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In This Edition

Chris Walker reports, "Trump Saying He Believed Lies About Voter Fraud Is No Defense, Legal Experts Say."

Leonard Pitts Jr. finds, "Vile Threats Against Kinzinger Are Part Of Republicans' Increasing Embrace Of Violence."

Jesse Jackson asks, "Did Trump's Actions On Jan. 6 Reach The Level Of Treason?"

Jim Hightower explains. "The Corporate Conspiracy On The Court."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Almost Every Square Inch Of The US Is Being Battered By Climate Change Today."

John Nichols concludes, "Mike Pence Is Not A Profile In Courage."

James Donahue examines, "Humanity Is Under Attack - Defining The Enemy."

David Swanson considers, "McNamara's Son On Some Of His Father's Lies About Vietnam."

David Suzuki wonders, "Should We Be Working 15-Hour Weeks?"

Charles P. Pierce reports, "The Texas Republican Party Celebrated Juneteenth By Trying To Drag Us All Back To 1857."

Juan Cole reports on a, "Climate Emergency."

Robert Reich sees, "The Crypto Crash."

Thom Hartmann with a must read, "The Right-Wing Supreme Court Readies To Help Destroy The Planet."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "US Republicans Propose Arming Foetuses In The Womb," but first, Uncle Ernie warns, "Beware Of Flash Droughts."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Martin Kozlowski, , with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, National Park Service, J. Scott Applewhite, Oliver Contreras, Erin Schaff, Jacquelyn Martin, NY Daily News, Sarah Murray, Immigrant Employment Council of BC, Win McNamee, Andrew Lichtenstein, Jim Hightower, Twitter, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Chicago Sun*Times, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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Beware Of Flash Droughts,
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"Will water become the new gold of the coming age? Will man lust after the precious commodity in an ever aggressive manner? Will nature meet man head on and show him who is boss?" ~~~ Anthony T. Hincks

I see where much of the western U.S. has been in the grip of an unrelenting drought since early 2020. The dryness has coincided with record-breaking wildfires, intense and long-lasting heat waves, low stream flows and dwindling water supplies in reservoirs that millions of people across the region rely on.

Heading into summer, the outlook is pretty grim.

One driver of the Western drought has been persistent La Nina conditions in the tropical Pacific since the summer of 2020. During La Nina, cooler tropical Pacific waters help nudge the jet stream northward. That tends to bring fewer storms to the southern tier of the U.S. and produce pronounced drought impacts in the Southwest.

The other and perhaps more important part of the story is the hotter and thirstier atmosphere, caused by a rapidly warming climate.

I've watched how climate change is making drought conditions increasingly worse - particularly in the western and central U.S. The last two years have been more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 Celsius) warmer than normal in these regions. Large swaths of the Southwest have been even hotter, with temperatures more than 3 F (1.7 C) higher. Studies suggest the Southwest's ongoing 20-year drought is the most severe in at least 1,200 years, based on how dry the soils are.

A thristier atmosphere tends to extract more water out of the land. It exacerbates evaporative stress on the land, particularly when a region is experiencing below-normal precipitation. High evaporative stress can rapidly deplete soil moisture and lead to hotter temperatures, as the evaporative cooling effect is diminished. All this creates hydroclimatic stress for plants, causing restricted growth, drying and even death.

As a consequence of a warming climate, the U.S. Southwest has seen an 8% increase in this evaporative demand since the 1980s. This trend is generally happening across other parts of the country.

The thistier atmosphere is turning what would otherwise be near-normal or moderately dry conditions into droughts that are more severe or extreme. As the climate heats up further, the increasing atmospheric thirst will continue to intensify drought stress, with consequences for water availability, long-lasting and intense heat stress, and large-scale ecosystem transformation.

Climate models project ominous prospects of a more arid climate and more severe droughts in the Southwest and southern Great Plains in the coming decades.

In addition to direct impacts of increasing temperatures on future droughts, these regions are also expected to see fewer storms and more days without precipitation. Climate models consistently project a poleward shift in the midlatitude storm tracks during this century as the planet heats up, which is expected to result in fewer storms in the southern tier of the country.

The changing nature of droughts is a concern even in parts of the U.S. that are expected to have a net increase in annual precipitation during the 21st century. In a hotter future, because of the high evaporative demand on the land, prolonged periods with weeks to months of below normal precipitation in these areas can lead to significant drought, even if the overall trend is for more precipitation.

Large parts of the northern Plains, for example, have seen precipitation increase by 10% or more in the last three decades. However, the region is not immune to severe drought conditions in a hotter climate.

At the tail end of what was the wettest decade on record in the region, the northern Plains experienced an intense flash drought in the summer of 2017 that resulted in agricultural losses in excess of $2.6 billion and wildfires across millions of acres. Record evaporative demand contributed to the severity of the flash drought, in addition to a severe short-term precipitation deficit. A flash drought is a drought that intensifies rapidly over a period of a few weeks and often catches forecasters by surprise. The likelihood of flash droughts that can cause severe impacts to agriculture and ecosystems and promote large wildfires is expected to increase with a warmer and thirstier atmosphere.


05-25-1937 ~ 06-18-2022
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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. My most recent book is, The Red Kings Horror (2022)

Then-president Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office on September 17, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Trump Saying He Believed Lies About Voter Fraud Is No Defense, Legal Experts Say
By Chris Walker

Former President Donald Trump cannot win an acquittal from any potential indictment related to the attack on the Capitol by arguing that he genuinely believed his false claims of election fraud, two highly regarded legal experts said.

Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, and Dennis Aftergut, a former federal prosecutor and current counsel to the advocacy group Lawyers Defending American Democracy, made the argument in a joint op-ed for The Hill, published on Thursday evening. The two experts said that a claim of sincere belief in errant claims of 2020 election fraud cannot be recognized as a reasonable defense, should Trump face prosecution for his actions in the days leading up to and on January 6, 2021, when a mob of his loyalists attacked Congress during its certification of the Electoral College results.

Trump could face prosecution from the Department of Justice (DOJ). According to statements made by Attorney General Merrick Garland, the DOJ is carefully watching the January 6 public hearings, and could make a prosecutorial decision based on the evidence the panel puts forward.

If the DOJ decides to charge Trump with a crime, the former president might argue that he genuinely believed his own election fraud claims, and that his attempts to overturn the election were therefore justified. Tribe and Aftergut say such an argument isn't legally plausible.

The idea that "Trump lacked the 'criminal intent' necessary for conviction because he didn't think he was doing anything wrong" is "incorrect," the two legal minds wrote in their piece, because the law "distinguishes between refusing to accept inconvenient truth to get your way and mental disturbance sufficient to excuse illegality, between adopting strategic blindness and not knowing your facts from a hole in the ground." Trump frequently heard from his aides - both on the campaign and within his administration - that his fraud claims were inaccurate. Former attorney general William Barr described them under oath to the January 6 committee as "bullshit." The former president decided to ignore the advice of his aides and pursued actions that many say were illegal.

Whether Trump was a true believer in those claims, however, is irrelevant, Tribe and Aftergut said. The former president's actions aren't justified by his beliefs because there's a process to address those complaints that don't require illegal activities.

Trump and his allies pursued the legal route, asking dozens of courts to allow him more time to prove fraud occurred. In each of those instances, the courts found that his claims were baseless.

"An elected official doesn't get to strong-arm others to have them violate the law, even if he genuinely believes that pervasive voter fraud turned an election," the duo wrote. Losses in court cases didn't give Trump the right to say "I'm going to stay in power anyway," they added.

While Garland considers whether to take legal action against Trump or anyone else who conspired to overturn the election, most Americans recognize that Trump, at the very least, was responsible for the violence of January 6. A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 57 percent of Americans believe Trump bears some or a lot of responsibility for that day's violence, while only 35 percent say he doesn't. When asked if elected officials in general should face prosecution from the DOJ if they attempted to overturn an election, 67 percent said they should.

(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.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., listens to a House hearing on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol on June 16.

Vile Threats Against Kinzinger Are Part Of Republicans' Increasing Embrace Of Violence
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

ABC News thought it was - in the words of George Stephanopoulos - "too ugly" and "too dangerous" and declined to show it on air. So Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted it Sunday night, letting us all see the threatening letter that recently came to his wife, Sofia, at the home where they live with Christian, their 5-month-old son.

It greets her with a profane sexual slur.

Then it gets worse: "That pimp you married not only broke his oath, he sold his soul. Yours and Christian's too! Adam's activities have hurt not only this country, but countless patriotic and God-fearing families. Therefore, though it might take time, he will be executed. But don't worry! You and Christian will be joining Adam in hell too!"

Asked by Stephanopoulos about the threat Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Kinzinger had an ominous reply. Given this country's trajectory, he said, "There is violence in the future."

But truth is, violence - the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump - is the only reason many of us even know Kinzinger's name. The Illinois congressman is one of just two Republicans - Rep. Liz Cheney is the other - who had the moral fortitude to serve on the House committee investigating that attempted coup. Hence, the threats from fellow Republicans.

The 2017 shooting of GOP Rep. Steve Scalise and four others and the arrest this month of a man who allegedly sought to murder conservative Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh foreclose any claim that violence is unique to the political right. No, violence remains, as H. Rap Brown said in 1967, "as American as cherry pie."

But the embrace of violence, the cultivation of violence, the tacit encouragement of violence, have become, distinctively and disturbingly, Republican staples. So Jan. 6 was no accident. To the contrary, it's what you'd expect from a party that endorses guns as a remedy for political disagreements, one whose leader explicitly encourages and condones thuggery, one where seemingly every candidate for office runs a TV spot co-starring a firearm. Indeed, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is seeking a Senate seat with an ad that shows him wielding a long gun alongside a team in tactical gear as they breach a house. "Today, we're goin' RINO hunting," he says.

The acronym stands for "Republican In Name Only" which is, not incidentally, what Republicans like Greitens call Republicans like Kinzinger. The ad appeared online the day after Kinzinger revealed the threats against his family.

This is now our norm. Republicans no longer talk policy or ideas. Republicans only threaten.

Isaac Asimov famously called violence "the last refuge of the incompetent." But violence - self defense excepted - is also the last refuge of the loser, the last gasp of those who have no more words, the tacit confession of those who know, but are loathe to admit, that they got nothin'. If you can't win the argument, win the fight. A mantra for thugs, bully boys and other Republicans.

"There is violence in the future," said Kinzinger. And it felt not unlike someone saying, "There is a storm in the future," as rain pelts the window and lawn furniture goes skittering across the yard.

Yes, things could get much worse. They are, however, already quite bad. One of our two major political parties is a threat to the very nation. And absent a dramatic course correction, it seems likely dissolution is in the future, pain is in the future, regret is in the future.

But violence? That's already here.

(c) 2022 Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of the novel, Before I Forget. His column runs every Sunday and Wednesday in the Miami Herald. Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns, was published in 2009.

Then-President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Jan. 6, 2021, to a crowd that later stormed the Capitol.

Did Trump's Actions On Jan. 6 Reach The Level Of Treason?
A professor notes that the framers of the Constitution had "a very specific image in mind - men gathering with guns, forming an army and marching on the seat of government."
By Jesse Jackson

Will Donald Trump be held accountable for the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 and what was a multi-layered conspiracy to overturn the results of the presidential election?MO<> Attorney General Merrick Garland has stated that, "We're just going to follow the facts wherever they lead ... to hold all perpetrators who are criminally responsible for January 6 accountable, regardless of their level, [or]their position..."

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack has systematically revealed the facts, confirming what Republican Rep. Liz Cheney stated when she announced she would vote to impeach Donald Trump:

"On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic...," Cheney said.

"The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the president," she said. "The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."

The committee's investigation has confirmed what Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell stated: "The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like."

This is a question of treason, a charge that should not be made lightly.

The Constitution defines the crime: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

Do Trump's actions meet the test of treason? Professor Carlton F.W. Larson, author of "On Treason: A Citizen's Guide to the Law" notes that the framers of the Constitution had "a very specific image in mind - men gathering with guns, forming an army and marching on the seat of government." Larson notes that few events in American history have matched that description as clearly as the sacking of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Their purpose assaulted the very heart of democracy: trying to stop the congressional proceeding that would formally certify the transfer of power following a democratic election. As Larson noted, "At some point, you have to say, if that's not levying war against the United States, then what on earth is?"

The Justice Department has prosecuted over 800 people who participated in the attack on the Capitol. The most serious charges were directed at leaders of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, gangs that conspired to breach the Capitol in order to stop the proceedings and possibly kidnap or kill public officials.

They were charged, and some have pled guilty to, seditious conspiracy. They thought they were doing the bidding of Trump.

Reviewing the evidence in a hearing on whether to honor the subpoenas of the committee, a federal judge found that Trump had "most likely" committed at least two crimes: obstructing an official proceeding and engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the United States. He was not asked to rule on whether Trump had committed treason.

Prosecuting a former president is something that no prosecutor would take on lightly. A trial would no doubt be a bitter national trauma.

Yet, the very essence of the rule of law is that no person - not a governor or a general, a billionaire or an oligarch, or even a former president - is above the law.

Trump's responsibility for the crimes that occurred is clear. And worse, he not only has expressed no remorse for his actions, he has spread the Big Lie relentlessly, and enlisted partisans across the country to attack election officials, change election laws, and leave the country more vulnerable to another assault on democracy.

Accountability under the law serves as a deterrence for those who would seek to violate it in the future. That is why the Justice Department has prosecuted 800-plus perpetrators with more to come. And that is why the attorney general must follow the evidence and bring to justice all those responsible for the attack, including the undeniable instigator: Donald Trump.

(c) 2022 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.

The Corporate Conspiracy On The Court

By Jim Hightower

Who is rigging America's legal system against workaday people? The Supreme Court's right-wing extremists, that's who. Just a handful of aloof, unelected judges have been turning what's supposed to be a citadel of justice into an unrestrained political instrument for instituting autocratic, plutocratic, theocratic power over us. If that sounds like a coup, it is! A slow-motion power grab has quietly been underway for years, with a core group of corporate billionaires and far-right political operatives working (with practically no media exposure) to stack federal and state courts with partisan activists.

There's even a smoking gun revealing this plot: A confidential memo to the Chamber of Commerce, written in 1971 by Lewis Powell - a corporate lawyer and consigliere for Big Tobacco. Powell lamented that such upstanding corporate citizens as tobacco giants were not getting the respect they deserved, nor did they have enough power over the nation's political system.

That was absurd, of course, but Powell was dead-set on returning America to pre-New Deal days when corporate barons were the supreme, domineering force over America's government, economy, and society. To get there, Powell's memo noted that "with an activist-minded Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic, and political change" - by which he meant structural changes that empower moneyed interests over workers, consumers, et al. Just two months after Powell sent his memo, President Nixon awarded him a seat on the Supreme Court!

After decades of political maneuvering by a consortium of laissez-faire ideologues, dark-money billionaire funders, secretive front groups, and top GOP politicos, we now have the Supreme Court corporations want. Powell's memo has literally come to life.

(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

In this handout photo provided by the National Park Service, water levels in Gardner River rise alongside
the North Entrance Road in Yellowstone National Park on June 13, 2022, in Gardiner, Montana.

Almost Every Square Inch Of The US Is Being Battered By Climate Change Today
By William Rivers Pitt

Probably, you're hot right now. Or soaked. Or in the dark. Or frightened. Or all of the above. Phrases like "ring of fire" have entered the weather lexicon beside """heat dome,"" "polar vortex," "atmospheric river" and "bombogenesis" (also known as a "bomb cyclone," because that isn't terrifying or anything) to try and explain the bedlam weather affecting basically every one of the contiguous 48 states.

That's cool, I guess; I've always been a Johnny Cash fan, and I love the Social Distortion cover. It requires electricity to hear them, though, and for about 500,000 people in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, that's not an option at present. The power is out for the foreseeable future. There was a tornado warning during rush hour in Chicago, and wind speeds were clocked over 80 miles per hour as storms swept the region. One storm near Fort Wayne was almost 70,000 feet tall.

"The heat dome is centered near Nashville," reports The Washington Post. "It has established dozens of high temperature records since it first formed late last week over Texas and the Southwest. Temperatures soared to as high as 123 degrees in Death Valley, Calif., while Phoenix hit 114 and Las Vegas 109 over the weekend."

Meanwhile, the Post adds, many cities set high-temperature records on Monday:

Austin and San Antonio made it to 105.... Lincoln, Neb. (with a high of 103 degrees), Columbia, S.C. (103), Austin (102), St. Louis (100), Charlotte (98), Nashville (97), and Louisville and Paducah, Ky. (both 97) set June 13 records Monday. North Platte, Neb., hit 108 degrees - not just a daily record, but the highest temperature ever recorded there during the month of June.
Yellowstone National Park is closed because large parts of it are flooding and eating houses. Roads through the park have been obliterated, bridges have collapsed, with mud and rockslides battering what's left. Park visitors have been ordered to evacuate, but there is no accounting for how many may be trapped in the back country. All entrances have been closed.

"The US Geological Survey on Monday said the Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs stage increased by about 6 feet in the past 24 hours," reports Axios, "which is above the National Weather Service's flood stage. In fact, it rose to an unprecedented level, over 2 feet higher than its previous all-time record flood in 1918, according to the NWS."

According to The New York Times, the weather-related battering has cashiered a significant portion of the park for the remainder of the tourist season, with no expectation of change in sight:

"Devastating rain and mudslides that tore out bridges, flooded homes and forced some 10,000 people to evacuate will keep the northern reaches of Yellowstone National Park, one of the nation's most-visited natural wonders, cut off to tourists for the rest of the busy summer travel season. And officials warned that more rain and flooding could be on the way."
And then there are the fires, massive ones, again, now spread over six different states. In this, the contiguous 48 do not stand alone; Alaska is currently enduring 23 significant infernos. In places like Arizona, California and New Mexico, the fires are being fueled by the aforementioned record-setting heat that has exacerbated an ongoing multistate drought of historic proportions.

The existential question of water availability is officially pressing, and no longer merely relegated to the someday-maybe corner. Towns in multiple states are running out of water, and Lake Mead in Colorado - the once-massive reservoir providing water to some 20 million people - has almost ceased to exist. In Utah, the Great Salt Lake is drying up, setting the stage for clouds of arsenic dust to blow in the wind from the dry lake bed. Chalk it up to anthropogenic (Read: we did this to ourselves) climate disruption, the monster that was under the bed for years before it finally blasted through the mattress and took over the room. The evidence of human-made climate change is now so brazenly obvious that the denial camp has moved from "It's not real" to "It can't be fixed," marking another milestone in their eternal quest to be not one bit helpful in salvaging the situation if there's still a buck to be made from fossil fuels.

Here's how it works for much of the west: Drought leads to lower and occasionally nonexistent snowfall in the mountains. That accumulated snowfall, back when it happened, would melt as the season warmed and feed water to the various states. Now, the absence of snow leads to parched summers. When there is snow, the extreme heat causes it to melt too quickly, leading to flooding calamities like the one currently lashing Yellowstone.

"Suffice it to say," climate reporter Dahr Jamail wrote in Truthout in July of 2019, "all of us now, if we live long enough, are likely to become climate refugees at some point ... whether it be from lack of food and water, rising seas, wildfires, smoke, or extreme weather events. For many, their time as climate refugees has already begun."

The future is now, and it is hot, thirsty, windy and dangerous. This truth is baked into tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow again. It will not get better. How much worse it gets depends, in an ever decreasing measure, upon us.

(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.

Mike Pence Is Not A Profile In Courage
By John Nichols

The most chilling revelation from the first public hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol was the reaction of President Donald Trump to news reports that the insurrectionist mob he had incited was proposing to execute his vice president.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who effectively co-chairs the committee, recounted how, "aware of the rioters' chants to 'hang Mike Pence,' the president responded with this sentiment: 'Maybe our supporters have the right idea.' Mike Pence 'deserves it.'"

Trump's record of violent disdain for associates who displease him is well documented. But the news that the president of the United States was so comfortable with the prospect of having a crowd he incited murder his vice president had a very "Night of the Long Knives" feel to it.

So it was vital for the select committee to focus last Thursday on the details of how Trump pressured Pence to join his coup attempt by rejecting the Electoral College votes that made Democrat Joe Biden the nation's 46th president. Like the other hearings so far, the Pence session was compelling. But it lacked for one element.

The star witness was nowhere to be found.

While the former vice president has made several self-serving statements about his own actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and while his aides and several members of Congress did their best to portray their former boss as a hero last Thursday, Pence couldn't be bothered to cooperate with the committee. Indeed, while the committee was deliberating, Pence was busy appearing before a gathering of the House Republican Study Committee. The chair of the study committee, Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, is a Trump apologist who dismisses the investigation of Trump's coup attempt as "a political witch-hunt."

Why did Pence choose to keep company with this particular congressman, rather than testifying before the committee? Why didn't the former vice president testify - along with his former aides - about Trump's lawless disregard for the Constitution and the will of the American people.

The answer to that question is all too obvious.

Pence is a craven political careerist who is always looking out for what is best for Pence. He did the right thing on Jan. 6, 2021, and for that he deserves credit. But his appropriate action on that day - when even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, rebuked Trump - was less a matter of political heroism than political calculation. Remember that Pence was so desperately afraid of crossing Trump that he turned to former Vice President Dan Quayle for advice on whether he might do Trump's bidding.

According to the book "Peril," by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Pence asked Quayle if there was anything he could do. "Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away," said Quayle. But Pence kept pushing:

"You don't know the position I'm in," Pence said. Quayle replied, "I do know the position you're in. I also know what the law is. You listen to the parliamentarian. That's all you do. You have no power."
Ultimately, that's what Pence did.

But the backstory does not read like a chapter from "Profiles in Courage."

"Think about it," observed Kurt Bardella, a former senior adviser for Republicans on the House Oversight Committee who has since become a Democrat. "The vice president of the United States was calling around looking for someone who would give him permission to preside over the complete collapse of our democratic process."

The fact is that Pence was, is, and will always be a political hack. He's a perennial candidate, constantly on the watch for a way to pursue his ambition for higher office. He's already campaigning for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination - visiting key early caucus and primary states, campaigning for fellow Republicans and begging for money. It's a failed mission. The dominant figure in the Republican Party, Donald Trump, actively despises Pence, as do Trump's backers, who make up the defining faction in most state parties.

But Pence can't help himself. The career politician, who has rarely let an election cycle pass without positioning for a bid for another high office, will keep trying to have it both ways. He wants to be seen by Trump critics as the patriot who stood up to the former president, and he wants to be seen by Trump allies as a loyal vice president who did almost everything the boss asked.

Testifying before the Jan. 6 committee would have forced Pence to take a side. He would, undoubtedly, have been asked to accept the argument made by Cheney: "What President Trump demanded that Mike Pence do wasn't just wrong, it was illegal and it was unconstitutional."

Pence is not going to call Trump a crook. He is not going to describe Trump's Jan. 6 project as "an attempted coup." Doing so would doom Pence's presidential prospects. Yes, those prospects are dismal. But Pence is not prepared to face the truth that his political career finished.

The former vice president chose not to testify because, when all is said and done, Mike Pence lacks the courage to sacrifice his own ambition for the cause of assuring that there is never another insurrection like the one that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021. He doesn't even have the guts to demand accountability for the thug who suggested that hanging Mike Pence might be "the right idea."

(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.

Humanity Is Under Attack - Defining The Enemy
By James Donahue

Our food is injected with toxic chemicals, the pharmaceutical industry has goaded multitudes into buying and consuming pills that are attacking our bodies, we are ignoring all of the signs that our continued consumption of carbon fuels is heating our planet, and we have been brainwashed to submit to ongoing enslavement by employers and political leaders. What is wrong with this picture?

It is obvious that humanity made a wrong turn a few hundred if not thousands of years ago and we now are rushing headlong toward an obvious train wreck if we don't get off the track we are on. How could this have happened? How do we put on the brakes and change course? And if there is blame to be had, how do we identify the culprits?

The problem has been with us for a very long time. For as far back as we can go in recorded history most of the human race has lived under a form of slavery. There were always kings, dictators and religious power figures sitting in ivory towers, forcing the commoners to spend their horrid lives in hard labor, all for the enrichment of those in charge. While the popes, bishops, kings and monarchs basked in great wealth and luxury, the commoners groveled at their feet, hoping to catch a crumb if by chance it fell from their plate.

There have been revolutions. The great American, French and Russian revolts in the Eighteenth Century brought change, but not necessarily for the better. Instead of raising humanity to a more equal footing, the wars led to changes in the way the enslavement was carried out. We rushed into the industrial age, the power figures built the factories, and the masses went to work in them.

In the United States, where the actual ownership of slaves and the question of the state's rights to decide the slavery issue became the catalyst for the great Civil War, Americans were carefully brainwashed to believe we had solved the slavery issue once and for all. We taught our children in public schools to believe the adage that America was the "land of the free," and we grew up believing that since we were all created equal, if we worked hard for our employer we had a chance for advancement and good lives.

The problem was then, and continues to remain that we have established a culture that requires us to work for an employer. That employer used to be a small family-owned business or industry that coexisted with the people who worked for it. But in recent years those small businesses have been purchased by outside corporate interests. Those corporations began swallowing one another until almost everything is now owned by a few massive conglomerates that control the manufacture of everything we use, including the food on our table. Those conglomerates have corporate boards and Chief Operating Officers (CEOs) managing their affairs, but they are owned by stockholders who control the flow of the money, determine where the factories they own will conduct their business, who gets to work for them and even the working conditions they must endure.

Because world governments have consolidated to form world trade agreements, the conglomerates now operate freely anyplace in the world they choose.

Suddenly humanity finds itself back where it all began. Everybody is struggling to survive in an uncompromising world controlled by the few people who control the wealth and power. We are still enslaved by this complex system. We still grovel at the feet of the kings, hoping against hope to catch a few of the crumbs that perchance fall from their plates.

There is a grass-roots revolutionary movement occurring. It is going on in just about every corner of the world, but because of the corporate controlled media, we only catch a brief mention of the rioting, the marches, the fighting and the attempts by the common people to overthrow dictatorial and controlling governments. Most of these movements are bloody because those in power are using sophisticated weaponry and their wealth to fight back against antique handguns, swords and pitchforks.

Those people in government positions may only be the tip of the iceberg in this power struggle, however. While they are the visible images of power, they may all be supported by secret, power figures hiding behind the curtain. The real controlling force is hiding within world money markets, power banking systems and secret organizations like the Bilderberg's, all composed of key figures that control the course of the world.

So if there are secret forces busy pulling the strings of governments, banks and industry, why is the world falling into such disrepair, and why are we suffering from the poisoning of our environment, our food and being thrown into such extreme poverty through no fault of our own? Is there a secret plan afoot here to kill off the human race? If the capitalistic system we have grown accustomed to goes into collapse and our world no longer exists as we knew it, will not the people in charge suffer from the change along with the rest of us? If the world heats to unbearable levels and we go extinct, will they not perish with the rest of us?

There appears to be one of three programs in operation from behind the scenes. Either we have all been so subjected to greed that we just haven't cared about the things that really matter, there is a concerted effort to save the planet via a dramatic reduction of the population or the wild theory that we have all been under the control of alien forces is true. Whichever the reality, we are involved in a dangerous game that appears to be driving us all on a painful path to extinction.

The hope, if hope is to be found, lies in the youth. They have a difficult task ahead of them of saving us all from an insanity that has dominated our thinking for centuries.

(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.

a current image of the house that the McNamara's lived in in Washington DC

McNamara's Son On Some Of His Father's Lies About Vietnam
By David Swanson

Pretty much anything that complicates the story of a person is a good corrective to the tendency to simplify and caricature. So, one has to welcome Craig McNamara's book, Because Our Fathers Lied: A Memoir of Truth and Family, from Vietnam to Today. Craig's father, Robert McNamara was Secretary of War ("Defense") for much of the war on Vietnam. He'd been offered the choice of that or Secretary of the Treasury, with no requirement that he know anything about either job, and of course no requirement to have the slightest notion that the study of making and maintaining peace even existed.

The plural of "Fathers" in the title seems mostly to be lifted from Rudyard Kipling, as there's really only one father liar focused on in the book. His story is not complicated by his having been a wonderful father. It turns out he was rather a horrendously awful father: neglectful, uninterested, preoccupied. But he wasn't a cruel or violent or thoughtless father. He wasn't a father without lots of love and good intentions. It strikes me that - considering the jobs he had - he didn't do half bad, and could have done a lot worse. His story is complicated, as any human being's, beyond what can be summed up in a paragraph or even a book. He was good, bad, and mediocre in a million ways. But he did some of the most awful things ever done, knew he was doing them, knew long after that he had done them, and never stopped offering BS excuses.

The horrors inflicted on people in Vietnam loom in the background of this courageous book, but never get the attention given to the harm done to U.S. troops. In that, this book is no different from most books on any U.S. war - it's almost a requirement just to be in the genre. The book's first paragraph includes this sentence:

"He never told me that he knew the Vietnam War wasn't winnable. But he did know."
If all you had to go by was this book, you'd think that Robert McNamara made "mistakes" (something neither Hitler nor Putin nor any enemy of the U.S. government has ever done - they commit atrocities) and that what he needed to do with the war on Vietnam was to "quit" fighting (which is helpfully a key part of what's needed right now in Yemen, Ukraine, and elsewhere), and that what he lied about was just claiming success in the face of failure (which is helpfully something that's done in every single war and ought to be ended by everyone). But we never hear in these pages about McNamara's role in escalating the thing into a major war in the first place - the equivalent of Putin's invasion of Ukraine, albeit on a much larger, bloodier scale. Here's a paragraph excerpted from my book War Is A Lie:
"In a 2003 documentary called The Fog of War, Robert McNamara, who had been Secretary of 'Defense' at the time of the Tonkin lies, admitted that the August 4 attack did not happen and that there had been serious doubts at the time. He did not mention that on August 6 he had testified in a joint closed session of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees along with Gen. Earl Wheeler. Before the two committees, both men claimed with absolute certainty that the North Vietnamese had attacked on August 4. McNamara also did not mention that just days after the Tonkin Gulf non-incident, he had asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide him with a list of further U.S. actions that might provoke North Vietnam. He obtained the list and advocated for those provocations in meetings prior to Johnson's ordering such actions on September 10. These actions included resuming the same ship patrols and increasing covert operations, and by October ordering ship-to-shore bombardment of radar sites.67 A 2000-2001 National Security Agency (NSA) report concluded there had been no attack at Tonkin on August 4 and that the NSA had deliberately lied. The Bush Administration did not allow the report to be published until 2005, due to concern that it might interfere with lies being told to get the Afghanistan and Iraq wars started."

As I wrote at the time that the film The Fog of War was released, McNamara did a bit of regret-expressing and a wide variety of excuse making. One of his several excuses was blaming LBJ. Craig McNamara writes that he asked his father why it took him so long to say what little he said by way of apology, and that the reason his father gave was "loyalty" to JFK and LBJ - two men not famous for loyalty to each other. Or maybe it was loyalty to the U.S. government. When LBJ refused to expose Nixon's sabotaging of the Paris peace talks, that wasn't loyalty to Nixon, but to the whole institution. And that, as Craig McNamara suggests, can ultimately be loyalty to one's own career prospects. Robert McNamara was treated to prestigious well-paying jobs following his disastrous but obedient performance at the Pentagon (including running the World Bank where he supported the coup in Chile).

(Another film called The Post doesn't come up in this book. If the author thinks it was unfair to his father, I think he should have said so.)

Craig notes that "[i]n other countries that aren't the American Empire, the losers of wars are executed or exiled or imprisoned. Not so for Robert McNamara." And thank goodness. You'd have to slaughter every top official doing back through the decades. But this notion of losing a war suggests that a war can be won. Craig's reference elsewhere to a "bad war" suggests that there can be a good one. I wonder whether a better understanding of the evil of all wars might help Craig McNamara understand his father's chief immoral action as accepting the job he accepted - something U.S. society had in no way prepared his father to comprehend.

Craig hung a U.S. flag upside down in his room, spoke with war protesters that his father would not come outside to meet with, and repeatedly tried to question his father about the war. He must inevitable wonder what more he should have done. But there is more we all always should have done, and in the end, we have to cease dumping treasure into weapons and indoctrinating people with the notion that a war can be justified - otherwise it won't matter who they stick in the Pentagon - a building that was originally planned for conversion to civilized use following WWII, but which has remained devoted to massive violence to this day.

(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.

David Suzuki Foundation staff have enjoyed a four-day workweek since its founding in 1990.

Should We Be Working 15-Hour Weeks
By David Suzuki

The five-day workweek is an anachronistic relic of a time when conditions were far different than today.

Back in 1930, renowned economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that technological advances, slowed population growth, increasing capital (or "material things") and changing economic priorities would make three-hour shifts or a 15-hour workweek possible and desirable within 100 years.

Then, he wrote, "The love of money as a possession - as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life - will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semicriminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease."

Keynes cautioned, however, that the "age of leisure and abundance" could be met with dread: "For we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy. It is a fearful problem for the ordinary person, with no special talents, to occupy himself, especially if he no longer has roots in the soil or in custom or in the beloved conventions of a traditional society."

Still, he remained optimistic: "I feel sure that with a little more experience we shall use the new-found bounty of nature quite differently from the way in which the rich use it to-day, and will map out for ourselves a plan of life quite otherwise than theirs."

We're eight years from Keynes's 100-year prediction. Technology has advanced, more than he could have imagined. Population growth has slowed, although not stabilized. Capital has increased, albeit much wealth has been hoarded and monopolized by a few. And environmental and social crises have led many to question economic priorities. So, why are we still working hours similar to 90 years ago?

Part of the answer lies in the postwar adoption of "consumerism" as an economic model. It may also relate to the concern Keynes raised: the "dread" that people won't know how to occupy their leisure time.

But with so many people feeling overwhelmed by an out-of-whack work-life balance, the latter isn't an insurmountable problem. Women, especially, are feeling the crunch. Unlike in the 1950s, most have joined the workforce, but as in those days, they still do most of the housekeeping and child care.

Keynes distinguished between "absolute" and "relative" needs. The latter, he argued, "satisfy the desire for superiority," and "may indeed be insatiable." But Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz notes that society moulds our choices. We "learn how to consume by consuming," he writes, and how to "enjoy leisure by enjoying leisure."

Because we've failed to reduce work hours gradually, as Keynes envisioned, we're unlikely to achieve 15-hour workweeks by 2030. But environmental and social conditions have sparked a move toward a four-day workweek. (David Suzuki Foundation staff have enjoyed a four-day workweek since its founding in 1990.)

The biggest trial is in the U.K., where 3,300 workers at 70 wide-ranging companies, from small to large, recently started working four days a week with no loss in pay. The experiment - led by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the think-tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Campaign, and researchers at Cambridge and Oxford universities and Boston College - will "measure the impact on productivity in the business and the wellbeing of its workers, as well as the impact on the environment and gender equality," a Guardian article says.

Governments are also backing trials in Scotland and Spain, and countries like Iceland and Sweden have run successful trials. Along with other benefits like increased vacation time and flexibility, and working from home, shorter workweeks not only give people better lives, they're also good for the environment. Fewer people commuting means reduced pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion.

The pandemic taught us it's possible to rapidly shift our ways of thinking and acting, especially as they relate to work. It's past time to recognize that life isn't given meaning through excessive consumption and toil, but by having time to spend with friends and families and by pursuing interests outside of work. That will even benefit employers by helping staff be happier, healthier and more productive.

We may not achieve Keynes's predicted 15-hour workweeks by the end of this decade, but we can surely aim for a better balance.

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

The Texas Republican Party Celebrated Juneteenth By Trying To Drag Us All Back To 1857
The prion disease ravaging conservative politics is now a threat to the nation.
By Charles P. Pierce

Happy Juneteenth, everyone! I know that this has been accepted as a truly American holiday because people are already complaining that it's been commercialized. They are absolutely right, by the way. From the Washington Post:

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis advertised a "Juneteenth watermelon salad" in its food court, then dropped it and issued an apology after intense blowback.
I mean, come on, people. Honest to god, get with the damn program.

As we all should know by now, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when federal troops arrived in Texas to tell the enslaved people there that they were free. (In fact, they had been for a while, but word of the Emancipation Proclamation was pretty much stifled in the state.) So it was interesting that, over the weekend, the Texas Republican Party held its convention and decided to celebrate Juneteenth's first go-round as an official federal holiday by dragging itself back to approximately 1857. Over the weekend, the historian Heather Cox Richardson, in her invaluable Letters from an American newsletter, summarized well the Buchanan-administration cosplay that resulted.

. ...delegates to a convention of the Texas Republican Party today approved platform planks rejecting "the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and [holding] that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States"; requiring students "to learn about the dignity of the preborn human," including that life begins at fertilization; treating homosexuality as "an abnormal lifestyle choice"; locking the number of Supreme Court justices at 9; getting rid of the constitutional power to levy income taxes; abolishing the Federal Reserve; rejecting the Equal Rights Amendment; returning Christianity to schools and government; ending all gun safety measures; abolishing the Department of Education; arming teachers; requiring colleges to teach "free-market liberty principles"; defending capital punishment; dictating the ways in which the events at the Alamo are remembered; protecting Confederate monuments; ending gay marriage; withdrawing from the United Nations and the World Health Organization; and calling for a vote "for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation."
Now, yes, this all sounds like what was written on the cover of Lauren Boebert's middle-school Trapper Keeper, but it's important to remember that Texas is now sort of the Home Depot of really bad policy ideas. Bad ideas-on guns, on reproductive rights, on environmental regulations, on race, on voting, on race and voting-are born there, but they don't stay put. Other states glom onto them and, eventually, those states try to out-Texas Texas, and too many of them succeed too damn well at it. So I am not going to be too sanguine about the future of the many truly terrible ideas that Richardson enumerates. Because, if anything, she low-balled the crazy that went on at that convention.

Senator John Cornyn got booed for even thinking about cutting a weak-ass gun-reform deal with his Democratic colleagues, a compromise that the Republican leadership in the Senate is already intimating that it might leave to die of thirst in the political wilderness anyway. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who makes Cornyn look like Henry Wallace, was physically attacked on his way into the convention-too many chickens, not enough roosts-and the mood inside the hall was apparently grim with, as the late Howard Cosell once put it, "overtones of ugliness." Eric Neugeboren of the Texas Tribune went out among the lost and angry sheep.

Above all, attendees said they were fed up. Fed up with elections they believe are rife with fraud. Fed up with their own politicians - including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, whom they rebuked for taking part in bipartisan talks on gun legislation - for being open to compromise with Democrats. Fed up with the persecution of Christians with traditional values. Fed up with a credulous mainstream media that spouts liberal talking points and disdains anyone who disagrees as racists or bigots. Fed up with undocumented immigrants, even those fleeing war and poverty, for taking advantage of public benefits. Fed up with the education of their children, especially on matters of history and race. Fed up with experts, starting with Dr. Alfred Kinsey, who they said are "sexualizing" students before they've hit puberty.

"The enemy is coming in and trying to change our society, change the very fabric of what made America great and they're doing it by going to the children," said Conny Moore, a 75-year-old retired pharmacist and pastor.

Welcome to the wild kingdom, folks. Please keep your hands and your feet inside the vehicle at all times.
This was a crowd familiar with The Great Replacement, the theory that immigrants are being used to replace white, native-born Americans, and The Great Reset, supposedly a plan by global capitalists meeting in Davos, Switzerland, to impose their environmental and social goals on the world economy and restrict what people can eat and own. Fox News did not come up much; One America Network and NewsMax seemed far more influential. Conspiracy theories abounded. Anne Meng, a middle-aged nurse-practitioner in The Woodlands, said she believed the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde was "a ploy by the government," and that "cops were told to stand down." Tammy Lake, 52, who lives in another Houston suburb, Magnolia, and is a senior sales engineer for a software company, said she believed that Donald Trump would be rightfully restored to the presidency "by the end of the year." She did not specify how.
This crowd was so rabid that Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the state's primary salesman of Bad Policy Ideas, downplayed his participation, holding an event prior to the opening gavel and eschewing the chance to address the convention from the main stage. He left that to leaders manque like Tailgunner Ted Cruz, and even the Tailgunner got heckled and confronted inside the hall.

Meanwhile, a few degrees north, the Indiana GOP met in their convention. They nominated an election denier for secretary of state instead of the incumbent Republican, and they struck the word "democracy" from their platform. ("We're not a democracy, we're a republic" has been a go-to riposte for conservative whackadoos since before I was born.) A lot of people need to go off somewhere and come to grips with how they let the prion disease run so wild in their party that it's now a threat to the health of the nation. Tugging your forelock on cable television is hardly enough.

(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 American people want to know that when they borrow a book from the library or buy a book, the government won't be looking over their shoulder. Everybody wants to fight terrorism, but we have to do it in away that protects American freedom."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Climate Emergency
Iran's Abadan hits unprecedented 126 degrees F., as Government Offices are forced to Close
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Iran International reports that a temperature of 126 degrees F. (52.2C) has been recorded in Abadan. It is the highest temperature officially recorded in that city in the 70 years official records have been kept. Globally, it is one of the the higher temperatures observed before the summer solstice since records began being kept in the 19th century.

Government offices were closed in the province of Khuzestan on Tuesday as a result of the heat.

When we talk about the climate crisis, we sometimes only attend to dramatic natural disasters. But it just getting too hot for government to work is also a threat to well-being.

Nearly 5 million residents live in this southwestern province, out of roughly 84 million Iranians.

Scientists believe that where the temperature exceeds 122F, and where humidity is 50% or more, human beings cannot survive outside in it. Luckily for the people of Abadan, the humidity nowadays seems to be about 18%.

There is a possibility of high winds and dust storms early next week.

Kuwait and Iraq also suffered from unusually high temperatures this week, and from extreme dryness. In Southwestern Iran, in Kuwait and Iraq, rainfall has been 50% less than usual this spring. Iraq has suffered from repeated and long-lasting dust storms of a sort not seen before.

Iran International notes that Iran is in the grip of a decade-long drought, and that the local Dez river, a tributary of the Karun River, has fallen to alarming levels. Farmers are turning to underwater aquifers, but draining them is risky, since they may not be filled again, and taking this water out is causing widespread subsidence, i.e. Iran is sinking. Hydroelectric dams are producing much less energy.

Abadan has been the scene this spring of substantial political arrest, with protests over a building collapse blamed by locals on corruption. The Iranian government replied to the protests with a severe crackdown.

Last November, the drying up of the Zayandeh Rud river that flows through Isfahan provoked large protests by locals.

WION: "Drought threatens Iran's iconic river as climate crisis affects daily lives | World English New"

The climate emergency is causing Iran to be drier over time. Scientists project that precipitation in Iran will decrease by 35% over the next few decades and the average temperature will increase by an alarming 4.68 degrees F. (2.6 degrees C.) Some areas of Iran may become uninhabitable because of the heat. Khuzestan, the province of which Abadan is the capital, also saw widespread water shortages and consequent street protests last summer.

Ironically, Abadan is a major oil-producing region, so its major product is implicated in making it increasingly unlivable.

(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.

Messengers on Wall Street, New York in October 1929

The Crypto Crash
All Ponzi schemes topple eventually
By Robert Reich

We're back to the wild west finances of the 1920s as the crypto industry pours huge money into political campaigns.

One week ago, as cryptocurrency prices plummeted, Celsius Network - an experimental cryptocurrency bank with more than one million customers that has emerged as a leader in the murky world of decentralized finance, or DeFi - announced it was freezing withdrawals "due to extreme market conditions."

Earlier this past week, Bitcoin dropped 15% over 24 hours to its lowest value since December 2020. Last month, TerraUSD, a stablecoin - a system that was supposed to perform a lot like a conventional bank account but was backed only by a cryptocurrency called Luna - collapsed, losing 97% of its value in just 24 hours, apparently destroying some investors' life savings.

Eighty-nine years ago, Franklin D Roosevelt signed into law the Banking Act of 1933 - also known as the Glass-Steagall Act. It separated commercial banking from investment banking - Main Street from Wall Street - to protect people who entrusted their savings to commercial banks from having their money gambled away.

The Federal Reserve says its remedies for inflation 'will cause pain', but to whom?

Glass-Steagall's larger purpose was to put an end to the giant Ponzi scheme that had overtaken the American economy in the 1920s and led to the Great Crash of 1929.

Americans had been getting rich by speculating on shares of stock and various sorts of exotica (roughly analogous to crypto). These risky assets' values rose solely because a growing number of investors put money into them.

But at some point, Ponzi schemes topple of their own weight. When the toppling occurred in 1929, it plunged the nation and the world into a Great Depression. The Glass-Steagall Act was a means of restoring stability.

But by the 1980s, America forgot the financial trauma of 1929. As the stock market soared, speculators noticed they could make lots more money if they could gamble with other people's money - as speculators did in the 1920s. They pushed Congress to deregulate Wall Street, arguing that the United States financial sector would otherwise lose its competitive standing relative to other financial centers around the world.

Finally, in 1999, Bill Clinton and Congress agreed to ditch what remained of Glass-Steagall.

As a result, the American economy once again became a betting parlor. Inevitably, Wall Street suffered another near-death experience from excessive gambling. Its Ponzi schemes began toppling in 2008, just as they had in 1929.

The difference was this time the US government bailed out the biggest banks and financial institutions. The wreckage was contained. Still, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their savings, and their homes (and not a single banking executive went to jail).

Which brings us to the crypto crash.

The current chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Gary Gensler, has described cryptocurrency investments as "rife with fraud, scams, and abuse." In the murky world of crypto DeFi, it's hard to know who provides money for loans, where the money flows, or how easy it is to trigger currency meltdowns.

There are no standards for risk management or capital reserves. There are no transparency requirements. Investors often don't know how their money is being handled. Deposits are not insured. We're back to the wild west finances of the 1920s.

Before the crypto crash, the value of cryptocurrencies had kept rising by attracting an ever-growing number of investors and some big Wall Street money, along with celebrity endorsements. But, again, all Ponzi schemes topple eventually. And it looks like crypto is now toppling.

Why isn't this market regulated? Mainly because of intensive lobbying by the crypto industry, whose kingpins want the Ponzi scheme to continue.

Prosecuting digital fraud runs up against a central, unresolved question: are cryptocurrencies securities?

Trillion-dollar crypto collapse sparks flurry of US lawsuits - who's to blame?

The industry is pouring huge money into political campaigns.

And it has hired scores of former government officials and regulators to lobby on its behalf - including three former chairs of the Securities and Exchange Commission, three former chairs of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, three former US senators, one former White House chief of staff, and the former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Former treasury secretary Lawrence Summers advises crypto investment firm Digital Currency Group Inc and sits on the board of Block Inc, a financial-technology firm that is investing in cryptocurrency-payments systems.

If we should have learned anything from the crashes of 1929 and 2008, it's that regulation of financial markets is essential. Otherwise, they turn into Ponzi schemes that eventually leave small investors with nothing and destabilize the entire economy.

It's time for the Biden administration and Congress to regulate crypto.

(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

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch attends a formal investiture ceremony for a local judge at the Washington county courthouse, March 11, 2022 in Hagerstown, Maryland.

The Right-Wing Supreme Court Readies To Help Destroy The Planet
The SCOTUS is about to use it's ill-gotten power on behalf of the fossil fuel industry to cripple America's ability to meet the challenge of climate change.
By Thom Hartmann

It appears that Republicans on the Supreme Court are preparing to light our planet on fire.

Longtime readers of my work and listeners to my program know that the Supreme Court has seized for itself extraordinary powers that the Framers of the Constitution never intended for it to have. There are summaries here and here, for example.

This is not an opinion unique to me or my book The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America: two Harvard Law professors just this week wrote an article for The Atlantic that lays out pretty much the same arguments.

And now it appears Republicans on the Court are about to use that ill-gotten power-on behalf of the fossil fuel industry-to cripple America's ability to meet the challenge of climate change.

It's a bizarre concept and just a fig-leaf to hide the fossil fuel industry's desire to end government regulation and kill subsidies of green energy. To get there, they want to turn regulatory agency rule-making upside-down.

Here's how environmental law is supposed to work (in super-simplified form):

Congress passes a law that says, for example, that the Environmental Protection Agency should limit the damage that carbon dioxide in the environment causes to the planet. Congress (the Constitution's Article I branch of government) defines the broad goal of the legislation, but the Executive Branch (Article II) has the responsibility to carry it out.

The EPA, part of that Executive Branch and answering both to the law and the President, then convenes panels of experts. They spend a year or more doing an exhaustive, deep dive into the science, coming up with dozens or even hundreds of suggestions to limit atmospheric CO2, ranging from rules on how much emission cars can expel to drilling and refining processes that may leak CO2 or methane (which degrades into CO2), etc.

The experts' suggestions are then run past a panel of rule-making bureaucrats and hired-gun rule-making experts for the EPA to decide what the standards should be. They take into consideration the current abilities of industry and the costs versus the benefits of various rules, among other things.

After they've come up with those tentative regulations, they submit them for public review and hearings. When that process is done and the rules are approved, they make them into official EPA rules, publish them, enforce them, and the CO2 emissions begin to drop.

This is how it works, a process that simply comports with common sense, as the Supreme Court ruled in 1984. It's been this way for a century or more.

Congress passes laws that empower regulatory agencies to solve problems, the agencies figure out how and put the rules into place, and the solutions get enforced by the agencies.

Now comes a group of rightwing Supreme Court justices including Neil Gorsuch, whose mother tried to destroy the EPA when she ran it (and had to resign in disgrace) during the Reagan administration.

In addition to Gorsuch, the Court also has Amy Coney Barrett whose father was a lawyer for Shell Oil for decades, and John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh who are all on the court in part because of support from a network funded by fossil fuel billionaires and their industry (among others).

The "novel" argument that a group of Republican states' Attorneys General are advancing, and Neil Gorsuch has already endorsed in a lower court ruling before he was placed on the Court, is breathtaking. It could end most protective government regulations in America.

They're arguing, essentially, that the EPA (and any other regulatory agency) can't do all the steps listed above: instead, that detailed and time-consuming analysis of a problem, developing specific solutions, and writing specific rules has to be done, they say, by Congress itself.

In other words, Gorsuch says, Congress itself-not the EPA-must evaluate the science and then write the rules.

As if Congress had the time and staff. As if Congress was stocked with scientific experts. As if Republicans in the pockets of fossil fuel billionaires wouldn't block any congressional action even if it did.

Back in 1984 the Supreme Court concluded, in their Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council decision, that it only made sense that Congress would set goals and regulatory agencies, stocked chock-a-block with scientists and experts, would do the science and write the rules.

That doctrine is called "the Chevron deference." Courts should defer, SCOTUS said, to the regulatory agencies, since they're the ones with the expertise.

But Gorsuch has argued, essentially, that making rules-even the detailed scientific minutiae of rules-should be done by Congress instead of the EPA, and that agencies like the EPA should simply play the role of cops on the beat, enforcing those rules.

He wants to overturn Chevron v NRDC.

This would cripple virtually every regulatory agency in Washington, DC, from the EPA to the FCC to OSHA. Every rule made by any of them (and dozens of other agencies) could be thrown out under a direct court challenge, and, unless Congress specifically replaces those rules by passing new laws themselves, those rules will cease to exist.

Chaos hardly begins to define what could be the result. It's exactly what Steve Bannon said the Trump administration was planning to do: "Deconstruct the administrative state."

The United States (with 4 percent of the world's population) has produced more greenhouse gasses than any other nation and continues to be one of the planet's major emitters.

Blowing up the EPA's CO2 rules would guarantee the future profits of the fossil fuel industry-the group that partially bankrolled Gorsuch, Roberts, Barrett, Alito, and Kavanaugh's ascent to the Court-and also speed up the destruction of our atmosphere and the life on Earth it supports.

My bet is that if they're going to do this (the New York Times this week is speculating it's probable) in the West Virginia v EPA ruling that's expected any day, and that they'll drop the decision on the same day as their abortion or gun rulings, guaranteeing that most people won't hear a thing about it.

Keep an eye on this decision: it'll probably get no meaningful media coverage because it seems so bureaucratic and administrative (and may be buried in abortion or gun control news).

In truth, if it goes as is now expected, it will evoke the last lines of T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men:

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star. ...

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

(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
~~~ Martin Kozlowski ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

US Republicans Propose Arming Foetuses In The Womb
By The Waterford Whispers News

RESPONDING to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voting to raise the age for purchasing a semi-automatic weapon to 21, US Republicans countered by proposing a law which would arm all foetuses in the womb with an AR-15 instead.

"No one wants to do more to keep children safe than Republicans, just look at our record on semi-automatic doors. But what is more frightening and a bigger threat to children than a school shooter? That's right, pregnant Democrat voting women which is why we have put forward this proposal," confirmed Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.

Under the new proposals the NRA has agreed to supply all foetuses, free of charge, with AR-15s in a bid to protect the precious lives of children.

"If they've got to zygote they've got to get a gun, we have to protect our favourite type of children (hypothetical, yet to be born, in receipt of no welfare) from the real true mass killers in this world; women we don't like the look of," added Ted Cruz, before also throwing his weight behind a stimulus bill just titled 'Doormageddon'.

"Who I ask you is best placed to stop a bad guy armed with birth control but an AR-15 wielding foetus, heck I'd support giving 'em grenades too," confirmed a Republican senator made entirely from guns.

A vote on the proposals was delayed after some Republicans learned that arming foetuses at 6 weeks, when their gender was unknown would mean having to refer to them as 'they', which caused a number of the politicians to begin crying and vomiting.

(c) 2022 The Waterford Whispers News


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 24 (c) 06/24/2022

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