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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "Nuclear War Could Mean Annihilation, But Biden And Congress Are Messing Around."

Ralph Nader wonders, "How Can Dictators Control So Many Millions Of People?"

Leonard Pitts Jr. says, "Right Now It's Women's Rights-Soon It Could Be All Of Ours."

Jim Hightower explains, "How Can Democrats Save The Party... From Their Own Leaders?"

William Rivers Pitt says, "The Supreme Court's Assault Is Far From Over. July 4 Is No Celebration."

John Nichols concludes, "Ron Johnson Was Donald Trump's Coup Co-Conspirator."

James Donahue explains, "Why George Wouldn't Sign The Constitution."

David Swanson returns with, "NATO And Russia Both Aim To Fail."

David Suzuki says, "Canada's Plastics Ban Is A Necessary First Step."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "My Cold War Youth Suddenly Feels Like The Present."

Juan Cole reports, "In Sea Change, US Presbyterian Committee Brands Israel's Occupation Of Palestinians Apartheid, Calls For End To Collective Punishment In Gaza."

Robert Reich says, "This Fourth Of July, It's Worth Pondering The True Meaning Of Patriotism."

Thom Hartmann says, "Beware: The Supreme Court Is Laying Groundwork To Pre-Rig The 2024 Election."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Supreme Court Casually Mentions Nation Now Divided Into Six Provinces Ruled By Conservative Justices," but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "The Extreme Court Dooms Us All With Its Ruling Against The EPA."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jimmy Margulies, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Anna Moneymaker, Anton Petrus, T.J. Kirkpatrick, Emma K Alexandra, Nathan Howard, Los Angeles Catholic Worker, Ron Lach, Word Beyond War, Lokman Vural Elibol, Zac Goodwin, Jim Hightower, Twitter, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, YouTube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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The Extreme Court Dooms Us All With Its Ruling Against The EPA
By Ernest Stewart

"There is little reason to think Congress assigned such decisions to the Agency. The basic and consequential tradeoffs involved in such a choice are ones that Congress would likely have intended for itself." ~~~ Chief Justice John Roberts

The Extreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in a 6-3 ruling that will have far-reaching implications on the federal government's ability to fight climate change.

The court's corpo-rat majority held in West Virginia v. EPA that the Trump-era EPA did not violate the Clean Air Act by significantly softening planned limits on carbon emissions from power plants, signaling to future administrations that the pollution causing climate change can go effectively unregulated, and leaving the job of passing binding emissions restrictions to Congress. Ergo, nothing will get done for the foreseeable future!

The court further agreed with a collection of Republican-led states and coal industry groups that the EPA, because its head is a political appointee, cannot accelerate the power sector's transition from fossil fuels to clean energy because that goes beyond the powers granted to the EPA under the Clean Air Act.

"Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible 'solution to the crisis of the day,'" Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, quoting from a previous court ruling. "But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme."

Sleepy Joe voiced his bitter opposition to the ruling in a statement.

"The Supreme Court's ruling in West Virginia vs. EPA is another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards," he said in the statement. "While this decision risks damaging our nation's ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis."

When the EPA unveiled the Clean Power Plan, in 2015, it did not merely require new pollution control technology, as has typically been the approach taken to limiting conventional pollutants. Instead, the rule set limits for the emissions of a state's entire electricity portfolio that could be met through other approaches, including switching from coal to solar and wind power or reducing demand for electricity at peak hours through pricing shifts. Experts refer to these kinds of measures as "outside the fence line" of the source of pollution, in this case a power plant.

In 2017, under then-President Donald Trump, the EPA revoked the rule, arguing that the agency lacked the power to use the "outside the fence line" approach. Petitioners such as the American Lung Association sued to get the rule reinstated, arguing that the Clean Power Plan was legally valid and the Trump-era replacement known as the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which did not require anything except modest gains in efficiency from coal-fired plants, was too weak to meet the EPA's legal obligation to regulate carbon dioxide. (In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Massachusetts v. EPA that the EPA is required to regulate carbon dioxide because it causes climate change, and the Clean Air Act mandates that the agency regulate "any air pollutant" that can "reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare." So like in Roe v Wade the Extreme Court overruled it own ruling. So, with the six corpo-rat traitors on the court, we are truly screwed, America!


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(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)

The Biden administration hasn't just remained mum about current nuclear war dangers - it's actively exacerbating them.

Nuclear War Could Mean Annihilation, But Biden And Congress Are Messing Around
Norman Solomon

President Joe Biden and top subordinates have refused to publicly acknowledge the danger of nuclear war - even though it is now higher than at any other time in at least 60 years. Their silence is insidious and powerful, and their policy of denial makes grassroots activism all the more vital for human survival.

In the aftermath of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy was more candid. Speaking at American University, he said: "A single nuclear weapon contains almost 10 times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War." Kennedy also noted, "The deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn." Finally, he added, "All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours."

Kennedy was no dove. He affirmed willingness to use nuclear weapons. But his speech offered some essential honesty about nuclear war - and the need to seriously negotiate with the Kremlin in the interests of averting planetary incineration - an approach sorely lacking from the United States government today.

At the time of Kennedy's presidency, nuclear war would have been indescribably catastrophic. Now - with large arsenals of hydrogen bombs and what scientists know about "nuclear winter" - experts have concluded that a nuclear war would virtually end agriculture and amount to omnicide (the destruction of human life on earth).

In an interview after publication of his book The Doomsday Machine, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg summed up what he learned as an insider during the Kennedy administration:

What I discovered - to my horror, I have to say - is that the Joint Chiefs of Staff contemplated causing with our own first strike 600 million deaths, including 100 million in our own allies. Now, that was an underestimate even then because they weren't including fire, which they found was too incalculable in its effects. And of course, fire is the greatest casualty-producing effect of thermonuclear weapons. So the real effect would've been over a billion - not 600 million - about a third of the Earth's population then at that time.
Ellsberg added:
What turned out to be the case 20 years later in 1983 and confirmed in the last 10 years very thoroughly by climate scientists and environmental scientists is that that high ceiling of a billion or so was wrong. Firing weapons over the cities, even if you call them military targets, would cause firestorms in those cities like the one in Tokyo in March of 1945, which would loft into the stratosphere many millions of tons of soot and black smoke from the burning cities. It wouldn't be rained out in the stratosphere. It would go around the globe very quickly and reduce sunlight by as much as 70 percent, causing temperatures like that of the Little Ice Age, killing harvests worldwide and starving to death nearly everyone on Earth. It probably wouldn't cause extinction. We're so adaptable. Maybe 1 percent of our current population of 7.4 billion could survive, but 98 or 99 percent would not.
Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine four months ago, the risks of global nuclear annihilation were at a peak. In January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its Doomsday Clock at a mere 100 seconds from apocalyptic Midnight, compared to six minutes a decade ago. As Russia's horrific war on Ukraine has persisted and the U.S. government has bypassed diplomacy in favor of massive arms shipments, the hazards of a nuclear war between the world's two nuclear superpowers have increased.

But the Biden administration has not only remained mum about current nuclear war dangers; it's actively exacerbating them. Those at the helm of U.S. foreign policy now are ignoring the profound lessons that President Kennedy drew from the October 1962 confrontation with Russia over its nuclear missiles in Cuba. "Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war," Kennedy said. "To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy - or of a collective death-wish for the world."

In sync with the overwhelmingly hawkish U.S. media, members of Congress and "national security" establishment, Biden has moved into new Cold War overdrive. The priority aim is to make shrewd moves on the geopolitical chessboard - not to engage in diplomacy that could end the slaughter in Ukraine and prevent the war from causing widespread starvation in many countries.

As scholar Alfred McCoy just wrote, "With the specter of mass starvation looming for some 270 million people and, as the [United Nations] recently warned, political instability growing in those volatile regions, the West will, sooner or later, have to reach some understanding with Russia." Only diplomacy can halt the carnage in Ukraine and save the lives of millions now at risk of starvation. And the dangers of nuclear war can be reduced by rejecting the fantasy of a military solution to the Ukraine conflict.

In recent months, the Russian government has made thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been shipping huge quantities of weapons to Ukraine, while Washington has participated in escalating the dangerous rhetoric. President Biden doubled down on conveying that he seeks regime change in Moscow, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has declared that the U.S. wants the Russian military "weakened" - an approach that is opposite from Kennedy's warning against "confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war."

We'd be gravely mistaken to wait for Washington's officialdom to level with us about nuclear war dangers, much less take steps to mitigate them. The power corridors along Pennsylvania Avenue won't initiate the needed changes. The initiatives and the necessary political pressure must come from grassroots organizing.

A new "Defuse Nuclear War" coalition of about 90 national and regional organizations (which I'm helping to coordinate) launched in mid-June with a livestream video featuring an array of activists and other eloquent speakers, drawn together by the imperative of preventing nuclear war. (They included antiwar activists, organizers, scholars and writers Daniel Ellsberg, Mandy Carter, David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, Leslie Cagan, Pastor Michael McBride, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Hanieh Jodat Barnes, Judith Ehrlich, Khury Petersen-Smith, India Walton, Emma Claire Foley, retired Army Col. Ann Wright and former California Gov. Jerry Brown.)

The U.S. government's willingness to boost the odds of nuclear war is essentially a political problem. It pits the interests of the people of the world - in desperate need of devoting adequate resources to human needs and protection of the environment - against the rapacious greed of military contractors intertwined with the unhinged priorities of top elected officials.

The Biden administration and the bipartisan leadership in Congress have made clear that their basic approach to the surging danger of nuclear war is to pretend that it doesn't exist - and to encourage us to do the same. Such avoidance might seem like a good coping strategy for individuals. But for a government facing off against the world's other nuclear superpower, the denial heightens the risk of exterminating almost all human life. There's got to be a better way.

(c) 2022 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."

How Can Dictators Control So Many Millions Of People?
By Ralph Nader

How do dictators manage for decades to control 1.4 billion (China) or 146 million (Russia) people and on down to other smaller totalitarian regimes? Answer: one power hungry man at the top.

Political scientists have written about the various "pillars" sustaining autocratic regimes. Professor Christoph H. Stefes (University of Colorado Denver) focuses on the "pillars" legitimation, repression and co-optation - about which more later.

But just what are the mechanics flowing from the dictator's throne that produce overwhelming compliance to the dictator's demands? Starting with his "palace guards," cooks, doctors, all the way down an intricate matrix of obedience to the cities/towns/villages level, the absence of any breaks in the links of the chains of oppression is remarkable. Even major suicidal sabotage at critical points in a regime's iron grip rarely occurs.

Let's start with the findings by anthropologists that all cultures have concentrations of power in very few hands whether in the political, economic or religious realms. Something in the scatter of human personalities entrenches the few ruling the many. The few deeply relish the power, wealth and status to which they apply great effort and energy while the many non-political inhabitants struggle to preserve their personal family lives, which dictators largely leave alone, especially when cultural norms provide private zones for work, family and progeny.

Think of a dictator raining a cascade of orders down many ladders with people on each rung giving their assigned orders to the people on the next rung. The police and military illustrate the operation of such hierarchies. Each rung holder has stakes in the obedience given by that next rung.

The orders flow from the General to the Colonels to the Lieutenants to the Sergeants and on down. In Putin's Russia, top-down control of the economy is relayed by a small number of oligarchic mega-billionaires in close contact with their dictator in the Kremlin who has made them rich beyond their dreams of avarice.

Totalitarian systems function smoothly in their corrupt and cruel pursuits inside a complex culture of mass submission. The recent two-month coercive lockdown and testing of Shanghai's 25 million residents - to check the spread of Covid-19 - is an astonishing harbinger of how a mass-surveillance state can block people from buying food, receiving health care, connecting with families and simply stepping out of beehive apartments into their neighborhoods.

Returning to Professor Stefes's constructs, which are useful references to formal or informal systems where dictators give key personages a piece of the action in return for absolute loyalty. Such co-optation is backed up by terror, brute force, deep harassment, or jailing of dissidents. Legitimation takes the form of rigged elections (the dictator and his henchman get well over 90% of the vote) which results in the oxymoronic phrase - "an elected dictatorship."

Military juntas against people labeled "communists," or reacting to corrupt regimes that have collapsed basic public services and protections, combine both 'legitimation' and 'repression' in one violent overthrow.

Absolute dictators who survive, do not often write memoirs when they go into exile (Spain for years was a refuge for ousted South American dictators). Were they to do so, it would probably be to settle scores, not to illuminate in revealing detail how they so dominated all but the personal lives of millions of their subjects until they were ousted. Some dictators might confess their own daily fears of people thirsting for revenge over their regime's atrocities.

They might even admit that they would have given up their iron power for safe passage to ageing dictator's island of exiles inhabited by former tyrants and their families. Understanding how people displace dictators, from various perspectives, should be studied. Building and sustaining democracy requires no less.

(c) 2022 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super -Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Republican architects of theocracy are openly speculating about imposing further restrictions.

Right Now It's Women's Rights-Soon It Could Be All Of Ours
The rest of us should be angry that their rights can be arbitrarily taken: We should also be concerned.
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

This is not just another setback.

Anyone who's lived long enough has seen the Supreme Court issue a ruling they didn't like. This is not that. No, what made the ruling that felled Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, more than just another disappointment, what made it the judicial equivalent of a kick in the teeth, is, as Justices Sotomayor, Kagan and Breyer noted in a peppery dissent, the fact that this is the first time in history rights granted by the court have been rescinded.

There is a qualitative difference between not getting a thing you wanted and having a thing you already owned snatched away from you. That's what happened last week to women of childbearing age with regard to the right to have an abortion. And the implications of that decision, awful as they are for those women, resonate far beyond them.

For all the years of the American experiment, the parameters of human-rights debate have plodded predictably, but inexorably, in one direction. There have been setbacks, yes, but always along a path of more freedom for more people. Take LGBTQ rights for example. In 2004, we were arguing whether gay people should have the right to be married. By 2014, we were arguing about who would bake the wedding cake.

Subtly, but perceptibly, the parameters move forward. Or they did. Last week, they moved back 50 years.

In the remarkably specious reasoning of the majority opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, women must surrender to the state the right to make decisions about their own reproductive health because that right is neither mentioned in the Constitution nor "deeply rooted in [our] history and tradition." Alito reaches as far back as the 13th century to illustrate this supposed failing.

Given that women were legally voiceless and defined as property of their husbands and fathers in the eras he cites, such reasoning is not only unpersuasive, but flat-out appalling. And considering that such rights as contraception, same-sex and interracial marriage are also of recent vintage and also not mentioned in the Constitution, one must logically fear that the limitations now being imposed on childbearing women will ultimately extend far beyond them.

Alito swears we have no cause for alarm, repeatedly claiming that, "Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion." Tellingly, he never explains why logic that applies to the right to get an abortion would not apply equally to, say, the right to buy condoms. Apparently, he can't.

Meantime, Republican architects of theocracy are openly speculating about imposing further restrictions. Indeed, in his concurrence, Justice Thomas pushes the court to next curtail contraceptive and LGBTQ rights. The fact that conservatives seem to feel it's time now to unfurl their bucket list offers superfluous evidence that this ruling is not logical, but ideological. As the dissenters put it, "The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them and now it has the votes to discard them."

That's not how the law is supposed to work. That it apparently works that way now testifies to the illness of this democracy. Progress has lurched backward, women losing a freedom on which they've relied for generations. The rest of us should be angry that their rights can be arbitrarily taken: We should also be concerned.

(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.

How Can Democrats Save The Party... From Their Own Leaders?

By Jim Hightower

"It's over." "Biden's numbers are in the ditch." "Democrats are doomed." "Call the priest."

These are Democrats talking! Even before November's congressional elections are run, many conventional-thinking Democratic operatives are surrendering to a presumed Republican sweep. You don't need a political science degree to know that if you start out announcing that you'll lose, chances are you will - after all, who wants to vote for a party that shows no fighting spirit, no confidence in the appeal of its own ideas?

What's happening here is that the Party's top leaders have decided their candidates can't win in rural areas and smaller factory cities - so they've quit trying. Worse, they blame the voters, claiming that Trumpism, Fox News BS, and culture war nonsense have poisoned the minds of people "out there." Thus, Party leaders have retreated from the countryside to focus entirely on big urban areas. Democratic Congressional leaders even killed their rural outreach programs, and the Party's chairman in 2018 meekly declared: "You can't door-knock in rural America."

Actually, sir, you can. And if you choose to abandon this whole working-class constituency - surprise! - it will abandon you. Worse, than failing to campaign along America's dirt roads and factory streets, national Democrats have actively been pushing corporate policies that have ravaged families living there - including trade scams that sucking out union jobs; shamefully bailing out Wall Street bankers who crashed our real economy (while ignoring millions of devastated workaday people); and doing nothing about the corporate-caused farm depression still ripping across our land. Washington Democrats have largely betrayed this vital, FDRish constituency of millions that they now blithely dismiss as irredeemable.

Did Party poohbahs think voters wouldn't notice or care how they're being treated? If we want them back on our side, then let's go to them... and get back on their side

(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

Tourists walk past the Supreme Court on June 28, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

The Supreme Court's Assault Is Far From Over. July 4 Is No Celebration.
By William Rivers Pitt

I don't believe we have ever experienced a Fourth of July holiday quite like this. Last year at this time, I was challenging the notion of patriotism if that patriotism motivates people to bury an uncomfortable past so as to secure their power over the present, and future. Such an exercise is perfectly in line with the basic concept of the holiday, as far as I am concerned: A recognition of the nation's inception should always include meditations on how, and why, or if, that nation is changing.

This year, however, there are no meditations, but only the shocked and bleary thoughts of a car accident survivor seconds after the impact. So much has changed so jarringly, and not just because of COVID-19.

After White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson's historic testimony before the 1/6 select committee, every conversation I had the next day began with "DID YOU SEE?" It was a breath of fresh air to be able to discuss real courage for a change, but Hutchinson's performance could not obscure the fact that a president beyond control tried to turn a heavily armed mob on Congress to overthrow the election results. It could not obscure the better-than-average chance that same person could become president again in 2024.

The Supreme Court, in a blur of weeks, has changed the fundamental rights available to millions of people in this country - and even the prospects of humanity's survival. The overturning of Roe v. Wade trashed 50 years of settled reproductive rights. In Kennedy v. Bremerton School District and Carson v. Makin, the separation of church and state was deeply wounded. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen opened the door to rain concealed guns down on a society already battered by extreme gun violence. In United States v. Zubaydah, the government was allowed to hide a CIA black site where a prisoner was tortured. In West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, the court eviscerated the EPA's ability to regulate polluters.

Freedom. Privacy. God in schools. Guns everywhere. The stain of torture again obscured. Polluters let off the leash in the face of escalating global climate crisis. It is difficult to fully encompass what has taken place here, how quickly it has come, and what is to be done now. Look out the window and everything seems the same... yet in truth, everything is different, and the frontal assault by right-wing forces upon all the progressive gains made last century is only just beginning.

A country that can make such positive changes is worth struggling to protect. A country that can burn those changes down in a breathless run of weeks is flatly terrifying. On this July 4, we are both countries, and we are neither. We are formless in the void, a ball of molten rock waiting to be shaped. What part will you play in that shaping?

(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.

Ron Johnson Was Donald Trump's Coup Co-Conspirator
By John Nichols

Donald Trump plotted what the Jan. 6 committee has appropriately identified as an attempted coup.

But Trump did not act alone. He had co-conspirators, including Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh.

Trump's attempted coup was framed around a strategy that sought to upend the Jan. 6, 2021, certification of electoral votes that confirmed the election of Democrat Joe Biden as the nation's 46th president. The defeated Republican president wanted Pence to reject legitimately chosen electors for Biden and, instead, accept fake electors for Trump.

The fourth session of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol revealed that around noon on Jan. 6, Johnson aide Sean Riley sent a text message to Craig Hodgson, a top staffer for Pence, in which Riley said, "Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise."

> Riley replied, "Alternate slate of electors for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them."

"Do not give that to him," the Pence aide responded.

The revelation of that text exchange puts Johnson and his office in the thick of the conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election. And in the days that followed, the senator was clearly shaken.

Confronted by reporters on Capitol Hill about the news, Johnson claimed he was ignorant of most of the details. The senator told CNN's Manu Raju he didn't know who had delivered the lists of fake electors to his office. While Johnson acknowledged, "We got handed an envelope that was supposed to go to the Vice President," he claimed, "I wasn't involved," and said, "(There's) no conspiracy here. This is a complete non-story, guys. Complete non-story."

But, of course, it was a story. And Johnson was lying about it. Several days after the committee released the text messages, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted, "After initially claiming to be 'basically unaware' of an effort by his staff to get fake presidential elector documents to Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Thursday he coordinated with a Wisconsin attorney to pass along such information." Specifically, the paper reported, Johnson "acknowledged he coordinated with Dane County attorney Jim Troupis and his chief of staff by text message that morning to get to Pence a document Troupis described as regarding 'Wisconsin electors.'"

By every indication, Ron Johnson involved himself in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The senator's actions need to be investigated by the Jan. 6 committee and the Department of Justice.

One of the Democrats who hopes to challenge Johnson in the fall, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, has for months been arguing that the committee should investigate Johnson. In a Jan. 6, 2022, letter to the committee's leadership, Nelson urged the select committee to subpoena Johnson to seek "records and testimony relating to his efforts to delay and disrupt the results of the election; his contacts with any groups or individuals with ties to domestic terrorism before, during and after the attack; his coordination with the Trump White House advancing the disinformation campaign that led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol; and his continued and persistent advocacy of election disinformation."

"This subpoena," Nelson wrote, "should include, but not be limited to, phone and text records; logs and schedules; email records; and any other records relevant to his work seeking to undermine the peaceful transfer of power."

After last week's revelations about the plotting around fake electors, Nelson now says the committee is "learning the full extent of how much Ron Johnson was the 'go-to' guy for insurrection among the Trump plotters and how he himself was prepared to subvert our democracy by overturning the will of Wisconsin voters and throwing the election to Donald Trump. I had suspected he had a far bigger role than reported when I wrote my letter asking for him and his records to be subpoenaed by the Commission. But (these) revelations go beyond anything I could have imagined for how far Ron Johnson would go to overturn our Wisconsin election result."

Nelson is not the only Democratic Senate candidate who is calling on the Jan. 6 committee to investigate Johnson. On Tuesday, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski wrote committee chair Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, and ranking member Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, and urged them to examine "urgent new questions about the senator's dangerous and potentially illegal actions." As part of that examination, she suggested, Johnson should be called before the committee and required to "answer questions under oath and penalty of perjury about his involvement in an attempted coup to install Donald Trump as president."

Godlewski proposed a list of questions, such as, "What conversations took place between Sen. Johnson and his chief of staff about reaching out to the Vice President?" And, "What correspondence and communications exist between Sen. Johnson and his office, and the fake electors and their lawyers?" And, "What conversations took place between Sen. Johnson and the Republican activists who served as fake electors and their lawyers - including Trump attorney Jim Troupis, who helped organize the fake electors and who Johnson invited to testify at the hearing he called on election fraud?"

Godlewski is right when she says the new evidence "strongly implicates Senator Johnson in that conspiracy against America."

Indeed, that evidence is so compelling that it requires the committee to demand the truth from Johnson - just as it requires the Department of Justice to investigate whether this senator should be prosecuted for seditious conspiracy.

(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.

Why George Wouldn't Sign The Constitution
By James Donahue

This is not a story about George Washington. This is about another man involved in framing the U. S. Constitution, bringing about the Bill of Rights, and influencing the way our nation operates today. His name was George Mason, someone few of us have ever heard of and rarely, if ever, mentioned in American history books.

This is probably because Mason, although an elected representative from Virginia to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, refused to sign to ratify the Constitution. This was because he said he did not believe it established a wise and just government, and set up a formula for "a corrupt, tyrannical aristocracy" instead of the republic that was being sought.

Mason said his primary objection to the document, as it was originally written, was that it lacked a Bill of Rights. It was through his insistence that our Bill of Rights was later added in the first ten Constitutional Amendments.

His other concerns were outlined in a draft titled "Objections to This Constitution of Government," which he distributed to the convention before the document was signed. It called not only for a "Declaration of Rights" but warned that the Congress was not truly representative of the people, the Senate was too powerful, the federal judiciary was "so constructed and extended" as to render justice unattainable and "enable the rich to oppress and ruin the poor," and the President was given too much unbalanced power and would receive counsel from his own appointed staff.

Mason perceived the House of Representatives as only "a shadow only of representation; which can never produce proper information in the legislature or inspire confidence in the people; the laws will therefore be generally made by men little concerned in, and unacquainted with their effects and consequences."

He wrote that the Senate would have "the power of altering all money bills and of originating appropriations of money, and the salaries of the officers of their own appointment, in conjunction with the president . . . although they are not the representatives of the people or amenable to them."

Mason supported a three-person executive instead of a single president. He saw this is a form of a monarchy. He believed the office of vice-president was unnecessary and perhaps a problem. The vice-president's only real duty was to act as president of the senate "thereby blending the executive and legislative powers."

He also argued for the separation of church and state. To allow the church or any other religion to have influence over the two houses, executive office or judicial branch would "leave our country wide open for hostile take-over."

Mason stood before the convention, presenting his arguments numerous times, and in the end, managed to make a few important changes in the final document.

He pressed for a weak central government, strong state governments and the eventual abolition of slavery. Mason was a slaveholder, as were other members of the convention. Yet he recognized slavery as wrong and thus advocated the slow but deliberate reduction of slavery, and an immediate prohibition of slavery in states where it was not yet practiced. But he was unsuccessful in getting this written into the constitution.

After the Constitution was ratified and George Washington was elected President, Mason declared a general disgust in the direction the nation was heading and resigned from politics.

Had the founding fathers listened to Mason and followed his wise counsel, America would probably have avoided the Civil War, and perhaps appear as a much better influence on the world stage than it is today.

(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.

NATO And Russia Both Aim To Fail
By David Swanson

It's impossible for either side to see, but Russia and NATO depend on each other.

Whichever side you're on, you agree with weapons-maker propaganda that the available actions in the world are (1) war, and (2) doing nothing; you ignore the historical record of nonviolent action succeeding more often than war; and you imagine militarism to be required completely independently from considering what the results will be.

It's possible for some people to glimpse the stupidity and counterproductive nature of war as long as they look at old wars, and don't apply any lessons learned to current wars. An author in Germany of a book about the stupidity of World War I is right now busy telling people to stop learning lessons from him and applying them to Ukraine.

Many are able to look somewhat honestly at the 2003-begun stage of the U.S. war on Iraq. The pretended "weapons of mass destruction" according to CIA predictions were only likely to be used if Iraq were attacked. So, Iraq was attacked. A big part of the problem was supposedly how much "those people" hated "us," so, although the surest way to make people hate you was to attack them, they were attacked.

NATO has spent decades hyping, exaggerating, and lying about a Russian threat, and simply drooling over the possibility of a Russian attack. Inevitably knowing that it would radically boost NATO membership, bases, weapons, and popular support by attacking - even if the attack actually demonstrated its military weakness - Russia proclaimed that because of the NATO threat it must attack and enlarge the NATO threat.

Of course, I'm the lunatic for suggesting that Russia should have used unarmed civilian defense in Donbas, but is there anyone alive who thinks NATO would have been able to add all these new members and bases and weapons and U.S. troops without the radical escalation of the war in Ukraine by Russia? Will anyone pretend that NATO's biggest benefactor is Biden or Trump or anyone other than Russia?

Sadly, there are a lot of people who do imagine, just as ridiculously, that NATO expansion wasn't needed to create the Russian invasion, that in fact more NATO expansion would have prevented it. We're supposed to imagine that NATO membership has protected numerous nations from Russian threats that have never been hinted at by Russia, and to completely erase from all human awareness the nonviolent action campaigns - the singing revolutions - that some of those nations used to defeat Soviet invasions and kick out the Soviet Union.

NATO expansion made the current war possible, and further NATO expansion as a response to it is insane. Russian warmaking drives NATO expansion, and further Russian warmaking is a lunatic's response to NATO. Yet here we are, with Lithuania blockading Kaliningrad. Here we are with Russia putting nukes into Belarus. Here we are with the U.S. saying not one word about the violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty by Russia, because it's long had nukes in 5 other countries (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Turkey) and has just put them into a sixth (UK) and had put bases capable of launching nukes into Poland and Romania as a key step in the steady and predictable built up to this mess.

Russian dreams of quickly conquering Ukraine and dictating the results were plain nuts if actually believed. U.S. dreams of conquering Russia with sanctions are sheer madness if actually believed. But what if the point is not to believe in these things so much as to counter hostility with hostility, having taken a principled stand within one's head against acknowledging any alternatives?

It doesn't matter whether attacking Ukraine will work! NATO continues its relentless advance, refuses to negotiate, and aims eventually at attacking Russia, so our choices are to attack Ukraine or to do nothing! (This despite NATO's need for Russia as an enemy, despite the desire spelled out in a RAND study and by the USAID to provoke Russia into a war in Ukraine and not to attack Russia, this despite the fact that it would surely backfire.)

It doesn't matter whether sanctions will work. They've failed dozens of times, but it's a question of principle. One must not do business with the enemy, even if sanctions strengthen the enemy, even if they create more enemies, even if they isolate you and your club more than the target. It doesn't matter. The choice is escalation or doing nothing. And even if actually doing nothing would be better, "doing nothing" simply means an unacceptable choice.

Both sides are thus mindlessly escalating toward nuclear war, convinced there are no off-ramps, yet pouring black paint on the windshield for fear of seeing what lies ahead.

I went on a Russian U.S. radio show on Wednesday and tried to explain to the hosts that Russia's warmaking was as evil as anyone else's. They wouldn't stand for that claim, of course, though they made it themselves. One of the hosts denounced the evils of the NATO assault on the former Yugoslavia and demanded to know why Russia shouldn't have the right to use similar excuses to do the same thing to Ukraine. Needless to say, I replied that NATO should be condemned for its wars and Russia should be condemned for its wars. When they go to war with each other, they should both be condemned.

This being the actual real world, there is of course nothing equal about any two wars or any two militaries or any two war lies. So I will be weeding out the emails responding to this article screaming at me for equating everything. But being antiwar (as these radio hosts repeatedly claimed to be, in between their comments supporting war) actually requires opposing wars. It seems to me that the very least that war supporters could do would be to stop claiming to be antiwar. But that won't be enough to save us. More is needed.

(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.

Canada's ban is a good start, but we need to go further, and faster.

Canada's Plastics Ban Is A Necessary First Step
By David Suzuki

Most of us have seen images of sea turtles malformed by plastic six-pack rings, dead birds with stomachs full of debris, animals smothered by plastic bags... Our excessive use of disposable plastics is disastrous, not just for wildlife, but for us as well. Canada is starting to take it seriously, with a ban on several single-use plastic items starting in December.

Manufacturing and importing plastic bags, takeout containers, single-use plastic straws, stir sticks, cutlery and six-pack rings will banned by December, sales by the end of next year and exports by the end of 2025. The goal is to keep "15.5 billion plastic grocery bags, 4.5 billion pieces of plastic cutlery, three billion stir sticks, 5.8 billion straws, 183 million six-pack rings and 805 million takeout containers" from littering lands and waters and ending up in landfills every year. (There's an exception to the straw ban for people who require them for medical or accessibility reasons.)

Although the timeline seems long and the list of items short, government faced enormous pressure from industry, including legal battles. Plastics companies and organizations have challenged the government over jurisdiction, arguing regulation should be left to provinces, and over scientific assessments and classification of plastic manufactured items as "toxic."

Almost all plastic is a byproduct of the oil industry, which has also pushed back. For example, Imperial Oil filed a notice of objection to the government's classifying plastics as "toxic substances" under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

The restaurant industry and the provinces of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec have also pushed back against regulations.

But given the excessive amounts of plastic choking lands, rivers, wetlands, lakes, oceans and even air, industry should work to get ahead of the ban, phasing out the six targeted items and other non-essential plastics sooner rather than later. And the public and governments must get behind the call to expand the ban to more items. Public pressure has already helped, with the ban on exports - originally exempted - added since last December.

The government is starting with the most common and harmful items but isn't ruling out banning other single-use plastic products. That's important because those banned make up only about five per cent of Canada's plastic waste.

Recycling is only a partial solution as less than 10 per cent of plastic waste in Canada is recycled, with 3.3 million tonnes, much of it packaging, thrown out annually, according to the CBC.

With the ban, Canada is catching up to other countries. France banned most of the items last year, and is now phasing in further bans on items such as packaging on fruits, vegetables and newspapers, plastic in tea bags and toys handed out with fast food meals.

Making bans work requires education and ensuring sustainable options are available when needed. Because the ban is limited, it will also mean preventing companies from switching to alternatives that are no better, such as shrink wrap instead of drink container rings.

The greatest challenge is from industry. As the oil industry faces rising concerns about pollution, climate disruption and global instability, it's been looking to plastics to increase demand. Oil giant BP has predicted plastics will represent 95 per cent of the net growth in oil demand between 2020 and 2040. Because of increasing restrictions and public pressure in the industrialized world, the plans hinge on pushing plastics in places like Africa.

As well as being a major pollution source, plastic is fuelling the climate crisis. Carbon dioxide emissions are produced at every stage of its life cycle, averaging about five tonnes of CO2 per tonne of plastic - more if it's burned. According to a Vox article, "That's roughly twice the CO2 produced by a tonne of oil."

Plastics can be useful, especially in medical and public health settings - although alternatives are increasing. But most of the plastic we use and throw away is unnecessary. Just as we must stop using fossil fuels, we must also move away from their plastic byproducts. Canada's ban is a good start, but we need to go further, and faster. It's one area where our personal choices can make a big difference. New government standards make that easier. There's no future in plastics.

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

My Cold War Youth Suddenly Feels Like The Present
The rise of authoritarianism in Europe is proof our old fears had faded, not evaporated.
By Charles P. Pierce

The nuns lied. In October 1962, those of us in the third grade at St. Peter's School in Worcester, Massachusetts, noticed that we were being herded into the basement of the old school building every day. The basement was concrete, and it smelled of age and wet linoleum. It was also chilly, and yet with all of us milling around, the walls started to sweat anyway. It was a cold October that year.

Along about the fourth or fifth day of this, somebody asked the nuns what was going on. Not that we minded the break in the school day, but there seemed to be a weird kind of urgency in the way the sisters hustled us between the new school building and the old. Eventually, we all came to the opinion that it had something to do with the ominous events we heard about with half an ear at home as our parents watched the evening news. But the nuns lied to us. They told us these were only fire drills.

Gradually, however, the recess grapevine overtook the good-hearted prevarications of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. There were enough kids who watched the news with their parents-I was one of them-and were hip to the day's events. These kids passed the word that the Wyman-Gordon Company, where they manufactured parts for B-52 bombers, was a prime target. Wyman-Gordon was not that far from our school. Once we put that together, we'd find ourselves looking up at the clear autumn sky, searching for incoming contrails. And that, more or less, was our Cuban Missile Crisis: two weeks of existential peril we only marginally understood and rosary beads.

On February 27, 2022, having invaded Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin put his nation's nuclear-weapons forces on "special combat readiness." This immediately escalated the seriousness of the crisis he'd created. Over here, it inspired a very curious argument, both in real life and on social media. There was some debate over which generation's experience with nuclear terror was more acute. Boomers referred to the days of Dr. Strangelove and Fail Safe. A younger generation had grown up with its own cold war, forged by alarmism over what that generation perceived as the Reagan administration's reckless brinksmanship with a severely wounded USSR. A TV movie, ABC's The Day After,had scared them all to death. But in both cases, people discovered that a fear they thought had died had merely been sleeping. And all at once, the generation now coming of age had its own brand of nuclear terror. During the conversation, I tried to explain my awakening fear and where it came from: that we knew it was serious because all the nuns lied.

For two weeks in 1962, it seemed as though the final confrontation was a phone call away, and in the chilly and sweaty basement of the old school, we sent decades of the rosary aloft like Minuteman missiles in the general direction of what we called the imprisoned people of Russia-whom, alas, America might have been forced to incinerate. And then, one day, the whole thing was over. The fire drills were once again spaced out over months at a time, and out at recess we stopped watching the skies. That was my Cuban Missile Crisis. That was, in essence, my cold war. Now people who grew up in the heady optimism of the '90s, or even in the martial reaction of the 2000s, have their own.

In her 2015 Nobel Prize lecture, author and oral historian Svetlana Alexievich described the sense of profound dislocation that came upon the people of what was called the Soviet bloc when the USSR and its satellite governments all over Eastern Europe collapsed:

Two catastrophes coincided: In the social sphere, the socialist Atlantis was sinking; and on the cosmic-there was Chernobyl. The collapse of the empire upset everyone. People were worried about everyday life. How and with what to buy things? How to survive? What to believe in? What banners to follow this time? Or do we need to learn to live without any great idea? The latter was unfamiliar, too, since no one had ever lived that way. Hundreds of questions faced the "Red" man, but he was on his own. He had never been so alone as in those first days of freedom.
Something similar happened over here, albeit in a gentler form. After all, we "won" the cold war. It was a dizzying time. This sense of triumphalism in America was leavened by a mighty feeling of relief. It was a release after the decades when, every day, annihilation seemed to lurk around the corner. In September 1983, Soviet fighters shot down a Korean airliner, killing 269 people, including a U. S. congressman. Everybody held their breath then. The instincts dormant in me from my own cold war, the cold war of Kennedy and Khrushchev, asserted themselves once more.

For me-and, I suspect, for a number of other people-that relief lasted until the years 2016 to 2020, when everything we thought we were sure of dissolved again. It turned out the old fears had faded, not evaporated. They'd slept, not died. Which brings us, again, to the events of this early spring. Authoritarianism rises in Eastern Europe. Russia, with undisguised imperial ambitions, invades Ukraine. The United States supplies the Ukrainian resistance the way we armed the mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan, except openly. Vladimir Putin rattles the nuclear saber. A big chunk of American public opinion advocates for steps that guarantee a military confrontation with Russia. And I'm back at recess again, in 1962, wondering when the contrails will come.

We must look to the lessons that Jack Kennedy had to learn on the fly: that there is a limit even to American power and that the biggest limit on our power is the stockpile of our most powerful weapons. We still live on the nuclear precipice, and the only way to keep from going mad is an unshakable faith that we cannot fall over it. President Joe Biden is old enough to understand this simple truth, and to profit from it. Vladimir Putin is old enough, but his view is different. Back in 2019, he pronounced himself prepared to face another Cuban Missile Crisis, this time with hypersonic missiles on nuclear submarines. He looks upon survival as a badge of surrender. This is Richard Nixon's "madman theory" come to life.

For an American politics so accelerated that it outpaces genuine understanding-and consequently an American politics that jumps at shadows and immediately goes from a resting state to a heedless sense of imminent catastrophe-these are hard-earned lessons about the relationship between patience and resolve. God help us if too many also start believing that survival is defeat.

As I got older, I read more about the missile crisis, and I was struck by how hard President Kennedy worked to keep from cornering Khrushchev, resisting the admonitions of his own military. Later, talking with journalist Norman Cousins, Khrushchev spoke of the similar problems he had. His generals wanted to use the missiles before they lost them. Khrushchev said that they looked at him "as though I were out of my mind or, what was worse, a traitor. So I said to myself, 'To hell with these maniacs.'" Which is pretty much what I, a child of the cold war, thought throughout the early spring of 2022. To hell with all the maniacs. I'm not going down to that basement again.

(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 -

"Let us wage a moral and political war against war itself so that we can cut military spending and use that money for human needs."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

In Sea Change, US Presbyterian Committee Brands Israel's Occupation Of Palestinians Apartheid, Calls For End To Collective Punishment In Gaza
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Last week, the International Engagement Committee of the 1.2-million-strong Presbyterian Church passed a resolution entitled, "On Recognition That Israel's Laws, Policies, and Practices Constitute Apartheid Against the Palestinian People." There are roughly 75 million Presbyterians around the world, and it has a strong presence in Africa, with 3.4 million members there.

The development came in the same month that the seven million US Lutherans came to a similar conclusion.

Eric Ledermann and Greg Brekke writing in the Presbyterian Outlook quote commissioner Leslie Latham as saying that she was initially reluctant to use the word Apartheid, but at length became convinced: "I changed my mind. ... I realized we have to use this word. But, we must realize that Jesus, when he spoke to his enemies, always loved them. Loved them. Loved them. Loved them. So, we speak the truth about what is happening in Israel and Palestine. We speak the truth about what is happening in our own nation, in our own backyard. But we always do it in love, and not as a weapon."

The Outlook goes on to report,

"In other actions, the committee recommended approval with a 31-0 vote of INT-13, designating May 15th as Palestinian Nakba Remembrance Day, and INT-04 by a vote of 30-0, which, among other things, calls on the General Assembly to approve a statement about the humanitarian concerns regarding Israel and Palestine, reject the doctrines of Christian Zionism, repudiate all forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia, and repudiate the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in 2018. The committee also recommended approval 31-0 of INT-10, calling for an end to the Israeli government's siege of the Gaza Strip" [on the grounds that it is a form of collective punishment, which is not allowed in international law].
The committee's actions do not pass without controversy in the wider Presbyterian Church, many of whose pastors are pro-Israel, while other Presbyterians are engaged in interfaith dialogue with Jews and fear the effect on that dialogue of taking such a stance. Ms. Latham appears initially to have shared that fear.

On the other hand, the Presbyterian Church's vigorous missionary work has made it global, and its Global South members tend to see the situation in the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian West Bank as very much in the mold of Apartheid South Africa. Indeed, the new head of the World Council of Churches, which groups the liberal mainline denominations, is a Presbyterian minister from South Africa, Rev. Jerry Pillay. He has been frank about his views of the Occupation of Palestinians as a form of Apartheid, and I guess he should know. In the Religion News article to which I just linked, his Jewish critics slip from complaining about his critique of the Occupation policies to saying he is "anti-Zionist." But Zionism existed for nearly a century before the 1967 seizure of the West Bank and Gaza by the Israeli army, so the occupation can't be that central to Zionism. Then they equate anti-Zionism (which they have merely imputed to him) to antisemitism, and voila, his stance for Palestinian human rights is by sleight of hand turned into bigotry against Jews. It is dispiriting that Religion News isn't more careful about these rhetorical magic tricks of the Zionist far right.

Anyway, many high-ranking Presbyterians are keenly aware of the systemic discrimination under Israeli military rule against Palestinians on the basis of their race. The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), provoked a storm of controversy in his 2016 Martin Luther King Day address, in which he not only characterized the system under which Palestinians live as Apartheid but went on to liken it to a modern form of "slavery."

Louisville Seminary: "Presbyterian Rally and March for Justice - J. Herbert Nelson, II"

Rev. Nelson has a point. I have myself written that "Just as slaves do not securely own any property, so Palestinians under Israeli occupation can never be sure they actually own their own homes, or farms, or crops, or olive orchards, which can be sabotaged or taken away by the armed Israeli squatters or by the government that backs them, at any time."

Outlook editor Teri McDowell recently interviewed Rev. Nelson, an African-American who grew up on Orangeburg, South Carolina. He explained the roots of his stance:

"The first time I went to Israel/Palestine was with World Mission, and it was fascinating - not in a good way. I'm looking at Orangeburg, South Carolina, in the 1960s. I'm looking at something even worse than that, to be honest with you. And we are bringing food and supplies and having conversations with both sides. We go around to see good sites and we talk about it and debrief and then we come back, and we do it again. So, my question becomes: when people are suffering like this, why do we keep coming back to see the same thing? And in between that, there doesn't seem to be any organized way of even speaking to it.

One of the pieces that triggered me [was when] a gentleman ... came in and we were "listening to both sides." Okay. I grew up in Orangeburg, South Carolina. There are no "both sides." This is wrong. But I had to listen to him talk in a way that just totally disregarded the Palestinian people. And I was supposed to be leading that session. Yeah. I got up and I walked out. I just couldn't take anymore. It was in that moment that I realized I don't need to come back here. I need to do something about it. And that's what I was doing when I made the statement."

He explained his reference to the treatment of the Palestinians as a form of slavery, "I think the second piece that folks struggled with was the issue of my equating this to slavery. This is the nomenclature that we know in the United States of America. I'm not talking to people in Israel/Palestine. I'm writing this statement for the people here in the United States of America."

(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.

'True patriots don't put loyalty to their political party above their love of America.'

This Fourth Of July, It's Worth Pondering The True Meaning Of Patriotism
True patriots don't fuel racist, religious or ethnic divisions. Patriots seek to confirm and strengthen and celebrate the 'we' in 'we the people of the United States'
By Robert Reich

On this Fourth of July, it's worth pondering the true meaning of patriotism.

It is not the meaning propounded by the "America first" crowd, who see the patriotic challenge as securing our borders.

For most of its existence America has been open to people from the rest of the world fleeing tyranny and violence.

Nor is the meaning of patriotism found in the ravings of those who want America to be a white Christian nation.

America's moral mission has been greater inclusion - equal citizenship for Native Americans, Black people, women and LGBTQ+ people.

True patriots don't fuel racist, religious or ethnic divisions. Patriots aren't homophobic or sexist. Patriots seek to confirm and strengthen and celebrate the "we" in "we the people of the United States".

Patriots are not blind to social injustices. They don't ban books or prevent teaching about the sins of our past.

They combine a loving devotion to America with a demand for justice.

This land is your land, this land is my land, Woody Guthrie sang.

Langston Hughes pleaded:

Let America be America again,

The land that never has been yet -

And yet must be - the land where every man is free.

The land that's mine - the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME -.

Nor is the meaning of patriotism found in symbolic displays of loyalty like standing for the national anthem and waving the American flag.

Its true meaning is in taking a fair share of the burdens of keeping the nation going - sacrificing for the common good. Paying taxes in full rather than lobbying for lower taxes, seeking tax loopholes or squirreling away money abroad.

It means refraining from political contributions that corrupt our politics, and blowing the whistle on abuses of power even at the risk of losing one's job.

It means volunteering time and energy to improve the community and country.

Real patriotism involves strengthening our democracy - defending the right to vote and ensuring more Americans are heard. It is not claiming without evidence that millions of people voted fraudulently.

It is not pushing for laws that make it harder for people to vote based on this "big lie". It is not using the big lie to run for office.

True patriots don't put loyalty to their political party above their love of America.

True patriots don't support an attempted coup. They expose it - even when it was engineered by people they once worked for, even if it's a president who headed their own party.

When serving in public office, true patriots don't try to hold on to power after voters have chosen not to re-elect them. They don't make money off their offices.

When serving as judges, they recuse themselves from cases where they may appear to have a conflict of interest. When serving in the Senate, they don't use the filibuster to stop all legislation with which they disagree.

When serving on the supreme court, they don't disregard precedent to impose their ideology.

Patriots understand that when they serve the public, one of their major responsibilities is to maintain and build public trust in the offices and institutions they occupy.

America is in trouble. But that's not because too many foreigners are crossing our borders, or we're losing our whiteness or our dominant religion, or we're not standing for the national anthem, or because of voter fraud.

We're in trouble because we are losing the true understanding of what patriotism requires from all of us.

(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

Climate activists, including members of Extinction Rebellion, participate in a
demonstration in front of the Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse against a
recent Supreme Court ruling on June 30, 2022 in New York City, United States.

Beware: The Supreme Court Is Laying Groundwork To Pre-Rig The 2024 Election
This scenario isn't just plausible: it's probable. GOP-controlled states are already changing their state laws to allow for it, regardless of how their people vote.
By Thom Hartmann

Six Republicans on the Supreme Court just announced-a story that has largely flown under the nation's political radar-that they'll consider pre-rigging the presidential election of 2024.

Republican strategists are gaming out which states have Republican legislatures willing to override the votes of their people to win the White House for the Republican candidate.

Here's how one aspect of it could work out, if they go along with the GOP's arguments that will be before the Court this October:

It's November, 2024, and the presidential race between Biden and DeSantis has been tabulated by the states and called by the networks. Biden won 84,355,740 votes to DeSantis' 77,366,412, clearly carrying the popular vote.

But the popular vote isn't enough: George W. Bush lost to Al Gore by a half-million votes and Donald Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes but both ended up in the White House. What matters is the Electoral College vote, and that looks good for Biden, too.

As CNN is reporting, the outcome is a virtual clone of the 2020 election: Biden carries the same states he did that year and DeSantis gets all the Trump states. It's 306 to 232 in the Electoral College, a 74-vote Electoral College lead for Biden, at least as calculated by CNN and the rest of the media. Biden is heading to the White House for another 4 years.

Until the announcement comes out of Georgia. Although Biden won the popular vote in Georgia, their legislature decided it can overrule the popular vote and just awarded the state's 16 electoral votes to DeSantis instead of Biden.

An hour later we hear from five other states with Republican-controlled legislatures where Biden won the majority of the vote, just like he had in 2020: North Carolina (15 electoral votes), Wisconsin (10), Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20) and Arizona (11).

Each has followed Georgia's lead and their legislatures have awarded their Electoral College votes-even though Biden won the popular vote in each state-to DeSantis.

Thus, a total of 88 Electoral College votes from those six states move from Biden to DeSantis, who's declared the winner and will be sworn in on January 20, 2025.

Wolf Blitzer announces that DeSantis has won the election, and people pour into the streets to protest. They're met with a hail of bullets as Republican-affiliated militias have been rehearsing for this exact moment and their allies among the police refuse to intervene.

After a few thousand people lay dead in the streets of two dozen cities, the police begin to round up the surviving "instigators," who are charged with seditious conspiracy for resisting the Republican legislatures of their states.

After he's sworn in on January 20th, President DeSantis points to the ongoing demonstrations, declares a permanent state of emergency, and suspends future elections, just as Trump had repeatedly told the world he planned for 2020.

Sound far fetched?

Six Republicans on the Supreme Court just announced that one of the first cases they'll decide next year could include whether that very scenario is constitutional or not. And it almost certainly is.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution lays out the process clearly, and it doesn't even once mention the popular vote or the will of the people:

"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress... [emphasis added]

"The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons ... which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President..."

It's not particularly ambiguous, even as clarified by the 12th Amendment and the Electoral Count Act of 1887.

Neither mentions the will of the people, although the Electoral Count Act requires each state's governor to certify the vote before passing it along to Washington, DC. And half of those states have Democratic governors.

Which brings us to the Supreme Court's probable 2023 decision. As Robert Barnes wrote yesterday for The Washington Post:

"The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will consider what would be a radical change in the way federal elections are conducted, giving state legislatures sole authority to set the rules for contests even if their actions violated state constitutions and resulted in extreme partisan gerrymandering for congressional seats."
While the main issue being debated in Moore v Harper, scheduled for a hearing this October, is a gerrymander that conflicts with North Carolina's constitution, the issue at the core of the debate is what's called the "Independent State Legislature Doctrine."

It literally gives state legislatures the power to pre-rig or simply hand elections to the candidate of their choice.

As NPR notes:

"The independent state legislature theory was first invoked by three conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices in the celebrated Bush v. Gore case that handed the 2000 election victory to George W. Bush. In that case, the three cited it to support the selection of a Republican slate of presidential electors."
That doctrine-the basis of John Eastman and Donald Trump's effort to get states to submit multiple slates of electors-asserts that a plain reading of Article II and the 12th Amendment of the Constitution says that each state's legislature has final say in which candidate gets their states' Electoral College vote, governors and the will of the voters be damned.

The Republicans point out that the Constitution says that it's up to the states-"in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct"-to decide which presidential candidate gets their Electoral College votes.

But the Electoral Count Act requires a governor's sign-off, and half those states have Democratic governors. Which has precedence, the Constitution or the Act?

If the Supreme Court says it's the US Constitution rather than the Electoral Count Act, states' constitutions, state laws, or the votes of their citizens, the scenario outlined above becomes not just possible but very likely. Republicans play hardball and consistently push to the extremes regardless of pubic opinion.

After all, the Constitution only mentions the states' legislatures-which are all Republican controlled-so the unwillingness of the Democratic governors of Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to sign off on the Electoral College votes becomes moot.

Under this circumstance DeSantis becomes president, the third Republican president in the 21st century, and also the third Republican President to have lost the popular vote election yet ended up in the White House.

This scenario isn't just plausible: it's probable. GOP-controlled states are already changing their state laws to allow for it, and Republican strategists are gaming out which states have Republican legislatures willing to override the votes of their people to win the White House for the Republican candidate.

Those state legislators who still embrace Trump and this theory are getting the support of large pools of rightwing billionaires' dark money.

As the highly respected conservative Judge J. Michael Luttig recently wrote:

"Trump and the Republicans can only be stopped from stealing the 2024 election at this point if the Supreme Court rejects the independent state legislature doctrine ... and Congress amends the Electoral Count Act to constrain Congress' own power to reject state electoral votes and decide the presidency."
I take no satisfaction in having accurately predicted-in March of 2020-how Trump and his buddies would try to steal the election in January of 2021. Or how the Supreme Court would blow up the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump's January 6th effort failed because every contested state had laws on the books requiring all of their Electoral College votes to go to whichever candidate won the popular vote in the state.

That will not be the case in 2024.

As we are watching, the Supreme Court-in collaboration with state legislatures through activists like Ginny Thomas-are setting that election up right now in front of us in real time.

We damn well better be planning for this, because it's likely coming our way in just a bit more than two short years.

(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
~~~ Jimmy Margulies ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

Supreme Court Casually Mentions Nation Now Divided Into Six Provinces Ruled By Conservative Justices
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-In a tangential footnote appended to its 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court casually declared Thursday that the nation had been divided into six provinces, each of which would be ruled by a Republican-appointed justice.

"The court hereby decrees that the six justices joining in this opinion will occupy six thrones from which they will reign over the lands once known as the United States," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, adding that while each province would constitute an independent, absolute monarchy, the realms would nonetheless form a loose confederation and military alliance capable of crushing any rebellion daring to challenge the six new sovereigns.

"Nowhere in the Constitution do we find language that specifically forbids the establishment of Gorsuchonia, which now stretches from North Dakota to Ohio, or Alitostan, which encompasses much of the Eastern Seaboard. Nor did our Founders put any mechanisms in place that explicitly state the Supreme Court justices cannot exercise complete control over the lives of their subjects."

At press time, His Imperial Majesty Brett of the House Kavanaugh had named himself emperor following a 1-5 decision to usurp all six thrones.

(c) 2022 The Onion


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 26 (c) 07/08/2022

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