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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "Contrary To What Biden Said, U.S. Warfare In Afghanistan Is Set To Continue."

Ralph Nader exclaims, "Alert Reporters Facing The Void!"

Jesse Jackson concludes, "The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act Is The Reform We Need."

Jim Hightower exclaims, "Hey Washington: Follow The People!"

William Rivers Pitt explores why, "Manchin's Objection To Infrastructure Bill May Be Motivated By Corporate Donors."

John Nichols says, "Biden Wants To Spend More Than Trump To Maintain A Bloated Defense Budget."

James Donahue examines, "Andrew Jackson's Trails Of Tears."

David Swanson concludes, "Biden's Announcement That Trump Got Military Spending Just Right Is Dead Wrong."

David Suzuki finds, "Protecting The Planet Can Prevent Pandemics."

Charles P. Pierce sees, "Another Shooting, Another Official Explanation That's Starting To Stink."

Juan Cole reports, "Greening Earth And Creating Jobs, Biden To Slash Fossil Fuel Subsidies And Extend Wind, Solar Credits."

Robert Reich finds, "The Basic Deal Between Corporate America And The GOP Is Alive And Well."

Greg Palast reports, "Wisconsin Court Win Stops Purge Of 129,000 Voters."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "McConnell Says Corporations Should Follow His Example And Not Get Involved In Government," but first Uncle Ernie explores, "Biden's Ideas About Global Warming."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of David Fitzsimmons, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomortrow, Reese Erlich, Zynatis, Ivan Radic, Christopher Mark Juhn, Don Emmert, Nathan Howard, Brendan Smialowski, Tom Williams, Tom Williams, David Horsey, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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Biden's Ideas About Global Warming
By Ernest Stewart

"This fair share demand recognizes not only the bedrock ethical principles of the international climate regime, but also the simple political reality that poorer countries, where most decarbonization efforts will ultimately need to occur, will be highly reluctant to take major actions unless and until they see the world's most powerful country and its largest overall contributor to climate change doing its fair share." ~~~ Sivan Kartha, Ph.D. ~ Stockholm Environment Institute

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

I see where on April 22, Biden will convene global leaders for a virtual climate summit in a bid to reassert US leadership and motivate countries to cut emissions much more aggressively.

Of course, the US is only just recommitting to climate action itself after a long leadership vacuum. You may recall that Lying Donald tore down dozens of environmental regulations and withdrew the US from the Paris climate agreement, undermining global progress to reduce emissions.

Now, to reassure the world that the US takes the climate threat seriously, Biden plans to announce a new 2030 climate target under the Paris agreement ahead of the summit.

"The administration is considering a goal to cut emissions somewhere between 48 and 53 percent from 2005 levels by 2030," Bloomberg reported Wednesday. This is in line with proposals from many green groups, which have coalesced around a 50 percent reduction target. While that goal will require significant changes, to take place in less than a decade, many recent studies show it is within reach.

But a new report, produced by a group of environmental organizations including Friends of the Earth and the youth-driven Sunrise Movement, approaches the question from a different angle. Instead of determining what is feasible for the US, they start by asking: What should the US's responsibility be in reducing global emissions to keep the planet from warming to dangerous levels?

The result is a much more audacious vision for US emissions reductions in 2030: 195 percent.

That's right, they are proposing that the US's true responsibility isn't just to eliminate all its emissions by 2030 (which would be 100 percent) but to go even further!

The advocacy groups acknowledge that it isn't actually feasible for the US to pull this off within its own borders. Instead, they suggest that the country reduce its domestic carbon footprint by 70 percent and contribute the remaining 125 percent by financing developing countries' emissions reductions.

The authors argue that if the US hit these targets, it would be contributing its "fair share" toward tackling climate change, as the world's largest historical emitter and wealthiest nation.

Still, the number stretches the imagination compared to other proposals that hew closer to the political reality. But that's the point. "If we frame our understanding always relative to what we can actually imagine this current Senate doing, it's not a discussion about what's actually needed," said Sivan Kartha, a US-based senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute and co-author of the report.

Biden's new target will inevitably be politically constrained. But as we hurtle toward a future climate that will unleash severe impacts on the people least responsible for the problem, it is worth pausing to consider this question of fairness further. A broad vision of US climate responsibility. and how much it might cost.

To come up with an idea of what the US owes the rest of the world in the climate fight, a broader coalition of civil society groups under the US Climate Action Network met to forge the 195 percent proposal last summer.

It's nice that we're actually considering this, but in today's political climate the chances of this actually happening is similar to that of a snow-balls chances of surviving in hell!



02-12-1957 ~ 04-11-2021
Thanks for the film!

04-29-1938 ~ 04-14-2021
Burn Baby Burn!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

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

Guljumma, 7, and her father, Wakil Tawos Khan, at the Helmand Refugee Camp District 5 in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 31, 2009.

Contrary To What Biden Said, U.S. Warfare In Afghanistan Is Set To Continue
By Norman Solomon

When I met a seven-year-old girl named Guljumma at a refugee camp in Kabul a dozen years ago, she told me that bombs fell early one morning while she slept at home in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Valley. With a soft, matter-of-fact voice, Guljumma described what happened. Some people in her family died. She lost an arm.

Troops on the ground didn't kill Guljumma's relatives and leave her to live with only one arm. The U.S. air war did.

There's no good reason to assume the air war in Afghanistan will be over when -- according to President Biden's announcement on Wednesday -- all U.S. forces will be withdrawn from that country.

What Biden didn't say was as significant as what he did say. He declared that "U.S. troops, as well as forces deployed by our NATO allies and operational partners, will be out of Afghanistan" before Sept. 11. And "we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily."

But President Biden did not say that the United States will stop bombing Afghanistan. What's more, he pledged that "we will keep providing assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces," a declaration that actually indicates a tacit intention to "stay involved in Afghanistan militarily."

And, while the big-type headlines and prominent themes of media coverage are filled with flat-out statements that the U.S. war in Afghanistan will end come September, the fine print of coverage says otherwise.

The banner headline across the top of the New York Times homepage during much of Wednesday proclaimed: "Withdrawal of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Will End Longest American War." But, buried in the thirty-second paragraph of a story headed "Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11," the Times reported: "Instead of declared troops in Afghanistan, the United States will most likely rely on a shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives to find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic State threats, current and former American officials said."

Matthew Hoh, a Marine combat veteran who in 2009 became the highest-ranking U.S. official to resign from the State Department in protest of the Afghanistan war, told my colleagues at the Institute for Public Accuracy on Wednesday: "Regardless of whether the 3,500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines."

We scarcely hear about it, but the U.S. air war on Afghanistan has been a major part of Pentagon operations there. And for more than a year, the U.S. government hasn't even gone through the motions of disclosing how much of that bombing has occurred.

"We don't know, because our government doesn't want us to," diligent researchers Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies wrote last month. "From January 2004 until February 2020, the U.S. military kept track of how many bombs and missiles it dropped on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and published those figures in regular, monthly Airpower Summaries, which were readily available to journalists and the public. But in March 2020, the Trump administration abruptly stopped publishing U.S. Airpower Summaries, and the Biden administration has so far not published any either."

The U.S. war in Afghanistan won't end just because President Biden and U.S. news media tell us so. As Guljumma and countless other Afghan people have experienced, troops on the ground aren't the only measure of horrific warfare.

No matter what the White House and the headlines say, U.S. taxpayers won't stop subsidizing the killing in Afghanistan until there is an end to the bombing and "special operations" that remain shrouded in secrecy.

(c) 2021 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to D

Alert Reporters Facing The Void!
By Ralph Nader

Let's contemplate on good reporters. If you are a regular reader of prominent newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post (and the dispatches by AP and Reuters), do you ever get the feeling that reporters who write great stories of corporate greed and crime are writing into a void? Their reports accumulate on the road to nowhere - no impact, no consequences for the culprits.

Again and again, with a few luminous exceptions, their exposés fall on the inattentive ears of those who are supposed to be doing something about these abuses.

Patricia Cohen of The New York Times just wrote about the "Dozens of Big Companies [that] Paid Zero in Federal Taxes." I've read this same story for years. Nothing happens. All are plunged into the void. The situation keeps getting more abominable.

Jason DeParle has been writing rigorously on poverty and hunger in America for years in The New York Times. Poverty persists, including child hunger, while the GDP expands big time. It took Covid-19 for Biden to send Congress some temporary alleviation of child poverty.

"Wage Theft Often Targets Low-Income Workers. Here's How Police Can Fight It," writes Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva in The Washington Post. I read about this special non-prosecuted crime in law school decades ago.

"Appalling Lack of Public Toilets in the U.S." reads another headline in The New York Times. How many years have we been told about this exceptional American deprivation among Western nations? People still have to hold it.

"Don't Fall for Trump's Latest Grift," reports The Washington Post's Molly Roberts. What difference would it make if we don't? Trump has gotten away with widely reported lawlessness for decades, especially during his four years in the White House.

There is yet another wave of investigative articles and books on Amazon's drive for domination. Amazon keeps getting more dominant. Same for Apple, Google, and Facebook.

Sarah Kliff of The New York Times writes regular exposes of staggering medical billing gouging of patients. Nary a ripple from the enforcement authorities wallowing in a weakened democracy.

Hundreds of stories on the climate crisis while carbon buildup continues to set records. Most of these stories do not mention or probe Congress - the one powerful institution that can turn the country around. Just 535 of them in Congress and we know their names. Get their reactions!

In the April 8th New York Times, David Leonhardt writes a story titled "A Dirty Little Secret - Corporate Tax Rates and the Very Rich." Not secretive at all. That narrative has been written from many angles again and again by the Times's past reporters, such as David Cay Johnston. It is because they all ended up in the Void that Mr. Leonhardt could make it look like a fresh dispatch. The Void never takes a holiday.

The great reporters do not stop with their first reporting. Their definition of newsworthiness expands to reporting about who is trying, officially and civically, to do something about the abuses, but is lacking public visibility. The reporter moves from writing a feature to following an ongoing dynamic begging for more public coverage. More details and evidence emanate from these quests. More legislators see the need for public hearings and more enforcers wake up to their duties. Without media giving legs to their first story, they meet the ever-patient Void repeatedly.

Sometimes, editors aren't interested in the follow-up. They've got their expose to submit for the journalistic prizes they crave. Enough making waves already. Unfortunately, there is for most of these reportorial fact-tellers, a peculiar satiety, a self-narrowing of their roles, a sense that they've done their job and it's for others to give their findings "legs." That attitude is an aborted sense of "newsworthiness."

Often, moving beyond the initial byline is not easy. The indefatigable, ground-breaking military affairs reporter for The Washington Post, Walter Pincus, would try to have a follow-up for his revelations of the military-industrial-Congressional complex over the decades. He was met with internal disinterest and external cowardly resistance, especially in Congress where he once worked.

Alas, on a good many topics, we are in a golden age of muckraking exposes and whistle-blowing documentaries. All mostly meet the Void - perpetuated by a stubborn plutocracy daily subjugating our deteriorating democracy.

Sometimes, I've tried to help reporters give legs to their stories. For official source journalists, like those in the Times and Post, who "cover" or dittohead the declarations of Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, they don't break stories for them to have legs in the first place. Try getting them, for example, to write a story about near-zero interest rates depriving over 150 million savers, while the Fed ignores the gouging interest rates by pay-day lenders, student loan creditors, and unpaid credit card balances.

For other reporters, it's more puzzling why it is so hard to elevate the expectation levels for their good work. Because we've done considerable work years ago on the computerized billing fraud epidemic in the U.S., I've tried several times to contact Sarah Kliff and share our knowledge for widening her reportorial impact. To no avail.

For reporters who are frustrated - try comparing notes with your readers!

See Reporter's Alert:

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

Activist Nola Darling talks on the megaphone in front of the Brooklyn Center police station at a protest
over the police killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, U.S., on April 13, 2021.

The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act Is The Reform We Need
Police reforms will never work unless accompanied by and embedded in rebuilding and empowering communities.
By Jesse Jackson

Even as Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd, police 10 miles away fatally shot an African American man, Duante Wright, after pulling him over for an alleged traffic violation.

That triggered protests that led to confrontations with police, despite Wright's family pleading for non-violence. The Washington Post reports that 985 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year, with blacks more than two times as likely to be shot and killed than whites. Fundamental reform is long overdue.

Now the House of Representatives has passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act for the second time. The act, drawn up by Rep. Karen Bass and Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Hudson, has been endorsed by leading civil rights and criminal justice groups, pushed by the Congressional Black Caucus, and hailed by George Floyd's family and attorneys.

The act would set national standards for police behavior. It bans the use of chokeholds of various sorts, like that used to kill George Floyd. It bans no-knock warrants that led to the shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville. It restricts the transfer of military weaponry to police forces. Federal assistance would be conditioned on local police forces requiring the use of body and car cameras, as well as anti-discrimination policies and training. It restricts the qualified immunity doctrine that shields police from civil liability.

Joe Biden has called on the Senate to pass the measure and promised to sign it into law. These commonsense reforms should have bipartisan support, but sadly the bill received only one vote from Republicans when it passed the House in February.

The reforms are far from complete. The Movement for Black Lives, the collection of 150 civil rights groups that helped organize the unprecedented protest movement across the country after George Floyd's death, praises the creation of federal standards, a ban on chokeholds and restriction of the immunity doctrine but says that the bill goes "nowhere near far enough." It calls for investments upfront in communities and people, addressing mass incarceration and systemic racism, and making police accountable to communities. The leaders worry that passage of the George Floyd Act would exhaust reform efforts, not simply be the first step toward reform.

Surely the M4BL is right: sensible police reforms are necessary but not sufficient. Renewed investment in communities and greater community control over the police are essential. The plague of mass incarceration must be ended. The George Floyd Act, however, need not be in conflict with broader reforms.

Conservative Democrats fret that the M4BL slogan - Defund the police - alienates voters. Certainly, most African Americans want protection from crime and violence. They don't want to get rid of the police, they want to turn them from a threat to an ally. Many police officers agree that we've loaded police with too many responsibilities - from dealing with domestic disputes to handling the mentally unstable - because social services have been starved in poor communities. Police reforms will never work unless accompanied by and embedded in rebuilding and empowering communities.

The movement that mobilized after the horrific killing of George Floyd has begun to spark reforms across the country. I urge the civil rights and criminal justice community to unite to push the Senate to pass the George Floyd Act as a first step, to be accompanied by state and local efforts to transform police and federal resources to invest in communities and create new lines of accountability.

The vibrant movement for justice that the M4BL has helped to trigger will not stop there. The unprecedented outpouring of support must continue to mobilize, to demand accountability, to protest police violence, and to keep the pressure on for broader reform. The movement can't let the perfect be enemy of the good, nor allow partial reforms to slake the need for more action, more experimentation, and greater community control.

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

Hey Washington: Follow The People!
By Jim Hightower

"Those in the know" say that We the People should forget any progressive fantasy that - at long last - Washington might finally produce the kind of bold FDR-style agenda that America needs. They smugly lecture us that recalcitrant Republicans in Congress, not to mention a swarm of corporate lobbyists, are opposed to progressive change, so who could get it passed?

Here's an idea: Try the people themselves. Those in the know don't seem to know it (or don't want us to know it), but big majorities across grassroots America are strongly in favor of the fundamental changes that Washington elites are rejecting. For example:

Two-thirds of America (including a majority of moderate Republicans) say "Yes!" to doubling the minimum wage.
72 percent of the people, including 46 percent of professed Republicans, shout their approval for Medicare for all.
Eight out of 10 Americans, including strong majorities of Republicans, support a paid family leave program like every other developed nation provides for their people.
What about increasing taxes on the rich, expanding Medicaid for poor families, raising teacher pay, spending more for early childhood education? Yes, yes, yes, yes say majorities, not just in blue states, but also in GOP strongholds like Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah.
These are not just poll numbers, but solid ideas embraced last year by a broad cross-section of voters in ballot elections across the country. For example, Florida voters enacted a constitutional initiative to up the state's minimum pay to $15, with "yeas" topping "nays" by a whopping margin of more than 20 points - making it more popular than either Trump or Biden.

Instead of fearing the people, Democratic leaders need to get out of Washington and join them. Let's rally and organize the power of outsiders to produce transformative policies of, by, and for the people.

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

Sen. Joe Manchin is seen during a Senate vote in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 25, 2021.

Manchin's Objection To Infrastructure Bill May Be Motivated By Corporate Donors
By William Rivers Pitt

President Biden's schedule for Monday included a White House meeting with four House members and four senators on the administration's proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill. On the GOP side, Representatives Don Young and Garret Graves joined Senators Roger Wicker and Deb Fisher, while Democratic Representatives Donald Payne and David Price joined Senators Maria Cantwell and Alex Padilla.

The choice of these congresspeople has everything to do with the committees they serve on. GOP Representatives Young and Graves both sit on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee as well as the National Resources Committee. Wicker and Fisher sit on the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, with Wicker also holding a seat on Environment and Public Works. Democratic Rep. Donald Payne Jr. joins Young and Graves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Senator Padilla sits on the Public Works Committee and Budget Committees, and Senator Price is a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Transportation and Infrastructure, Environment and Public Works, Natural Resources, Budget, and of course Appropriations, where the money is. If you're going to push a massive infrastructure bill toward passage, these are the committees to speak with, to be sure. Additionally, every Republican invited to the meeting has supported infrastructure bills in the past.

It was notable, however, that Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia rock in the road, was not on the invitation list. Negotiating with the proper committees is absolutely required, but Manchin has deliberately made himself the Indispensable Man on infrastructure, and virtually every other piece of legislation the Biden administration seeks to pass. If Manchin and his small cohort of allies are not satisfied, nothing will move unless Biden can scrape some Republicans to his side during reconciliation. Easier to find hen's teeth in the cloakroom.

Trying to grasp Joe Manchin's motives is like trying to see the bottom of a mud puddle. On the surface, the Democratic senator from a bright red state is all about bipartisanship; he insists that all legislation must come with a rousing verse of "Kumbaya," even in the face of years of implacable Republican resistance. This devotion to bipartisanship is Manchin's main stated reason for defending the parliamentary wrecking ball known as the filibuster.

"Generations of senators who came before us put their heads down and their pride aside to solve the complex issues facing our country," Manchin declared in a recent Washington Post op-ed. "We must do the same. The issues facing our democracy today are not insurmountable if we choose to tackle them together."

Sure thing, Joe, and if my cat had wheels, she'd be a wagon. Here on planet Earth, such lofty balderdash has been ground to a fine meal by rock-ribbed obstructionists like Mitch McConnell, whose entire game plan since 2008 has been to filibuster every Democratic piece of legislation that dares to brave the daylight.

On the infrastructure bill, Manchin's main complaint is the tax Biden seeks to levy on the ultra-wealthy in order to pay for it. Biden wants a 28 percent tax, but Manchin has declared that number to be no good, and wants it to be set at 25 percent. It may not seem like much, but that 3 percent funding gap represents billions of dollars that will have to be found elsewhere.

Money, it seems, has more to do with this situation than tax policy.

"Manchin's move could also particularly benefit private equity firms that have converted from partnership structures to C Corporations to take advantage of President Donald Trump's tax law, which dropped the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent," report David Sirota and Andrew Perez for The Daily Poster. "Such conversions allow private equity firms to attract capital from a wider array of institutional investors who may not have been permitted to invest in partnerships. But private equity firms had not converted until a lower corporate tax rate made the switch even more profitable. The conversions are effectively permanent."

According to, Manchin has received almost $212,000 in campaign donations from private equity and investment industry members like Ares Management. The Carlyle Group and the Blackstone Group, two industry titans, have donated millions to a variety of Democratic Senate PACs that supported Manchin's reelection bid in 2018.

Lawyers and law firms is another industry that has donated significantly to Manchin between 2015 and 2020, to the tune of nearly $800,000, according to According to further reporting by The Daily Poster, the legal industry did very well by Trump's massive tax cut, and has developed deep ties with a number of Democrats in order to keep the tax rules as they are.

"In 2017, as Congress debated tax legislation, top lobbyists for the legal industry threw more money behind Republicans, and the industry as a whole spent more than $16 million on lobbying that year, the most since 2011," continues The Daily Poster. "Biden's new tax proposal would undo the Republican tax breaks - at least partially." There's a lot of smoke here. It takes a special kind of dunderheaded credulity to believe massive compromise is possible with Congress in its current condition. Manchin is saying all the right things about it, but he is talking about a world that, for the time being, simply does not exist.

The longer Manchin harps on this, and the more obstructionist he becomes, the thinner his arguments will wear. There is already great momentum to shatter the filibuster, or to go around it with a Rule 304 maneuver. There is equally great momentum behind this infrastructure bill, as evidenced by today's White House meeting. If Manchin continues to thwart these efforts while relying on the same flimsy reasoning, people need to look behind the curtain and see who is really pulling the strings.

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

President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.

Biden Wants To Spend More Than Trump To Maintain A Bloated Defense Budget
The president's plan to hike Pentagon spending draws a rebuke from progressives.
By John Nichols

Robert Reich knows a thing or two about federal budgets, and the economist who has served in three presidential administrations says there is something wrong with Joe Biden's plan to increase Pentagon spending above the levels proposed by former President Trump.

"The Pentagon already spends: $740,000,000,000 every year, $2,000,000,000 every day, $1,000,000 every minute," says the former secretary of labor. "The last thing we need is a bigger military budget."

Unfortunately, that's what the president is seeking. This has led Reich to announce that he is "frankly disappointed that Biden's proposing $715 billion for the Pentagon-an increase over Trump's $704 billion defense budget-instead of moving back toward Obama-Biden era levels of defense spending, or less."

"Or less" is the right direction, especially at a moment when Republican deficit hawks are circling in preparation for attacks on domestic spending that is essential for working families who have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden's $1.5 trillion budget plan has much to recommend it. The president is seeking significant increases in funding for education and proposing to invest in criminal justice and police reform, combating gun violence, and other worthy efforts. "However, despite the positive investments in these programs," says Representative Barbara Lee, "I was incredibly disappointed at the significant increase in Pentagon spending to even higher levels than the Trump administration. With so many people across the country struggling to make ends meet, the last thing we need to do is increase investment in wasteful Pentagon spending." Noting that "this budget adds twelve billion new dollars for weapons of war," the longtime critic of endless wars asks us to "just think how that same amount could be used to invest in jobs, health care and fighting inequality-especially as we fight back a once in a century public health and economic crisis."

Lee was once a lonely voice on behalf of cutting Pentagon spending. But the California Democrat now has allies in powerful places. "I have serious concerns," says Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), "about the proposed $753 billion budget request for the bloated Pentagon-a $12.3 billion increase compared to the last year of the Trump Administration. At a time when the U.S. already spends more on the military than the next 12 nations combined, it is time for us to take a serious look at the massive cost over-runs, the waste and fraud that currently exists at the Pentagon."

Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is blunter: "We're in the midst of a crisis that has left millions of families unable to afford food, rent, and bills. But at the same time, we're dumping billions of dollars into a bloated Pentagon budget. Don't increase defense spending. Cut it-and invest that money into our communities."

That's not a radical response. When Data for Progress surveyed voters nationwide last year about budget priorities, 56 percent supported cutting the Pentagon budget by 10 percent to pay for fighting the coronavirus pandemic and funding education, health care, and housing. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats expressed enthusiasm for the proposed cut, which was striking. Even more striking was the 51 percent support it got from Republicans.

When the idea was raised in Congress in July of 2020, 93 members of the House of Representatives voted for a 10 percent cut, as did 23 senators. That wasn't a win, obviously, but it was a groundbreaking show of support for reduced spending on the military-industrial complex.

Can congressional progressives build on that base of support to alter priorities in the Biden budget? It won't be easy. Centrist Democrats will be cautious about cuts, and Republicans can be expected to demagogue the issue. But progressive caucus members have had success in pushing the new administration to abandon some of the worst Pentagon initiatives of the Trump years. For instance, a new letter signed by 70 House members commends Biden for "[his] first steps toward ending U.S. support for the war in Yemen, including announcing an end to U.S. military participation in offensive Saudi actions; a review of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia for use in its six-year air war in Yemen; and a revocation of President Trump's terrorism designation against the Houthis, with the express purpose of averting a hunger crisis." (The letter urges the president to go further and "use all available U.S. leverage with the Saudi regime to demand an immediate and unconditional end to its blockade, which threatens 16 million malnourished Yemenis living on the brink of famine.")

One of the key movers in the fight to end US support for the war in Yemen, Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), thinks the time is right to push the administration and Congress for a broader rethink of spending priorities.

"A proposed increase of $13 billion in defense spending is far too much given [the Pentagon budget's] already rapid growth at a time of relative peace," says the Wisconsin Democrat who with Lee cochairs the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus. "We cannot best build back better if the Pentagon's budget is larger than it was under Donald Trump."

Pocan has ideas for where to make cuts. For instance, he says "we must stop funding for former President Trump's excessive $1.5 trillion nuclear modernization plan and complete a new nuclear posture review as each of the last three presidents have done. The United States has far more nuclear weapons than are needed for our security, so let's stop funding the waste." In addition to arguing for "no new spending on nuclear weapons," Pocan points to the need to audit Pentagon waste and accountability measures to eliminate slush funds.

That's a message that will resonate with the American people, says Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who maintains that there is a growing awareness that "it is simply inexcusable to continue to shower weapons manufacturers with hundreds of billions of dollars in Pentagon waste."

Advocacy groups share the view that this is precisely the right time for members of Congress to make the case for tightening the bloated Pentagon budget. "Following a year of deadly proof that throwing money at the Pentagon does not keep us safe from modern day threats, it is unconscionable to not only extend Trump's spending spree, but to add to it," says Win Without War's Erica Fein. "Deadly pandemics, climate crisis, desperate inequality-the greatest threats to global security do not have military solutions. Yet while we're repeatedly asked how we will afford to address these truly existential threats, the same question is never asked of adding to the Pentagon's already-overstuffed coffers. Let's be clear: continuing to funnel near-limitless resources into the pockets of arms manufacturers while underfunding public goods only undermines the safety of people in the United States and around the world."

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

Andrew Jackson's Trails Of Tears
By James Donahue

Looking back in American history, no one can say President Andrew Jackson was the sole instigator of the Indian Removal Act and its deadly effect on the five Native American tribes living in the Southeastern Territories, but his name was clearly inscribed on the branding iron.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the forced relocation of an estimated 125,000 Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Creek and Cherokee people from their homes in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida to "Indian Territory" west of the Mississippi, now known as the State of Oklahoma, is a dark and bloody blot in the nation's history. Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, held office from 1829 to 1837. Before his election he served as a general in the army during the War of 1812, and later the First Seminole War in 1817 against the Seminole and Creek Indians. These campaigns led to the forced acquisition of Florida from Spain. Even when he ran for the Presidential office, Jackson advocated a plan for removal of the Indians located in the Southeastern states to the "Indian Territory," a part of the newly Louisiana Purchase from France, completed in 1803. It was a popular idea shared by a lot of Americans eager to move west and settle the land, so Jackson was elected by a broad margin.

Soon after he took office Congress passed the Indian Removal Act and Jackson signed it into law in 1830. Thus began the forced removal of thousands of reluctant tribes, many of them on long marches on foot, over thousands of miles with little food or help. Naturally the weaker people died from sickness, hunger and the weather. They did this, often at gunpoint. Some remembered them as death marches. The Cherokee marked their march as "In the Cherokee language, the event is called Nunna daul Tsuny - "the trail where they cried."

The act also affected tribes in the North as well, including the Black Hawk, Sauk, Fox, Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi. Many of the tribes refused to go peacefully so military force was used. This led to warfare. Most notable were the Black Hawk War of 1832, the Second Seminole War of 1835 and the Second Creek War of 1836. Some tribal members never surrendered and remained hidden and living in the area to this day.

The Choctaw was the first nation to be removed. The Seminoles began their march in 1832, the Creeks in 1834 and the Chickasaw in 1837. The last to go were the Cherokee in 1838.

While he served as President, Jackson negotiated an estimated 70 different Indian treaties and was instrumental in establishing the reservation system still being used today throughout territories mostly located west of the Mississippi River.

While he never formally authorized the forced death marches that cost the lives of so many Indians, Jackson appointed the people who did. He must also have been informed of what was happening. Thus he and Martin Van Buren, the man who succeeded him in office while the Cherokee march was in progress, must share the blame for the horrors that occurred.

Jackson's slaughter of the American Indians wasn't confined to the death marches. He devoted his energy as a military leader and general as such a brutal Indian killer he earned a nickname among the tribes as "Sharp Knife." In combat, Jackson's troops killed not only the male warriors, but the women and children of the various villages.

Jackson's forces pillaged the tribal villages, burned the buildings and stole millions of acres of their land during his campaigns. He mocked a Supreme Court ruling that declared the Indian Removal Act and his treatment of the tribes unconstitutional. His response to the court decision: "(Justice) John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it."

U.S. history books mark President Jackson as an American hero. And his life, which involved actions beginning with the Revolutionary War to the annexations of much of the land that is the United States today, makes him an important historical figure. Yet the treatment and literal murder of an estimated 10,000 Native Americans, plus the untold number of people killed in the wars he fought, also marks Andrew Jackson as one of history's mass killers.

Jackson died at his plantation in Tennessee on June 8, 1845 at the age of 78 of heart failure. He also was suffering from tuberculosis.

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

Biden's Announcement That Trump Got Military Spending Just Right Is Dead Wrong
By David Swanson

President Joe Biden is proposing a level of Pentagon spending so close to that of Trump's last year in office that Bloomberg calls it a 0.4% reduction adjusting for inflation while Politico calls it a 1.5% increase and "effectively an inflation-adjusted budget boost." I call it a disgusting violation of the will of the public spent in the hypocritical name of a grand battle against autocracies by so-called democracies, driven in reality by the influence of war profiteers and contempt for the fate of the planet and the people on it.

The U.S. public, according to polling, would reduce military spending if it had something resembling a democracy.

Just five weapons dealers poured $60 million into U.S. election campaign bribery in 2020. These companies now sell more weapons abroad than to the U.S. government, with the U.S. State Department acting as a marketing firm, and with U.S. weapons and/or U.S. military training and/or U.S. government funding going to the militaries of 96% of the most oppressive governments on earth.

U.S. military spending is $1.25 trillion per year across numerous departments. Even just taking the $700 billion and change that goes to the Pentagon and stands in for the full amount in media coverage, U.S. military spending has been climbing for years, including during the Trump years, and is the equivalent of many of the world's top military spenders combined, most of which are U.S. allies, NATO members, and U.S. weapons customers.

Still using that artificially reduced figure, China is at 37% of it, Russia at 8.9%, and Iran is spending 1.3%. These are, of course, comparisons of absolute amounts. Per capita comparisons are extreme as well. The United States, every year, takes $2,170 from every man, woman, and child for wars and war preparations, while Russia takes $439, China $189, and Iran $114.

"Takes" is the right word. President Eisenhower once admitted it out loud, saying, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

When a mere $30 billion could end starvation on earth, there is no question that militarism kills first and foremost through the diversion of funds from where they are needed, while of course risking nuclear apocalypse and driving environmental collapse, justifying secrecy, fueling bigotry, and degrading culture.

The madness of militarism is not new, but it is always newly happening in an environmentally riskier world in more desperate need of a redirection of resources, and is happening now in the midst of a pandemic. Meanwhile President Biden proposes to pay for things he wants to spend money on with slight corporate taxes over 15 years, as if no other expenses will come up between now and 2036.

A bill in both houses of Congress called the ICBM Act would move funding from intercontinental ballistic missiles to vaccines. Dozens of Congress Members say they favor moving funding from militarism to human and environmental needs. Yet, not a single one has made a public commitment to voting against any bill that fails to reduce military spending, and not a single one has introduced a war powers resolution to end a single war, now that Trump's veto cannot be relied on to render such an action harmless.

It is a real shame that President Biden is not a member of the Democratic Party whose 2020 Platform reads: "Democrats believe the measure of our security is not how much we spend on defense, but how we spend our defense dollars and in what proportion to other tools in our foreign policy toolbox and other urgent domestic investments. We believe we can and must ensure our security while restoring stability, predictability, and fiscal discipline in defense spending. We spend 13 times more on the military than we do on diplomacy. We spend five times more in Afghanistan each year than we do on global public health and preventing the next pandemic. We can maintain a strong defense and protect our safety and security for less."

It's just bad luck that President Biden does not subscribe to the religion professed by the Pope who remarked last Sunday: "The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nonetheless - and this is scandalous - armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened."

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. military arsenal is being strengthened in a proper progressive manner: "The $715 billion Pentagon 'topline' is likely to be presented as a compromise to Democrats pressing for cuts in defense spending, as some of the money would be slated for the Pentagon's environmental initiatives."

With friends like the Pentagon, the environment has no need of enemies, real or imagined.

According to Politico, wildly out-of-control military spending that Biden believes Donald Trump got just about exactly right is actually a demonstration of restraint because "Pentagon budgeteers" have been hoping for more. Let us weep for them in our own private ways.

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

Our major crises all have roots in our lack of recognition of our place in nature.

Protecting The Planet Can Prevent Pandemics
By David Suzuki

With COVID-19 vaccines becoming more available, we can breathe a small sigh of relief - through our masks! But we can't get complacent. This pandemic isn't over. And if we're not careful, others could be on the horizon.

A coalition of health and conservation organizations is trying to prevent that. It points to evidence that "increasing rates of deforestation and land-use change due to population growth and urbanization - coupled with growing globalization and excess production driven by consumerism" are increasing our vulnerability to "zoonotic" diseases, which spread from other animals to people.

They also note that "large-scale commercial trade in live wild animals, often traveling long distances to crowded food markets, increases the risk of transmission of pathogens to people from those animals."

This information isn't new. Most "novel pathogens" to which we haven't developed immunity are zoonotic, including Ebola, zika, West Nile virus, SARS, HIV and others. We've long known about the possibility of something like COVID-19. We should have been better prepared for it or able to prevent it.

We must learn from the current crisis to prevent worse emergencies and prepare for new diseases. The next virus could be deadlier than COVID-19 (as some variants already are). As the coalition points out, outbreaks are increasing and spreading faster in our interconnected world.

"Because of our broken relationship with nature, these events are already happening more frequently: more than 335 emerging infectious disease outbreaks were reported worldwide from 1940 to 2004 - over 50 per decade," the coalition reports.

In identifying parts of the world where outbreaks are likely to start, the coalition is mapping out solutions, which "will require dialogue and coordinated action between sectors - particularly health and environment, but also agriculture, trade, food and nutrition, and others."

Its proposed "three-pronged strategy" would include a scientific task force and high-level panel on prevention at the source, a global action fund for pandemic prevention, and global and local public awareness campaigns.

The task force - to be convened by coalition members the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment, with scientists worldwide - "will "examine what we know and what we must learn to prevent the next global pandemic." It will inform a panel that includes "high-level representatives from governments" to "develop and recommend policies to prevent spillover, and, critically, advocate for adoption of these policies globally and in high-risk countries."

The coalition also proposes a global action fund to help co-ordinate knowledge, dialogue and action and "support a pipeline of existing prevention solutions to scale up, while also financing the development of new solutions (cutting-edge behavior change approaches, diagnostic platforms, incentives programs, technologies, and data solutions)." Finally, it proposes global and local public awareness campaigns to prioritize prevention and health-system preparedness.

To prevent pandemics, we must recognize our interconnectedness with nature and protect natural systems that make the planet habitable for humans. Doing so will also help with the climate emergency.

As Amy Vittor from the University of Florida's division of infectious diseases and global medicine told the Guardian, "Forests - and tropical forests in particular - harbour complex networks of microbes and their wildlife hosts. Degrading these landscapes carries the potential of unleashing these microbes upon our domesticated animals and ourselves. Therefore, maintaining the integrity of forests serves to not only protect biodiversity and mitigate climate change, but also to contain these complex and potentially dangerous pathogen networks."

Reducing wildlife trade and reforming livestock practices are also crucial. All require recognizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, and incorporating knowledge they've gained from living in place for millennia.

These measures are necessary regardless of cost, but a recent study found they're also sound investments. Global spending on COVID-19 has already exceeded US$20 trillion, but spending just $27 billion a year over 10 years could substantially reduce the risks of a similar pandemic.

As with the coalition's recommendations, the study outlines the benefits of early disease detection and control, monitoring wildlife trade and ending China's wild meat trade, reducing disease spillover from livestock and protecting tropical forests in critical regions.

Our major crises - pandemics, climate disruption and biodiversity loss - all have roots in our lack of recognition of our place in nature. We can and must do better.

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

Another Shooting, Another Official Explanation That's Starting To Stink
This one involves the shooting of an Antifa activist that Donald Trump seized on in his 2020 campaign.
By Charles P. Pierce

And while we're on the subject of what the late Marvin Gaye sussed out as "trigger-happy policin'" all the way back in 1971, the New York Times did a long, deep dive into a semi-famous shooting and the investigation thereof. Last September, U.S, Marshals shot and killed an activist named Michael Reinoehl in the aftermath of unrest in Seattle over police violence. Reinoehl was being sought in connection with the shooting death of a Patriot Prayer activist named Aaron Danielson. Reinoehl fled and was cornered in the town of Lacey, Washington, where he was shot. The official story is that he fired on law-enforcement officers. A local investigation recently cleared the officers on that basis. However, as the Times reports, that conclusion and some of the physical evidence have yet to be introduced to each other.

While investigators found a spent bullet casing in the back seat of Mr. Reinoehl's car, and pointed to that as evidence he probably fired his weapon, the handgun they recovered from Mr. Reinoehl had a full magazine, according to multiple photos compiled by Thurston County authorities showing Mr. Reinoehl's handgun. The gun was found in his pocket.
And the purported witnesses are an ambiguous stew of different perspectives and outright ambivalence.
In announcing its conclusions, the sheriff's office wrote that "witness statements indicate there was an exchange of gunfire, which was initiated by Reinoehl from inside his vehicle." A spokesman, Lt. Cameron Simper, said that while investigators could not conclude for certain that Mr. Reinoehl had fired his weapon, he said it was "highly likely."

But one of the witnesses that Thurston County investigators relied on to reach their conclusion that Mr. Reinoehl had fired his gun was an 8-year-old boy. His father, Garrett Louis, who had rushed to his son's side at the time of the shooting, has consistently said he believed that officers opened fire first without shouting any warnings. Of the two other witnesses who investigators cited to support the conclusion that Mr. Reinoehl fired his gun, one did not see it happen and the other was not sure.

And the official explanation sounds like 100 different Official Explanations that we've heard before.
James Oleole, a Pierce County sheriff's deputy in the passenger seat of Officer Merrill's Ford Escape, said that as law enforcement vehicles pulled up and officers announced themselves, Mr. Reinoehl was in the driver's seat of his Jetta and made moves with his arms "consistent with the moves that someone makes when they are attempting to grab a gun they have on their person."

Although he did not see a gun, Deputy Oleole said, he began firing his AR-15 rifle through his own windshield at Mr. Reinoehl. Officer Merrill, thinking the glass shards from the windshield meant he was under fire, exited the Ford Escape, saw what he believed was Mr. Reinoehl reaching for a gun, and also opened fire. A third officer, also from the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, had followed the others in an S.U.V. and blocked Mr. Reinoehl's Jetta from an angle. Also believing that Mr. Reinoehl was reaching for a gun, he opened fire with his 9-millimeter handgun.

As the officers unleashed a hail of bullets, a total of 40 in all, Mr. Reinoehl exited the Jetta, shielding himself, and ran for cover behind a truck parked behind him. The three officers reported that he was continuously reaching around his waistband or pocket. A Washington State Department of Corrections officer, who had arrived in a third vehicle, saw Mr. Reinoehl round the rear of the truck and begin to pull "a small dark item" from his pocket. That officer also fired, and Mr. Reinoehl fell.

I quote at length because there's so much mush in so many of the descriptions in that account. One might overlook the detail that after 40 shots had been fired into his car, Reinoehl was still able to get out, run, seek shelter behind a truck, and still move ably enough that a trained law-enforcement professional thought he was going for his gun.

You may recall that the previous president* gloated about the shooting of Reinoehl on the stump during the campaign. In fact, the shooting was central to the law-and-order element of what was laughingly called his campaign strategy. But there's been an unsavory aroma around all those events right from the start. Makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands.

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

The Quotable Quote-

""If you paid $120 for a pair of Nike Air Force 1 shoes, you paid more to Nike than it paid in federal income taxes over the past 3 years, while it made $4.1 billion in profits and Nike's founder, Phil Knight, became over $23 billion richer."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Wind turbines of the Block Island Wind Farm tower over the water on October 14, 2016 off the shores of Block Island, Rhode Island.

Greening Earth And Creating Jobs, Biden To Slash Fossil Fuel Subsidies And Extend Wind, Solar Credits
Together, wind and solar account for 40 percent of electricity sector jobs in the United States. By Juan Cole

Reuters reports that President Biden intends to slash tax subsidies for fossil fuels like coal and petroleum and to use taxes instead to encourage renewable energy. Since jobs in the coal industry are plummeting, and since job growth in renewable electricity is over 3 percent a year, Biden's plans will actually increase employment.

Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen explained that cutting fossil fuel subsidies would realize a revenue for the government of $35 billion over ten years. The exact subsidies to be cut were not identified, but an important one would be the provision that allows oil companies to write off the cost of new drilling. Keep it in the ground!

Reuters explains that Biden's plan will instead extend tax credits to wind, solar and battery storage all through the 2020s, and will also incentivize the building of new high capacity electricity transmission wires. It will also push airlines to develop and use more sustainable fuel. Air travel produces about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

So, why can we tie these changes in taxes and subsidies to jobs? Because Biden is backing the winners.

The 2020 US Energy and Employment Report shows that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders are on to something with the Green New Deal, and that President Biden's adoption of elements of it is a promising step for the US economy.

As Karin Kirk at Yale Climate Connections points out in her canny survey of the implications of the report, politicians are all about jobs.

The figures are through the end of 2019, before the distortions of the Covid year of 2020.

There were nearly a quarter million jobs in the solar sector of electricity production, up by nearly 6,000 jobs, almost 3 percent, since the previous year. This 248,000 solar jobs demonstrates the dynamism of this energy sector. They amount to 27.8 percent of all the 896,800 electricity sector jobs in the United States, over a fourth.

Solar accounted for twice as many jobs as natural gas, which surprised even me. And whereas it added 6,000 jobs in a year, coal lost 7,000. We can see the future.

Wind energy companies employed 114,800 workers, nearly as many as did natural gas, and the sector grew by 3.2 percent year over year.

Together, wind and solar account for 40 percent of electricity sector jobs in the United States.

These two sectors saw a job growth total of over 10,900 new hires that year, more than for natural gas.

Some 2.4 million Americans worked in the fields of the transmission, distribution and storage of electricity. Since President Biden wants to build out a high capacity grid, that sector is likely to grow. It was relatively stagnant in 2019.

Then there is the necessary greening of transportation. The production of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids employed 242,700 workers. Unfortunately, this sector showed a slight downturn in jobs year over year. President Biden wants to turn that around.

Kirk points out that many states are leaving jobs on the table by not developing renewable energy even when they have the capacity. I'd add that much of the South has enormous solar potential but that Republican politicians, often funded by Big Oil, often put in punitive fees to discourage it.

Some of the states in the Great Wind corridor are also seeing moves in state legislatures to favor fossil fuels and punish wind. (I'm looking at you, Wyoming). It may be that federal policy can help get the ball rolling in some of these states, where ordinary people will suffer a polluted environment, sea level rise, superstorms, and other ill effects of fossil fuel-powered climate change and pay more than they should for the electricity to boot.

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

The Basic Deal Between Corporate America And The GOP Is Alive And Well
By Robert Reich

For four decades, the basic deal between big American corporations and politicians has been simple. Corporations provide campaign funds. Politicians reciprocate by lowering corporate taxes and doing whatever else corporations need to boost profits.

The deal has proven beneficial to both sides, although not to the American public. Campaign spending has soared while corporate taxes have shriveled.

In the 1950s, corporations accounted for about 40 percent of federal revenue. Today, they contribute a meager 7 percent. Last year, more than 50 of the largest U.S. companies paid no federal income taxes at all. Many haven't paid taxes for years.

Both parties have been in on this deal although the GOP has been the bigger player. Yet since Donald Trump issued his big lie about the fraudulence of the 2020 election, corporate America has had a few qualms about its deal with the GOP.

After the storming of the Capitol, dozens of giant corporations said they would no longer donate to the 147 Republican members of Congress who objected to the certification of Biden electors on the basis of the big lie.

Then came the GOP's recent wave of restrictive state voting laws, premised on the same big lie. Georgia's are among the most egregious. The chief executive of Coca Cola, headquartered in the peach tree state, calls those laws "wrong" and "a step backward." The CEO of Delta Airlines, Georgia's largest employer, says they're "unacceptable." Major League Baseball decided to relocate its annual All-Star Game away from the home of the Atlanta Braves.

These criticisms have unleashed a rare firestorm of anti-corporate Republican indignation. The senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, warns corporations of unspecified "serious consequences" for speaking out. Republicans are moving to revoke Major League Baseball's antitrust status. Georgia Republicans threaten to punish Delta Airlines by repealing a state tax credit for jet fuel.

"Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & antitrust?" asks Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Why? For the same reason Willy Sutton gave when asked why he robbed banks: That's where the money is.

McConnell told reporters that corporations should "stay out of politics" but then qualified his remark: "I'm not talking about political contributions." Of course not. Republicans have long championed "corporate speech" when it comes in the form of campaign cash - just not as criticism.

Talk about hypocrisy. McConnell was the top recipient of corporate money in the 2020 election cycle and has a long history of battling attempts to limit it. In 2010, he hailed the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling, which struck down limits on corporate political donations, on the dubious grounds that corporations are "people" under the First Amendment to the Constitution.

"For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process," McConnell said at the time. Hint: He wasn't referring to poor Black people.

It's hypocrisy squared. The growing tsunami of corporate campaign money suppresses votes indirectly by drowning out all other voices. Republicans are in the grotesque position of calling on corporations to continue bribing politicians as long as they don't criticize Republicans for suppressing votes directly.

The hypocrisy flows in the other direction as well. The Delta's CEO criticized GOP voter suppression but the company continues to bankroll Republicans. Its PAC contributed $1,725,956 in the 2020 election, more than $1 million of which went to federal candidates, mostly to Republicans. Oh, and Delta hasn't paid federal taxes for years.

Don't let the spat fool you. The basic deal between the GOP and corporate America is still very much alive.

Which is why, despite record-low corporate taxes, congressional Republicans are feigning outrage at Joe Biden's plan to have corporations pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. Biden isn't even seeking to raise the corporate tax rate as high as it was before the Trump tax cut, yet not a single Republicans will support it.

A few Democrats, such as West Virginia's Joe Manchin, don't want to raise corporate taxes as high as Biden does, either. Yet almost two-thirds of Americans support the idea.

The basic deal between American corporations and American politicians has been a terrible deal for America. Which is why a piece of legislation entitled the "For the People Act," passed by the House and co-sponsored in the Senate by every Democratic senator except Manchin, is so important. It would both stop states from suppressing votes and also move the country toward public financing of elections, thereby reducing politicians' dependence on corporate cash.

Corporations can and should bankroll much of what America needs. But they won't as long as corporations keep bankrolling American politicians.

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

Wisconsin Court Win Stops Purge Of 129,000 Voters
by Greg Palast

On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 5-2 to block the removal of 129,000 voters from the rolls. The Justices rejected a lawsuit brought by a right-wing group.

On September 23, 2020, Black Voters Matter issued a report by the Palast Investigative Fund which proved that, despite claims of the right-wing Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, that 39,722 voters they claimed had moved away from the registration addresses, had not, in fact, moved at all.

The Palast team experts used sophisticated databases to analyze every name on the so-called "mover" list - and found that tens of thousands did not move at all. But the report found that, overwhelmingly, the wrongly tagged voters were African-Americans in Milwaukee and students in Madison, Wisconsin, that is, core Democratic constituencies.

The State Elections Board, the only party allowed to defend against the purge by the Court, agreed with the finding that the purge would remove tens of thousand of legal voters and therefore refused to order the cancellation of these registrations.

President Joe Biden won Wisconsin by just 20,600 votes. Had the purge gone ahead, it is unlikely Biden could have taken the state. Tens of thousands of postcards and calls were made to those the Palast Fund identified as wrongly targeted voters, along with a mass publicity campaign, to warn these voters to re-register.

The decision hardly ends the battle to protect the voter rolls and as the Court ruled on narrow jurisdictional grounds.

Black Voters Matter Fund issued my foundation's report, Wisconsin "Movers" Purge List Errors with a link to where we list every single voter wrongly facing erasure of their voting rights.

This was not a sampling nor an estimate. Rather, four experts in what is called, "Address List Hygiene"-the same experts that confirm your address for Amazon, eBay and Home Depot-conducted a name by name review of address using 240 tested data feeds-where you get your Netfix films, your mortgage, your taxes, your credit card purchases-to locate you with absolute precision.

In addition it was all checked with the Post Office's designated licensee, Merkle Inc., in charge of maintaining the deep historic change-of-address files.

As an economist and statistician by training, the technical term for the "movers" purge list is, "garbage." Indeed, the State Board of Elections is resisting using a list they fear could be 15% wrong-unacceptable when the right of a citizen to vote is at stake. But our experts found the list twice as error-filled as the state's guesstimate.

Look at the maps of Greater Milwaukee. They reveal a near-perfect match between the percentage of Black voters in a Census tract with the number of voters wrongly tagged as having moved.

Rick Esenberg brought this lawsuit on behalf of Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL). When I spoke to him, Esenberg admitted he had not checked his would-be voter cancellation list for accuracy. He never heard of Address List Hygiene and claims he has no idea that the list is overloaded with Black and low-income voters.

WILL is backed by the right-wing Wisconsin billionaire Bradley family foundation. That does not surprise Elections Commissioner Ann Jacobs who is blunt about their aim. "I think it's crystal clear the intent of this suit was to remove voters in Milwaukee and Madison...on behalf of the Republican Party in an attempt to gain an advantage ...particularly for the Presidential race."

Catch Esenberg, Jacobs and the full story in our 7-minute film.

Whatever the intent, how could Esenberg's group get it so wrong? It begins with a misuse of what is called the "ERIC" list. ERIC is the Electronic Registration Information Center of Washington.

ERIC, controlled by 30 state officials uses a limited and amateurish system for identifying those who have moved from their registration address. But that's not a problem, as ERIC was not established to hunt voters for the purge but to find those who moved into a state or town and invite them to register.

ERIC often confuses common names like James Brown. But if the wrong James Brown gets a postcard inviting him to register, no harm done. But the Wisconsin Legislature and then-Gov. Scott Walker added a stinger: If a voter does not return the postcard, they must be removed from the voter rolls.

The card looks like "junk mail" - so less than 2% returned it. Our lead address verification expert John Lenser says, "not returning a postcard does not at all indicate someone has moved. People think it's so-called 'junk mail' and toss it." Indeed, he says, unless a card is returned "undeliverable," that is evidence the voter has not moved.

Mark Swedlund, a recognized expert in mailings, notes from Census studies that minority, young and urban residents don't always receive mass mailings and respond at only a fraction of the rate of white, older, suburban homeowners. In effect, the "Jim Crow" result is in the postcard return requirement.

The Palast Fund reached out to over 700 voters, and we heard the same story again and again: I never moved.

Adding to bias against low-income and young voters, these "junk mail" cards were sent to voters who moved within the cities of Milwaukee and Madison even though both federal and state law prohibits cancelling registrations of those who move within their city.

Our experts identified another 58,000 who moved within their county. Typical is student Phyo Zin Kyaw of Madison College who told us he moved just two doors down yet faces loss of his vote.

LaTosha Brown and Cliff Albright, co-founders of Black Voters Matter, who released the experts' report, have had enough. "There is a small right-wing group which wants to undermine Black voters and young voters. They are desperate because they are losing power - so they are resorting to cheating and undermining the election by any means."

Palast Investigative Fund attorney Jeanne Mirer submitted a copy of our findings to the Wisconsin Attorney General and the Wisconsin Board of Elections.

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

The Cartoon Corner-

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

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Mitch McConnell points his index finger while speaking at a podium.

McConnell Says Corporations Should Follow His Example And Not Get Involved In Government

By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Senator Mitch McConnell urged the nation's largest corporations to follow his example and not get involved in governing the country.

Speaking to reporters, the Senate Minority Leader said that he "could have easily used my position over the years to make the country a better place, but I have wisely resisted that temptation."

"Whether it was giving Americans affordable health care or passing stronger gun laws, I have been careful not to influence the government to accomplish things," he said. "I wish corporations would follow my lead."

He urged the C.E.O.s of major companies to spend a day with him in Washington to "see how getting nothing done is done."

McConnell cut short his remarks to reporters, saying that he had to return to his office to get to work on not improving the country's infrastructure.

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 16 (c) 04/16/2021

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