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In This Edition

Chris Walker reports, "Oklahoma GOP Passes Anti-Abortion Bill That Bans Procedure At Fertilization."

Ralph Nader remembers, "Donald K. Ross (1943-2022) - Activist and Builder of Democratic Institutions."

Margaret Kimberley considers, "Capitalism And Baby Formula ."

Jim Hightower asks, "Why Should We the People Respect A Court That Disrespects the People?"

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "Trumpist Perdue Seems Poised To Lose Georgia To Brian Kemp."

John Nichols says, "Feingold Is Turning The American Constitution Society Into A Powerful Force For Justice."

James Donahue is, "Tracking The Human 'God Gene'."

David Swanson says, "The Answer To The Latest Greedy War Spending Should Not Be Greed."

David Suzuki wonders, "Will Canada Finally Stem Rising Aviation Emissions In 2022?"

Charles P. Pierce finds, "There's a Chilly Efficiency To The Southern Baptists' Approach To Sexual Abuse Scandals."

Juan Cole says, "Australia's 'Greenslide' Shows The Political Dangers For Conservatives Of Downplaying Climate Emergency."

Robert Reich finds, "America's Billionaire Class Is Funding Anti-Democratic Forces."

Thom Hartmann with a must read, "Is Trumpism This Generation's Version of the Confederacy?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports "Trump Urges Dr. Oz To Declare Victory Against Biden In 2020 Election," but first, Uncle Ernie warns, "In the Next Five Years Temperatures Will Exceed 1.5 Degrees Celsius!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Taylor Jones, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, NASA/JPL-Caltech, Mark Felix, Babylon Bee, Bruce Gilbert, Loren Elliott, Elijah Nouvelage, Emanu, Rebecca Blackwell, Pete Linforth, Jim Hightower, Twitter, 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 -

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In the Next Five Years Temperatures Will Exceed 1.5 Degrees Celsius!
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"It has been clear for decades that the Earth's climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed." ~~~ IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair, Valerie Masson-Delmotte.

I see where global warming may exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius in at least one of the next five years, a new report finds.

At least one year between now and 2026 has a 48% chance of exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels - a temperature increase seen as a threshold for more extreme impacts of climate change - according to a study produced with the World Meteorological Organization. Scientists warn that the five-year forecast reveals a future where temperatures exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark could occur for longer time periods.

According to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, led by the United Kingdom's Met Office, the annual average of global near-surface temperatures for any year over the next five years is forecast to be between 1.1 and 1.7 degrees Celsius higher than preindustrial levels, or the average temperatures between the years 1850 and 1900.

The study notes that "there is only a small chance" of the five-year average exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.

In the 2015 Paris Agreement, 189 countries set a goal of limiting the long-term global average temperature increase to under 1.5 degrees Celsius. The climate treaty includes agreements from the parties to lower greenhouse gas emissions and track them. A recent report by the U.N. warned that the world is "way off track" from meeting the emissions goals, and the new study indicates time is running out.

"This study shows - with a high level of scientific skill - that we are getting measurably closer to temporarily reaching the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change," the World Meteorological Organization's secretary-general, Professor Petteri Taalas, said in a statement. "The 1.5 degrees C figure is not some random statistic. It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet." Dr. Leon Hermanson of the Met Office said one year of global temperatures rising above that mark would not breach the Paris Agreement's threshold. "But it does reveal that we are edging ever closer to a situation where 1.5 degrees C could be exceeded for an extended period," he said in a statement.

Scientists also found "a very strong likelihood" of one of the next five years being the globe's warmest on record, surpassing the current record which occurred in 2016. And data revealed more than a 90% chance of 2022 to 2026's average temperatures being higher than those recorded during the last five-year period.

Regionally, data suggests an increased chance of drier conditions across southwestern Europe and southwestern North America, while wetter conditions are forecast in northern Europe, the Sahel region of Africa, and Australia during 2022.

"For as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise," Taalas said. "And alongside that, our oceans will continue to become warmer and more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea level will continue to rise and our weather will become more extreme. Arctic warming is disproportionately high and what happens in the Arctic affects all of us."


04-11-1962 ~ 05-21-2022
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Until the next time, Peace!

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

Demonstrators gather outside City Hall in Houston, Texas, during a Bans Off Our Bodies rally on May 14, 2022.

Oklahoma GOP Passes Anti-Abortion Bill That Bans Procedure At Fertilization
By Chris Walker

The Oklahoma state legislature passed a bill this week that will ban almost all abortions in the state - and which could potentially also place restrictions on some types of birth control.

The bill, which passed in the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives on Thursday, bans all abortion procedures from the moment of fertilization onward. The bill makes limited exceptions for victims of rape and incest, but victims of such crimes would only be permitted to have an abortion if they file a police report. (It's estimated that only 36 percent of rape incidents, nationwide, are ever reported.)

If passed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt - a Republican who has vowed to sign all anti-abortion pieces of legislation that reach his desk - it would be enforced using a mechanism that is currently being utilized in Texas; residents will be incentivized to sue abortion providers (or anyone else that helps someone in Oklahoma get an abortion) for sums of $10,000.

The Oklahoma bill would be even more restrictive than Texas's law, as Texas allows abortions until a person is six week pregnant, while the Oklahoma bill would ban all abortions starting from the moment an egg is fertilized. Medical experts have noted that such restrictions contradict what scientists have defined as pregnancy; a person is not considered pregnant until a fertilized egg is implanted.

The inaccurate definition of pregnancy included in the Oklahoma bill means that certain types of birth control - including Plan B and intrauterine devices (IUDs), which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting - could also conceivably be banned.

Democrats in the state House of Representatives implored their Republican colleagues, who vastly outnumber them in the chamber, to reconsider passing the bill.

"Legislation like this, on the surface, says that we are going to end abortion in our state. The manner in which it chooses to do so is punitive, it's speculative and it draws the worst of us together," Democratic state Rep. Trish Ranson said.

The White House also weighed in on the passage of the bill, with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre blasting the legislation as being "extreme."

"Today's action by the Oklahoma legislature is the most extreme effort to undo these fundamental rights we have seen to date," Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Thursday.

The highly restrictive bill "is part of a growing effort by ultra MAGA officials across the country to roll back the freedoms we should not take for granted in this country," she went on.

Far right conservatives "are starting with reproductive rights, but the American people need to know that other fundamental rights, including the right to contraception and marriage equality, are at risk," Jean-Pierre said.

Prior to the vote, the grassroots organization Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice condemned the bill. The ban will have far-reaching effects, and will "harm Oklahomans, Texans, and folks around the country," the organization said in a tweet.

Reproductive justice activist Renee Bracey Sherman called on the White House to take a proactive stance against the legislation, instead of just sending a bill to Congress that will eventually get blocked by Republicans and conservative Democrats.

"This is absolutely unconstitutional. It's time for the President to declare a public health emergency," Sherman said. "We need to feel the 'whole of government' response."

(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.

Donald K. Ross (1943-2022) - Activist and Builder of Democratic Institutions
By Ralph Nader

It was a marathon day of thirty-minute interviews in 1970. Little did I think we were selecting recent law school graduates who would become, over a lifetime, civic leaders of historical significance in producing major changes for a more just and safe society.

Ten minutes into my interview with Donald K. Ross - fresh out of NYU Law School after two years of teaching in Nigeria with the Peace Corps - I knew he was someone very special. It wasn't about any charisma or galvanizing rhetoric. It was his steady, focused, mature explanations that he gave for his qualifications and desire to engage in the work of bringing people together to create strong foundations for a better society.

Donald and two other recruits spent two months assessing the temper of campuses north and south, after which Donald and I traveled to colleges and universities meeting with active students to start their own full-time public interest research groups (PIRGs). After some disappointments, we got PIRGs going in Oregon and Minnesota. Our early groundwork helped Donald persuade students on numerous campuses to persevere and form a total of thirteen state-wide student public interest research groups. There are now over 20 such groups, run by student boards, with full-time staff advocates. PIRGs have canvassed millions of households in their states to move forward with legislation on environmental, consumer and other causes for all the people.

It is hard to exaggerate how difficult the process was to stay on course and negotiate with university administrations for funding to establish and keep these PIRGs going. It took Donald's immense stamina, diplomacy and foresight to mediate student conflicts and advise students on the organizational details of their civic start-ups. These efforts overcame many a stumble and drawback before such unique, wonderful civic training and civil justice organizations got underway.

During his nearly three years with us, Donald wrote, with me, Action for a Change: A Student's Manual for Public Interest Organizing, to guide students in starting or running PIRGs. In 1973, he wrote A Public Citizen's Action Manual, which was full of projects that today still retain their importance for "public citizens" to use in their communities.

Over the next fifty years, Donald demonstrated the remarkable range and depth of his skills to strengthen our democratic society. In 1973 he became the head of the New York PIRG (NYPIRG) and over the next decade built this student funded and student run nonprofit into the largest state-based research and advocacy organization in the country with offices all over the state, including in its capital, Albany. NYPIRG pushed for government accountability and advanced political reforms. Donald and his NYPIRG colleagues also challenged the banks, insurance companies, utility companies, drug companies and toxic polluters.

Students received course credit for turning their ideals into practice through legislation, litigation or rigorous citizen monitoring, such as the Straphangers Campaign that Donald and his colleagues set up to improve the New York City subways.

This bold, friendly, humble civic giant, adored by scores of younger colleagues he mentored, had an uncanny sense of civic opportunity. After the Three Mile Island breakdown in 1979, Donald achieved the impossible task of organizing, in three weeks, a giant "No-Nukes" rally of 100,000 people in Washington, D.C., followed a few months later in September by a 250,000-person rally on the sands of the Battery Park City landfill in New York City.

He was hard to keep up with, so methodical and diverse were his projects. His work with Rockefeller Family Fund expanded the horizons of what philanthropy could do to advance justice. He co-founded and helped manage the Environmental Grantmakers Association which has grown to 200 member foundations around the world. He expanded the impact of the Tortuga Foundation which advances efforts to protect public lands and the environment, including the priceless Tongass National Forest in Alaska.

Together with one of his former student organizers Arthur Malkin, he started a large public relations firm (M+R Strategic Services) and a public interest law and lobbying firm (Malkin & Ross). They represented the interests of nonprofit organizations, most of whom hitherto had little muscle with lawmakers at the state and federal levels. He led fights against Big Tobacco, Big Oil and the Defense Department's toxic contamination of its military reservations and its contiguous environments and communities.

From 2009 to 2017 he undertook the improbable task of uniting Republican and Democratic state legislators in the passage of about 200 bills in nearly 40 states regarding juvenile justice reform. To do this he traveled incessantly with the support of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with whom he conceived the campaign.

A father of three, Donald always had time to travel, including a memorable trip with his wife Helen throughout rural China and taking his well-known "treks" with close friends up the Himalayas.

I was fortunate to discover such an unsurpassed superstar citizen organizer and institution builder for sustainable democratic institutions. He had an extraordinary civic personality of resilient stamina, motivating others by self-disciplined example, and relentless focus on results.

Millions of people who benefited from his proliferating projects never knew this modest man's name.

He was too modestly authentic, too productive, and too sharing of credit with others to warrant any media coverage. (His hometown newspaper, the New York Times, would do well to do more reporting on the civic community.)

Those Harvard professors who wrote the recent book, How Democracies Die, should now study the life and lasting achievements and institutions of Donald K. Ross to show how democracies can live. They would learn how much he has to teach them and millions of other Americans presently sinking into paralyzing discouragement and inaction in the face of Trumpian-driven fascism.

America lost a front-line champion of democracy and justice-in-action with the passing of Donald K. Ross on May 14, 2022. His legacy - the forces he put into motion - will continue to nourish what he and his collaborators fought for over half a century. For more information about Donald K. Ross visit:

(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).

Capitalism And Baby Formula
By Margaret Kimberley

The baby formula shortage is not a glitch in the system. It actually exemplifies everything that goes wrong when the profit motive rules. Capitalism can't ensure a food supply or anything else that humans need.

"Socialism doesn't work" is repeated like a mantra. We're told endlessly that capitalism provides jobs, housing, food, and health care in this country when it does a very bad job of doing all these things. The United States is said to be "the richest country in the world," a strange statement which implies that the people are prosperous even though they aren't.

Gig work, housing insecurity, medical debt, and student loan debt are all common experiences for people in the U.S. Now, to add insult to injury, the system said to be so superior can't even keep little babies fed.

There is an historic shortage of baby formula. There are parts of the country where food for infants simply can't be found at any price. This headline is the most honest about the situation. "America is running out of baby formula because 3 companies control the market and babies aren't that profitable." There are only three baby formula manufacturers and one of them, Abbott, had to shut down its plant after a whistleblower revealed their product was contaminated. Two infant deaths may be related to the contamination, which went undiscovered despite Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority.

The Biden administration has invoked the Defense Production Act to increase the supply and now allows formula from foreign countries to be imported. They are making quite a show of their late in the day response to a situation that should have been addressed sooner. But the stop gaps to resolve a temporary crisis should not allow a bigger problem to go unmentioned. Capitalism is the problem. Transportation Secretary and onetime presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg admitted as much even as he tried to defend the failed state. "But let's be very clear. This is a capitalist country. The government does not make baby formula, nor should it. Companies make formula."

In a better society, a socialist society, baby formula wouldn't be sold by private interests. It would be provided free of charge to every family and yes, the government would make it. The "market forces" which we are told solve every problem actually create very serious ones. In this country even the effort to provide infant formula to all, regardless of income, is yet another means of supporting monopoly capital.

The Women Infants and Children (WIC) program provides exclusive contracts with just two companies in exchange for discounts. The handful of companies providing formula get rich but the market does not do a good job of caring for kids. Formula doesn't provide a big enough profit margin to be of interest to corporations. This market we're told to believe in with semi-religious fervor doesn't provide for other needs very well either. Only public outcry from desperate parents got the needed response after months of shortages.

Even cynical politicians eventually pay attention when babies' lives are at risk, but this problem is not unique. Higher education should be free or at the very least inexpensive as it was before neoliberalism turned the country into a failed state. Health care should also be free but the one promise Biden has kept is to make sure that doesn't happen. The very term "medical debt" is an abomination yet it is the reason for most personal bankruptcies. It seems that baby formula is the canary in the failed state coal mine.

This time the crisis is about feeding babies but there are more to come. Food shortages and rising prices, gasoline prices, and voracious hedge funds snapping up houses are all symptoms of a very big problem.

Of course, capitalism creates all these crises but levels of indoctrination are so high that very few people make the connections. While all fingers should be pointed at the market forces which create so much misery, some people prefer to shame women who don't breastfeed. Others are angry that babies in immigration detention get the formula that the law requires them to have.

Pete Buttigieg isn't alone in cutting off any discussion of alternatives. The "socialism doesn't work" trope is quite effective. Even as the quality of life diminishes in a myriad of ways, there is little improvement in the willingness to reject American exceptionalism and its many lies. The cognitive dissonance required to face these many predicaments is too great for many people to experience, even as their expectations of basics such as a steady supply of infant formula crumble around them.

This particular crisis will ease but it will be followed by more. There is still $1.9 trillion in student loan debt incurred by people who only wanted to improve their lives. After allocating $30 billion for policing, the Biden administration is telling states and localities to use unspent covid stimulus funding for the police, who apparently can't get enough public money. Covid hasn't disappeared and neither have any other health care needs that could sorely use this funding. Of course, the Ukraine cash cow has to be milked to the tune of an additional $40 billion.

When the next calamity hits the fan the true villain has to be named. Regardless of other symptoms, it is capitalism that causes our problems.

(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.

Why Should We the People Respect A Court That Disrespects the People?

By Jim Hightower

Mitch McConnell, the perpetually sour old goose who heads the Senate Republican Caucus, had a hissy fit when the news leaked out that American women are about to have their most fundamental constitutional right taken from them by a cabal of Supreme Court judges.

What made Mitch twitch, of course, was not the bad news for women... but the leak. He huffed that revealing the right-wing Court's scheme to the public was a "stunning breach," spewing that it's "an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court." Uh, Mitch... the so-called Supremes have been meeting behind closed doors specifically to plot an all-out attack on the independence of some 170 million women to control their own bodies. Why aren't you opposing the secrecy, rather than supporting the Court's subversion of women's liberty?

Perversely, the entire Republican leadership is outraged by the leak, rather than the attack on women. Right-wing blowhard Ted Cruz, for example, yapped that informing the public "will do lasting damage to the integrity of the Court." Uh, Ted... you and your ideological ilk annihilated the Court's integrity - and its legitimacy - when you stacked it with a covey of corporate-coddling partisan hacks like Alito, Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Thomas.

Then came Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a Trump acolyte, ludicrously blathering that the leak of the judicial plan is "despicable." Why? Well, he explained to us commoners, the Court "is not a political body." If ignorance is bliss, Mike must be ecstatic! The GOP majority on this court is so immersed in its own partisan biases that it is routinely ruling against workers, the environment, women, voting rights, local communities... and democracy itself.

No surprise then that public trust in the integrity of these "arbiters of justice" is crashing. If the Court won't respect our democratic ideals, the people won't respect the Court.

(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

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

Trumpist Perdue Seems Poised To Lose Georgia To Brian Kemp
By William Rivers Pitt

The 2022 Republican midterm primary season rolls on, and like a chipmunk stuck in the waffle of a truck tire, Donald Trump rolls with it. The former president's days since his defeat two Novembers ago have been tinged with a seething taste for vengeance: He has spent most of his time handing out his endorsement to any and all GOP office-seekers who might knock off those who refused to back his play when he tried to overthrow the government. Now, with the midterm primaries underway, those tickets are coming due.

Trump had a decent go of it last week; a number of his horses finished in first place across the country, firming up the impression that he is in command of the party, and that his touch remains Midas-like with the base. Not everything came up sunshine and roses, however, and mixed in with the victories were more than a few humiliating defeats.

Madison Cawthorn, the Trump-endorsed North Carolina congressman with a seemingly bright future on the Hot 100 Fascists tour, transformed into a one-man Animal House toga party seemingly overnight, losing his primary so decisively that he didn't even qualify for a run-off. In bellwether Pennsylvania, Trump's Senate pick -TV celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz -appears to be losing an exceedingly close count to his opponent, David McCormick. By Saturday evening, Trump was flipping out on his new social media platform -"ARE WE A THIRD WORLD NATION??? Are we becoming Venezuela (YES!)." -and on Sunday, he all but ordered Oz to declare victory and call it a day.

Trump has had a week to let the swelling go down from those setbacks. But Georgia Republicans are holding their primary tomorrow, and nowhere in the nation has Trump so firmly staked his kingmaker reputation than in the Peach Tree State. Why? Because for Trump, Georgia has become The House of the Rising Sun: "It's been the ruin of many a poor boy / and God, I know, I'm one..."

Flash back to the glorious mayhem of November 2021: Joe Biden wins Georgia by about 12,000 votes, making him the first Democrat to win that state since God was a baby. Forever labeled "The Republican president who lost bright-red Georgia," Trump's uncontained fury spun up several new octaves. His cries that the elections were rigged became so motivating to the GOP base that a lot of them stayed home in protest.

This provided enough of a margin for Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock's improbable dual victories that flipped control of the Senate away from the Republicans for the first time in years. With the House and White House likewise captured, Trump had just presided over the worst election rout since 1994, and boy howdy, did he blame Georgia for it.

Trump's ire was specifically directed at Gov. Brian Kemp, a right-wing conservative straight out of central casting who nonetheless refused to push Trump's stolen election narrative. Trump actively recruited David Perdue, who was still recombobulating himself after his runoff defeat at the hands of Jon Ossoff. After a long, hard sell by Trump, offset by friends and advisers who warned him to stay away, Perdue agreed to run against Kemp for governor...

And unless something truly seismic happens, come Tuesday night, Perdue is looking at a margin of defeat wide enough to sail the Sixth Fleet through. "Mr. Perdue is staring down an epic defeat at the hands of Gov. Brian Kemp, the Republican whom Mr. Trump has blamed for his 2020 loss more than any other person," reports The New York Times. "The Perdue campaign is ending the race low on cash, with no ads on television and a candidate described even by his supporters as lackluster and distracted."

Trump has put some deliberate daylight between himself and the rapidly dissolving Perdue, going so far as to cancel an event meant to support his campaign, but everybody and their dog down in Georgia knows exactly what this means: total, abject humiliation for the former president. If it happens like it seems it will, this one will leave a big, broad mark.

A whole new world of trouble may be opening up for Trump, if Georgia becomes a trend instead of an outlier. After so many long years of servile obeisance, it appears at least some Republicans have decided it's better to die on their feet. The Washington Post reports:

The RGA [Republican Governors Association] invested some $5 million in Georgia, according to a person familiar with the group's outlays, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive details. A parade of Republican governors and luminaries have lined up to protect Kemp. And former vice president Mike Pence, who once served as governor of Indiana, will appear with Kemp on Monday -setting the stage for Pence's most direct confrontation yet against Trump in the midterms.

"This is just not the best use of our money. We would much rather use it just in races against Democrats," said former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who is the co-chair of a 2022 fundraising arm for the RGA and described the November meeting in Phoenix to The Post. "But it was made necessary because Donald Trump decided on the vendetta tour this year and so we need to make sure we protect these folks who are the objects of his vengeance."

Pence at a Kemp rally, eh? I'd pay some long green to be in the room with Trump when he sees that number.

Still, all the schadenfreude in the world to be derived from watching Trump squirm doesn't change the fact that Kemp continues to be horrible, and the enemies of our enemies are -as ever -not necessarily our friends.

Case in point, again from the Post: "In this year's legislative session, Kemp has signed laws appealing to conservative voters on a variety of issues, including measures that permit the carrying of a firearm without a license, add restrictions on the teaching of race, history, gender and sexuality in classrooms, and 'the toughest abortion bill in the country,' in the governor's words. The bill bans an abortion after a doctor can detect what they call 'a fetal heartbeat in the womb,' usually at about six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant."

It's nice to see Trump stepping on rakes in public, but if you're a Democrat in Georgia, you probably wanted Perdue to pull this one out. Kemp is awful, Perdue is awful, they're all awful... and waiting in the general election wings is Stacey Abrams, who would have likely found Perdue to be an easier opponent than Kemp.

For now, at least, that's all in the wind. Always, always push back against Trump and his acolytes, but never forget that the only thing separating people like Trump from people like Kemp is Trump's towering ego, and Kemp's unwillingness to tell one lie. Not much daylight between.

(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.

Feingold Is Turning The American Constitution Society Into A Powerful Force For Justice
By John Nichols

Russ Feingold is going from strength to strength as the president of the American Constitution Society, a nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars and allies. The group seeks to defend civil rights, civil liberties and democracy at a time when the extreme right is using the courts to upend basic premises of how the U.S. Constitution can and should be interpreted.

The former senator from Wisconsin, who had taught constitutional law at Stanford Law School, Yale Law School, Marquette University Law School and Harvard Law School, took charge of the nation's leading progressive legal organization in February, 2020, at a point when President Trump was facing the first of his two impeachments for shredding the Constitution. Trump's assault on the rule of law played out on any levels, including a highly successful effort to stack the U.S. Supreme Court with right-wing judicial activists.

For Feingold, as the head of a group that was pushing back against that assault while also seeking to defend voting rights and promote racial justice, the task of strengthening ACS was a daunting one. And it wasn't made any easier by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg not long into his tenure added to the challenge, as did the decision of Senate Republicans to abandon precedent and confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett is a rush process on the eve of the 2020 election.

It was a time, as Feingold told me in the fall of 2020, when Americans were coming to recognize that "the right in this country and those who are willing to exploit the nomination process would use any opportunity to advance their far-right ideological agenda."

"That's where we're at, and it is really a very bad moment for the court itself and for our democracy," he explained, "and it somehow has to be met with a response."

Feingold's response has been to pour his energy into renewing and extending the role of the ACS in debates about the courts and the Constitution. And his success has been striking.

The ACS played a vital role in advancing President Biden's historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, with Feingold making the case for the nominee not just in political and legal circles but on cable television.

With his experience as a former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee - and the longtime Democratic leader on the subcommittee on the Constitution - Feingold outlined compelling arguments for Justice Jackson's consideration and confirmation.

"The Supreme Court should reflect the diversity of the public it serves," explained the former senator in late February of this year, after Biden announced the nomination. "And yet, to the collective detriment of the Court and our country, it never has. Today, President Biden has taken a critical and long overdue step towards diversifying the Court, and he has done so with an outstanding nominee who is committed to upholding the U.S. Constitution. Judge Jackson will bring a perspective that has never been included in Supreme Court deliberations. In addition to being the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court, she brings professional diversity to the Court with her extensive and laudable career in public service, including her years as a public defender. Her experience and perspective will help the Court better understand the law's effects on people's rights and lives."

Around the same time, Feingold stepped up, along with constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, to argue that the long-delayed Equal Rights Amendment has satisfied all constitutional requirements for ratification and that no further action from Congress or the executive branch is needed for the National Archivist to certify the amendment. This bold initiative to complete the process of getting the ERA added to the Constitution has drawn considerable media attention and congressional support.

The ERA fight is typical of the way in which Feingold has stepped up to wage high-profile fights for truth and justice at a point when both of those core values of the American experiment - at its best - have been under assault. And people have noticed.

When the ACS convenes its annual convention this June in Washington, the headliner will be Sonia Sotomayor, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Also appearing will be a lawyer who should someday sit on the high court: U.S. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the former president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights who also served as the head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2014 to 2017.

The American Constitution Society is having a moment. It has for many years served as an essential champion of the U.S. Constitution and of American democracy. But now, at a moment when its work is more critical than ever, the ACS has - under Russ Feingold's leadership - come into its own.

(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.

Tracking The Human 'God Gene'
By James Donahue

Tracking The Human "God Gene" By James Donahue Dean Hamer's book "The God Gene; How Faith is Hardwired Into Our Genes," created a stir among theologians. He argues that humans are genetically programmed to worship God.

Hamer suggests that faith is reduced to chemical reactions in the brain. And this angers Christians who want us to believe that faith is a personal decision in life that marks a new path from judgment into that of eternal reward.

Anyone who has ever attended an evangelical church service knows that the leader almost always includes a call for salvation. Hard line Bible thumpers want followers to make a outward decision to follow Christ, and mark it with a public proclamation of their faith.

For these believers, the argument that humans are genetically produced with a built-in understanding of God, is nothing less than blasphemy.

Strangely, Hamer's argument isn't that different from Christian theology. A behavioral geneticist, Hamer claims that his research shows that spirituality - or that feeling of transcendence - is part of our nature.

"We think that all human beings have an innate capacity for spirituality and that that desire to reach out beyond oneself, which is at the heart of spirituality, is part of the human makeup," he told Washington Post reporter Bill Broadway.

Hamer says at least one gene, called VMAT2, controls the flow of chemicals to the brain that affect emotions and consciousness. This is what Hamer calls the "God gene."

He acknowledges that other genes, yet to be discovered, may also be involved in what appears to be a universal human propensity for transcendence. The Broadway story notes that while the scientific linkage of a gene with chemicals that affect happiness or sadness fails to prove the existence of God, but only show why we believe in the existence of a God.

"Our genes can predispose us to believe. But they don't tell us what to believe in," explained Hamer.

Indeed, humans in every corner of the world seem to have always worshipped something, although the direction of this worship has passed from trees, to stones to so many different spiritual deities they are almost too numerous to count. Not until Communism came along was the worship of a deity halted by the law of the land. Whether the people living under Communism obeyed this law is known only to them.

Even Christians disagree among themselves just who and what God is, and how this deity is to be properly worshipped.

The irony of all this is that Hamer has struck upon something important, although he has failed to explain just what it means.

All humans appear to have embedded in their DNA a complete record of the human soul from the day it was first formed within the heart of the Mother Earth. Consequently, we all may know the truth. Because of sometimes fanatical or social intervention we are taught what our parents, teachers and pastors believe, which misdirects our spiritual path and leaves us confused.

Primitive man always knew where God was, and who God is. She is the Mother Earth. And her essence, the soul, lives within each of us. Ask any aboriginal person still living with his tribe and in his natural environment today, and this is what he will tell you.

It also is possible that our DNA was altered so that we have the potential of evolving to a collective godlike state. There is evidence, even in the Bible, and certainly in other ancient writings and art works, that the planet was once visited by aliens from other worlds who somehow interfered with our genetic makeup.

Whether it was a gift from the alien visitors or was always implanted in us, the god gene plays a role in our wanting to believe in a deity. The deity, if we want to call it that, may lie within ourselves when our brains are working in harmony. When activated the gene triggers right brain functioning that leads us into spiritual and mental evolution. Our drive for spiritual knowledge, and our mental ability to understand it, works hand-in-hand toward the final stage of human evolution. Only in this way can we fully discover ourselves, our relationship to each other and our destiny in this living universe.

All of this information is contained within the genetic structure of our personal DNA. If and when Hamer and his fellow genetic researchers dig deep enough, they may find the truth in this.

The world religions are living on borrowed time. As scientific research goes on, the proof of the great "savior" hoax becomes closer and closer to being exposed.

This may be why the radical religious groups are rushing the world to an apocalyptic end. They believe they have very little time left before they get raptured up into the clouds. It is a dangerous myth that is driving them and perhaps the entire human race toward extinction.

Consequently, the race is on between science and religion. If we aren't careful, the religious segment will win. Humans need to stand up and be counted on this issue rather than submit to the demands of robed religious fanatics claiming to represent a "grandfather" spirit that maintains a master control of our world and our lives.

(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.

The Answer To The Latest Greedy War Spending Should Not Be Greed
By David Swanson

I know I should consider myself lucky to have located anybody at all in the United States who opposes the latest $40 billion "for Ukraine." But from both the right and the left, those who oppose it almost universally express resentment of spending money "on Ukraine" instead of keeping that money in the US of A or spending it on "Americans."

The first problem with this is a factual one. The vast majority of that money will never leave the U.S. The biggest chunk of it is for U.S. weapons dealers. Some is even for U.S. troops (in a war they're supposedly not fighting in).

The second problem is that arming Ukraine with endless weapons (even the New York Times just editorialized that, at some future point, some limit should be set) doesn't benefit Ukraine. It prevents a ceasefire and negotiations, prolonging a catastrophic war. Next to the Russian invasion, the U.S. weapons shipments are the worst thing that's happened to Ukraine lately.

The third problem is that Ukraine is not an island. The crop destruction will create famines around the globe. The damage to cooperation on climate, disease, poverty, and disarmament impacts everyone. The risk of nuclear apocalypse is ours to share. The sanctions are hurting us all.

But those are the minor problems. Or at least they don't offend me as much as another problem that builds on the misunderstanding of those first three. I'm referring to the problem of greed. Not the greed of the weapons dealers and lobbyists. I mean the greed of the people outraged at supposed help for Ukraine when the U.S. needs baby formula, the greed of the caller to a radio show I was on this morning who demanded that we have a public referendum before sending any money overseas, the greed of the peaceniks with shirts reading "Bring Our War Dollars Home."

How is that greed? Isn't that enlightened humanitarianism? Isn't that democracy? No, democracy would be having a public referendum on spending money anywhere, on giving tens of billions of dollars in tax scams to the super rich, on handing $75 billion a year over to Lockheed Martin. Democracy would be a Ludlow Amendment (a public referendum before any war) - or compliance with the laws that forbid war. Democracy is not a corporate free-for-all limited only when it comes to "helping" anyone abroad.

The whole world needs food and water and housing. And the funds exist to give those things to the world including the United States. There is no need to be greedy.

The U.N. says $30 billion a year would end starvation on Earth. Take the latest $40 billion from war and put it into preventing starvation. The other $10 billion would be nearly enough to give the whole world (yes, including Michigan) clean drinking water. Getting greedy about money on behalf of a national flag is not just a little bit warlike, but also suggests a failure to grasp how much money goes into war. In the U.S. alone it's over $1.25 trillion a year - enough to transform the lives of all of us in every country.

It's also worth considering that the country responsible for providing the rest of the world (as well as itself) with basic services - rather than bases and weapons and trainers of oppressive thugs - would be far more protected from foreign attack than the resident of the world's deepest bunker. The safest way to handle enemies is to not create them in the first place.

Our cry should not be "Spend the money on this little group of people!"

Our cry should be "Move the money from war and destruction to the needs of people and planet!"

(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.

Canadians deserve a plan to reduce aviation emissions that puts the public's interest ahead of profits.

Will Canada Finally Stem Rising Aviation Emissions In 2022?
By David Suzuki

The pandemic briefly slowed global air travel, but it's taking off again. Commercial flights were increasing steadily before COVID-19 hit - by about five per cent a year from 2000 to 2019 - and the International Air Transport Association projects a 500 per cent increase in passenger numbers by 2050!

That may be good for the sector, but it's bad for the climate. The industry downplays its impact, claiming air travel contributes about two per cent of global emissions, but studies show that if "radiative forcing" is accounted for, it's closer to 3.5 per cent. That's significant: If aviation were a country, it would be the world's fifth-largest emitter.

A relatively small number of people cause flight emissions. Frequent-flying "super emitters," representing just one per cent of global population, caused half of aviation's carbon emissions in 2018. Most people, about 90 per cent worldwide, don't get on a plane in any given year.

Emissions from departing flights at Canada's three biggest airports - Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver - are greater than the climate pollution from Syncrude, Canada's largest-emitting oilsands operation.

When launching Canada's 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said "we need to take steps across the economy" to meet Canada's target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 45 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

But the aviation sector has so far been exempted from requirements to reduce its total emissions. Canadian airlines' emissions increased by 75 per cent between 2005 and 2018, Transport Canada reports. Globally, the industry has only met one of its own 50 climate targets over the past 20 years.

Canada is planning to release an action plan to reduce aviation sector greenhouse gas pollution this year - a once-in-a-decade opportunity to finally turn the corner on rising air travel emissions. Let's hope it's better than the 2012 action plan - co-developed with aviation industry groups. It was voluntary, and delayed reductions to that sector's total emissions until 2050.

And while 23 countries agreed at last year's COP26 climate summit to support an ambitious, long-term goal to reduce aviation emissions in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 C, that agreement also lacks nearer-term emission reduction commitments. Similarly, IATA's net-zero plan defers overall emission reductions to 2035, and relies heavily on "sustainable aviation fuel" and, to a lesser extent, carbon capture, both of which are costly, controversial and currently unavailable at the scale needed.

Delaying actual reductions, as these plans do, runs counter to the need to cut total global emissions 50 per cent by 2030 to prevent catastrophic warming beyond 1.5 C, as spelled out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Fortunately, some countries are committing to cut aviation emissions over the near term. Denmark has promised to make all domestic flights fossil fuel-free by 2030, and the U.S. announced it would cut aviation emissions 20 per cent by then.

In April, France banned some short-haul flights, a move other European countries are considering (62 per cent of Europeans support a continent-wide ban). Spain and the U.K. are considering a tax on frequent flyers.

Canada's new emissions reduction plan indicates that government will engage with industry and other stakeholders this year to reduce aviation emissions and decarbonize the industry.

Will Canada develop its new aviation plan with strong public participation, and include commitments to significantly cut aviation emission before 2030 - consistent with its climate targets? Or will it quietly co-write it with industry, like its 2012 plan, putting industry expansion and profits ahead of actual short-term emission reductions? (Aviation emissions increased 37 per cent since the 2012 plan was released.)

There's reason to fear it will be the latter.

According to Transport Canada, the ministry has been engaging "industry partners" since early 2022 on the new plan, but it still hasn't indicated when or how other stakeholders and the public will be engaged and consulted.

As the prime minister stated, no sector should be exempt from contributing to the fight against climate change and reducing emissions.

For decades, the aviation industry has been allowed to recklessly increase its climate-damaging emissions, putting its own growth and earnings ahead of planetary health and livability.

Canadians deserve a plan to reduce aviation emissions that puts the public's interest ahead of profits. We can't wait another 10 years.

(c) 2022 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

There's a Chilly Efficiency To The Southern Baptists' Approach To Sexual Abuse Scandals
Compare it to the Catholic church, which smells vaguely of incense.
By Charles P. Pierce

American politics changed profoundly over the week of June 12, 1979. The Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Houston. At that meeting, a group of very conservative pastors completed their decades-long campaign to take control of the direction of the largest Protestant denomination in the country. One of the results of what its proponents called the "Conservative Resurgence" was that conservative Protestantism reasserted itself in the secular political sphere from which it had withdrawn after being seen as being on the wrong side of history during the Scopes Trial. Not accustomed to traveling by turnip truck, the Republican Party saw a golden opportunity and latched onto this huge bloc of newly activist voters.

(Relevant to our current situation, this same explosion of political power was energized by the SBC's sudden conversion to a hard line against reproductive rights. In 1980, the annual meeting passed a resolution condemning legalized abortion, reversing a formal position that the convention had adopted nine years earlier.)

By now, of course, the alliance between conservative Republicanism and conservative religion seems as immutable as the sunrise. Which makes this weekend's revelations in the Washington Post all the more dangerous to what has become a crucial load-bearing beam in the conservative edifice constructed over the past five decades. Coupled with the devil's bargain that religious voters struck with the previous president*, these new horrors give that edifice an increased resemblance to the House of Usher.

The findings of nearly 300 pages include shocking new details about specific abuse cases and shine a light on how denominational leaders for decades actively resisted calls for abuse prevention and reform. Evidence in the report suggests leaders also lied to Southern Baptists over whether they could maintain a database of offenders to prevent more abuse when top leaders were secretly keeping a private list for years. The report-the first investigation of its kind in a massive Protestant denomination like the SBC-is expected to send shock waves throughout a conservative Christian community that has had intense internal battles over how to handle sex abuse. The 13 million-member denomination, along with other religious institutions in the United States, has struggled with declining membership for the past 15 years. Its leaders have long resisted comparisons between its sexual abuse crisis and that of the Catholic Church, saying the total number of abuse cases among Southern Baptists was small.

Oops. Not so much, no.

The report, compiled by an organization called Guidepost Solutions at the request of Southern Baptists, states that abuse survivors' calls and emails were "only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility" by leaders who were concerned more with protecting the institution from liability than from protecting Southern Baptists from further abuse. "While stories of abuse were minimized, and survivors were ignored or even vilified, revelations came to light in recent years that some senior SBC leaders had protected or even supported alleged abusers, the report states.
The parallels between how the SBC and the Catholic Church worked to bury these scandals are specific and striking, although there is a certain chilly business-school efficiency in the SBC's approach, whereas the Catholic cover-ups smelled vaguely of incense.
In an April 2007 email, the convention's attorney sent Boto a memo explaining how a SBC database could be implemented consistent with SBC polity, saying "it would fit our polity and present ministries to help churches in this area of child abuse and sexual misconduct." The report states that he recommended "immediate action to signal the Convention's desire that the [executive committee] and the entities begin a more aggressive effort in this area." That same year, aftera Southern Baptist pastor made a motion for a database, Boto rejected the idea. For a denomination designed to give more democratic power to its lay leaders or "messengers" who voted to commission the third-party investigation, the report shows how lay Southern Baptists allowed a few key leaders, including Boto and the convention's longtime lawyer, James Guenther, to control the national institutional response to sex abuse for decades.
How this will affect the SBC's political activism-and, therefore, conservative politics generally-is unclear. It is more than possible that religious conservatism has grown so entrenched in conservative politics that no scandal is bad enough to shake it loose. Certainly the revelations about Catholicism's shameful history in this regard hasn't driven many of its senior clergy into silence, as the archbishop of San Francisco demonstrated in regards to Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the weekend. Rendering unto Caesar gets tougher for every day you spend as Caesar himself.

(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

Australia's 'Greenslide' Shows The Political Dangers For Conservatives Of Downplaying Climate Emergency
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who had headed the conservative Liberal-National Coalition since 2018, has been turned out of office, and the climate emergency played a key role in his defeat.

Morrison's rival, victorious Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese, proclaimed that Australia could become a "renewable energy superpower." He also said, that there is now an opportunity to end the culture wars over climate change. He added, "Australian business know that good action on climate change is good for jobs and good for our economy, and I want to join the global effort."

Guardian News: "Australian election 2022: Labor wins as Greens and independents make major gains"

Morrison was blithely nonchalant about the climate emergency and very dedicated to Australia's coal industry. If you count the coal they export, the 25 million Australians have one of the highest per capita carbon dioxide emission rates in the world.

In October of 2019 through March of 2020 (an Australian summer), the country experienced unusually high temperatures, setting the stage for an unprecedentedly catastrophic bush fire season.

Morrison did not seem particularly upset about the raging fires, which licked at Sidney suburbs, did a billion and a half US dollars in property damage, and killed or displaced an estimated three billion animals, leaving the iconic koala bear on the doorstep of extinction.

Like an antipodean Ted Cruz, Morrison packed his family into a jetliner and went off on holiday in Hawaii after the bush fires had begun raging. The outcry forced him to apologize and to admit that human-fueled climate change contributed to the calamity. Increasing surface temperatures have dried Australia out, making massive bush fires more likely. Critics said that Morrison just never understood the urgency of action on the climate.

A poll of 15,000 Australians conducted by YouGov this past January found high levels of public anxiety about Morrison's lackadaisical pace in addressing the climate emergency.

Some 60% of respondents had doubts about whether Morrison's vague commitment to reach net carbon zero by 2050 is enough. And 41% of those polled were positively convinced that net zero by 2050 was "too little, too late." Not to mention that the measures Morrison was willing to take could not have resulted in net zero by 2050 anyway.

Not only did a big majority of the country think Morisson wasn't doing nearly enough on climate, 70% believe that there are great economic benefits to be had by Australia if it goes green.

This sentiment hurt the Liberal-National coalition badly in this week's election, which shrank dramatically in the Lower House to only 55 seats. Some coalition members of parliament defected and ran as independents, with a climate friendly platform. The Green Party won only a single seat in 2018, but this year it looks to have four seats in the lower house.

Since it is not clear that Labor Party can reach the requisite 76 seats in the Lower House needed to form a government on its own. If it falls short, it will have to seek allies, either among the pro-environment Liberal-National defectors who ran as independents, or among the Greens.That could give the anti-climate-change agenda a pivotal importance for the government of incoming Prime Minister Albanese.

(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.

'Peter Thiel, the billionaire tech financier who is among those leading the charge, once wrote, "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible."'

America's Billionaire Class Is Funding Anti-Democratic Forces
Billionaire donors are pushing an unsettling agenda for America - backing Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen, calling for restrictions on voting and even questioning the value of democracy itself
By Robert Reich

Decades ago, America's monied interests bankrolled a Republican establishment that believed in fiscal conservatism, anti-communism and constitutional democracy.

Today's billionaire class is pushing a radically anti-democratic agenda for America - backing Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen, calling for restrictions on voting and even questioning the value of democracy.

Peter Thiel, the billionaire tech financier who is among those leading the charge, once wrote, "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible." Thiel is using his fortune to squelch democracy. He donated $15m to the successful Republican Ohio senatorial primary campaign of JD Vance, who alleges that the 2020 election was stolen and that Biden's immigration policy has meant "more Democrat voters pouring into this country."

Thiel has donated at least $10m to the Arizona Republican primary race of Blake Masters, who also claims Trump won the 2020 election and admires Lee Kuan Yew, the authoritarian founder of modern Singapore.

The former generation of wealthy conservatives backed candidates like Barry Goldwater, who wanted to conserve American institutions.

Thiel and his fellow billionaires in the anti-democracy movement don't want to conserve much of anything - at least not anything that occurred after the 1920s, which includes Social Security, civil rights, and even women's right to vote. As Thiel wrote:

The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women - two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians - have rendered the notion of "capitalist democracy" into an oxymoron.
Rubbish. If "capitalist democracy" is becoming an oxymoron, it's not because of public assistance or because women got the right to vote. It's because billionaire capitalists like Thiel are drowning democracy in giant campaign donations to authoritarian candidates who repeat Trump's big lie.

Not incidentally, the 1920s marked the last gasp of the Gilded Age, when America's rich ripped off so much of the nation's wealth that the rest had to go deep into debt both to maintain their standard of living and to maintain overall demand for the goods and services the nation produced.

When that debt bubble burst in 1929, we got the Great Depression.

It was also the decade when Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler emerged to create the worst threats to freedom and democracy the modern world had ever witnessed.

If freedom is not compatible with democracy, what is it compatible with?

On Tuesday night, Doug Mastriano, a January 6 insurrectionist and Trump-backed big lie conspiracy theorist, won the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania (the fourth largest state in the country, and the biggest state that flipped from 2016 to 2020). Mastriano was directly involved in a scheme to overturn the 2020 election by sending an "alternate" slate of pro-Trump electors to the electoral college - despite the fact that Trump lost Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.

If Mastriano wins in November, he will appoint Pennsylvania's secretary of state, who will oversee the 2024 election results in one of the most important battleground states in the country.

Meanwhile, the major annual event of the Conservative Political Action Conference (Cpac) - the premier convening organization of the American political right - was held this past week in Budapest.

That's no accident. The Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and his ruling Fidesz party have become a prominent source of inspiration for America's anti-democracy movement. Steve Bannon, Trump's former adviser, describes Orbán's agenda as that of a "Trump before Trump."

Orban has used his opposition to immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, abortion and religions other than Christianity as cover for his move toward autocracy - rigging Hungary's election laws so his party stays in power, capturing independent agencies, controlling the judiciary and muzzling the press.

He remains on good terms with Vladimir Putin and has refused to agree to Europe's proposed embargo of Russian oil.

Tucker Carlson - Fox News's progenitor of white replacement theory - broadcast his show from Budapest. Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows was also slated to speak (although he refuses to speak to the House committee investigating the January 6 assault on American democracy).

If America and the world should have learned anything from the first Gilded Age and the fascism that began growing like a cancer in the 1920s, it's that gross inequalities of income and wealth fuel gross inequalities of political power - which in turn lead to strongmen who destroy both democracy and freedom.

Peter Thiel may define freedom as the capacity to amass extraordinary wealth without paying taxes on it, but most of us define it as living under the rule of law with rights against arbitrary authority and a voice in what is decided.

If we want to guard what is left of our freedom, we will need to meet today's anti-democracy movement with a bold pro-democracy movement that protects the institutions of self-government from authoritarian strongmen like Trump and his wannabes, and from big money like Peter Thiel's.

(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

Is Trumpism This Generation's Version of the Confederacy?
Today's GOP, under Trumpism, is as real a threat to the survival of our republic as was the 1860's Confederacy and reflects a worldview grounded in the white supremacy of the American south
By Thom Hartmann

Donald Trump promoted a modern Civil War in America this week on his social media platform. Civil War? Further confounding things, Republican candidates like Pennsylvania's Kathy Barnette are openly running as ultra-MAGA candidates, having hijacked Trumpism without Trump himself. It's causing the media and political elites to have a "Huh? What?" moment. Trumpism without Trump? Could it even be a thing?

Apparently so: candidates Trump has openly disavowed are claiming Trumpism as their standard, the flag they'll carry into the election and into office if they win.

Trumpism, they proclaim, is a coherent political philosophy of its own that has replaced conservativism as the dominant system of political theory in the "new" Republican Party.

But is Trumpism really new?

Consider its main principles:

*Assert white supremacy

*Fetishize rule by a wealthy elite

*Brand the movement with its own flag and slogans separate from the country's

*Put the "rights" of business above those of workers

*Marginalize and destroy trust in the media

*Maintain a strict racial and gender hierarchy

*Arm the movement's foot soldiers

*Regulate school curriculum to promote a racist worldview

*Embrace authoritarian preachers to claim the appearance of Christianity

*Make alliances with foreign authoritarians

*Rig elections and prevent minorities from voting

*Embrace a police state for all but the richest

*Accuse political opponents of demonic or perverse behavior

*Criminalize abortion

*Heavily criminalize minor behaviors like drug use

*Normalize violence as a political tool

*Oppose worker organizing efforts

*Claim the mantle of "the average man" fighting against the tyranny of the "deep state"

*Make it hard for all but the wealthy to get a college education

*Minimize government regulation of working conditions and products

*Establish a mythology of victimhood and fear of "replacement"

This is not Barry Goldwater's, Ronald Reagan's, or even George W. Bush's Republican Party.

Sure, those guys were happy to suck up to the wealthy and pass legislation favored by big business, but they didn't go so far as to separate themselves from the mainstream of American governance.

They didn't accuse Democrats of drinking the blood of tortured children, openly proclaim their racism, or encourage violence. Before Trumpism, Republicans had for generations opposed nations that suppressed democracy and called out murderous dictators like Hitler, Putin, and Kim.

This is something new.

Or is it? Is it possible Trumpism is simply a very old American invention making its return to the US political stage?

In the early 1800s the invention of the Cotton Gin, which could with one very expensive machine do the work of 50 enslaved people, transformed the American South. It was a technological revolution that made possible the traitorous Confederacy.

For the previous thirty or so years, the slave-holding South had been a democracy, albeit one where only white men had a say in things. But even poor white men could vote, and the region identified as "America" with the American flag and American songs and textbooks.

Wealth disparities weren't as severe as some northern regions, particularly New York City whose bankers and traders had been made rich by the cotton export trade. (When the South seceded in 1861 the Mayor of New York City argued that the city should secede along with them, but back in 1820 there wasn't even a whisper of what would tear the nation apart in a mere forty years.)

The Cotton Gin, invented in 1794 by Eli Whitney and widely sold in the South in the 1810s and 1820s, changed all that. Only the wealthiest plantation owners could afford to buy a Gin, and it enabled them to out-compete the hundreds of thousands of small cotton farms that dotted the South.

Large plantations, after driving smaller local farmers out of business, bought up their land and hired their former owners to work the land as sharecroppers.

Wealth inequality exploded across the South as a new, powerful aristocracy rose up and seized control of Jefferson's Democratic Party. By the end of the 1830s, most of the land and nearly all the wealth and political power in the South was in the hands of a few thousand families.

But that wasn't enough for the Lords of the New Plantations in the New South of the 1840s and 1850s. They wanted total control of the entire country and were chafing under the restrictions of the American brand and its two-party system of government.

As I wrote in detail in The Hidden History of American Oligarchy, by the late 1830s, with the rise of John C. Calhoun and the Nullification Crisis, the South was firmly in the economic, political, and social hands of a small number of morbidly rich plantation-based oligarchs.

It was no longer a democracy or a republic: the South had turned into a neofeudal state, what today we'd call a fascist state. History Professor Forrest A. Nabors notes in his book From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction, by the 1860s:

"A new generation of rulers reshaped the south around their new ruling principle...

"The development of Southern oligarchy portended the rupture of the union, regardless of the ties that bound them together, because no ties, physical, legal, or otherwise, can overcome the difference between fundamentally opposed types of political regimes."

Nabors cites a speech to Congress by Senator Timothy Howe of Wisconsin, who argued that the oligarchy in the South had become so strong that they weren't just trying to be left alone; they wanted to seize control of the North and end democracy in America altogether:
"Such, then, I find to be the cause and the purpose of the rebellion. It was not to secure the independence of slaveholders, but to subject you to abject dependence upon slaveholders. It was not to build a new capitol for a new government, but to place a new government in possession of your Capitol.

"It was not to frame a new constitution for a new republic, but it was to impose a new constitution upon the Republic of the United States. It was not to secure toleration for slavery within the seceding Slates, but to compel the adoption of slavery by the nation."

Congressman John Farnsworth, representing the Chicago area of Illinois, laid it out clearly on Wednesday, June 15th, 1864 in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives:
"The slave-owner is cutting at the heart of the nation; yes, sir, he is cutting at the throats of your sons and brothers, of your neighbors and friends; he is with mad desperation seeking to destroy the beautiful fabric of this nation, and to quench in our blood the fires of republican liberty which have burned so long, a beacon of light to other nations, and the hope of the world. All this [he] is trying to do that he may erect a slave empire instead..."
By the time of the Civil War, the oligarchs of the South had rejected all pretense of belief in democracy, a republican form of government, or even the core idea of the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America.

Instead, they:

*Asserted white supremacy

*Seized total control of the political systems of the South

*Branded their movement with its own flag and slogans separate from the country's

*Passed laws putting the "rights" of plantation owners above those of workers, including poor whites

*First marginalized and, by 1861, completely destroyed any opposition media (often lynching or imprisoning publishers and editors)

*Established a strict racial and gender hierarchy, both in society and in law

*Armed the Confederacy's foot soldiers

*Carefully regulated school curriculum to promote a racist worldview

*Incorporated authoritarian preachers into the political Confederacy to claim Christianity

*Tried unsuccessfully to make alliance with French emperor Napoleon

*Rigged elections to prevent all minorities from voting

*Embraced a police state for all but the richest plantation owners who could never be prosecuted

*Accused their political opponents in both the North and South of demonic or perverse behavior, particularly interracial or gay sex

*Enforced anti-abortion laws when white women became pregnant

*Heavily criminalized minor behaviors like loitering

*Normalized violence as a political tool

*Crushed a generation of Southern worker organizing efforts

*Claimed the mantle of "the average man" fighting against the "tyranny" of the North

*Made it impossible for all but the wealthy to get a college education

*Ended what few government regulations existed for working conditions and products

*Established a mythology of victimhood and fear of "replacement" later known as "The Lost Cause"

In other words, Trumpism is simply the politics of the American Confederacy reinvented for the 21st century. And even now Trumpists - whether affiliated with Donald or not - are openly talking about starting a second civil war.

They're lionizing killers for the cause like Kyle Rittenhouse.

They're embracing foreign authoritarians like Putin and Orban.

They're building and funding their own media empires while destroying American's faith in mainstream media.

And they're successfully using the filibuster to block the passage of any legislation that may strengthen democratic principles in our republic.

Today's Republican Party, under the control of Trumpism, is every bit as real a threat to the survival of our republic as was the Confederacy in the 1860s.

It's emerged from similar conditions and reflects a nearly identical worldview grounded in the fear of losing white supremacy. It's based in the American South, as was the Confederacy.

The media needs to wake the hell up. The American government, the American people, and the Democratic Party must see the Trumpist Republican Party for the threat it is.

The FBI and intelligence agencies need to bring the seditionists within it to ground. Democrats must loudly call out its naked embrace of racism and fascism and make clear where this will lead if unchecked.

Every day that goes by without action brings us closer to the new Republican Party's goal: tearing apart democracy in America and transforming this country into this generation's version of the Confederacy, complete with its own Lost Cause mythology."

(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
~~~ Taylor Jones ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

Trump Urges Dr. Oz To Declare Victory Against Biden In 2020 Election
By The Onion

PALM BEACH, FL-In a series of posts shared to social media platform Truth Social, Donald Trump reportedly urged Dr. Mehmet Oz this week to declare victory against Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

"Dr. Oz, you must not let the election officials steal the presidency from you," said Trump, who called upon the Republican Senate primary candidate to "go to the Supreme Court" if officials tried to call the race in Biden's favor.

"This is the moment where you can really show your strength. Don't let them cheat you out of this-you must do whatever it takes, President Oz, to hold on to this victory. The White House is yours."

At press time, sources confirmed Trump was pressuring Republican officials across the country to certify Oz's win.

(c) 2022 The Onion


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 17 (c) 05/27/2022

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