhere near Garland's sphere of influence - but hitting Trump in the wallet is no small thing, especially to Trump. Everyone is guilty, so no one is to blame.

"New York's attorney general asked a state judge Thursday to issue an order of contempt against former President Donald Trump," reports CBS News, "claiming he has failed to comply with a previous ruling requiring him to turn over documents by March 31 as part of an investigation into his company's financial practices. The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James also requested that Trump be fined $10,000 a day until he complies with the ruling."

With each passing day, another brick of screaming evidence gets dropped at the doorstep of Merrick Garland. The latest - a true doozy of a Watergate flashback - deals with a nearly eight-hour hole in Trump's official call log on the day of the insurrection. He was seen on the phone constantly during this period, because he was apparently grabbing phones from aides and friends to keep his conversations off the public record.

"Trump did not grab phones at random," contends David Frum of The Atlantic. "He thought tactically about which phone to use." Why? Maybe the attorney general can help someone actually ask Trump et al. on the record.

Even now, more than a year after the attack, Trump and his people are unable to conjure even a half-believable explanation for what went down that day. "I thought it was a shame," Trump told The Washington Post on Wednesday, "and I kept asking why isn't she doing something about it? Why isn't Nancy Pelosi doing something about it? And the mayor of D.C. also. The mayor of D.C. and Nancy Pelosi are in charge."

Yes, the dreaded "Nancy's Fault" explanation, bane of justice-seekers everywhere. There's no way a prosecutor armed with the full might of the Justice Department can overcome such an all-encompassing defense.


There is a great, big ticking clock here. Except for Attorney General James's investigation, most of this goes up in smoke next January if the Democrats lose control of the House.

Then again, that may be the point of the exercise, as it seems to have been for all those committee "investigations" of yore. This is Washington, remember? Everyone is guilty, so no one is to blame. Turn out the lights when you leave.

(c) 2022 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, questions Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Senate Foreign
Relations Committee hearing last fall. Listening in the foreground is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Why Did Ron Johnson Oppose Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson?
By John Nichols

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin's support for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was loud and clear. The Madison Democrat's enthusiastic "aye" resonated through the Senate chamber last week as she joined her fellow Democrats and three Republicans in voting to confirm the first Black woman ever to be nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

There was no question about where Baldwin was coming from during the Senate deliberations. "Judge Jackson is extremely well-qualified and has strong experience working as a federal judge. She has a proven record of being an impartial, fair and independent judge guided by the rule of law, and the Senate hearings made that clear," the senator had announced after meeting President Biden's nominee. "Judge Jackson's lifetime of hard work and perseverance has prepared her well for this inspiring moment and I believe she has the character, temperament and experience we want in a justice on our highest court. I will proudly vote for the historic confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court."

And so she did.

While Baldwin brought clarity to a groundbreaking moment for the American judiciary, Sen. Ron Johnson did the opposite. The Oshkosh Republican's mumbled "no" vote on the nomination was so quiet that people who were in the chamber didn't hear it.

It appeared that Johnson was embarrassed.

And rightly so.

The Wisconsin Republican struggled to offer an explanation for why he was opposing one of the most qualified nominees for the high court in decades.

In a written statement, Johnson claimed, "Judge Jackson is constrained in answering questions regarding issues that might come before the court, so I can only base my decision on what she said in her hearings and what my assumptions are regarding judicial appointments made by liberal Democrat Presidents."

Even by the exceptionally low standard that Johnson sets for himself, that was a bogus statement.

Judge Jackson addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee for hours prior to the confirmation vote, offering deep insights into her background and her approach to the law. She earned high marks, not only from Democrats but from honest Republicans such as Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 presidential nominee, who described Jackson as "a well-qualified jurist and a person of honor."

"While I do not expect to agree with every decision she may make on the court," said Romney, "I believe that she more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity." Maine Sen. Susan Collins, another Republican, reached the same conclusion as Romney. So did Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Leading libertarian legal theorists, who are certainly not in the habit of casually cheering on the nominees of "liberal Democrat presidents," also hailed Judge Jackson.

The Cato Institute, the think tank that declares its vision "is to create free, open, and civil societies founded on libertarian principles," greeted Biden's choice of the former federal public defender and sitting member of the federal appeals court by observing, "There are plenty of reasons to celebrate Judge Jackson's nomination most importantly, the professional diversity she would bring to the Court." Clark M. Neily III, Cato's senior vice president for legal studies, urged the Senate to confirm Judge Jackson, noting, "Of course, as with any justice appointed by a Democratic or Republican president, we expect to have plenty of disagreements with a Justice Jackson; but as committed, consistent libertarians, we anticipate significant areas of agreement as well."

In other words, Ron Johnson's complaints were based on false premises.

So what was really going on?

Did Johnson vote against Jackson simply because he is just a hack who is going to oppose any nominee put forward by a president other than Donald Trump?

Or was there another motivation for the senator's vote? What were his "assumptions" about the first Black woman ever to be nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court? Why did he oppose a nominee who went out of her way to meet with him, and who he acknowledged is "a decent person with a compelling life story"?

The voters of Wisconsin have a right to know where Ron Johnson is coming from. He has a duty to level with the people he is supposed to represent.

But don't hold your breath waiting for a straight answer from Johnson. The senator, who is famous for embracing conspiracy theories and getting his facts wrong, is unlikely to offer the sort of clarity that Wisconsinites can count on from Baldwin.

The bottom line is that Johnson could not bring himself to vote for an exceptionally well-qualified nominee who won the support of Democrats and Republicans, liberals and libertarians and 66% of Wisconsin voters in the most recent Marquette Law School poll.

According to that survey, Judge Jackson was supported by 95% of Democrats, 67% of independents and almost a third of Republicans. Eighty-eight percent of Wisconsinites recognized that she was qualified. One notable result from the poll came in response to a question about whether a senator would be justified in voting against a qualified nominee simply because the senator is of a different party from the nominating president. Only 17% of those surveyed said it was appropriate to reject a qualified nominee based on rank partisanship, while 82% said such a choice could not be justified.

Unless Ron Johnson can come up with a better explanation for his vote than an idle reference to his "assumptions" about an able jurist who happened to be nominated by a president of a party other than his own, then the great majority of Wisconsinites should be looking this November for a senator who is more attuned to their values.

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

A Memorable Easter Sunday
By James Donahue

Because of Christian involvement in the ancient pagan rites of spring, Easter is, for me, a dark time of the year. Yet there is one Easter Sunday that I recall with vivid fondness.

It might have been the day that I separated myself from the shadow of my mother's apron and became a man.

I was recovering from a severe head injury from a traffic accident and was taking a year off from college. While physically able, the healing was going on in the brain, and that did not require rest and convalescence. During my hospitalization I met a man who owned and operated an oil well servicing company and he offered me a job. I took it.

The job was hard and dirty. It involved opening oil wells and servicing them when something went wrong. I was assigned to work with a man named Ted Case on a special rig that visited wells regularly to clean paraffin, a waxy substance from hot crude oil that collected on the insides of well casings as the mixture made its way up the pipe. Without routine cleaning, the stuff would eventually plug a well.

I was new on the job, tired from long days of hard outdoor work in cold early spring days. Every muscle in my body hurt. I was looking forward to the respite of Easter Sunday.

Saturday night as we rolled up to the doghouse with our rig, the boss met us with the news that he had an emergency job on a well about a hundred miles to our north. He assigned our truck to the task the next morning . . . Easter Sunday.

I rebelled. I informed Ted I would not work that day, that my family was gathering and I had commitments. He said he understood and would do it alone.

I discovered that I had a conscience, however. Ted was married and the father of small children. When I went to my place in a local rooming house that night, I started thinking about him going out on that job alone. It is possible to work a paraffin rig by yourself. I later had a situation where I was forced to do it. But I knew that my absence would make the job a lot harder and dangerous for Ted. And I thought that if he was going to give up his holiday to work, I should too.

The next morning when Ted showed up at the doghouse, I was there waiting for him. He met me with a big wide grin and handed me a chocolate Easter rabbit. "I thought you would come," he said.

Suddenly there was a warm camaraderie in that truck. My sacrifice that morning to accompany a man I hardly knew bonded us in a friendship that lasted throughout my time on that job.

There is much more to this story.

It turned out to be one of the most dismal jobs we could have had. The day was dark and rainy. It was almost cold enough to snow, but it just rained. The well site was located in a large field of recently turned clay that turned to slippery mud. We had to have our truck pulled into the site by a large Caterpillar Tractor.

Once set up, we shut down the well head, installed our tall steel stack, and I shimmied to the top to drop the heavy weight with brushes on the end. We called it a sinker. The top end of the sinker was attached to a thin wire cable that passed through a thick rubber gasket attached at the top of the stack. The wire passed over a pulley system to the back of our truck.

Once installed, we opened the well head and dropped the sinker into the pipe. Then, taking turns, wearing heavy gloves, we pulled on the wire to raise the brush, then drop it. We took turns doing this over and over again until we worked our way down through the thick layers of paraffin. Once getting a thin brush through the paraffin, we worked a winder one through.

Cleaning paraffin is dirty work. The well, under constant pressure from natural gasses, continued to flow as we worked. The rubber gasket at the top of our stack kept it from blowing free, but there was a constant rain of crude oil all around us. Our clothes, hair and faces were soaked in it.

This well had not been serviced in a long time and it was going to be a long, slow, tedious job. We spudded all that morning, dropping only a few feet into the goo. Some of the wells went thousands of feet into the earth, and the paraffin was always thickest near the top hundred feet or so. We knew that eventually we would break through. It was just taking a long time.

Noon came. Instead of being done and on our way home as we had hoped, we went to the cab of the truck to munch our Easter dinner. It consisted of a cold sandwich and we were going to split the chocolate Easter bunny. Even though we wore rain parkas, our clothes were wet. We were cold and thankful for a chance to get out of the elements.

When Ted started the engine to warm the cab, something happened. There was a loud backfire, and suddenly smoke began pouring out from under the hood. It was on fire!

Here we were, backed up to a spitting, spewing oil well, with a thin cloud of crude oil flying in the air all around us, and attached by a wire to a burning truck in a rainstorm. We were within seconds of having a serious oil well fire, the kind that blazed for weeks.

I remembered that we had a fire extinguisher attached to the passenger's side of the truck. We both jumped out, Ted went to the hood and I grabbed the fire extinguisher. I recall bringing it to Ted, and he put out the fire.

Afterward, Ted asked me how I got the extinguisher off the truck. I said I just took it. I didn't remember how.

That was when he informed me that to prevent theft, the fire extinguishers were all attached to the trucks by thick iron bars with locks on them. He was about to come around to unlock the device when I arrived with the extinguisher in hand. It turned out that in my excitement, I broke the iron bar with my bare hands.

I later tried to remove those fire extinguishers and found that I could not budge them. And in those days, after months of working in the oil field, I was getting quite powerful. The day I pulled that feat, I was still a college kid who had been on the job no more than two weeks.

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

Learning The Wrong Lessons From Ukraine
By David Swanson

Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons and was attacked. Therefore every country should have nuclear weapons.

NATO didn't add Ukraine, which was attacked. Therefore every country or at least lots of them should be added to NATO.

Russia has a bad government. Therefore it should be overthrown.

These lessons are popular, logical - even unquestionable truth in many minds - and catastrophically and demonstrably wrong.

The world has had incredibly good luck and a ridiculously high number of near misses with nuclear weapons. The mere passage of time makes nuclear apocalypse extremely likely. The scientists who maintain the Doomsday Clock say the risk is now greater than ever before. Exacerbating it with even more proliferation only adds to the risk. For those who rank the survival of life on Earth above any aspect of what that life looks like (for you can waive no flag and hate no enemy if you don't exist) eliminating nuclear weapons has to be a top priority, just like eliminating climate-destroying emissions.

But what if every country that gives up nukes gets attacked? That would be a steep price indeed, but it isn't the case. Kazakhstan also gave up its nukes. So did Belarus. South Africa gave up its nukes. Brazil and Argentina chose not to have nukes. South Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, and Japan have chosen not to have nukes. Now, it is true that Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program and was attacked. And it is true that numerous countries lacking nuclear weapons have been attacked: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, etc. But nuclear weapons don't completely stop India and Pakistan attacking each other, don't stop terrorism in the U.S. or Europe, don't prevent a major proxy war with the U.S. and Europe arming Ukraine against Russia, don't stop a major push for war with China, don't prevent Afghans and Iraqis and Syrians fighting against the U.S. military, and have as much to do with starting the war in Ukraine as their absence does with failing to prevent it.

The Cuban missile crisis involved the U.S. objecting to Soviet missiles in Cuba, and the USSR objecting to U.S. missiles in Turkey and Italy. In more recent years, the U.S. has abandoned numerous disarmament agreements, maintained nuclear missiles in Turkey (and Italy, Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium), and placed new missile bases in Poland and Romania. Among Russia's excuses for invading Ukraine was the positioning of weaponry nearer its border than ever before. Excuses, needless to say, are not justifications, and the lesson learned in Russia that the U.S. and NATO will listen to nothing other than war is as false a lesson as those being learned in the U.S. and Europe. Russia could have supported the rule of law and won over much of the world to its side. It chose not to.

In fact, the United States and Russia are not parties to the International Criminal Court. The United States punishes other governments for supporting the ICC. The United States and Russia defy the rulings of the International Court of Justice. The U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. and Russian efforts to win over Ukraine for years, the mutual arming of conflict in Donbas, and the Russian invasion of 2021 highlight a problem in world leadership.

Of 18 major human rights treaties, Russia is party to only 11, and the United States to only 5, as few as any nation on Earth. Both nations violate treaties at will, including the United Nations Charter, Kellogg Briand Pact, and other laws against war. Both nations refuse to support and openly defy major disarmament and anti-weapons treaties upheld by most of the world. Neither supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Neither complies with the disarmament requirement of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and the United States actually keeps nuclear weapons in five other nations and considers putting them into more, while Russia has talked of putting nukes in Belarus.

Russia and the United States stand as rogue regimes outside the Landmines Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Arms Trade Treaty, and many others. The United States and Russia are the top two dealers of weaponry to the rest of the world, together accounting for a large majority of weapons sold and shipped. Meanwhile most places experiencing wars manufacture no weapons at all. Weapons are imported to most of the world from a very few places. The United States and Russia are the top two users of the veto power at the UN Security Council, each frequently shutting down democracy with a single vote.

Russia could have prevented the invasion of Ukraine by not invading Ukraine. Europe could have prevented the invasion of Ukraine by telling the U.S. and Russia to mind their own business. The United States could almost certainly have prevented the invasion of Ukraine by any of the following steps, which U.S. experts warned were needed to avoid war with Russia:

Abolishing NATO when the Warsaw Pact was abolished.
Refraining from expanding NATO.
Refraining from supporting color revolutions and coups.
Supporting nonviolent action, training in unarmed resistance, and neutrality.
Transitioning from fossil fuels.
Refraining from arming Ukraine, weaponizing Eastern Europe, and conducting war rehearsals in Eastern Europe.
Accepting Russia's perfectly reasonable demands in December 2021.
In 2014, Russia proposed that Ukraine align with neither the West nor the East but work with both. The U.S. rejected that idea and supported a military coup that installed a pro-West government.

According to Ted Snider: "In 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected on a platform that featured making peace with Russia and signing the Minsk Agreement. The Minsk Agreement offered autonomy to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the Donbas that had voted for independence from Ukraine after the coup. It offered the most promising diplomatic solution. Facing domestic pressure, though, Zelensky would need U.S. support. He did not get it and, in the words of Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent, he was 'thwarted by the nationalists.' Zelensky stepped off the road of diplomacy and refused to talk to the leaders of the Donbas and implement the Minsk Agreements.

"Having failed to support Zelensky on a diplomatic solution with Russia, Washington then failed to pressure him to return to the implementation of the Minsk Agreement. Sakwa told this writer that, 'as for Minsk, neither the U.S. nor the EU put serious pressure on Kyiv to fulfill its part of the agreement.' Though the U.S. officially endorsed Minsk, Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow on Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told this writer, 'they did nothing to push Ukraine into actually implementing it.' The Ukrainians gave Zelensky a mandate for a diplomatic solution. Washington did not support or encourage it." While even U.S. President Barack Obama opposed arming Ukraine, Trump and Biden favored it, and now Washington has dramatically increased it. After eight years of assisting the Ukrainian side in a conflict in Donbas, and with branches of the U.S. military like the RAND Corporation producing reports on how to get Russia into a damaging war on Ukraine, the U.S. has refused any steps that might bring about a ceasefire and peace negotiations. As with its eternal belief that the President of Syria has been about to be overthrown any moment, and its repeated rejections of peace settlements for that country, the U.S. government, according to President Biden, favors the overthrow of the Russian government, no matter how many Ukrainians die. And the Ukrainian government seems to largely agree. Ukrainian President Zelensky reportedly rejected a peace offer days before the invasion on terms that will almost certainly ultimately be accepted by those - if any - left alive.

It's a very well kept secret, but peace is not fragile or difficult. Getting a war started is extremely difficult. It requires a concerted effort to avoid peace. The examples that prove this claim include every past war on Earth. The example most often raised in comparison with Ukraine is the Gulf War of 1990-1991. But that example depends on erasing from our collective/corporate memory the fact that the Iraqi government was willing to negotiate withdrawal from Kuwait without war and ultimately offered to simply withdraw from Kuwait within three weeks without conditions. The King of Jordan, the Pope, the President of France, the President of the Soviet Union, and many others urged such a peaceful settlement, but the White House insisted upon its "last resort" of war. Russia has been listing what it would take to end the war on Ukraine since before the war began - demands that ought to be countered with other demands, not weaponry.

For those who have time to learn the history and understand that peace is perfectly possible, it may become easier to recognize the flaw in the self-fulfilling idea that NATO must be expanded even if it threatens Russia, and even if Russia attacks to prevent it. The belief that the Russian government would attack anywhere it could get away with no matter what, even if admitted into NATO and the EU, or even if NATO were abolished, is unprovable. But we don't need to consider it wrong. It could very well be right. Certainly the same seems as likely to be true of the U.S. and some other governments. But refraining from expanding NATO would not have prevented Russia attacking Ukraine because the Russian government is a noble philanthropic operation. It would have prevented Russia attacking Ukraine because the Russian government would have had no good excuse to sell to the Russian elites, the Russian public, or the world.

During the 20th Century Cold War there were examples - some of them discussed in Andrew Cockburn's latest book - of the U.S. and Soviet militaries causing high-profile incidents just when the other side was pursuing additional weapons funding from its government. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has done more for NATO than NATO could ever have done on its own. NATO's support for militarism in Ukraine and Eastern Europe in recent years has done more for Russian militarism than anyone in Russia could have managed. The idea that what's needed now is more of what created the current conflict amounts to confirming preconceptions in dire need of being questioned.

The idea that Russia has a bad government and should therefore be overthrown is a horrible thing for U.S. officials to be saying. Everywhere on Earth has a bad government. They should all be overthrown. The U.S. government arms and funds almost all of the worst governments in the world, and the easy first step of ceasing to do that is highly to be encouraged. But overthrowing governments without a massive popular and independent local movement unencumbered by outside and elite forces is an endlessly proven recipe for disaster. I'm still not clear what it is that rehabilitated George W. Bush, but am old enough to remember when even occasional news viewers had learned that overthrowing governments was a disaster even on its own terms, and that the top idea for spreading democracy would be to lead by example through trying it in one's own country.

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

We must stop funding and building fossil fuel infrastructure and shift our resources into cleaner, healthier ways of powering societies.

Will The World Again Hit 'Snooze' On Latest Climate Alarm?
By David Suzuki

Over the decades that I and others have been warning about the consequences of burning coal, oil and gas, we've often been told we can't get off them overnight. That's served as just one excuse for our collective failure to address the climate crisis, as the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear.

"Mitigation of Climate Change" is the third of the IPCC's four-part Sixth Assessment. Part 4, a synthesis report, is scheduled for September. The IPCC states that greenhouse gas emission cuts needed to keep below the Paris Agreement's 1.5 C warming target are four times higher than they would have been if collective global ambition and mitigation started even as late as 2010.

During that time, fossil fuel development and emissions have skyrocketed. Even under existing national emissions reduction plans, the global average temperature is expected to increase by almost 2.7 C this century, which could be devastating. At current rates, we'll have used our 1.5 C carbon budget by 2030.

A rational global response would be to do everything to get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible and protect and restore forests, wetlands, kelp beds and other natural "carbon sinks" - especially considering the many available and developing practical, affordable alternatives and solutions! The pandemic showed how governments can act decisively - and spend large amounts - to address a crisis.

Renewable energy development and deployment, including wind and solar, have increased substantially, as costs continue to drop. Battery and other storage technologies also continue to improve, making renewable energy viable for many conditions. As good as that is, we need to double wind and solar PVC to keep the planet from warming more than 1.5 C beyond pre-industrial levels, according to the International Energy Agency. The IPCC notes that will require more investment from the private sector.

Governments appear to be getting serious about the crisis, but they're facing considerable pressure from the fossil fuel industry and its media and political supporters. Canada recently released a solid emissions reduction plan, yet oilsands emissions are still expected to rise 56 per cent by 2030.

As the Russian attack on Ukraine lays bare the folly of relying on finite, polluting energy sources, calls are coming in to increase production in countries including Canada, the U.S., Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Alberta government's Canadian Energy Centre, which rails against "foreign funding" for environmental groups, has even registered as a foreign agent in the U.S. to promote more Canadian bitumen exports. Many pro-oil and gas organizations are pushing for pipelines.

But the IPCC reports show we can't keep building fossil fuel infrastructure if we want to prevent the worst of global heating. In fact, we must start getting rid of or transforming existing infrastructure. Instead, every year the world has been adding more carbon-intensive infrastructure than it's been decommissioning.

The report also shows we've reached a critical point where slowing and stopping emissions isn't enough; we also have to remove some of what we've already pumped into the atmosphere, using natural methods like forest protection and planting as well as technologies like direct air capture. But we can't use technology as an excuse to continue burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases.

Procrastination is no longer an option. The longer we delay, the more disruption we'll cause, and the costlier it will become. Shifting away from coal, oil and gas and protecting nature will generate numerous benefits, from cleaner air and water to better jobs, health and economies.

The IPCC report shows that governments, businesses, industry and financial institutions must all significantly up their game. We must stop funding and building fossil fuel infrastructure and shift our resources into cleaner, healthier ways of powering societies. That means electrifying almost everything and using renewable energy, but it also means conserving more and wasting less.

This is especially true in wealthy countries, where waste and unnecessary energy use are rampant. The wealthiest one per cent worldwide emit more than twice the combined share of greenhouse gases as the poorest 50 per cent, with activities such as flying and driving SUVs - which emit a lot but only benefit a few - contributing to the imbalance.

Every IPCC report since the First Assessment in 1990 has been a wake-up call. We can't keep hitting "snooze."

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

I'm Surprised These Secret Service Agents Are Allowed Outside By Themselves
For two years, federal agents, including Secret Service personnel on the White House detail, allegedly bought bags of magic beans from two fake Homeland Security agents.
By Charles P. Pierce

I swear, the next time I'm in D.C., three witches are going to meet me on the National Mall and tell me that I'm going to be Thane of Cawdor someday. Ever since Inauguration Day in 2017, when we were told that a small crowd was really the biggest one ever, it's felt like Washington was somehow taken apart and reassembled slightly off plumb. Even now, the place is bounded closely with a heavy mist of pure Weird that is obscuring something beyond our ken. From CNN:

In a memo arguing that the two men should remain detained pending trial, prosecutors wrote that Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali compromised federal law enforcement operations and created a potential risk to national security. "The Defendants were not merely playing dress-up," prosecutors wrote in the memo filed on Friday. "They had firearms, they had ammunition, they had body armor, they had tactical gear, they had surveillance equipment."

Taherzadeh and Ali were arrested earlier this week and charged with impersonating Department of Homeland Security agents for more than two years. They gave expensive gifts to federal agents and provided them apartments in Washington, DC, according to the detention memo. Taherzadeh allegedly offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle for a Secret Service agent on the first lady's protective detail, according to an affidavit.

I mean, what in the unshirted hell is going on in that place? For two years, federal agents, including Secret Service personnel on the White House detail, allegedly bought bags of magic beans from two fake Homeland Security agents without ever wondering how two DHS schmoes got the money to give away apartments and expensive weaponry?
The pair were also in possession of "immigration documents for a number of individuals," according to the memo from prosecutors, and had significant access to information about other tenants in the Washington, DC, apartment complex where they and a number of law enforcement officials resided, including the electronic access codes and a list of each tenant. In addition, prosecutors said the pair had a machine to make "Personal Identification Verification" cards as well as passport photographs. Witnesses saw Taherzadeh with a PIV card he used to log in to his laptop that had a "DHS" label on it, according to the memo.
A label on a laptop? That certainly would be enough to convince me to take an apartment from a complete stranger and not suspect that anything was amiss. God alone knows what these guys would have accepted from a fake G-man with a name tag reading, "Hello. My Name Is J. Edgar." And there is the inevitable darker side.
According to the memo, Taherzadeh and Ali were stockpiling weapons and law enforcement equipment in multiple apartments they leased in a DC apartment complex. In one apartment, which investigators said was used for storage, investigators found a loaded Glock 19 handgun and a Sig Sauer handgun, parts to a long gun, scopes, and multiple rounds of ammunition. In other apartments, investigators discovered surveillance equipment, including 30 hard drives, hard drive copying equipment and a "high-end drone," as well as clothing with police insignia, police parking placards, a latent fingerprint kit and a lock picking kit, according to the detention memo.
Obviously, if all of this is within an area code of the truth, then there's someone somewhere financing this operation. But I'm more interested in what's going on with their alleged marks, the four Secret Service agents who were put on administrative leave at the same time their two alleged benefactors were jugged. I'm surprised that these people are allowed to go out by themselves, let alone that they're allowed to do so armed.
As of Monday, four Secret Service agents were placed on administrative leave pending investigations. The affidavit details substantial gifts the two defendants allegedly gave federal agents. According to the document, Taherzadeh allegedly provided a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the White House complex a "rent-free penthouse apartment" for one year at a cost of about $40,200...

...According to the affidavit, Taherzadeh allegedly gave federal agents gifts including "iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle, a generator, and law enforcement paraphernalia," telling the agents they were paid for by DHS. The affidavit alleged Taherzadeh also conned an individual into researching a government contractor for the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community as part of a "recruiting process" for the Homeland Security Investigations branch of DHS.

The scam was brought to light only when it came to the attention of the obviously more diligent government gumshoes in the employ of...the United States Postal Service.
Taherzadeh and Ali's alleged ruse was uncovered when a US Postal Inspector started investigating an alleged assault of a USPS letter carrier in an apartment complex where the two men allegedly had multiple units, according to court documents. The inspector interviewed the men as potential witnesses of the assault, and they identified themselves as investigators with the US Special Police investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol as well as gang activity, the documents said. Throughout the investigation, the inspector learned that the two men had given gifts to members of the USSS. The inspector provided the information to the DHS Office of Inspector General, which then contacted the FBI, according to the affidavit.
This is a story worth following, if only for how it demonstrates that, when you want the national security properly defended, leave it to the USPS.

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

The Quotable Quote -

"Change comes, even in the face of overwhelming odds. And the recognition of the changes we have already made, of what we have won, inspires us to fight even harder."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Why Did The Saudis Invest $2 Bn With Jared Kushner?
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - On Sunday, David D. Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly of the New York Times got a big scoop - they gained access to internal documents of the board that vets investments for the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, called the Public Investment Fund. These memos demonstrate that the board argued against an application from Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner for an investment in his Affinity Fund Management firm. The board appears to have been overruled by Saudi Arabia's de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). As a result, the Saudis put $2 billion into Kushner's company, even though he has no track record as an fund manager. In fact, to date they seem to be the main investors in Affinity, which only has $2.5 billion, most of it from Riyadh.

The deal stinks all the way to the Milky Way of dangerous corruption. Mr. Kushner while in the White House did favors for Bin Salman, including securing a big arms deal for the Kingdom.

Since politicians make laws about what politicians can do after they leave office, there are no laws constraining the finances of ex-officials. In contrast, there are lots of rules about what former military officers can and cannot do. I've been on K Street in Washington, D.C. In the space of five minutes I saw two famous former senators on the sidewalk. Once they leave the Capitol, they engage in influence-peddling.

MSNBC: "How Jared Kushner And The Trump Admin Traded U.S. Foreign Policy For $2 Billion"

So what do canny observers from the Middle East say about Saudi motives here?

Veteran journalist Abdul Bari Atwan at Al-Ray al-Yawm suggests three possible reasons for MBS's $2-billion vote of confidence in Kushner.

The first, he says, is that Mohammad Bin Salman is making a bet that Trump will return to the White House in 2024.

Second, he writes, there are very bad relations between Saudi Arabia and the Biden administration. Biden campaigned on punishing Bin Salman for the 2018 murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Biden has stopped practically supporting the Saudi war effort against Yemen- US planes no longer carry out in-flight refueling for Saudi fighter jets, and US generals are no longer offering targeting advice. When Biden asked Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production so as to cover what Europe will lose from boycotting Russian oil, Bin Salman refused, citing OPEC quotas. Saudi Arabia has also refused to vote to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Atwan implies that since bridges have been burned with Biden, MBS thinks it prudent at least to cultivate Biden's rivals.

The third possible reason, he says, is that Bin Salman is paying Kushner back for all the favors the Trump in-law did for Riyadh while in office. Kushner ran interference for Bin Salman on the Khashoggi murder, even though the CIA fingered the crown prince as responsible for it. American news is so easily led by the nose that Kushmner made the Khashoggi story go away by preventing White House officials to talk about it.In Washington, where many reporters make their careers just talking to officials and quoting them, the phrase "no comment" can deprive a story of oxygen and it goes away. Mr. Kushner is said to have reassured MBS that the murder would fade from public consciousness after a while. Then there was the $110 billion arms deal that Kushner helped wrap up for the Saudis.

Some of these points were made, as well, by Kirkpatrick and Kelly.

As I hinted above, there could be a fourth motive, which is influence-peddling. Kushner can get his call accepted by Republican members of Congress, and can lobby them on Saudi Arabia's behalf. The $2 billion buys access and influence in Washington. Most former politicians only make a few million from such influence-peddling, not $2 billion. But the Saudi Public Investment Fund has $650 billion to play with, so what is $2 billion among friends?

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

How The Supreme Court Could Make Your Life More Dangerous
By Robert Reich

Your life could get a lot more dangerous. Republican appointees on the Supreme Court seem poised to strip away basic safety standards for our workplaces, our food, our air and water.

Congress gives federal agencies the authority to enact regulations that protect us in our daily lives. Congress defines the goals, but leaves it up to the health and safety experts in those agencies to craft and enforce regulations.

I know regulations don't sound very exciting, but they're how our government keeps us safe.

Remember when lots of romaine lettuce was recalled because it was causing E.coli outbreaks? That was the Food and Drug Administration protecting us from getting sick.

Working in a warehouse? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets standards to ensure you don't breathe in dangerous chemicals like asbestos.

Enjoying the fresh air on a clear, sunny day? Thank the Environmental Protection Agency for limiting the amount of pollution that can go into our air.

These agencies save lives. Since OSHA was established a half-century ago, its workplace safety regulations have saved more than 618,000 workers' lives.

Republicans have been trying to gut these agencies for decades. Now, with the Supreme Court's right-wing majority solidly in place, they have their best chance yet.

In January 2022, the Supreme Court blocked OSHA's vaccine-or-testing mandate from going into effect, which was estimated to prevent a quarter-million hospitalizations.

The Court claimed that Covid isn't an "occupational hazard" because people can become infected outside of work, and that allowing OSHA to regulate in this manner "would significantly expand" its authority without clear Congressional authorization.

This is absurd on its face. Section 2 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 clearly spells out OSHA's authority to enact and enforce regulations that protect workers from illness, injury, and death in the workplace. Congress doesn't need to list every specific workplace hazard before OSHA can protect workers.

What this ruling tells us is that the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court are intent on gutting the power of agencies to issue regulations.

This term, the Court will also hear a case regarding the EPA's authority to enforce the Clean Water Act. If the Court undermines the EPA's authority, it will put our environment - and our health - at risk. Remember when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire because it was brimming with oil, acid, and factory chemicals? That's what we may be returning to.

And what's next? Will they gut the Federal Trade Commission and put us all at risk of being defrauded? Target the Securities and Exchange Commission and deregulate the financial sector, sparking another financial crisis?

Beware. If Republican appointees on the Supreme Court succeed in gutting regulatory agencies, we all lose. This agenda is anti-worker, anti-consumer, and anti-environment. The only thing it's good for is corporate profits.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

An aerial view shows Marathon Petroleum Corp's Los Angeles Refinery, the state's largest producer of gasoline, as oil
prices have cratered with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on April 22, 2020 in Carson, California.

Nationalize The US Fossil Fuel Industry-Now!
We've nationalized industries before, but this time it's not just about saving our banks or fighting a war-it's about saving the planet.
By Thom Hartmann

An aerial view shows Marathon Petroleum Corp's Los Angeles Refinery, the state's largest producer of gasoline, as oil prices have cratered with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on April 22, 2020 in Carson, California. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images) If you want to trigger a conservative, just suggest nationalizing the US gas and oil industry. "Venezuela!" they'll scream hysterically, perhaps adding a few, "Iran!" squeals. (Somehow, they always forget to yell about Norway...)

Within minutes they'll be croaking about that time back in 2008 when Maxine Waters - a Black woman with power and therefore the most terrifying thing Republicans can imagine - threatened oil industry CEOs who were giving Congress deliberately deceptive and incomplete answers with < I>"socializing... taking over and the government running all your companies."

Immediately, Fox "News" was all over it, as were dozens of rightwing sites.

In that, they've completely ignored (or never knew) the long American history of taking over industries during a time of national crisis.

And, as we re-enter a cold war with Russia and face unprecedented human death and property damage from climate change, it's hard to claim we're not in the midst of a national crisis that has fossil fuels at its foundation.

We're at least 40 years behind where we should be in dealing with the fossil fuel/global warming crisis because giant oil companies have run massive disinformation campaigns while funding the political careers of hacks in Congress willing to lie to the public for them.

President Jimmy Carter, for example, declared a national crisis in 1979 and proposed legislation to create "this nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000."

FDR had sold bonds to the public to fund a government corporation that would develop synthetic rubber for fighter jet tires back in the day, and Carter wanted to do the same to end our dependence on fossil fuels:

"Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II," Carter said, "so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war."
In that same July 15, 1979 speech, he proposed the government issue bonds that would fund:
"[T]he creation of an energy security corporation to lead this effort to replace 2-1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day by 1990. The corporation will issue up to $5 billion in energy bonds, and I especially want them to be in small denominations so that average Americans can invest directly in America's energy security."
It all came crashing down 42 years ago this coming January when the fossil fuel industry's candidate, Ronald Reagan, replaced Carter, killed the solar bank and the bond program, and even took Carter's solar panels off the roof of the White House.

If ever there was an industry that merited nationalization, the fossil fuel industry is it. They manipulate prices to both enhance profits and swing elections, bribe their way through the halls of Congress, and pump out a steady stream of lies about climate change. All while pouring hundreds of billions into the money bins of their morbidly rich CEOs, shareholders, and senior executives.

America has a long and proud history of taking on companies that put profits over the public good during a time of crisis. And we could acquire controlling interest of the nation's three largest fossil fuel players - ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips - for, according to Robert Pollin writing at The American Prospect, fewer than a half-trillion dollars.

For less than a quarter of the cost of Trump's billionaire tax cuts we could rapidly move a long way toward saving our nation and the world from climate destruction. But is it even possible? Turns out that history says an emphatic, "Yes!"

During the crisis of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson nationalized the country's railroads, phone companies, and telegraph operators. He did the same with the nation's radio networks and radio stations. All were returned to private ownership after the war, but that temporary nationalization helped get America through the crisis.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt did the same during World War II, nationalizing airplane manufacturers, gun manufacturers, over 3,300 mines, the nation's railroads, dozens of oil companies, Western Electric Co., Hughes Tool Co., Goodyear Tire and Rubber, and even one of the nation's largest retail outlets, Montgomery Ward. He also nationalized 17 foreign companies doing business in the US.

After FDR died, President Harry Truman continued seizing companies that were using the war as an excuse to jack up profits to the detriment of the nation. He nationalized meatpacking facilities across the country, the Monongahela Railroad Company, the nation's steel mills, and hundreds of railroad companies.

Like with Wilson's nationalizations, nearly all were returned to the private sector after the war was over, although it took until 1965 before all were privatized. Many had had their boards of directors and senior management replaced with people who'd put the interests of the nation ahead of their greed for profits.

In the 1970s, in the wake of the collapse of the Penn Central Railroad, President Richard Nixon oversaw the voluntary nationalization and transfer of 20 railroads into the newly created National Rail Passenger Corporation, now known as Amtrak.

In 1974 Congress created another nationalized entity to deal with freight rail, the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), which absorbed dozens of failing rail companies. Conrail was government held until 1987, when it was privatized in the then-largest IPO in American history.

In 1984, when the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company was in a crisis, President Ronald Reagan's administration oversaw the FDIC nationalizing it by acquiring an 80 percent ownership share in the company; it wasn't re-privatized until 1991, and was bought by Bank of America in 1994.

Also in the 1980s, after Reagan recklessly deregulated the Savings & Loan industry, bankers made off with billions leaving the wreckage of crushed S&Ls all across the nation.

When the government agency that insured them, FSLIC, went bankrupt itself in 1987, Reagan and Congress created an umbrella agency - the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) - to nationalize 747 of America's S&Ls with assets of over $400 billion. Their assets were sold back into the private market in 1995 as the RTC shut itself down, having averted a 1929-style banking crisis through temporary nationalization.

When George W. Bush was handed the White House by five Republican appointees on the Supreme Court, the nation's airline security system was entirely in private hands.

They failed miserably on 9/11, so Bush didn't even bother with the normal acquisition process that would protect the hundreds of small contractors running security at airports across the nation: he simply nationalized the entire system and created a government agency, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to take over airport and airline security.

President Bush also partially nationalized the nation's airlines, creating the Air Transportation Stabilization Board that traded around $10 billion in loans to airlines in crisis (air traffic collapsed after 9/11) in exchange for company stock. We (through our government) ended up holding 7.64 million shares in US Airways, 18.7 million shares of America West Airlines, 3.45 million shares in Frontier Airlines, 1.47 million shares in American TransAir, and 2.38 million shares in World Airways.

Congress had deregulated the nation's banks in 1999 when Republicans pushed through an end to the Glass-Steagall Act and Bill Clinton signed it into law. The resulting banking system crash in 2008 forced the Bush administration to nationalize the country's two largest mortgage lenders (they held about 40% of all US mortgages), Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

The Bush administration then additionally nationalized a 77.9% share in AIG, a 36% share of Citigroup, and a 73.5% share of GMAC, forcing out GM's CEO Rick Wagoner, who'd been a particularly terrible manager of that company and was actively lobbying against what Bush thought were America's interests.

As President Barack Obama came into office in 2009, GM and Chrysler were on the brink of collapse. His administration created a new company, NGMCO, Inc., that nationalized the assets of GM and was 60.8% owned by the federal government.

GM was finally fully re-privatized by the Obama administration in 2013. Chrysler went through a similar process, although both the UAW and the Canadian government were part owners when it was temporarily nationalized.

Thomas M. Hanna, Director of Research at The Democracy Collaborative and author of Our Common Wealth: The Return of Public Ownership in the United States, compiled most of the data above in a brilliant paper titled "A History of Nationalization in the United States 1917-2009."

Toward its end, he summarizes brilliantly the case for nationalizing - perhaps only temporarily - America's largest oil and gas companies:

"In such times of political and economic crisis, policymakers of all ideological persuasions in the United States have never been hesitant to use one of the most powerful tools at their disposal: nationalization of private enterprises and assets.>{?} "This included the Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who nationalized railroads, and the telephone, telegraph, and radio industries (among others), and the Republican Ronald Reagan, who nationalized a major national bank; the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, who nationalized dozens of mining and manufacturing facilities, and the Republican George W. Bush, who nationalized airport security and various major financial institutions; the Democrat Barack Obama, who nationalized auto manufacturers, and the Republican Richard Nixon, who nationalized all passenger rail service."
Today's climate crisis dwarfs the threat of Nazism in the 1940s, Bin Laden's 9/11 attack, or the massive bank robberies that took place during the Reagan and Bush administrations. It literally threatens all life on Earth.

Yet the fossil fuel industry continues to fund climate denial and lobby against any meaningful solutions, as we saw when every Republican in the Senate along with Joe Manchin killed the $500 billion investment in clean energy the Biden administration proposed in their Build Back Better legislation.

Squeals of "socialism!" and "Venezuela!" aside, we know how to nationalize industries that are working against our nation's interests and have done it before, repeatedly.

This time it's not just about saving our banks or fighting a war. This time, it's about saving the world.

Nationalize the fossil fuel industry!

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

The Cartoon Corner -

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Dave Fitzsimmons ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

What To Know About Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' Bill
By The Onion

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed Florida's "Parental Rights in Education" House Bill 1557 into law amid a firestorm of controversy. The Onion answers common questions about the legislation, which opponents have termed the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

Q: What does the bill do?
A: Gives the only good teachers still left in the Florida school system the final push they needed to become accountants.

Q: Who sponsored this legislation?
A: Rep. Erin Grall, who once got cut off in traffic by a car with a bumper sticker that read, "I'd Rather Be Educating Children About LGBTQ Issues."

Q: What about children who have already been exposed to discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity?
A: They are irreversibly tainted and must be eliminated.

Q: Did DeSantis support the bill to help a future presidential run?
A: It's deeply cynical to think he wouldn't sign it purely to punish gay people.

Q: Can residents still say "gay" as a slur?
A: By all means!

Q: Could this bill's passage have ramifications in other states?
A: Texas is admittedly pretty embarrassed they didn't think of it first.

Q: Is this kind of legislation unusual?
A: Yes, normally it's tacked onto a spending bill.

Q: Isn't this a violation of free speech?
A: The First Amendment actually only protects comparisons of minor inconveniences to historical atrocities.

Q: Why are proponents of the bill talking so much about "grooming"?
A: It's how many Republican lawmakers get their wives.

(c) 2022 The Onion


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 15 (c) 04/15/2022

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