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In This Edition

Norman Solomon concludes, "Biden's Eloquence About George Floyd Will Ring Hollow If Rahm Emanuel Gets Ambassador Nomination."

Joan Walsh returns with, "Pro-Trump Crackpots' Talk Gets More Dangerous. Should We Worry?"

Jesse Jackson says, "At A Time When America Faces Cascading Crises, Republicans Just Say."

Jim Hightower reports on, "Banker Greed That Would Even Shock Woody Guthrie."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "Republicans Are Vocally Opposed to Democracy, From Texas to Myanmar."

John Nichols sees, "A Palestinian American From Wisconsin Leads A Bold Campaign To Change Biden's Middle East Policy ."

James Donahue is, "Finding Alternative Energy In Unexpected Places."

David Swanson says, "Malcolm Gladwell Claims Satan Won WWII But Jesus Does Drone Strikes."

David Suzuki says, "Energy Road Map Charts Challenging Course To Oil-Free Future."

Charles P. Pierce warns, "In The Fight To Save American Democracy, Joe Manchin Is Neville Chamberlain."

Juan Cole explains, "Why Jared Kushner's 'Abraham Accords' Did Not Produce Israel-Palestine Peace And Are Increasingly Irrelevant."

Robert Reich concludes, "The Republican Party Is An Existential Threat To American Democracy."

Thom Hartmann tells, "The Ugly Truth: Republicans Want More Poverty And Crime."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Minneapolis Honors Police Brutality Victims By Dedicating Armored Vehicles To George Floyd," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "The Devil's In The Details."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Taylor Jones, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, NASA/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Kris Krug, John Minchillo, Olivier Douliery, Thomas O'Neill, Lev Radin, Pacific Press, Drew Angerer, Bonnie Jo Mount, Kevin Dietsch, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, Black Agenda Report, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

The Quotable Quote-
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Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

Tropical water vapor shown in NASA image.

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The Devil's In The Details
By Ernest Stewart

"One popular climate record that shows a slower atmospheric warming trend than other studies contains a data calibration problem, and when the problem is corrected the results fall in line with other records and climate models, according to a new University of Washington study. The finding is important because it helps confirm that models that simulate global warming agree with observations." ~~~ Stephen Po-Chedley

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

I see where our satellite data may have underestimated the warming of the troposphere over the last four decades.

According to a new study on climate-tracking satellites suggests our measurements have likely been underestimating the warming of the troposphere (the lowest region of the atmosphere) during the last four decades, which could indicate the global warming that has already happened may be substantially worse than we thought.

The study, published in the Journal of Climate, shows the satellite data used by scientists to create climate models doesn't meet the basic physics equations that regulate the relationship between temperature and moisture in the air.

This means that satellite measurements of the troposphere have either understated or overstated its temperature and moisture, and the data that indicate the least warming might be the least accurate.

"It is currently difficult to determine which interpretation is more credible," Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) climate scientist and lead study author said in a press release. "But our analysis reveals that several observational datasets - particularly those with the smallest values of ocean surface warming and tropospheric warming - appear to be at odds with other, independently measured complementary variables."

Researchers discovered that datasets that best matched the rules for water vapor and temperature ratios tended to be those showing the highest warming of the sea surface and troposphere, Live Science reports.

"Such comparisons across complementary measurements can shed light on the credibility of different datasets," says LLNL's Stephen Po-Chedley, who contributed to this study. "This work shows that careful intercomparison of different geophysical fields may help us determine historical changes in climate with greater precision."

However, in order to get to the bottom of these measurements and determine which ones are the most accurate, scientists will need to put in a lot of work. Only then will they be able to determine whether or not the models inspired by these satellites predicted different temperatures than what we see, and whether or not they are correct.

With millions of variable aspects of global warming it's hard to see much more than the big picture, and as always, the devil's in the details!


02-28-1931 ~ 05-29-2021
Thanks for the film!

08-07-1942 ~ 05-29-2021
Thanks for the music!

10-02-1962 ~ 05-29-2021
Thanks for the film!

01-24-1936 ~ 05-31-2021
Thanks for the film!

02-15-1951 ~ 06-01-2021
Thanks for the cartoons!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

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

Biden's Eloquence About George Floyd Will Ring Hollow If Rahm Emanuel Gets Ambassador Nomination
By Norman Solomon

If Joe Biden fully meant what he said after meeting with George Floyd's family in the Oval Office on Tuesday, he won't nominate Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan. But recent news reports tell us that's exactly what the president intends to do.

After the meeting, Biden declared that the murder of Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer "launched a summer of protest we hadn't seen since the Civil Rights era in the '60s -- protests that peacefully unified people of every race and generation to collectively say enough of the senseless killings." The words were valuable, and so was the symbolism of the president hosting loved ones of Floyd on the first anniversary of his death.

But the value of the White House event will be weakened if Biden names Emanuel to one of this country's top diplomatic posts -- despite his well-earned notoriety for the cover-up of a video showing the police murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

When McDonald was shot dead by Chicago police one night in October 2014, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was facing a tough re-election fight. Fortunately, a dash camera on a police car captured the murder on video. Unfortunately, Emanuel's administration suppressed the video for 13 months, until after Emanuel won re-election.

Imagine if -- when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed Floyd by kneeling on him for 9 minutes and 29 seconds -- there had been no civilian with a cell phone able to record the murder, and the only visual record of what happened was a police video. And imagine if the city of Minneapolis had suppressed that video for 13 months, until a judge's order finally forced its release.

That would be Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Chicago.

When reports surfaced last November that Biden was considering Emanuel for a cabinet position, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) pointed out: "Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. Covering up a murder is disqualifying for public leadership." Then-Congressman-elect Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) tweeted: "That he's being considered for a cabinet position is completely outrageous and, honestly, very hurtful."

Two weeks ago, responding to news that Biden had decided to nominate Emanuel as ambassador to Japan, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) sent out a cogent tweet: "Black Lives Matter can't just be a slogan. It has to be reflected in our actions as a government, and as a people. Rewarding Rahm Emanuel's cover up of Laquan McDonald's murder with an ambassadorship is not an act that reflects a value of or respect for Black lives."

The post of ambassador to Japan would put Emanuel in the thick of economic and military policies. Japan has the world's third-largest economy. The U.S. currently has two dozen military bases in Japan. A recklessly confrontational military approach in East Asia would get a boost if the next U.S. ambassador to Japan is Emanuel, a longtime hawk who supported the Iraq war even after many Democratic leaders turned against it.

For decades, Emanuel's career has been the opposite of diplomatic as he bombastically denounced progressives and served corporate interests while enriching himself. And his record of running interference for racist police violence while mayor of Chicago underscores what a terrible mistake it would be for the Senate to confirm him as ambassador.

Impunity for American men in uniform who commit violent crimes is a deeply emotional subject in Japan. Outrage has long festered especially on Okinawa, where women and children have been subjected to sexual assaults by U.S. military personnel stationed at bases there.

Blocking the nomination of Rahm Emanuel to be the USA's top envoy to Japan won't bring back Laquan McDonald or any of the other African Americans murdered by police. But it would send a strong signal to mayors and other public officials that covering up brutal police violence is bad for career advancement.

(c) 2021 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Michael Flynn in 2018.

Pro-Trump Crackpots' Talk Gets More Dangerous. Should We Worry?
The GOP's antidemocracy agenda gets clearer by the day. Is Joe Manchin paying attention?
By Joan Walsh

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn belongs in prison, but his corrupt political allies helped him go free. First, Attorney General Bill Barr attempted to dismiss all charges against him last spring, even though Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his foreign contacts; when a federal judge attempted to block that move, Donald Trump issued him a full pardon.

Flynn has repaid Trump many times over, by being one of the most outspoken and loony purveyors of the notion that the November election was somehow "stolen" from Trump, floating one conspiracy theory after another, from corrupt voting machine companies to fraudulent absentee ballots, even urging Trump to declare martial law and seize suspect ballots. Since the failed January 6 insurrection, he's gone full QAnon, embracing dark theories about sex-trafficking Democrats and Trump's eventual resurgence to defeat them.

This weekend he might have taken his most dangerous turn yet, advocating a military coup similar to the one in Myanmar. "It should happen here," he told an audience of the faithful at the "For God and Country" rally in Dallas. He later denied he said it, but there's video.

Today comes news from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, so far only on Twitter, that "Trump has been telling a number of people he's in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August." It's not clear how he believes that "reinstatement" would work, but she says he's "laser-focused" on the baseless GOP "audits" of votes in large Democratic counties in Arizona and Georgia.

Conservative Byron York likewise reported that Trump believes the theory floated by crackpot lawyer Sidney Powell at the same event where Flynn endorsed a coup: "It should be that he can simply be reinstated, that a new inauguration day is set," she said to cheers. "And Biden is told to move out of the White House. And President Trump should be moved back in." That can't and won't happen, of course-but should we be worrying about all of this anyway?

Reluctantly, I say yes. The failed January 6 insurrection showed the potential for violence among Trump supporters, even elites like Flynn, Powell, and the president himself, who cheered it on. All hope that congressional Republicans would stand up against it died when they killed a commission to investigate it last week with only a few GOP dissenters. A very alarmed former George W. Bush speechwriter, Michael Gerson, noted last week that according to a survey last year, a majority of Republicans agreed with the statement: "The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.... American politics is being conducted under the threat of violence."

Meanwhile, following the lead of Georgia, GOP-controlled state legislatures are stepping up their voter suppression legislation-Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Arkansas, and five other states have already passed laws making it harder to vote. Texas is trying; only a walkout by state Democrats prevented the passage of the draconian SB 7, but the reprieve is likely temporary. Arizona and Wisconsin are meddling with the administration of voting in ways that could disadvantage Democrats.

All of these developments are connected. The threat of violence-well, it's more than a threat-either intimidates or inspires GOP lawmakers to endorse Trump and Co.'s big lie about voter fraud by making it ever harder for Democratic constituencies, especially those of color, to cast votes in the first place. I happen to think we should stand up to crackpots who threaten and even commit violence to overturn elections by imprisoning them when they break the law and denouncing them when they threaten democracy (oh, and Flynn is supposed to be in prison, but I digress). Republicans seem to think you placate them by restricting ballot access-including practices, like absentee and early voting, that used to be seen as favoring GOP voters, who tended to be older and rural, but are now used by Democrats. If they get their way, there won't be any need for a "coup" or a Trump "reinstatement" next time around.

How are congressional Democrats responding? Almost all of them are rising to the occasion, passing two sweeping voting rights bills that would block some of the worst laws being passed or proposed in GOP states. But they're blocked by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, of course, who's on a vain quest to find 10 Republicans to support the measures. He hasn't, of course, and he won't. The only answer is doing away with the filibuster-Stacey Abrams, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, and others have suggested preserving it for some matters but creating an exception for voting rights legislation. Manchin says he won't support that compromise either.

Manchin should have learned that his efforts were in vain when he couldn't convince those 10 mythical Republicans to support the January 6 commission. He pronounced himself "disappointed" but undaunted last week, and continues to block the voting rights bills by opposing a filibuster. So far, he's only convinced Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski to join him. But it's not hopeless, he told The Daily Beast. "I never feel that. Never felt that at all. That's not me."

A few Senate Democrats continue to hope Manchin is playing a long game and will accept some kind of limit to the filibuster once he's demonstrated, to his own and other moderates' satisfaction, that Republicans won't compromise. But this "long game" has already gone on for five months. In his own way, Manchin's almost as delusional as Flynn, and his delusions are almost as dangerous to democracy. If he sticks to his guns, Republicans will use gerrymandering and voter suppression to make Democratic victories nearly impossible in many places. (He might survive in West Virginia.) But at least we won't have to worry about right-wing coups.

(c) 2021 Joan Walsh a national affairs correspondent for The Nation, is the author of What's the Matter With White People? Finding Our Way in the Next America.

A mob storms the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. Senate Republicans
have used the filibuster to block an official investigation of that day.

At A Time When America Faces Cascading Crises, Republicans Just Say No
The scope of what they won't do is breathtaking.
By Jessie Jackson

Just say no. That seems to sum up the position of Republicans in the Congress these days. For all the talk about bipartisan compromise or about the two parties working together, at the end of the day, the Republican position is simply to say no.

The scope of what they won't do is breathtaking.

They say no to expanding support for day care, vital in an economy where both parents must work. They say no to investing in renewable energy and electric cars. They say no to renovating America's decrepit and outmoded infrastructure, including clean and safe drinking water. They say no to democracy reforms and ending secret money in politics. They just say no.

It doesn't matter if the reform is essential to human life and to equal justice under the law.

It doesn't matter how popular the issue is. Most Americans want sensible gun control laws. According to the Pew Research Center, 70% of Republicans support background checks for all sales of guns, including those at gun shows. When it comes to passing the reforms, Republicans in both Houses just say no.

It doesn't matter if it is simply about basic fairness. Fifty-five of America's biggest corporations paid no federal income taxes last year and the wealth of just 650 billionaires rose by 50%, all while millions of working Americans suffered. Two-thirds of Americans support raising taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year, as Joe Biden has proposed. Republicans in both Houses reject any tax increase on corporations or the wealthy, including the 82% benefit that went to the top 1% and 63% that went to the top one-tenth of 1% of Trump's only major legislative accomplishment in 2017.

It doesn't matter if the reform is about meeting a threat to our existence. Catastrophic climate change already takes lives and costs this country billions of dollars each year-and it gets worse annually. Scientists give us about 10 years to make the transition to renewable energy. Joe Biden has proposed a modest investment in renewable energy, electric cars and retrofitting homes. His proposal is far less than scientists say is needed, far less even from what he promised during his campaign. He's already compromised in the face of expected Republican opposition. But Republicans just say no.

It doesn't matter if the reform is essential to human life and to equal justice under the law. Most Americans support police reform, including a federal ban on chokeholds (71%), a prohibition of racial profiling (71%), and an end to "qualified immunity" for officers in legal cases (59%). For decades and currently Congress hasn't been able to pass an anti-lynching law. Efforts to pass reforms meet with-no surprise now-almost universal Republican opposition.

It doesn't even matter if the measure is a bipartisan bill to have an independent bipartisan commission investigate sacking the Capitol and the attempt to stop certification of the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6. Even though their lives and limbs were at risk, Senate Republicans lined up in support of a filibuster to just say no.

Republicans use efforts to find common ground to stall progress before lining up to say no. They make big gestures that turn out on inspection just to be jive. For example, the biggest "bipartisan" negotiations are over Joe Biden's Americans Jobs Bill, which Republicans oppose. Biden called for $2.3 trillion over eight years to invest in rebuilding America, kickstarting the transition to sustainable energy, and ensuring quality affordable day care, essential if parents are to go back to work. In April, Republicans offered a laughable $568 billion over five years, stripping virtually everything but roads and bridges from their proposal (and most of that was already in the budget).

Biden compromised, cutting $552 billion out of his proposal. Republicans got headlines for going up to $953 billion-only that was a feint. As the analysis of the invaluable Congressional Progressive Caucus Action Fund showed, the second Republican offer was spread out over eight years. And they proposed to pay for most of that by taking funds previously appropriated to deal with the pandemic and its victims over the next years. In spending per year, the actual change in the second proposal over the first was just $2 billion a year. That isn't a good faith negotiation; that's a joke.

Republicans don't want corporations or the wealthy to pay more in taxes. They don't want to raise the minimum wage. They oppose reforms that would make it easier for workers to organize and bargain collectively. In 20 states, Republican governors are cutting off federal unemployment insurance, hoping to force people to take low-paying jobs. They don't want to revive the Voting Rights Act; they want to further suppress the vote. They don't want to limit the role of big money in elections or end gerrymandering of districts to their benefit. This list can go on.

Republicans celebrate the economy of 2018 under Donald Trump before the pandemic. Yet that was an economy in which 40% of Americans had negative net incomes, and were forced to borrow to pay for basic household needs. That was an economy that subsidized fossil fuels and ignored the threat posed by climate change. That was an economy that forced parents into debt to pay for day care, forced students into debt to pay for college, and forced Americans to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, even those that were created on the taxpayer's dime.

Of course, when they run for re-election, Republicans will take credit for Biden's American Rescue Plan that was passed without one Republican vote. No one should be fooled. At a time when America faces cascading crises, Republicans just say no. If we want even to begin to address the troubles we have, voters will have to say no to those who are standing in the way.

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

Banker Greed That Would Even Shock Woody Guthrie
By Jim Hightower

Woody Guthrie had a lot to say about the greed of bankers who made crop loans at usurious interest rates to hardscrabble farmers, then foreclosed on them when they couldn't pay off the loans, leaving thousands of farm families homeless. Woody mocked them with a sarcastic anthem, singing "I'm a jolly banker, jolly banker am I." He also penned a stinging verse about their thievery: "Some'll rob with a six gun/ some with a fountain pen."

But even this populist poet of the people would be astonished by the shameless grabbiness of today's farm lenders. After decades of systemic, scandalous discrimination by bankers against Black and other minority farmers, the Biden administration is now moving to pay off the onerous level of long-term bank debt that has shackled these good farmers, thus giving them a fair shot at getting ahead.

"Oh no!" squawked the American Bankers Association and other groups of ag lenders. Why? After all, they'd be getting back the money they had loaned out. Yes, say the fountain pens, but we would lose the interest payments each of those farmers would have had to send to us over the months ahead. We want American taxpayers to cover the total interest income we would've gotten from gouging Black, Latino, Native, and other minority farmers. They insist that their profits and the financial interests of their rich investors must take priority over the needs of a bunch of non-White dirt farmers.

Wait, the bankers' greed intensifies! If the government doesn't fully compensate them for their so-called "lost interest income," the ag lenders (backed by Wall Street barons) are openly threatening that they will cut off future loans to farmers and ranchers of color.

So, the jolly bankers' drumbeat of rank discrimination keeps pounding. To help stop it, connect with the National Black Farmers Association:

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

Trump supporters rally in Tampa, Florida, at a Make America Great Again rally on July 31, 2018.
Trump has recently been telling people he will be reinstated as president in August 2021.

Republicans Are Vocally Opposed to Democracy, From Texas to Myanmar
By William Rivers Pitt

A vicious military coup d'etat took place on February 1 of this year in the nation of Myanmar. Parliament was preparing to convene after a November election that saw Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy win 83 percent of the available seats. The military refused to accept the results of the election - and started killing. More than 600 people have been murdered in the violence, and thousands have been injured. "Many of those killed have been young protesters," reports The New York Times, "their lives ended with a single gunshot to the head." Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's disgraced former national security adviser, attended a QAnon-heavy event in Dallas, Texas, over the weekend. The main topic of the event, called "For God & Country Patriot Roundup," was the ongoing gibberish belief that Trump won the election.

One attendee asked Flynn, "I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can't happen here?" The audience cheered the question loudly. When they quieted, Flynn replied, "No reason. I mean, it should happen here. No reason." When confronted with his own words, Flynn scrambled to claim that he didn't actually say what he actually said into a recording camera, calling it "a boldface fabrication based on twisted reporting." The camera did not lie, however: A former military general and high-ranking official in a Republican administration appeared to endorse the military overthrow of the United States government before a rapturously cheering Republican crowd.

Flynn is no wild-eyed outrider. A vast majority of the Republican Party has become loudly and vigorously anti-democratic in the aftermath of the Trump administration and the election that ended it. Trump himself has been going around telling people he expects to be reinstated as president by August, while giving no explanation for how this might come about. As there is no democratic mechanism for reinstalling a defeated president, he can only be speaking of one thing: another coup d'etat, but here, and at the highest level.

State-level Republican officeholders are not waiting for August, but are laboring to affect their own slow-rolling coup in the upcoming elections. In more than a dozen states, brutally repressive anti-voter laws are being put in place in an attempt to make it impossible for non-Republican voters to cast a ballot. Seemingly convinced after 2020 that it is no longer possible for Republicans to actually win national elections, and stoutly incapable of making changes needed to alter that fate because Trump still commands the party, Republicans in these states have chosen to attack the underpinnings of democracy itself.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in Texas, where the Republican-controlled legislature this weekend attempted to pass the most draconian anti-voter laws in the nation. The bill, known as SB 7, is a terrifying raft of undiluted anti-democratic racism that has no business becoming law:

The legislation would make it a felony for an election official to offer a voter an unsolicited absentee ballot application. It would further restrict which people qualify to vote absentee, even though Texas already has irrationally restrictive standards. It would eliminate safeguards meant to prevent election officials from mistakenly tossing absentee ballots based on dubious signature-matching issues. It would crimp Sunday voting in a way that would make it difficult for Black churches to run "Souls to the Polls" events. It would crack down on anyone transporting more than two non-relatives to a polling place. It would ban drive-through voting, temporary voting sites and 24-hour early voting. It would make it dangerously easy for state judges to overturn election results. And it would empower partisan poll watchers, encouraging them to hassle election officials and voters.
It is well worth noting that had SB 7 passed, it would have become law the same week as a new Texas law that is on the verge of going into effect which allows people to carry concealed weapons without a permit. This means these "poll watchers" could all be packing heat as they try to intimidate and harass Democratic voters. If you think that's a coincidence, I invite you to think again, hard.

The GOP effort was temporarily stymied by Democrats, who walked out of the chamber en masse on Sunday night, preventing a final vote. The walkout represented a significant setback for Gov. Greg Abbott, who loudly supports the measures in the bill, but not a permanent one. Abbott has announced his intention to call a special session at some point in the future, where Republicans can again bring SB 7 to a vote. In retribution, Abbott has threatened to cut the funding for the legislature itself. "No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities," he tweeted on Monday.

"This is a battle over which party gets to rule," Paul Waldman writes for The Washington Post. "But more importantly, it's about whether we have a democracy at all, whether all citizens are allowed to vote and the system respects their decisions. That hasn't always been true in the past. And if some people get their way, it won't be true in the future."

As with so much else, this crisis bends all the way back to the filibuster. The U.S. House has resoundingly passed HB 1, which offers a wide range of voter protections that would all but obviate the anti-democratic shenanigans going on in Texas and elsewhere. Because of the filibuster, HB 1 is essentially doomed in the Senate. Until a law like HB 1 is on the books, very little can be done to thwart these staggering power grabs at the state level. If the issue is not confronted soon, there will be mayhem of the highest order come November 2022 and 2024.

"Congratulations to Democrats in Texas for protecting democracy and the right to vote," tweeted Bernie Sanders. "We must pass S. 1, the For The People Act. The future of American democracy is at stake." S. 1 is the still-untouched Senate version of HB. 1.

At a bare minimum, these actions and the mindset behind them must serve as a klaxon warning to President Biden and congressional Democrats: The Republicans are not coming to the table with clean hands. They do not want bipartisanship, and they do not want to cut deals. They will break this nation over their knees if they believe they will be deprived of the power they think they deserve as their (largely white) birthright. That Rubicon was crossed on January 6, and in case no one noticed, they haven't stopped since.

"If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism," wrote George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum in 2018. "They will reject democracy." When right-wingers like Frum display that level of prognostication, it's time to slap the panic button good and hard. End the filibuster, pass HB 1 and understand: A lot of people make a habit out of downplaying the power of the vote, but if the vote has such little power, why are Republicans trying so hard to destroy it?

Don't let them.

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

Pedestrians pass through clouds of dust as heavy construction equipment is used to sift through
rubble last week to uncover valuables at the site of a building destroyed in an Israeli airstrike.

A Palestinian American From Wisconsin Leads A Bold Campaign To Change Biden's Middle East Policy
By John Nichols

Heba Mohammad spent 2020 getting Joe Biden elected.

Now in 2021 the Wisconsinite, who served as the Democrat's digital organizing director in her home state, is determined to get Biden to address the suffering of the Palestinian people and to take steps to achieve a just peace in the Middle East.

Mohammad is not alone.

Last Monday, more than 500 former staffers for Biden's campaign and the Democratic National Committee signed a letter Mohammad co-authored, which demands the administration abandon a status-quo approach to Israel and Palestine that "deprives Palestinians of peace, security, and self-determination." Addressed to the president, the letter explains, "The very same values that motivated us to work countless hours to elect you demand that we speak out in the aftermath of the recent explosive violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, which is inextricable from the ongoing history of occupation, blockade, and settlement expansion."

Mohammad, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (where she founded the Muslim Student Association and served as president of the Student Government Association), mounted a spirited bid for the Green Bay City Council in 2016, worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign that year and charted an activist course that led her to the 2020 Biden campaign.

The Greenfield native recalls how happy she was when Biden won Wisconsin by roughly 20,000 votes in November. Yet, the 29-year-old Palestinian American felt "deep dismay" last month as tensions swelled in the Middle East and - like so many presidents before him - Biden failed to take a firm stand in defense of Palestinian rights.

After images of the death and devastation following Israeli air strikes on Gaza filled screens across the United States in mid-May, Mohammad and a group of former Biden staffers began communicating among themselves on how to get a message to the president about the need for a shift in U.S. policy to focus on achieving justice for Palestinians and peace in the region.

They penned a letter that declared: "We remain horrified by the images of Palestinian civilians in Gaza killed or made homeless by Israeli airstrikes. We are outraged by Israel's efforts to forcibly and illegally expel Palestinians in (the Jerusalem neighborhood of) Sheikh Jarrah. We are shocked by Israel's destruction of a building housing international news organizations. We remain horrified by reports of Hamas rockets killing Israeli civilians.

"While Israelis had to spend nights hiding in bomb shelters, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had nowhere to hide. It is critical to acknowledge this power imbalance - that Israel's highly-advanced military occupies the West Bank and East Jerusalem and blockades the Gaza Strip, creating an uninhabitable open-air prison. While we should never reduce the loss of human life to numbers, Palestinians have suffered hundreds of casualties, demonstrative of Israel's power over Palestinians and its penchant for disproportionate responses. Israel's protracted refusal to consider a ceasefire also put Israelis in harm's way, prolonging the violence of Hamas's barrage of rockets and Israel's air strikes - a cycle that is bound to repeat itself as long as we allow the status quo to stand, where Palestinians have no freedom and Israel controls their lives in perpetuity."

The letter was circulated by a group of Palestinian American, Israeli American, Muslim, Jewish, Christian and allied former staffers. It attracted signatures from 10 members of the Biden campaign's national headquarters staff and eight members of the Democratic National Committee staff during the race. But most of the signers worked in states where Biden won the presidency - including the five battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Arizona, which flipped from the Republican column in 2016 to the Democratic side in 2020.

Matan Arad-Neeman, an Israeli American who served as a campaign organizer in Arizona, co-authored the letter with Mohammad and says, "I am horrified by the daily nightmare of occupation and apartheid. American inaction on human rights violations by the Israeli government, all while the administration continues to sell weapons to Israel, does not help my family in Israel or keep them safe."

The letter arrives at a point when Biden has faced criticism from Democratic members of Congress, such as Michigan's Rashida Tlaib, Minnesota's Ilhan Omar and Wisconsin's Mark Pocan, for failing to focus sufficiently on the dislocation of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as Israeli air strikes that have left hundreds dead in Gaza. As in the 1960s, when many of the Democratic Party's savviest officials and ablest activists broke with President Lyndon Johnson over the war in Vietnam, this is shaping up as a moment when dynamic young activists - and more than a few of their elders - are warning that the president and party leaders must wake up to that fact that, as Mohammad says, "from here on out, we will not allow our Democratic officials and candidates to be silent on Palestine."

"President Biden must do better," she says. "A cease-fire in this latest bombing campaign is welcomed, but Palestinian suffering continues because there has not been a cessation in Israel's blockade of Gaza, land annexation in the West Bank, mass arrests and raids, ethnic cleansing, illegal occupation, and the 73-year cycle of dispossession."

In order to do better, Mohammad and the other former staffers are urging the president to "acknowledge that a temporary peace is not a suitable long-term resolution" and "to take concrete steps to end the occupation in pursuit of justice, peace, and self-determination for Palestinians."

In addition, they're urging U.S. leaders to "join our international allies in calling for an end to Israeli violations of international law, or at minimum, stop obstructing efforts by the United Nations to do so" and "ensure U.S. aid no longer funds the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children, theft and demolition of Palestinian homes and property, and annexation of Palestinian land."

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

Air cars

Finding Alternative Energy In Unexpected Places
By James Donahue

Leave it to human ingenuity to solve the great energy issues when our backs are against the wall. Back yard inventors and a few skilled professionals are coming up with new concepts for heating, generating electricity and driving automobiles even as the world hurls toward climate change, peak oil demand, runaway gasoline prices and exorbitant home heating costs.

We know about wind, water and solar power alternative sources of "renewable energy. From an Internet blog site called EcoGeek we found the following reports.

Engineers in Stockholm, Sweden, devised a way of utilizing the body heat from an estimated 125,000 commuters hustling to and from the Stockholm Central Station each day, to help heat a new office building constructed nearby. The heating system involves a simplistic assembly of pipes that collect the heat and pump it out of the warm train station and into the new office building. The body heat was estimated to provide about 20 percent of the heat for the building.

Finavera Renewables, a Canadian corporation developed a way to harness natural tidal energy from the sea to drive a series of buoy-styled turbines. The company signed a contract with California's Pacific Gas and Electric to provide electric power for up to 1,500 homes in the San Francisco area. The generators, marketed under the name AquaBuOY, were located in an area 2.5 miles off the shore of Humboldt County. The AquaBuOYs are 40-ton, seventy-five foot tall machines that capture the natural wave action of the sea and turn it into electricity. Finavera claimed that "wave farms" of this type can produce energy at an almost competitive price per watt with coal or natural gas, and up to 13 cents per watt cheaper than current solar and wind technologies.

Then there is something called wave-power. According to Wikipedia, this is a system that uses the natural power of ocean wave action to create energy. In 2000 the world's first commercial Wave Power Device, the Islay LIMPET, was installed on the coast of Islay, Scotland and connected to the National Grid. In 2008 the first experimental multi-generator wave farm was opened in Portugal. Since then similar wave farm projects have been established in Australia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Then in France, there is the Air Care. It seems that a French Formula One designer devised a way to power cars on the physical energy of compressed air. Prototypes have been successfully developed, and several companies have licensed the technology. The idea is to compress air into ultra-strong tanks in the car. The air is then released through pistons in the engine, which drive the wheels. The current prototypes get just over one horsepower of energy that can push the cars at speeds of up to 70 miles an hour for as much as 120 miles. The nice thing about this car is that it only costs about three dollars to fill up the tank, and the car has no emissions. The only power used is the electricity to operate the air compressor.

Tata Motors, a major automaker in India, announced plans to produce air cars. The company expects to first offer a hybrid version that uses compressed air at slow speeds and switches to gasoline engines for long and faster trips. The projects in India and yet again in Hawaii have been on hold to date because of legal issues.

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

Malcolm Gladwell Claims Satan Won WWII But Jesus Does Drone Strikes
By David Swanson

I wish I were joking, even a little. Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Bomber Mafia, maintains that Haywood Hansell was essentially Jesus tempted by the Devil when he refused to burn Japanese cities to the ground. Hansell was replaced, and Curtis LeMay put in charge of U.S. bombings of Japan during WWII. LeMay, Gladwell tells us, was none other than Satan. But what was very much needed, Gladwell claims, was Satanic immorality - the willingness to intentionally incinerate perhaps a million or so men, women, and children to advance one's career. Only that and nothing else could have won the war most quickly, which created prosperity and peace for one and all (except the dead, I suppose, and anyone involved in all the subsequent wars or subsequent poverty). But in the end, WWII was only a battle, and the larger war was won by Hansell-Jesus because his dream of humanitarian precision bombing has now been realized (if you're OK with murder by missile and willing to overlook that precision bombings have been used for years to kill mostly unknown innocent people while generating more enemies than they eliminate).

Gladwell begins his filthy piece of war normalization by admitting that his first short story, written as a child, was a fantasy about Hitler surviving and coming back to get you - in other words, the basic narrative of U.S. war propaganda for 75 years. Then Gladwell tells us that what he loves is obsessive people - no matter whether they're obsessed with something good or something evil. Subtly and otherwise Gladwell builds a case for amorality, not just immorality, in this book. He starts by claiming that the invention of the bomb sight solved one of the 10 biggest technological problems of half a century. That problem was how to drop a bomb more accurately. Morally, that's an outrage, not a problem to be lumped, as Gladwell lumps it, with how to cure diseases or produce food. Also, the bomb sight was a major failure that did not solve this supposedly critical problem, and Gladwell recounts that failure along with dozens of others in a stream of rolling SNAFUs that he treats as some sort of character-building signs of audacity, boldness, and christiness.

The goal of the "Bomber Mafia" (Mafia, like Satan, being a term of praise in this book) was supposedly to avoid the terrible ground war of WWI by planning for air wars instead. This, of course, worked out wonderfully, with WWII killing many more people than WWI by combining ground and air wars - although there's not a single word in the book about ground fighting in WWII or the existence of the Soviet Union, because this is a U.S. book about the greatest generation waging the greatest war for America the Great; and the greatest break came at the greatest university (Harvard) with the successful test of the greatest tool of Satan our Savior, namely Napalm.

But I'm getting ahead of the story. Before Jesus makes an appearance, Martin Luther King Jr. has to do so, of course. You see, the dream of humanitarian air war was almost exactly like Dr. King's dream of overcoming racism - apart from every possible detail. Gladwell doesn't accept that this comparison is ludicrous, but calls the Dream of Air Wars "audacious" and turns immediately from the idea that bombing will bring peace to discussion of an amoral technological adventure. When Gladwell quotes a commentator suggesting that the inventor of the bomb sight would have attributed its invention to God, for all we can tell Gladwell probably agrees. Soon he's in raptures over how the invention of the bomb sight was going to make war "almost bloodless," and over the humanitarianism of the U.S. military bombing theorists who make up the Bombing Mafia devising schemes to bomb water supplies and power supplies (because killing large populations more slowly is divine).

Half the book is random nonsense, but some of it is worth repeating. For example, Gladwell believes that the Air Force Chapel in Colorado is especially holy, not just because it looks like they worship air wars, but also because it leaks when it rains - a major accomplishment once failure has become success, it seems.

The background of how WWII was created, and therefore how it might have been avoided, is given a total of five words in Gladwell's book. Here are those five words: "But then Hitler attacked Poland." Gladwell jumps from that to praising investment in preparing for unknown wars. Then he's off on a debate between carpet bombing and precision bombing in Europe, during which he notes that carpet bombing doesn't move populations to overthrow governments (pretending this is because it doesn't greatly disturb people, as well as admitting that it generates hatred of those doing the bombing, and skirting the fact that governments tend not to actually care about the suffering within their borders, as well as skirting any application of the counter-productiveness of bombing to current U.S. wars, and - of course - putting up a pretense that Britain never bombed civilians until long after Germany did). There's also not one word about the Nazis' own bombing mafia later working for the U.S. military to help destroy places like Vietnam with Satan's own Dupont Better Living Through Chemistry.

Through the debate between carpet bombing (the British) and precision bombing (the knights of the sacred U.S. mafia), Gladwell admits that the British position was driven by sadism and led by a sadist and a psychopath. These are his words, not mine. He admits that the U.S. approach failed terribly on its own terms and amounted to a delusional cult for true believers (his words). Yet we have to sit through page after page of what Holden Caulfield would have called all that David Copperfield crap. Where were each bomber mafioso's parents from, what did they wear, how did they fart. It's endless "humanization" of professional killers, while the book contains a total of three mentions of the Japanese victims of the triumphant arson from hell. The first mention is three sentences about how babies burned and people jumped in rivers. The second is a few words about the difficulty pilots had coping with the smell of burning flesh. The third is a guess at the number killed. Even before he falls from Heaven, LeMay is depicted as murdering U.S. sailors in a practice exercise bombing a U.S. ship off the West Coast. There's not a word about LeMay or Gladwell considering this a problem.

Much of the book is a build-up to LeMay's decision to save the day by burning a million people. Gladwell opens this key section by claiming that humans have always waged war, which simply isn't true. Human societies have gone millennia without anything resembling war. And nothing resembling current war existed in any human society more than a relative split second ago in terms of the existence of humanity. But war must be normal, and the possibility of not having it must be off the table, if you are going to discuss the most humani-satan-arian tactics for winning it *and* pose as a moralist.

The British were sadistic, of course, whereas the Americans were being hard-nosed and practical. This notion is possible, because Gladwell not only doesn't quote or provide the name of or the cute little backstory for a single Japanese person, but he also doesn't quote anything a single American said about the Japanese people - other than how they smelled when burning. Yet the U.S. military invented sticky burning gel, then build a fake Japanese city in Utah, then dropped the sticky gel on the city and watched it burn, then did the same thing to real Japanese cities while U.S. media outlets proposed destroying Japan, U.S. commanders said that after the war Japanese would be spoken only in hell, and U.S. soldiers mailed the bones of Japanese soldiers home to their girlfriends.

Gladwell improves on the supposed mental state of his reluctant bomber devils by inventing it, guessing at what they thought, putting words in the mouths even of people from whom many actual words are documented. He also quotes but brushes quickly past LeMay telling a reporter why he burned Tokyo. LeMay said he'd lose his job like the guy before him if he didn't quickly do something, and that was what he could do. Systemic momentum: a real problem that is exacerbated by books like this one.

But mostly Gladwell glues morality onto his portrait of LeMay by eliminating the Japanese even more effectively than did the Napalm. In a typical passage like some others in the book, Gladwell quotes LeMay's daughter as claiming that her father cared about the morality of what he was doing because he stood on the runway counting the planes before they took off to bomb Japan. He cared how many would come back. But there weren't any Japanese victims on his runway - or in Gladwell's book for that matter.

Gladwell praises LeMay's behavior as more truly moral and having benefitted the world, while claiming that we admire Hansell's morality because we can't really help ourselves, whereas it's a sort of Nietzschean and audacious immorality that we actually need, even if - according to Gladwell - it ends up being the most moral action in the end. But was it?

The traditional story ignores the firebombing of all the cities and jumps straight to the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, falsely claiming that Japan was not yet ready to surrender and that the nukes (or at least one of them and let's not be sticklers about that second one) saved lives. That traditional story is bunk. But Gladwell is trying to replace it with a very similar story given a fresh coat of weaponized paint. In Gladwell's version it was the months of burning down city after city that saved lives and ended the war and did the hard but proper thing, not the nuclear bombs.

Of course, as noted, there's not one word about the possibility of having refrained from a decades long arms race with Japan, having chosen not to build up colonies and bases and threats and sanctions. Gladwell mentions in passing a guy named Claire Chennault, but not one word about how he helped the Chinese against the Japanese prior to Pearl Harbor - much less about how his widow helped Richard Nixon prevent peace in Vietnam (the war on Vietnam and many other wars not really existing in Gladwell's leap from Satan winning the battle of WWII to Jesus winning the war for precision philanthropic bombings).

Any war can be avoided. Every war takes great efforts to begin. Any war can be halted. We can't say exactly what would have worked. We can say that nothing was tried. We can say that the drive by the U.S. government to speed up the end of the war with Japan was driven largely by the desire to end it before the Soviet Union stepped in and ended it. We can say that the people who went to prison in the United States rather than take part in WWII, some of whom launched the Civil Rights movement of the coming decades from within those prison cells, would make more admirable characters than Gladwell's beloved pyromaniacal chemists and cigar-chomping butchers.

On one thing Gladwell is right: people - including bombing mafiosi - cling fiercely to their faiths. The faith Western writers hold most dear may be the faith in World War II. As the nuclear bombings propaganda runs into trouble, we should not be shocked that someone produced this disgusting piece of murder romanticization as a backup narrative.

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

A new report from the International Energy Agency notes that a growing number of governments worldwide are pledging to zero out emissions over the coming decades.

Energy Road Map Charts Challenging Course To Oil-Free Future
By David Suzuki

Thirty-three years ago, NASA scientist James Hansen told a U.S. congressional committee the agency was 99 per cent certain a global warming trend was not natural, but caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

"Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming," Hansen said, adding, "It is already happening now."

George Woodwell, director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, testified that wide-scale forest destruction would speed the warming, as dying forests release stored carbon dioxide.

It's shocking that so many people decided the best course would be to shrug and carry on as usual in the face of dire, compelling statements from scientists who thoroughly examined the problem - not to mention evidence building since Joseph Fourier's discoveries> in the 1820s to a U.S. National Academy of Sciences report in 1977 and congressional hearings on climate in the early 1980s held by Rep. Al Gore (later senator, then vice-president). There was talk but little action.

Now all those warnings are reality: rapidly escalating temperatures, rising sea levels, increasing extreme weather events and more. More than 30 years after Hansen's testimony, we're in crisis because industry and governments failed to act.

Can that change over the next 30?

A new report from the International Energy Agency notes that a growing number of governments worldwide are pledging to zero out emissions over the coming decades. "But the pledges by governments to date - even if fully achieved - fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 and give the world an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C."

One silver lining in "Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector" is its finding that reducing, capturing and neutralizing emissions will benefit human prosperity and well-being beyond simply slowing global heating - although it warns the path "is narrow and requires an unprecedented transformation of how energy is produced, transported and used globally."

Following recommendations from the report's "more than 400 milestones" would create "millions of jobs in clean energy, including energy efficiency, as well as in the engineering, manufacturing and construction industries," an IEA release said. The report stresses governments must minimize hardships for people and communities affected by the energy transition, with regional aid, retraining and locating clean energy infrastructure near affected communities to maintain jobs.

Measures such as providing electricity and clean cooking solutions to those who lack them would bring major health benefits by cutting pollution and could prevent 2.5 million premature deaths a year.

But it means getting off fossil fuels - quickly. Unwillingness to start the transition when we first became aware of the need means we have no time left to lose. The report finds fossil fuel use must fall from four-fifths of energy supply today to around one-fifth in 2050, and that demand will continue to plummet. There's no place for new coal, oil or gas development, including pipelines. Remaining fossil fuels must be "used in goods where the carbon is embodied in the product such as plastics, in facilities fitted with carbon capture, and in sectors where low-emissions technology options are scarce."

The immediate goals are to rapidly phase out coal power and internal combustion engine vehicles and halt new oil and gas development.

The report notes most CO2 reductions through to 2030 can be made using available technologies but that "in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that are currently at the demonstration or prototype phase." Electricity must "play a key role across all sectors, from transport and buildings to industry."

The road map shows that by 2050, 90 per cent of global electricity generation could come from renewable sources, 70 per cent from solar photovoltaic and wind. A David Suzuki Foundation study also found getting to net zero means electrifying just about everything: cars, buses, trucks, home and building heat pumps, industrial furnaces and more.

The era of coal, oil and gas is over. We've done too little for the past 30 years. For the next 30, let's work toward a cleaner, healthier future for all.

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

In The Fight To Save American Democracy, Joe Manchin Is Neville Chamberlain
All around the country, Republicans in state legislatures are trashing voting rights and Democrats are doing what they can do stop them. They've been abandoned by the United States Senate.
By Charles P. Pierce

I spent a long Memorial Day weekend watching the state legislature of Texas do its part in the national conservative campaign to undo the democracy that so many had honored with their lives. This was an irony that was not lost on me. In fact, this was an irony that pounded a big old gong in my conscience for three days. It also struck me that, any time American politics swerves into a region in which Allen West makes sense, it is truly lost. From the New York Times:

This, [West] said, was what he wanted Republicans to focus on - to stop chasing "rumors" and "conspiracy theories." He tried to soften his admonishment with a joke. "If another person sends me a text message about some Italian dude and messing around with votes" - a reference to an obscure conspiracy theory involving an Italian defense contractor - "I'm going to go apoplectic on them."
Of course, there is no real difference between what West and the Texas Republicans are pitching and theories about Italian dudes messing with the electorate in Seagoville. They both serve the same purpose-the elimination of the franchise from the lives of voters that Republicans find inconvenient. As the Texas Tribune reported, the ratfcking reached a crescendo overnight as Saturday became Sunday. The Texas Senate went behind closed doors and performed a reverse Hey Jude: it took a bad bill and made it worse.
Senate Bill 7, the GOP's priority voting bill, emerged Saturday from a conference committee as an expansive bill that would touch nearly the entire voting process, including provisions to limit early voting hours, curtail local voting options and further tighten voting by mail, among several other provisions. It was negotiated behind closed doors over the last week after the House and Senate passed significantly different versions of the legislation and pulled from each chamber's version of the bill. The bill also came back with a series of additional voting rule changes, including a new ID requirement for mail-in ballots, that weren't part of previous debates on the bill.
The Democrats in the legislature were outraged, and the Democrats in the Texas House responded by walking out of the chamber, denying the Republicans a quorum and effectively killing the bill, for the moment, anyway. Texas Governor Greg Abbott since has announced that he will veto that portion of the state budget that funds the legislature. Walking out was the last card the Texas Democrats had to play. They then appealed for help from on high-figuratively speaking, of course. From the Washington Post:
"We knew today, with the eyes of the nation watching action in Austin, that we needed to send a message," state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat, said at a news conference held at a historically Black church in Austin early Monday, shortly after he and other lawmakers left the state Capitol. "And that message is very, very clear: Mr. President, we need a national response to federal voting rights."
Rep. Fischer's obvious disrespect for Senator Joe Manchin's devotion to hidebound senatorial customs is plainly deplorable.

All over the country, Republican majorities in state legislatures are pulling these stunts and Democratic state legislators are doing what they can. To watch the U.S. Senate abandon them-and representative democracy-over a point of procedure that's been rancid since the Eisenhower administration is almost beyond even my threshold for politically induced nausea. And, as historian Alexander Keyssar pointed out in a Jacobin interview, this is a battle that began even before there was anything like American politics.

There were two arguments that were made. The polite argument, the "correct" one, was that we can't allow poor people to vote because they are dependent on others and could be manipulated. A rich person who employed them could manipulate their vote - they could be bribed, etc. The common phrasing was that they have no will of their own. They're just a mob that can be manipulated.

At other moments the argument appeared that if you let them vote, poor people would get together, and they would threaten property. I argued in my book that [the Founders believed] the poor would have too much will of their own. I think that's an apprehension that's lurking there all the time.

In this particular theater of battle, Manchin-and Senator Kirsten Sinema-are sharing the role of Neville Chamberlain. They've buried themselves in the part.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"We've recently seen disturbing antisemitic attacks and a troubling rise in Islamophobia. If you are committed to a future of equality and peaceful coexistence, please stand united against anyone who promotes hatred of any kind."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Why Jared Kushner's 'Abraham Accords' Did Not Produce Israel-Palestine Peace And Are Increasingly Irrelevant
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - The Jared Kushner/ Trump plan for Israel-Palestine had some basic premises. The first was that the U.S. could act punitively toward the Palestinians with no consequences. The second was that the Arab states were so afraid of Iran that they would throw the Palestinians under the bus and make an alliance with Israel against the ayatollahs. The third was that even where governments were not particularly afraid of Iran, they could be induced to recognize and cooperate with Israel by giving them things they wanted or taking off sanctions. The fourth was that the Arab governments could recognize and cooperate with Israel with no domestic consequences.

Kushner was able to expand the number of Arab states with peace agreements with Israel from two (Egypt and Jordan) to six, by adding Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco. Bahrain and the UAE had never fought Israel anyway.

Bahrain is a tiny country of a little over a million and a half people. and some 48 percent of them are foreign guest workers. It has a Shiite majority (the government denies this), but is ruled by a fairly hard line Sunni royal family, and Sunnis have the cushy jobs. Manama is desperately afraid of Iran because it fears its Shiites will feel the attraction of Iran's clerical ideology and become restive. Iran has also occasionally claimed Bahrain as an Iranian province (Iran did rule Bahrain in the 1600s after the Portuguese were expelled). So Bahrain was very happy to get into the Trump administration's good graces by signing the Abraham Accords. It is irrelevant to Israel-Palestine, being very distant and having never played a significant role in the conflict. So this is about bolstering the ruling class against local Shiites and currying favor in Washington more than anything else.

Although Morocco had sent some token troops to the Arab League in the 1973 war, it thereafter changed its policy. It has a small Jewish population and has for years maintained correct relations with Israel behind the scenes. Recognition was therefore not a big stretch. It is very far away from Israel-Palestine. The quid pro quo here was that the Trump administration recognized contested Moroccan claims to the Western Sahara, which had been a Spanish colony detached from the Moroccan kingdom, and which Morocco claimed upon decolonization. A group of Western Saharans objected to rejoining Morocco after all that time and mounted an insurrection. The Moroccan government cared much more about getting the US imprimatur on its incorporation of Western Sahara than it did about Israel-Palestine. The Moroccan monarchy does also have an obsession with the Iranian threat, since it sees Tehran as promoting anti-monarchical republicanism.

The Emirates is fabulously wealthy and only has a million citizen-residents (along with another 8 million largely Indian and Pakistani guest workers). The government is therefore not afraid of public opinion. It is not, by the way, very concerned about Iran. Dubai banks have laundered money for Iranian ones and the two countries do a lot of business with each other, some of it off the books. For the UAE, the Abraham Accords were likely more about currying favor with the Trump administration and gaining access to Israeli technology than about Iran. Nor is the Emirates of much use in any US conflict with Iran, being such a tiny state.

The Sudan was under heavy US sanctions for terrorism and genocide under the old government of Omar al-Bashir. Although a popular revolution overthrew Bashir in 2019. A new provisional government was established, half civilian and half military, to begin moving the country toward civilian rule after decades of fundamentalist dictatorship. The still-powerful officer corps was delighted when Kushner offered to remove the terrorism sanctions if only it would recognize Israel. The civilian side of the government, including the prime minister, insisted that this move could only be provisional until 2022 when an elected government is expected to be formed. The remnants of the military junta don't reflect Sudanese popular sovereignty.

So Kushner was wrong that domestic politics don't matter. Whether the future elected government of Sudan is willing to ratify the Abraham Accords remains to be seen.

Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which Kushner intensively wooed, declined to join the Abraham Accords. Iraq has good relations with Iran and the Iraqi public has become increasingly pro-Palestinian. The Kuwaiti public is nowadays vocally pro-Palestinian. Saudi Arabia is not a postage stamp country like Bahrain and the UAE, but has a citizen population of some 22 million, and the royal family has to be at least a little bit cautious about a backlash. Many Saudis are pro-Palestinian. So it just isn't so that domestic politics do not matter. Oman and Qatar are low key and cautious in their foreign policy and preferred to avoid Kushner's limelight. Not to mention that Kushner's name is mud in Qatar because he colluded with Mohammad Bin Salman in having it blockaded 2017-2020.

Not only were many governments afraid of their largely pro-Palestinian publics, even the older peace treaties are always tested during hot conflicts such as the one we just saw. Jordanians pressed for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador. Egyptians are so, on the whole, pro-Palestinian that the Camp David Accords really produced only a cold peace, with little public buy-in. Israel dreams of Egyptian tourists in Tel Aviv never materialized.

As for the US punishing the Palestinians, Trump cut them off at the knees. He defunded the UN Relief and Works Agency, which provides essential services to the Palestinian refugees. He clashed the US Agency for International Development funding for Palestinians. Some of the frustrations we saw in April and May in the West Bank and Gaza derived from a bad economy for Palestinians during the pandemic, which US aid cuts had exacerbated. Biden is gradually putting that money back.

The Palestinians matter, and cannot just be cast down even more into abject poverty without risking a social explosion such as the one we just witnessed. So that premise is also incorrect.

The Palestinian uprising of spring, 2021, showed that all of Kushner's premises, upon which he built the Abraham Accords, were deeply flawed. He only had full success with three countries, two of them tiny and militarily irrelevant to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a third thousands of miles away and also militarily irrelevant. Sudan's position is very tentative because it is in a transition from dictatorship to democracy, and the people have not been heard on this issue.

When the Palestinian-Israeli conflict blew up this spring, the Palestinians showed that they were refusing to go quietly and to just drop dead, as Mr. Kushner clearly desired from them. Kushner's attempt to make the issue one between Israel and Iran and to downplay the Palestinians signally failed.

In contrast to the continued centrality of the Palestinians to the future of Israel-Palestine, the Abraham Accords states were very much on the sidelines.

Finally, if the Biden administration can bring Iran back into the 2015 nuclear deal, as he and Antony Blinken are attempting to do, the polarization between Iran and the governments of the Arab world will likely greatly decrease. Already, Saudi Arabia sees that writing on the wall and has been meeting with Iranian diplomats. So an Arab-Israel alliance against Iran that throws the Palestinians under the bus, of the sort Kushner pushed, is being rendered increasingly obsolete. If Iran reenters the world economy, its Arab neighbors will adjust and develop new relations with Tehran.

Bonus Video:

TRT World: "What was the impact of the Abraham Accords on Arab solidarity with Palestine?"

(c) 2021 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.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters following the
weekly Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill on May 25, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

The Republican Party Is An Existential Threat To American Democracy
The GOP is increasingly defined not by its shared beliefs but by its shared delusions. This right-wing political party puts us all in peril.
By Robert Reich

The greatest danger to American democracy right now is not coming from Russia, China, or North Korea. It is coming from the Republican Party.

Only 25 percent of voters self-identify as Republican, the GOP's worst showing against Democrats since 2012 and sharply down since last November. But those who remain in the Party are far angrier, more ideological, more truth-denying, and more racist than Republicans who preceded them.

And so are the lawmakers who represent them.

Today's Republican Party increasingly is defined not by its shared beliefs but by its shared delusions.

Last Friday, 54 U.S. senators voted in favor of proceeding to debate a House-passed bill to establish a commission to investigate the causes and events of the January 6th insurrection. This was 6 votes short of the number of votes needed for "cloture," or stopping debate – meaning any further consideration of the bill would have been filibustered by Republicans indefinitely.

So there will be no investigation.

The 54 Senators who voted yes to cloture-in favor of the commission-represent 189 million Americans, or 58% of the American population. The 35 who voted no represent 104 million Americans, or 32% of the population.

In other words, 32% of American voters got to decide that the nation would not know about what happened to American democracy on January 6.

Furthermore, the 35 who voted against the commission were all Republicans. They did not want such an inquiry because it might jeopardize their chances of gaining a majority of the House or Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. They also wanted to stay in the good graces of Donald Trump, whose participation in that insurrection might have been more fully revealed.

Eight of these Republicans voted against certifying Joe Biden as president on January 6. Some of their constituents were responsible for the insurrection in the first place.

The Republican Party is also pursuing new laws in many states making it harder for likely Democrats to vote and opposing voting reforms in Congress.

It is actively purging any Republican who has temerity to criticize Trump. They have removed from her leadership position Liz Cheney, who called Trump's efforts to overturn the election and his role in inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot the greatest "betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."

Local Republicans leaders have either stepped down or been forced out of their party positions for not supporting Trump's baseless election claims or for criticizing the former president's role in inciting the deadly Capitol riot.

American democracy is at an inflection point.

Senate Democrats must get rid of the filibuster and push through major reforms-voting rights, as well as policies that will enable more Americans in the bottom half-most of them without college educations, many of whom cling to the Republican Party- to do better.

In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt noted that the survival of American democracy depended on the adoption of policies that comprised the New Deal. In that Depression decade, democracy was under siege around the world, and dictators were on the rise.

Joe Biden understands that America and the world face a similar challenge. And like FDR, Biden is making a strong case that the adoption of his policies will buttress democracy against the forces of tyranny, not only as an example to the rest of the world but here at home.

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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (L) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
(R-Calif.) leave the White House after meeting with President Joe Biden on May 12, 2021.

The Ugly Truth: Republicans Want More Poverty And Crime
And you can bet your bottom dollar they'll continue complaining about the crime that they've created, particularly in the election ads they'll start running next year.
By Thom Hartmann

The Republican Party is running a huge scam right now, similar to the one they ran in 1992 when President George H.W. Bush was setting up phony cocaine busts across the street from the White House having achieved his position by running his infamous Willie Horton ad four years earlier.

Here's the essential formula:

Increase levels of inequality in the country to the point where poverty and homelessness are a crisis.

Do this with huge, trillion-dollar tax cuts for rich people so they get massively richer, while gutting social safety net programs and supports for working-class people like unions.

Poverty and homelessness increase, which produces an increase in crime, and that freaks out middle-class people-the majority of voters.

Then, build your political identity and campaign around being "tough on crime" while completely ignoring the fact that the poverty you helped create is largely responsible for much of that crime.

Blame the poverty-driven crime, instead, on "welfare" programs Democrats have put into place to try to soften the blow of the poverty caused by Republican policies. Get elected, create more poverty; rinse, wash, and repeat.

This is not a new idea. Around 170 A.D. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said, "Poverty is the mother of crime," although he was actually trying to reduce both in the wake of others who'd made poverty and thus crime worse.

And then there's inequality, which it turns out is at least as consequential as poverty as a driver of criminal behavior.

Years of research done by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett of the Equality Trust in the U.K. found that as inequality goes up, so does crime-particularly violent crime.

As their research notes:

Rates of violence are higher in more unequal societies. This finding holds up in many different contexts, we looked at via different methodologies and after controlling for other determinants of crime such as low income, unemployment, and teen birth rates.

Small permanent decreases in inequality-such as reducing inequality from the level found in Spain to that in Canada-would reduce homicides by 20% and lead to a 23% long-term reduction in robberies.

Inequality, it turns out, may be an even more effective driver of violent crime then poverty. And the United States today is the most unequal society in the developed world.

This week while taking a walk in Portland, my wife Louise was attacked by a homeless man, who threw a water bottle at her and chased her down the street. He was almost certainly mentally ill as well as poor; programs for the mentally ill were mostly nuked by Reagan and have never recovered.

And research from the Equality Trust shows that inequality is associated with mental illness; as societies become more unequal, mental illness increases. The data holds all over the world.

Nonetheless, the GOP continues to promote policies that increase inequality and thus increase violent crime and mental illness, while blaming it all on Democratic welfare programs.

And Republicans believe them. A 2014 Pew poll found that while 90% of Democrats want the government to do something about inequality only 45% of Republicans think anything should be done.

And now they're all over the media being positively hysterical, wringing their hands, about a post-Covid bump in crime during a time when eight million jobs have literally vanished from the American job market and will almost certainly not come back any day soon.

Republicans find this particularly easy to get away with because American media is mostly owned and run by very wealthy people and the "talent" we see on TV are almost exclusively, themselves, multimillionaires. Such folks are rarely comfortable talking about poverty and its relationship to inequality, although they're fine discussing crime anytime the GOP brings it up.

The same is true of most Republican politicians, funded as they are by billionaires, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) pointed out last July.

"Republicans are all upset that I'm connecting the dots between poverty and crime," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "I know most of them haven't experienced or seen these issues firsthand, but I have. This may be hard for them to admit, but poverty and crime are highly linked, both violent and nonviolent alike."

This blindness hits the entire economy. When Democrats work to lift people out of poverty, it lifts the entire economy. As Republicans work to cut taxes on rich people and spending on poor people, it whacks the economy.

Investment strategist Sam Stovall pointed out, in a USA Today article by Doug Stanglin, that "every Republican president since Chester A. Arthur (1881-85) had a recession during his administration."

Stanglin notes that Clinton "averaged 3.7% [economic growth] over eight years," while, "of the post-World War II presidents, only Truman, at 4.8%, Kennedy at 5.2%, and Johnson at 5.1% scored higher average growth rates. By contrast, Reagan averaged 3.5%, Carter 3.3%, Nixon 3.1%, Bush I, and Ford 2.2% and Bush II 1.65%."

Republicans, however, not only are not interested in discussing inequality or poverty and the relationship of both to violent crime, they even have a handy rejoinder to anybody who wants to talk about crime, particularly crime committed in minority neighborhoods.

For them, it's not inequality or even poverty that leads to crime, particularly violent crime: it's "character." And "character," more often than not, is simply a stand-in reference for "racial minorities" or, at best, "poor people."

They know it like a mantra because they've been saying it for years. Poverty is just fine. Don't worry about it. It's not causing crime; you can just look at those folks and see their criminality. As my right-wing colleague talk show host Dennis Prager asserts, "It is not material poverty that causes violent crime, but poor character."

Trump's administration even claimed to reverse the arrow of causation, arguing that poverty is caused by violence, and therefore we don't need to give poor people money but, instead, we need to throw more cops at them. "But to break the cycle of poverty," he said in March of 2017, "we must also break the cycle of violence."

Of course, they're wrong. Taking this out of the American political and social context altogether, a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) about the impact of poverty in China is instructive.

The study looked at two years of homicides across China and found that "poverty and low income levels" are "positively related to homicide rates."

But don't expect the Republicans to wake up any day soon. This is just science, after all. They will never, ever vote to raise taxes on the billionaires and corporations that own them. And they'll never work to use tax money to reduce poverty and inequality in America. Crime, after all, helps them beat Democrats.

Nor do they want to restructure our society in a way that gives working people the power to demand higher wages and better working conditions (unions), thus reducing both poverty and inequality.

And you can bet your bottom dollar they'll continue complaining about the crime that they've created, particularly in the election ads they'll start running next year.

(c) 2021 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-

Minneapolis Honors Police Brutality Victims By Dedicating Armored Vehicles To George Floyd

By The Onion

MINNEAPOLIS-Following a year of upheaval that saw the country undergo a massive reckoning regarding state-sponsored violence, Minneapolis honored victims of police brutality Thursday by dedicating a fleet of armored vehicles to George Floyd.

"These state-of-the-art military-style trucks equipped with power turrets and tear-gas deployment nozzles serve as a fitting tribute to a man whose life was cut tragically short," said Mayor Jacob Frey during the dedication ceremony in which the six $750,000 armored vehicles adorned with Floyd's image were paraded through the city's downtown area.

"We hope that all residents will think of George Floyd whenever they feel the ground quaking as these eight-ton vehicles roll by and reflect on how much we've accomplished since his untimely death, and how much further we still have to go. I'm thankful to say that today we've taken this first step that will allow officers to immediately achieve supremacy in any confrontation and ensure that fewer tragic accidents occur. In this spirit of compassion, we will also be opening a small charitable fund in George Floyd's name to help support officers who have been removed from active duty."

At press time, mayors across the country were reportedly so moved by Minneapolis' actions that they'd vowed to allocate billions of dollars for police departments to organize their own tributes.

(c) 2021 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 22 (c) 06/04/2021

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