Please visit our sponsor!

In This Edition

Chris Walker returns with, "Judge Denies Stacey Abrams The Ability To Raise Funds The Way Brian Kemp Can."

Ralph Nader examines, "Consumer Protection Progress And Regress - From The Sixties To Now."

Margaret Kimberley considers, "Liberal Russophobia And War Propaganda ."

Jim Hightower hears, "The Sad Whine Of Supreme Court Right Wingers."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "As Republicans Push Far Right Agenda, Stakes For Midterms Couldn't Be Higher."

John Nichols finds, "Mark Pocan's 100% For Taxing The Billionaire Class."

James Donahue warns, "A Sickness Permeating The American Scene."

David Swanson has, "Famous Haikus Updated."

David Suzuki concludes, "Fossil Fuel Funding Is An Investment In Disaster."

Charles P. Pierce says, "The Republican Undead Walk Among Us. Just Look At Scott Pruitt."

Juan Cole reports, "Zelensky Calls Paying For Russian Oil 'Blood Money'-the Same Is True For All Oil Purchases."

Robert Reich wonders, "Why Did CBS News Hire Mick Mulvaney?"

Thom Hartmann reveals, "The Deadly Reason Republicans Are Suckers For Fake News."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News explains, "How To Spot Russian Disinformation," but first, Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Global Warming Is Killing Most Species Of Cactus!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bob Gorrell, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Brian Mcfadden, Anna Moneymaker, Rafael Henrique, Guy Fleury, Primicias, Al Drago, Elijah Nouvelage, iStock, Axel Heimken, Greenpeace, Jim Watson, Thomas Wolter, Jim Hightower, Pixabay, 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."

Visit me on Face Book

Global Warming Is Killing Most Species Of Cactus!
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

I see where sixty percent of cactus species will wind up in less hospitable climates over the coming decades as global warming sets in, according to new research challenging the long-held assumption the iconic desert plants will thrive with more heat.

By 2070, up to 90 percent could be threatened with extinction due to climate change, habitat loss and other stressors, triple the current percentage, scientists reported in Nature Plants.

Some 1,500 species of cacti spread across the Americas live in varying climes, ranging from sea-level deserts to the high Andes mountains, from bone-dry ecosystems to humid tropical forests.

Biodiversity hotspots rich in species and numbers include central Mexico and the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.

To test the notion that cacti will benefit from a warmer and more drought-prone world, researchers led by Michiel Pillet from the University of Arizona examined data on more than 400 species and ran models projecting how they would fare at mid-century and beyond under different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.

The findings "paint a more pessimistic future," according to the study, published Thursday.

Currently, the main threat to cacti is expanding agriculture, along with land degradation, biodiversity loss and harvesting for various uses.

Even without climate change, cacti "is one of the most endangered groups of organisms on the planet," with more than 30 percent classified as at risk of extinction, the authors note.

Under a moderate emissions scenario in line with current policies, global warming will soon be a significant threat as well.

"Our results suggest that climate change will become a primary driver of cactus extinction risk, with 60 to 90 percent of species assessed negatively impacted" by global warming, the researchers reported.

Within four or five decades, some 25 percent of cacti species could experience unfamiliar climates over a quarter of their current range.

Earlier studies have shown impaired photosynthesis -- the process by which plants use sunlight to make foods from CO2 and water -- with only two degrees Celsius of global warming.

Earth's average surface temperature, including oceans, is already 1.1C warmer than preindustrial times, and about 1.7C warmer over land only.


04-10-1929 ~ 04-15-2022
Thanks for the film!

05-18-1931 ~ 04-20-2022
Thanks for the film!


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


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.

Georgia gubernatorial Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams speaks during a campaign rally on March 14, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Judge Denies Stacey Abrams The Ability To Raise Funds The Way Brian Kemp Can
The only way to halt the global assault on the human rights of workers is to unionize.
By Chris Walker

A federal judge has declared that Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams cannot raise unlimited campaign funds, despite a state fundraising law that allows her likely opponent, current Gov. Brian Kemp (R), to do so.

State law allows incumbent governors and their challengers from the opposing major political party to form "leadership committees" to raise unlimited funds from supporters in the state. But while incumbents are allowed to set up a committee for such purposes right away, the statute bars Abrams from doing so until after she becomes the Democratic Party's official nominee, following the state's primary elections.

Kemp established his leadership committee in July of last year, after signing into law the bill that created the rule in the first place. Abrams will not be allowed to create a similar committee until late May at the earliest.

Lawyers for Abrams had argued in their lawsuit that the elections law gave incumbents an unfair advantage, and that Abrams - who doesn't have any challengers in the Democratic primary - should be allowed to set up her own leadership committee now as the presumptive nominee, with the same rules applied to it that Kemp has.

Judge Mark Cohen, a federal judge in the Northern District of Georgia, disagreed with those assertions, writing in his order that any ruling in favor of Abrams would amount to rewriting state law.

"Granting plaintiffs' requested relief ... would require this court to effectively rewrite the statute to recognize Abrams as the Democratic Party nominee before she has been selected in a primary," Cohen said.

In response to the ruling, Abrams's campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, said that it was imperative that her supporters "give whatever they can" to her election campaign.

While the order from Cohen gives the Republican incumbent governor a significant advantage, the federal judge has placed some limits on how Kemp can use funds he raises for his leadership committee, ruling earlier this year that Kemp can't access those funds until he, too, wins his primary contest. Still, Kemp's ability to raise funds through the committee for months longer than Abrams is allowed to will give him a significant advantage once the general election campaign begins.

Kemp, who is running against former U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-Georgia), is expected to win the primary, possibly without the need for a runoff race beyond the initial May 24 election.

Recent polling shows that Kemp is presently ahead of Abrams by a 7-point margin. However, the race, which is a rematch of Kemp's and Abrams's highly contentious 2018 gubernatorial election, could be much closer than that poll suggests, depending on each candidate's ability to turn out their supporters in the general election this fall.

(c) 2022 Chris Walker is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analysing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.

Marketing to children is out of control. Now comes Facebook's "metaverse" that sucks in these youngsters far beyond the cruel seductions
of today's internet, further distancing this generation from the realities of life and communion with their families and the natural world.

Consumer Protection Progress And Regress - From The Sixties To Now
By Ralph Nader

I'm often asked whether consumers are better or worse off since the modern consumer movement took hold in the nineteen sixties.

Let's look at the record. Motor vehicles are much safer, less polluting, and more fuel efficient now, but not nearly what they should be. Today, consumers have warranty rights, recall rights, equal credit opportunity rights they did not have back then. Labeling has also improved. There is no more lead in gasoline and paint, though lead water pipes still contaminate some drinking water systems.

From being King tobacco over 50 years ago, cigarette companies are more regulated and daily tobacco smoking is down from 45% of adults to less than 15% of adults. But now there is vaping. Deadly asbestos is out of most products.

Solar energy and wind power are growing, even though energy company propaganda smeared them as Buck Rogers science fiction over 50 years ago.

Nuclear power plants are closing and no new ones are under construction, except for the massive Georgia boondoggle projects costing taxpayers and ratepayers billions of dollars in cost overruns. Heating, lighting, and air-conditioning technology is more efficient, but nowhere near what it could be.

Clothing is cheaper due to production being taken to horrific polluting sweatshops abroad, leaving empty factories here (See, Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes by Dana Thomas, September 3, 2019).

Now look at the dark side. Housing is less affordable and homelessness is greater. Hunger is still a shameful plague in a land of plenty, with some 15 million children going to bed hungry. Nutritional, organic, and ethnic foods are more widely available. We have pandemics instead of epidemics. Highway congestion and the paucity of mass transit is probably comparatively worse, despite some new investments in public transit since the sixties.

The profit-driven opioid pandemic taking over 100,000 American lives a year didn't exist in the 1960s. Drug prices are sky high, even with large government subsidies and free research and development from the National Institute of Health.

Corporate crime escaping accountability is more diverse, brazen, and massive. Big time corporate crime pays. Over $350 BILLION is lost in computer billing fraud every year just in the health care industry. There are very few prosecutions. Since computer use has grown, it has been much easier for corporations to cheat, fine, penalize, and overcharge consumers and commit automated billing fraud. With the repeal of state usury laws in the nineteen seventies, payday rackets and rent-to-own swindles have fewer restraints.

Fine print contracts keep reaching new levels of coercion unheard of in the nineteen sixties. This is due to the endless opportunities created by the incarcerating credit card economy, which has taken away consumers' control over their own money. Over 80% of consumers do not use cash or checks as they did in the sixties.

It is hard to exaggerate the massive controls over consumers which come from losing their freedom of contract and being coerced by companies with threats to worsen consumer credit scores and credit ratings, especially if they dare to persistently complain about a lemon car or a callous landlord. Fine print contract companies - just about every major corporation selling to you -are now taking away your right to go to court and have a trial by jury if you are wrongfully injured and want to hold wrongdoers accountable for damages.

Working only three days a week when they are not in extended recesses, Congress holds fewer investigative public hearings on issues affecting consumers such as monopolies or oligopolies that plague one industry after another. There are far fewer full-time consumer reporters at newspapers and radio/TV stations. Wells Fargo Bank creates fictitious credit card accounts, auto insurance, and other sales for millions of their non-requesting customers for years and then when caught escapes any jail time for the top bosses. Where was the preventative oversight?

What would have been incredible in the nineteen sixties is the relentless drive by companies such as Amazon, rental car giants, and others to get rid of purchasing by cash or check. Many companies want everybody to be coerced into the credit/debit penitentiary so they can charge your account for their dictatorial fees and other abuses (see my column, Ten Reasons Why I Don't Have a Credit Card, April 24, 2019).

Companies can charge you an outrageous fee or so-called penalty. They control your money through access to your credit card and deduct their bilk. What if instead they had to send you a bill to pay by check? They would probably decide to revise their business model, because you would be more outraged if you had to consciously pay them, instead of being passively debited.

Finally, the marketing to children is out of control. Companies are circumventing parental authority selling directly to kids, harmful junk food, junk drink, and violent programs and games. These avaricious corporations are electronic child molesters. Direct marketing to kids and pushing to hook them with credit cards at an early age is pulling them into the addiction industries and creating intense family turmoil - especially with children's omnipresent iPhone as the delivery vehicle.

Now comes Facebook's "metaverse" that sucks in these youngsters far beyond the cruel seductions of today's internet, further distancing this generation from the realities of life and communion with their families and the natural world.

We need hundreds of new consumer protection organizations from the local to the national and international levels making tough demands on lawmakers and pushing for wider access to justice for aggrieved people.

Big corporations have meticulous strategic plans for humans, including robotic replacement of workers and human to human contact. It is time for a new consumer revolution and new consumer rules for a just, safe, and consumer-sovereign economy.

Alexa can't help you with this portentous mission.

(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).

Liberal Russophobia And War Propaganda
By Margaret Kimberley

U.S. liberals are the worst perpetrators of Russophobic behavior. They are most likely to follow the dictates of corporate media and the democratic party and proudly take part in discriminatory acts. But foolish bans of anything Russian are just the most visible indication that war propaganda is at the root of the hysteria.

The city of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts prohibit discrimination based upon race, color, gender, disability, religion, and national origin. Such discrimination is prohibited by most cities, states, and the federal government as well. But one wouldn't know that due to a plethora of discriminatory acts carried out against Russian nationals. The latest perpetrator is the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which announced that citizens of Russia and Belarus who reside in those countries will be barred from participating in the Boston marathon taking place on April 18, 2022. The war in Ukraine, years of Russiagate hysteria, and corporate media demonization of Vladimir Putin and all Russians have led to this moment of dubious distinction.

The weaknesses of what passes for a left wing movement have been fully exposed ever since Russian troops entered Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Of course many people who are called leftists and even those who consider themselves as such are in fact just liberals. They do not stand against imperialism as any leftist ought to do. The eight-year long U.S./NATO scheme to use Ukraine as a weapon against Russia should be universally condemned by anyone claiming to be in that cohort. Leftists can have principled disagreement about Putin's decision, but they should not ignore the culpability of the U.S. and NATO and their support for the 2014 coup which overturned an election and put neo-Nazi groups in power.

Their confusion on Russia and Ukraine is emblematic of their confusion about so many other issues. The faux left are a highly problematic group, making common cause with the democratic party wing of the war party, and ignoring the war crimes committed by Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and now Joe Biden. Not only do they fail to ask, "What about?," but they have no critique of the U.S. role which instigated this crisis. They say nothing about the U.S. and its NATO allies refusing to engage in negotiations which might end the suffering of the Ukrainian people they claim to care about so much.

So deep is the rot that they say nothing about increasingly blatant and bizarre examples of Russophobia. Russian cats cannot enter international cat shows, a Russian singer was fired from the Metropolitan Opera when she refused to denounce her government, an orchestra canceled a festival featuring the music of Russian composer Tchaikovsky, and a tribute to space exploration removed the name of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin from the program.

It is tempting to snicker about the denial of recognition to Russian cats, but the lack of opposition to the Boston marathon action is shameful indeed. People who see themselves as enlightened, and even intellectually and morally superior to others are silent in the face of an obviously unfair and illegal act.

The BAA is typical of U.S. elite organizations. It makes a big show of proving itself diverse and equitable by establishing a Boston Runners Collaborative whose mission is "... expanding access to running and walking in Boston with a focus on communities of color." The outreach was in part motivated by the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, whose memory is not certainly not honored by phony shows of racial solidarity. So the BAA used the cold blooded murder of a Black man to jump on a superficial liberal bandwagon and illegally banned people who live in a country their government is telling them to hate.

Of course the BAA is not alone. Politicians, pundits and corporate media all tell us to "stand with Ukraine" and to call Putin a war criminal. American presidents are never connected to war crimes, even when they invade Iraq and kill thousands of people, destroy Libya and kill thousands of people, or enact sanctions and steal government assets that kill thousands of people. The war criminal category is only deemed appropriate for leaders the U.S. doesn't like.

U.S. liberal elites are as much in the thrall of the dictates of their leadership as the members of January 6th mob who attacked the capital. Their critical thinking skills are practically non-existent, or they go along to get along, or silence themselves due to cowardice. The end result is much worse than a Russian missing a race.

The blue and yellow flags and whipping up of hysteria have a very important and dangerous aim. The goal of the propagandists is to get the country in the mood for war. When the slippery slope gets steeper and the public are convinced that the use of "tactical nukes" or other such nonsense is acceptable, the entire world will be at risk.

Perhaps the plight of Russian and Belarusian athletes isn't viewed as an important human rights issue. Of course world leaders do much worse to millions more people. But every acceptance of what may seem to be a minor slight can lead to major implications. Liberalism itself is a great danger. The censoring of left voices in media and the conscious effort to disappear all but the state narrative are liberal led efforts and lead to dehumanizing whomever the president and his friends in corporate media may choose to target.

So let the Russians run. Acquiescing to this misguided effort will lead to greater dangers in the future.

(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.

The Sad Whine Of Supreme Court Right Wingers

By Jim Hightower

Ralph Waldo Emerson told about a guest who came to dinner and spent the entire evening prattling about his own integrity: "The louder he talked of his honor," Emerson wrote: "the faster we counted our spoons."

Today, America has not one, but six guests in our national home babbling about their integrity. They are the six extremist Republican judges who now control our Supreme Court, and it's a bit unsettling to hear them go on and on, almost frantically pleading with us to believe in their judicial impartiality. For example, the Court's newest members, Amy Coney Barrett, suddenly blurted out at a public forum in September that "this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks."

Whoa - better count our spoons!

In fact, each of the six were installed on the court by right-wing Republicans specifically because they had proven to be devout partisan hacks. Interestingly, Barrett made her unprompted and strained assertion of judicial integrity at the McConnell Center - named for Mitch McConnell, the rabidly-partisan GOP senator who pulled a fast one last year, rushing Barrett onto the bench on a party-line vote just before Republicans lost control of the senate. Indeed, old Mitch himself, introduced Barrett at the forum where she gave her "we-are-not-partisan-hacks" speech. He grinned proudly at the pure hackery of his partisan protegE.

Another hard-core partisan on the court, Sam Alito, whined in October that critics accuse the Court's GOP majority of being "a dangerous cabal that resorts to sneaky and improper methods to get its way." Well golly Sam, yes, we do think that, because again and again you partisans sneak up on the Constitution and We The People to twist the law to fit your political bias and personal whims. If you don't want to be considered political hacks - stop being political hacks.

(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

Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue speaks at a campaign event on March 29, 2022, in Marietta, Georgia.

As Republicans Push Far Right Agenda, Stakes For Midterms Couldn't Be Higher
By William Rivers Pitt

I approach the upcoming 2022 midterm election burdened by an almost cosmic sense of dread. The stakes involved this time around are altogether daunting: The manner in which we as a nation deal with a hot war and its global impact, a global pandemic that is not finished with us yet, the global climate crisis, and so much else, will be determined to no insignificant degree by who emerges victorious from these upcoming contests. It ain't about getting the potholes filled this time.

Riding sidecar with dread is my usual kid-at-Christmas anticipation for what lies immediately ahead. I am of the opinion that primary elections, and midterm elections in general, are the last places where the people can have a significant say on the kind of federal government we will have. Presidential elections get all the ink, but as we have seen over this last year with Sen. Joe Manchin, it is the nature of Congress that tends to ultimately determine the course this country will follow, or if it will follow any course at all.

Once the voting process reaches the general election/GOP vs. Democratic nominee stage, the whole thing is little more than a giant damn television show. The Big Money will have taken its place at the head of the table, and the whole thing will begin its inexorable tack to the right, no matter how far right it began as in the first place. The plunderers and liars who fancy themselves "The Adults" in U.S. politics will be in charge again, and another bi-annual opportunity for actual change will have been pissed away.

The primaries, and especially the midterm primaries, though ... man, it's just wide open, isn't it? An open House seat in Florida will draw contestants ranging from the staid, solid political veteran to a guy with live ocelots on his head who happens to have some pretty incredible ideas about rent control and water usage, and you're free as a bird to support whichever one you like. You will never have more impactful choice in your political experience than you will in the voting booth for a midterm primary election.

Unfortunately, few people today seem ready to grasp this opportunity. Turnout for midterm primaries, as well as midterm elections, tends to be gruesomely low as they don't take place during a presidential election year. The bases of the parties are the people who can be most counted on to show up, and the Republican base in the main is made of far more reliable every-time voters than Democrats. Welcome to why things are they way they are.

My dread this year is rooted in far more than the consequences. There has never been an election year like this, ever, and people are freaking out like horses caught in a thunderstorm. One example of gravity suddenly failing to work was encapsulated by a Politico/Morning Consult poll from last week. It reports that 46 percent of voters plan on voting for a Republican House candidate because the wildly popular child tax credit was killed off, even though it was the Republicans who did the killing.

"So if this poll is right, the same voters who benefited from this popular program are apparently rewarding the party that killed it with their votes," writes political analyst Taegan Goddard. "Perhaps this is just another major messaging fail by Democrats. But with Republicans around the country pursuing a far-right agenda - including outlawing abortion, restricting gay rights and making voting harder - there seems to be little connection between what voters want and what Republicans do. And they're not being punished for it - at least not yet."

COVID 19, the insurrection, tub-thumping racism on display in Congress and an entire political party in thrall to a defeated former president who fancies himself an electoral kingmaker... these are the ingredients for the kind of stew that would make a herd of billy goats vomit into their beards, yet here we sit waiting for daylight. With voting still many weeks away, this confluence of the bizarre and the deeply dangerous has already produced races better suited to the Saturday morning cartoons than to the establishing of functional government.

In Georgia, former NFL player Herschel Walker is seeking to take back the seat Raphael Warnock secured in that miraculous two-race victory in 2020. Walker is avoiding audiences whenever he can, and is running on his record as a successful businessman.

A fine tactic to be sure, if such a record actually existed. "Those claims include running the largest minority-owned food company in the United States," reports The Daily Beast, "owning multiple chicken plants in another state; and starting and owning an upholstery business which was also, apparently, at one point in his telling, the country's largest minority-owned apparel company."

Also in Georgia, David Perdue has fashioned himself the avatar of Trump's election justice by trying to knock off Republican Gov. Brian Kemp because Kemp would not help Trump steal the election. Kemp currently leads Purdue by double-digits, but all Perdue has to do to cause real trouble is to come home with enough votes to force a runoff vote, at which point anything could happen. Perdue is also one of the big tests of Trump's endorsement; to date, that precious endorsement hasn't been worth all that much for him.

And then there is Alaska, home of the recently departed GOP Rep. Don Young. Among the 48 candidates (!!!) for the seat is none other than Sarah Palin, who shares a lead in the race with Al Gross. There really isn't much to say here that hasn't been said repeatedly since Palin was plucked from Wasilla in 2008 by John McCain and became another of our long national nightmares. These far right times we are in seem a perfect fit for Palin, and she damn well might win.

The list of other fascinatingly bent primaries to come is long, and we will get to them all in due time. In the meantime, get some rest and eat healthy food. I have a feeling this election season is going to beat the stuffing out of us but good.

(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.

View of a yacht, reportedly being built for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, on the wharf in Zwijndrecht, near Rotterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2021.

Mark Pocan's 100% For Taxing The Billionaire Class
By John Nichols

When a business publication posted an article several years ago called "Weird Things Top Billionaires Have in Common" - eg., less likely to wear glasses, more likely to be bald - Rep. Mark Pocan responded on social media with an addition to the list: "Another weird thing billionaires have in common? Not paying their taxes."

The progressive Democratic representative from the town of Vermont makes a good point.

Elon Musk, the ultra-billionaire and amateur rocketeer who is so rich ($273.6 billion) that he's angling to buy Twitter on a $43-billion lark, has enjoyed a tax rate of 3.27%, according to a 2021 ProPublica report.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who is worth $181.3 billion, has been paying 0.98%.

For Americans who just want their fair share on April 15, that's a jarring reminder that our tax system is set up to make the very wealthy very much wealthier - while the rest of us shoulder the burden for keeping the federal government afloat. Pocan's got an idea for making things fairer. For years, the congressman has responded to reports of growing economic inequality in America with a three-word mantra: "Tax the rich!"

Now, Pocan's got a president on his side.

President Joe Biden has proposed a billionaire minimum income tax, which the White House argues will eliminate "the inefficient sheltering of income for decades or generations," a White House fact sheet explains. "In 2021 alone, America's more than 700 billionaires saw their wealth increase by $1 trillion, yet in a typical year, billionaires like these would pay just 8% of their total realized and unrealized income in taxes. A firefighter or teacher can pay double that tax rate."

The proposal seeks to address that reality by requiring households with assets valued in excess of $100 million to provide the Internal Revenue Service with annual accountings of how those fortunes increased. Billionaires and uber-millionaires who paid less than 20% on their gains would have to write a check to the IRS to get their rate of payment up to 20%.

That's not a "wealth tax" in the sense that Pocan and Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have championed. But arguing about semantics misses the point. The tax targets the very rich with a very necessary income tax adjustment.

Former Wisconsin legislative aide Amy Hanauer, who now leads the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, sums up the argument for the new tax, saying:

"Creating a billionaire minimum income tax would ensure for the first time that the very wealthiest people in this country, those who have gained the most from our economic system, would finally begin to pay tax on their full income, just as regular working people do on their earnings. It would affect only the richest .01% of households and it would raise hundreds of billions of dollars for the essential priorities that face all of us as a nation. It will help us address the soaring inequality we see in this country and make the tax code fairer, more adequate, and more sustainable. This plan offers a transformational and long-overdue change."
Pocan puts things more succinctly: "Just took a DNA test, turns out I'm 100% in favor of taxing the rich."

(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 Sickness Permeating The American Scene
By James Donahue

We have been seeing troubling reports of gangs of young people that are cruising the streets of our cities in cars, on the prowl for homeless people to assault.

Police say young people seem to be making a sport of this activity. They drive the streets with a spotlight on their cars. Riding inside the vehicles are teenagers with baseball bats, golf clubs and even paintball guns. They are looking for helpless victims living in cardboard boxes, under bridge overpasses and in abandoned buildings.

Like gallant hunters with their dogs and guns, stomping through the woodlands in search of wild defenseless animals to shoot, these gangs are on the prowl for human game. And like the wild creatures in the woods, the game they seek cannot fight back.

The beatings of the homeless are not a few isolated incidents, according to Laura Hansen, executive director of the Broward Coalition for the Homeless. "We see it all the time." She said people are seen with bruises, black eyes and broken teeth on a daily basis.

Authorities say the homeless are under attack all across the land, from Florida to Alaska, and the hunters are usually white men under the age of 20. Baseball bats are the favored weapon, although rocks, bricks, fists, boots, pellet guns and even knives are used.

The attacks have been on the increase in recent years, and they have gotten so bad that some states are passing bills declaring them hate crimes. This makes it a felony punishable by prison if the vandals are caught. But how many of these young hoodlums are caught? When it is hit and run, and the attacker is not known to the victim, the chance of an arrest is very low.

There is a deep sickness permeating America when these people feel no compassion for the down-and-out, and our youth can find sport in attacking homeless and destitute people.

What is worse, the American economy shifted so radically under the Bush Administration, there are more unemployed and homeless people in the country today than existed during the Great Depression. The difference is that there are so many more Americans today, we have had a working system of unemployment insurance and welfare assistance, and there are still enough people holding on to some kind of service employment, that the homeless are not as visible.

There is a kind of disgrace associated to being homeless, so these people hide in the best way they can. They wander the streets by day and then burrow into whatever kind of shelter they can find at night to sleep.

We have heard of entire families sleeping in a car. I found one man living in a camper set-up on the back of an old pickup. Many of these people may still be working, but they do not make enough money earning the minimum wage to make rent payments, or mortgage payments. They have either lost their homes after going into foreclosure, or they have been evicted from their homes.

When we lived in high-priced Sedona, Arizona, a few years ago, we discovered that the people who pumped our gasoline and clerked the stores usually lived in tents in the national forest that encircled the town. They told of constant harassment there by forest rangers, who enforced camping limits of something like a week in any location. After that, they were forced to take up camp and move, hoping they were not discovered at a new site for a few more days. The punishment of being caught was a stiff fine, which was still cheaper than local rental fees.

The unwillingness to reach a helping hand to the homeless reaches beyond the youth gangs and forest rangers. Many cities have passed laws prohibiting anyone from sitting or lying in public streets and parks. There have been attempts by some city councils to make homelessness illegal and giving police the authority to force "vagrants" out of town. Yet tent cities, filled with more and more homeless families, are appearing throughout the land, especially in southern states where winters are not as severe.

With the latest downturn the number of homeless in America is clearly on the rise. And the gangs, often children of the wealthy who have used the market to destroy the lives of so many people, are making sport out of seeking these people out and assaulting them.

In some cases, police say, the beatings go too far and the victims are killed.

It is not a good time to be living in America. Because of greed, the Middle Class has all but disappeared. We fear that America is no longer the great nation it once was.

(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.

Famous Haikus Updated
By David Swanson

An old silent pond
A frog jumps into the pond-
Thud! Dried up last year.

After killing a spider,
how noble I feel
in the TV glow!

I write, erase, rewrite
Erase again, and then
Twitter deletes me

Useless, useless,
the heavy rain
On Arkansas coast

In the moonlight,
The color and scent of the wisteria
Seems so Norwegian

Plum flower temple:
Voices rise
From fallout shelters

Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
Has comments beneath

The wren
Earns his living
Unlike bad Russians

Over-ripe sushi
The Master has lost track of
His teleprompter

Consider me
As one who loved poetry
And Lockheed-Martin

In the cicada's cry
No sign can foretell
The next mass shooting

Blowing from the west
Fallen leaves gather
Atop the missiles

Nuclear winter -
Listening, that evening,
To the rain in the mountain

I kill an ant
And realize it was a child
Scared beneath my drone

From time to time
The clouds give rest
Make the best of it we can.

(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.

The recent IPCC report, "Mitigation of Climate Change," lays out a viable plan to reduce emissions and forestall the worst impacts of a rapidly heating world.

Fossil Fuel Funding Is An Investment In Disaster
By David Suzuki

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Sixth Assessment shows the world is unnecessarily headed toward climate catastrophe, and all it would take to resolve the crisis is decisive global action. That means no new fossil fuel development or infrastructure.

How has the world responded? With lots of talk and inadequate, often counterproductive measures. Banks continue to pump billions into coal, oil and gas development, governments are ramping up production and wars are being fought to keep the polluting, climate-altering fuels flowing.

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres called the IPCC report "a litany of broken climate promises." Within days of the release of Part 3 of the four-part assessment, as well as Canada's emissions reduction plan, our federal government approved the Bay du Nord offshore oil megaproject in Newfoundland and Labrador - albeit with 137 conditions.

Banks have been increasing investments in fossil fuel developments and infrastructure, and industry lobbyists are using Russia's invasion of Ukraine to justify calls for ramping up oil and gas production.

A report by Oil Change International found, "fossil fuel financing from the world's 60 largest banks has reached nearly USD $4.6 trillion in the six years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, with $742 billion in 2021 alone." Alberta oilsands financing jumped 51 per cent from 2020 to 2021, to $23.3 billion, much of it from Canadian banks RBC and TD Canada Trust. Banks have also invested heavily in Arctic and offshore oil and gas, fracking, liquefied fossil gas and coal mining and power.

Meanwhile, estimated costs for the Trans Mountain pipeline project, which Canada's government bought in 2018 for US$4.5 billion, have ballooned by 70 per cent, to $21.4 billion!

Think of what that money could do invested in energy efficiency, renewable sources and protection and restoration of natural areas that sequester carbon.

As Guterres wrote, "So far, high-emitting governments and corporations are not just turning a blind eye; they are adding fuel to the flames by continuing to invest in climate-choking industries. Scientists warn that we are already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate effects."

It doesn't have to be this way. The recent IPCC report, "Mitigation of Climate Change," lays out a viable plan to reduce emissions and forestall the worst impacts of a rapidly heating world. It wouldn't cost much more than we're now spending to keep burning fossil fuels. We'd also save enormous amounts by avoiding the health care and infrastructure costs of pollution and extreme weather-related events such as floods, droughts, heat domes and storms.

Along with improved energy efficiency, renewable energy is now the most cost-effective way to power societies. Costs of wind and solar power and battery storage have dropped by up to 85 per cent since 2010.

"It's now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F)," said IPCC Working Group III co-chair Jim Skea in a news release. "Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible."

We have important choices to make, choices that will determine the future for us, our children and grandchildren and those yet to be born. Although much of the onus is on governments, banks and industry to take the big steps, individuals have a role. Ensuring your investments aren't fuelling the climate crisis is a start, by divesting from funds and banks that support the industry and switching to non-fossil funds.

People can also join the growing movement calling for change, through activism, community engagement, political pressure and voting. Reducing meat consumption, avoiding flying and relying less on private automobiles will also help.

As Guterres said, "Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness."

The Sixth Assessment consists of four parts, based on thousands of studies representing the most up-to-date climate science from around the world, with the final part, a synthesis, to be released in September. The first assessment was released in 1990, and the world has since consistently failed to heed the increasingly urgent warnings.

In the face of overwhelming evidence, ignoring the world's scientists or believing they're somehow mistaken is an unnecessary, suicidal gamble.

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

The Republican Undead Walk Among Us. Just Look At Scott Pruitt
The ethically challenged former EPA administrator wants to join the Senate.
By Charles P. Pierce

In the original, brilliant Night of the Living Dead, the deceased residents of a small town in rural Pennsylvania are reanimated by the explosion of a space probe returning from Venus. However, the Republican Undead walk among us because the very large explosion of campaign money that occurred in 2010 enables them to do so. I mean, honestly, Sarah Palin is running for Congress. Eric Greitens, who resigned the governorship of Missouri amid allegations that George Romero would have found excessive, is running for the U.S. Senate in that state.

And now, the latest entrant in the How Can We Miss You If You Don't Go Away? Derby is Scott Pruitt, the ethically challenged former head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the previous administration* who's running to replace the retiring Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate. From the Washington Post:

Pruitt resigned from the EPA in 2018 amid controversies over his lavish spending, ethical lapses and management decisions. During his time leading the agency, Pruitt faced questions about taxpayer-funded first-class travel, a discounted condominium rental from the wife of a D.C. lobbyist, and the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office. He also faced allegations that he repeatedly enlisted subordinates to help him search for housing, book personal travel and help search for a six-figure job for his wife.
Needless to say, Pruitt shouldn't have been within 50 miles of the EPA in the first place. Covering the confirmations of Camp Runamuck nominees was a clear look into the engine room of the corporate money power that drives conservative politics. The nominees who weren't vandals were incompetents. And many of them were both. Pruitt was one of the latter.

During the committee hearings into his nomination, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon called attention to a letter that had gone out under Pruitt's letterhead when he was Oklahoma's attorney general. It was essentially cut-and-pasted from a letter Pruitt had received from an oil company. In his capacity as OK AG, Pruitt was the target of 19 different lawsuits and, when the committee asked him if he would recuse himself as EPA administrator from any decisions relating to the people suing him, Pruitt attempted to dazzle the committee with bullshit. But he had the votes in the Senate. Now, he wants to become one of those votes himself. The Undead will walk the corridors forever.

(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 -

"The rich and large corporations get richer, the CEOs earn huge compensation packages, and when things get bad, don't worry; Uncle Sam and the American taxpayers are here to bail you out. But when you are in trouble, well, we just can't afford to help you, if you are in the working class or middle class of this country."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Greenpeace activists demonstrate in the Fehmarn Belt with a rigid-hull inflatable boat against oil imports from Russia, which help finance the Russian war on Ukraine, on March 23, 2022.

Zelensky Calls Paying For Russian Oil 'Blood Money'-the Same Is True For All Oil Purchases
Purchasing gasoline or diesel is always blood money no matter whom you get it from.
By Juan Cole

The BBC reports that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, during an interview, accused Germany and Hungary of paying "blood money" for Russian petroleum.

Russia could earn $320 billion from energy exports in 2022, fueling Moscow's war machine.

Zelensky is perhaps making an analogy to blood diamonds, an issue Aryn Baker explained at Time. Some diamonds come out of conflict zones in Africa where gangs used forced labor to mine them and sell them to finance mass murder. Ethical people are now trying to avoid buying blood diamonds. They will find that avoiding blood oil, though, is impossible.

A massive government program to accelerate the move to wind and solar energy, batteries, and electric cars is the obvious way forward, but the Greens see this more clearly than does Scholz.

President Zelensky is right that buying gasoline and other petroleum products is paying blood money. This maxim is especially true of Russia at the moment, given what it is doing to children, women and noncombatant men in Bucha, Mariupul and other Ukrainian cities. Russian oil is likewise "blood oil."

But I would add that purchasing gasoline or diesel, etc., is always blood money no matter whom you get it from. The petroleum industry is wrecking the planet with carbon dioxide emissions, which have the potential of killing millions of people and making hundreds of millions homeless. That is not even to mention all the people who sicken or even die from air pollution, all the people harmed by dangerous oil and chemical leaks, all the people displaced and harmed by drilling operations. That is blood money on a vast scale.

Even regarding Russia, you are paying Moscow blood money even when you don't buy directly from Lukoil, since oil is a single global market. Any purchase anywhere from anyone of this commodity supports the price, and helps all the producers.

Not everyone can afford a hybrid or an electric car, though tens of millions who can afford one don't buy one. Not everyone can take public transport, but millions who could, don't. Not everyone can bike to work, but many more could than do. And it would be good for their health and help them live longer if they did. And we can all make sure to vote only for those politicians who will use the levers of government to make the big infrastructural changes that will end the evil of petroleum.

Why is Zelensky especially angry at Berlin and Budapest? Inside the European Union, Germany and Hungary have so far blocked a ban on Russian oil purchases by countries in the union.

Germany has backed some boycotts of Russia. It has joined in a boycott of Russian coal, for instance, and has paused the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russia through the Baltic Sea. The latter may be a dead letter.

But Germany imports 25% of its petroleum and 40% of its methane gas from Russia, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz maintains that boycotting those commodities is a more complex proposition. His stance has infuriated his coalition partners in the Green Party.

Paul Carrel at Reuters reports that German Greens are more eager to send military aid to Ukraine than is Scholz and his Social Democratic Party, which, being on the left, has long sought correct relations with Moscow in the teeth of US opposition. The SPD, however, seems not to have noticed that Russia's government is now barracuda capitalist and authoritarian, so I'm not sure what that has to do with socialism.

But German Greens are also more eager to get off fossil fuels than Scholz.

The Ukraine crisis is thus straining the ruling coalition in Berlin.

Of course if Germany boycotted Russian oil, it would have to buy from other producers. Since keeping Russian oil in the ground via a boycott would reduce global supply, it would cause higher prices. So Germany would have to pay a premium to new exporters, which might not be popular with voters. Hence, Scholz's reluctance. A massive government program to accelerate the move to wind and solar energy, batteries, and electric cars is the obvious way forward, but the Greens see this more clearly than does Scholz.

Zelensky told the BBC, "Some of our friends and partners understand that it is a different time now, that it is no longer an issue of business and money. That it is an issue of survival."

(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.

'CBS News, like every news outlet, has a cardinal responsibility to protect American democracy from this growing menace.'

Why Did CBS News Hire Mick Mulvaney?
CBS News was once the home of legends like Edward R Murrow and Walter Cronkite. Why is it now hiring Trump conspirators and enablers
By Robert Reich

CBS News has hired Mick Mulvaney as an on-air contributor.

You may recall that Mulvaney served as acting chief of staff under Trump and led Trump's Office of Management and Budget. But as I'll get to in a moment, Mulvaney wasn't just a high official in the Trump administration. He was an active enabler of Trump's deceit and attempted coup.

An "on-air contributor" on a major network is different from a mere "guest". I've been in both roles. Guests appear when a particular program's producer invites them. "On-air contributors" appear regularly. They're paid employees. And they're introduced as contributors - which gives them the cachet and authority of being part of a network's news division.

Mulvaney's first appearance as a CBS News contributor occurred several days ago on a "MoneyWatch" segment in which he was asked to explain Biden's plan for taxing the super-rich.

The anchor, Anne-Marie Green, introduced Mulvaney as "a former OMB director" and "the guy to ask about this". But she said nothing about whose OMB he directed, suggesting that Mulvaney was simply a budget expert offering an expert analysis rather than a fierce Trump partisan.

Then she asked him whether a "regular working-class American" should care about Biden's tax proposal.

Mulvaney's answer: "It's easy to look at it and say, 'Don't worry, you're not going to pay this,'" but regular working Americans would have to "prove that they don't have to pay it", a burden that "could be troublesome: every single year proving that you're not worth a hundred million dollars".

This is as misleading as it gets in broadcast media (except for Fox News). Nothing in Biden's proposal to tax the super-rich requires that people prove they're not super-rich. Mulvaney's claim was pure demagoguery.

But that's what we should expect from Mulvaney. In 2019 Mulvaney threatened to withhold US aid to Ukraine to fight Russian aggression unless President Zelenskiy came up with dirt on Hunter Biden. (This was the call in which Zelenskiy's plea "we need more Javelins" - anti-tank missiles that have proved crucial in Ukraine's defense against Russia's invasion - was met with Trump's "I would like you to do us a favor though.")

When the quid pro quo came to light, Mulvaney brushed it off: "I have news for everybody: get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." After Trump withheld the aid, Mulvaney asked White House budget officials for legal justification to withhold it until Zelenskiy announced an investigation of Biden.

There was also the time Mulvaney called Covid a "media hoax" designed to bring down Trump. And the time he predicted that if Trump lost in 2020 he would "concede gracefully".

When I was growing up, CBS News was the home of news legends like Edward R Murrow and Walter Cronkite - pioneers who set the standards for broadcast news. So why is CBS News now reaching into the cesspool of Trump conspirators and enablers to hire Mulvaney?

Neeraj Khemlani, co-head of CBS News, explained to the CBS News staff at a meeting last month that when it comes to contributor hires, "getting access to both sides of the aisle is a priority because we know the Republicans are going to take over, most likely, in the midterms."

"Getting access" to what? To the big lie about the 2020 election? To lies about Covid? To bonkers economics?

Since when does CBS News's decisions about whom to hire depend on predictions about which party will "take over", anyway? What if the party that's predicted to win is so contemptuous of democracy that it continues to claim, without basis in fact or law, that the last presidential election was stolen?

Would the CBS News of the 1950s hire as an on-air contributor Senator Joseph McCarthy, who conducted a vicious anti-communist witch-hunt that wrecked the lives and careers of countless Americans, because the news division wanted access to "both sides"? (In fact, CBS News's Edward R Murrow exposed McCarthy as a liar and demagogue.)

If there were ever any doubts that both sides of the political aisle are about the same, the events of the past two years should have laid them to rest. One of America's two national political parties has embraced (and been embraced by) an anti-democratic extremist fringe.

CBS News, like every news outlet, has a cardinal responsibility to protect American democracy from this growing menace. To fulfill this responsibility, it must report accurately what is occurring.

It should not pander to the menace by hiring a person who has had a hand in it and will further obscure the truth.

(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

The Deadly Reason Republicans Are Suckers For Fake News
If the fake news wins and neofascist politicians like Trump again gain serious national power, America will be on a fast track down the same road as Russia
By Thom Hartmann

Over on Fox "News," a recent segment with Tucker Carlson suggested that vaccines are more dangerous than getting Covid. Why do conservatives fall for this kind of BS?

Multiple recent studies show that Republicans are as much as 8.5 times more likely to both believe and share fake or false "news" with others than are Democrats. The phenomenon is obvious, actually: while as many as half of Republicans believe the 2020 election was "stolen" from Trump, there's no similarly disprovable "big lie" embraced by Democrats.

And it's not limited to things like elections that are overtly political: Republicans are more likely than Democrats to reject basic science about Covid, and thus die of the disease at much higher rates than Democrats.

Even when their lives and their families' lives are at stake, Republicans let themselves be suckered into believing things that are easily proven false.

Why is this? It turns out there are several reasons.

First, conservatives are more vulnerable to listening to and believing people who present themselves as authority figures. This tracks back to George Lakoff's finding that conservatives are most comfortable in a world that's run along "strict father" lines, while progressives prefer a "nurturing family" model of society and politics.

While a strict father limits freedom, he also provides a sense of safety: "Father will protect and take care of you." Putting your trust in authoritarian figures diminishes the complexity of life: there's less to have to know or worry about if you believe that "father" has it all under control.

But it also makes conservatives more vulnerable to believing any old thing that "father" tells them. Second, there's more conservative misinformation out there than there is liberal misinformation. Thus, conservatives are more likely to be exposed to it and to share it.

To a large extent, this flows from the conservative worldview being more adolescent, narcissistic and "me-centered," with the myth of the "rugged individual" at its center. Ayn Rand's writing epitomizes this.

The conservative worldview putting, as it does, the "freedom of the individual" above the "welfare of society," is much more vulnerable to corporate-funded pitches that work to increase profits. The core message of most advertising is, after all, "You are the most important person in the world and you want this product."

And make no mistake about it: a lot of what passes as news and commentary is actually advertising for the idea that corporations and billionaires should be able to do whatever they want.

"Low taxes, reduced regulations, smaller government": it's a sales pitch.

Our tax law is organized in such a way that anything that increases profits is tax-deductible to a corporation, so, for example, we've seen in the past few decades:

The tobacco industry organizing "smokers rights" groups in the 1970s and 1980s to keep people addicted and buying their products.

The fossil fuel industry organizing "climate change denial" think tanks, websites, and PR efforts to resist any efforts to "green" our power sources in ways that would decrease their profitability.

The weapons industry funneling millions into front groups like the NRA to buy politicians who will make it easier to sell their products, regardless of how many people die in accidental and mass shootings.

Rightwing media organizations promoting blatant lies from "Father Trump" about Covid and the 2020 election because Trump's base of followers - their audience - is large enough to drive significant advertising revenues.

Just these four points have become foundational to the GOP: Republican politicians are fond of being pictured with cigars and guns while denying climate change and deifying rightwing media.

While Republicans have always been vulnerable to this sort of psychological manipulation, we had guardrails in place to protect the public from being swamped by it.

When Reagan took down the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, Congress passed bipartisan legislation putting it back into effect: Reagan vetoed it.

Various versions of the Telecommunications Act dating back to the 1920s limited the ability of corporations or the morbidly rich to own large numbers of radio and TV stations or have cross-ownership with newspapers. Those limits were all ended in 1996 when President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996: within a few years a handful of rightwing networks owned thousands of stations.

But even if those two guardrails for democracy were reinstituted, they do nothing for or about the internet or social media, which now competes with legacy media for the minds and hearts of Americans.

Almost half of Americans get much or most of their news from social media, and social media doesn't have editors or systems to make sure that what people think his news is actually news.

Giant corporations and the morbidly rich people they create - along with foreign governments - can thus use their extraordinary resources to flood the internet with favorable websites pretending to be news and information sources, all while overwhelming social media conversations with their paid trolls and smart bots.

As I laid out in The Hidden History of Big Brother in America, Section 230 of Clinton's Telecommunications Act eliminates most possibilities of holding social media or websites responsible for bad behavior ranging from lies to threats to online plots to overthrow the government.

This "get out of jail free" card has made more than few social media billionaires, and with that money they'll continue to carefully restrain Congress from any meaningful regulation, just as the media empires that grew out of the end of the Fairness Doctrine and radio/TV ownership limits will use their platforms to prevent any effort to reinstate those laws.

Which presents the majority of Americans who subscribe to the "nurturing family" model of life and politics with a problem: how do we protect our friends and families (and, thus, our democratic republic) from falling prey to corporate, billionaire, and foreign hustlers who are spending billions to control our understanding of reality?

Finland has started teaching critical thinking skills and media literacy in its school system to combat, in part, the lies and misinformation that spill into their homes daily from Russian television stations on their border.

Given how Republicans are all-in on banning books and censoring teachers, though, it's unlikely anything like that will happen any day soon here in the US.

For the time being, we'll have to double down on pushing real information to deluded friends and family, using the "parental controls" on elderly parents' TV to block Fox, and sharing progressive media and websites far and wide.

And doing everything we can to elect politicians who will tell the truth and hold democracy as a higher value than simple political power.

Because if the fake news wins and neofascist politicians like Trump again gain serious national power, America will be on a fast track down the same road as Russia.

(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
~~~ Bob Gorrell ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

How To Spot Russian Disinformation
By The Waterford Whispers News

IT IS widely known that the Russian government is spreading fake news relating to its invasion of Ukraine, however, it is not that easy to know if you've been exposed to their misinformation efforts and been an unwitting party to sharing and furthering their lies. WWN has done the hard fact checking and can share some tips on how to identify Russian disinformation, no matter how subtle it is.

1) "That didn't happen"

The propaganda mouthpiece could be an official Russian government representative, a Twitter bot account or your friend who disappeared down the rabbit hole a long time ago, but if there answer to every verifiable instance of murder, rape, bombing and other war crimes is "didn't happen", perhaps that aren't the trustworthy source you thought.

2) Claiming 'The Power of The Dog' should have won best picture.

Classic distraction tactic from Russian misinformation pushers to foster discussion of non-Ukraine topics. That movie was an awful slog - don't be distracted by this, do not take the bait.

If you have seen anything else out of the ordinary at some major entertainment industry showcase recently, the person may have been forced to slap someone, not by his wife, but by the Russian government.

3) Doctored videos

With Russian state TV broadcasting fabricated videos they claim are from the BBC, it's a good idea to always question videos you may see from untrustworthy or unverified sources. Telltale signs they may not be 'legit' include:

Vladimir Putin been replaced by Ryan Gosling with the news anchor repeatedly saying 'our leader, who is 6ft 4″, is not a tiny slice of stunted leftovers with a complex', 'Ukrainian hospitals, theatres and train stations regularly spontaneously combust', 'no forcibly kidnapping thousands of Ukrainian children and relocating them to Russia is not illegal'. Yes, even these very unbiased reports could contain disinformation.

4) The Russian security services use online bot 'armies'. Look at the social media account of someone sharing pro-Russian war views - do they have a real person as their picture? Are there a lot of random numbers in their user name? Do they respond every accusation of slaughter of innocents with something like 'yeah but are Ukrainians even people?'

Other tell tale signs include:

- Russia flags as profile pictures.
- Calling the war a 'special military operation'.
- Are they an Irish MEP?
- Screaming like a little girl any time they see a Ukrainian tractor.
- Is an official social media account of Donald Trump.

(c) 2022 The Waterford Whispers News


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 16 (c) 04/22/2022

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non -profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use"copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use"provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."