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In This Edition

Norman Solomon explains, "How California's Top Democrats Paved The Way For A Republican Governor This Fall."

Ralph Nader reviews, "The Fall Of The House Of Cuomo - Lessons Unlearned."

Margaret Kimberley considers, "Gentrification And The End Of Black Communities."

Jim Hightower warns, "Beware Of "Spot," The $75,000 Wonder Dog."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "Right-Leaning Columnist Calls Forever War A 'Myth.'"

John Nichols explores, "Bernie Sanders's Third Campaign."

James Donahue examines, "The Republican Dismantling Of America."

David Swanson finds, "War: Ever More Present and Absent."

David Suzuki says, "Climate Report Shows World Pushed To The Brink By Fossil Fuels."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "Street Violence Cannot Become Part Of Our Political Process."

Juan Cole explores, "Top 6 Ways Trump forced Abrupt US Departure From Afghanistan; And That Time Trump Said Taliban Would Take Over War On Terror."

Robert Reich says, "Enough Sanctimony Over Afghanistan."

Frank Scott returns with, "Lesser Evil Politics Assure Greater Evil Economics."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion "reports, 'Rise Up, Patriots!' Rand Paul Calls To Intubated Patients Lying Unconscious In Hospital ICU," but first, Uncle Ernie pleads, "Do It For The Children."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Rob Rogers, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Pierre Albouy, Erik McGregor, Times of San Diego, Fiona Paton, David Barry Blitt, Andrew Harnik-Pool, Nathan Howard, Shawn Thew, Suzuki Foundation, CQ-Roll Call, Black Agenda Report, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

Global Warming activists take part in a demonstration of the Fridays for Future movement in Lausanne, Switzerland January 17, 2020.

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Do It For The Children
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"The world's children cannot afford more empty promises at this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)." ~~~ Greta Thunberg

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

I see where Greta Thunberg said, "The world's children cannot afford more empty promises at this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)," after a U.N. report found virtually no child will escape the impact of global warming.

In the first index of its kind, published by the U.N. children's agency UNICEF found that almost all the world's 2.2 billion children are exposed to at least one climate or environmental risk, from catastrophic floods to toxic air.

Last week a U.N. climate panel of the world's top atmospheric scientists warned that global warming is dangerously close to spiralling out of control, with deadly heat waves, hurricanes and other extreme events likely to keep getting worse.

Thunberg, 18, said the UNICEF index confirmed children would be the worst affected, and when world leaders meet in Glasgow in November for COP26 they needed to act rather than just talk.

"I don't expect them to do that, but I would be more than happy if they could prove me wrong," she told journalists ahead of the index's publication on the third anniversary of Fridays For Future, a now-global youth movement that started with her solo protest outside her Swedish school.

Thunberg was joined by young activists around the world including Mitzi Jonelle Tan, 23, from the Philippines, who spoke of doing homework by candlelight as typhoons raged outside or fearing drowning in her bed as floodwaters filled her room.

After months of extreme weather and dire warnings from scientists, world leaders' "empty promises and vague plans" were no longer enough, Tan said.

"There's no excuse for this COP... to not be the one that changes things."

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director said young people globally were leading by example, pointing to a survey by the organisation that found nine in ten of them in 21 countries felt it was their responsibility to tackle climate change.

They were more at risk than adults in the "increasingly unrecognisable" world they stood to inherit, she said, being less able to survive extreme weather events and more susceptible to toxic chemicals, temperature changes and disease.

The UNICEF index showed around 1 billion children in 33 mostly African low-emission countries faced a "deadly combination" of extreme weather and existing issues like poverty, making them uniquely vulnerable.

Trouble is, that some Americans care so little of their children that they won't even have them wear a mask, much less, give then a covid shot, so I hold out no hope for their kids when it comes to do something about global warming. As the shots are free, but stopping global warming isn't! As I've said on many occasions, if you won't do it for yourselves, then do it for your children and your grand children. Fat chance of Fong that will happen!


02-01-1937 ~ 08-21-2021
Thanks for the music!

12-17-1933 ~ 08-22-2021
Thanks for the film!

06-02-1941 ~ 08-24-2021
Thanks for the music!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

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

How California's Top Democrats Paved The Way For A Republican Governor This Fall
By Norman Solomon

Four weeks from now, a right-wing Republican could win the governor's office in California. Some polling indicates that Democrat Gavin Newsom is likely to lose his job via the recall election set for Sept. 14. When CBS News released a poll on Sunday, Gov. Newsom's razor-thin edge among likely voters was within the margin of error. How this could be happening in a state where Republicans are only 24 percent of registered voters is largely a tale of corporate-friendly elitism and tone-deaf egotism at the top of the California Democratic Party.

Newsom has always been enmeshed with the power of big money. "Gavin Newsom wasn't born to wealth and privilege but as a youngster he was enveloped in it as the surrogate son of billionaire Gordon Getty," longtime conservative California journalist Dan Walters has pointed out. "Later, Getty's personal trust fund -- managed by Newsom's father -- provided initial financing for business ventures that made Newsom wealthy enough to segue into a political career as a protege of San Francisco's fabled political mastermind, Willie Brown." In 1996, as mayor, Brown appointed Newsom to the city's Parking and Traffic Committee. Twenty-five years later, Newsom is chief executive of a state with the world's fifth-largest economy.

Last November, Newsom dramatized his upper-crust arrogance of "Do as I say, not as I do." Photos emerged that showed him having dinner with a corporate lobbyist friend among people from several households, all without masks, in a mostly enclosed dining room -- at an extremely expensive Napa Valley restaurant called The French Laundry -- at a time when Gov. Newsom was urging Californians to stay away from public gatherings and to wear masks. The governor's self-inflicted political wound for hypocrisy badly damaged his image.

After deep-pocketed funders teamed up with the state's Republican Party to circulate petitions forcing a recall election, initial liberal optimism gladly assumed that the GOP was overplaying its hand. But the recall effort kept gaining momentum. Now, there's every indication that Republicans will vote at a significantly higher rate than Democrats -- a fact that speaks not only to conservative fervor but also to the chronic detachment of the state's Democratic Party from its base.

Newsom's most fervent boosters include corporate interests, mainline labor unions and the California Democratic Party. Just about every leader of the CDP, along with the vast majority of Democrats in the state legislature, is pleased to call themselves "progressive." But the label is often a thin veneer for corporate business as usual.

For instance, the CDP's platform has long been on record calling for a single-payer healthcare system in California. Such measures passed the legislature during the time when Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor from 2003 to 2011, and he surprised no one by vetoing the bills. But the heavily-Democratic legislature has obliged the latest two Democratic governors, Jerry Brown and Newsom, by bottling up single-payer legislation; it's been well understood that Brown and Newsom wanted to confine the state party's support for single-payer to lip service.

In the same vein, the CDP's current chair, Rusty Hicks, signed a pledge that the state party would not accept fossil-fuel money. But he went on to do exactly that to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.

As an elected member of the California Democratic Party's central committee during the last decade, I've often witnessed such top-down maneuvers. Frequently, the CDP's most powerful leaders are in a groove of thwarting the progressive aspirations of the party's bedrock supporters -- and blocking measures that would materially improve the lives of millions of Californians.

"This is what happens when the culture of high-priced consultants and cult of personality meets a corporate-controlled legislature and party," said Karen Bernal, a Sacramento-based activist who chaired the CDP's large Progressive Caucus for six years. She told me: "The campaign promises and vows of support for progressive policy are revealed to be nothing more than performative, while the hopes and dreams of the party's progressive base are sent to die in committee and behind closed doors. The end result is a noticeable lack of fight when it's most needed."

Now, with the recall election barreling down on the state, the routinely aloof orientation of the state party's structure is coming back to haunt it. Overall, the CDP's actual connections to grassroots activists and core constituencies are tenuous at best, while Newsom comes across as more Hollywood and Wall Street than neighborhood and Main Street. No wonder Democrats statewide are less energized about voting on the recall than Republicans are.

If Newsom loses the recall, his successor as governor will be determined by who gets the most votes on "part 2" of the same ballot. In that case, you might logically ask, isn't the "part 2" winner a safe bet to be a Democrat in such a heavily Democratic state? Actually, no.

On the theory that having any prominent Democrat in contention would harm his chances of surviving the yes/no recall vote on the ballot's "part 1," Newsom and party operatives conveyed to all of the state's prominent Democrats: Don't even think about it.

The intimidation was successful. Not a single Democrat with substantial name recognition is on "part 2" of the ballot, so no reasonable safety net contender exists if the recall wins. As a result, Newsom's replacement looks as likely to be an ultra-right Republican as a Democrat. And if the replacement is a Democrat, it would almost certainly be a highly problematic fellow -- a financial adviser and YouTube star named Kevin Paffrath, whose grab bag of ideas includes a few that appeal to Democrats (like marriage equality, higher teacher pay and promotion of solar and wind farms) but features a lot of pseudo-populist notions that would do tremendous damage if implemented.

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

The Fall Of The House Of Cuomo - Lessons Unlearned
By Ralph Nader

The resignation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo invites comparisons, historical context, and proposals for the future.

First, the comparisons: Former President Donald J. Trump must be chuckling. As the worst sexual predator to rule the White House, he must be wondering about the "weak" (his word) loser who quit while protesting his actions were innocent. Trump, the rapacious, super sexual assaulter, physically pushed women around, boasted about his prowess, and bragged about his seizures of women's private parts. He also paid hush money to prostitutes in violation of campaign laws during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Yet the Democrats, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), hounded Senator Al Franken out from the Senate before his requested investigations by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics began its inquiry for alleged sexual harassment. Franken's actions were not Trump-like by any measure and occurred before Franken even ran for office. The women who worked for him, past and present, voluntarily came forward to vouch for Franken as a Senate champion both of women and of consumer rights.

When I presented Senator Gillibrand with a detailed letter indicting Trump and asked for her to take action, she did not reply, nor did nearly one hundred other Democratic women members of Congress in the House and Senate who had this letter personally delivered to their offices. (See letter: . Forget the men there. No one disagreed with the letter. Some staff to whom the letter was personally delivered teared up in frustrated anger. "It's all up to Nancy Pelosi," some would say, for any House investigation to commence.

But Trump knew how to intimidate, unleash torrents of vicious internet messages by his backers, and relentlessly go after his opponents by name with wide media coverage. So, for these lawmakers and the #MeToo movement activists, the worst received the least of their relentless demands. Trump got away with his despicable, violent actions while his lawyers are obstructing, with tactics of attrition, several tort lawsuits now underway against him by his victims.

Second, the grim history: Perhaps the greatest regular form of violence between humans has been men beating up on women. For millennia this has been the case, with violence against children a close second. It is still ongoing everywhere, though the lights are starting to shine into this infernal darkness. But in an unusual reversal at long last, on the ladder of accountability, those in positions of visible power - political, economic, and academic as well as those in the media's eye, are feeling the most ferocious demands to immediately quit their jobs and pay damages to avoid the additional possibility of prosecution.

Top media executives, corporate bosses, leading politicians, prominent sports coaches, and others at or near the top of their institutions, were tossed out for sexual harassment - not punished for any serious violent corporate crimes or for pushing illegal, murderous wars - but for believed allegations of behavior ranging from actual felonies to 1950s type non-consensual flirting with subordinates. From women never being believed over the centuries, if they dared to protest, there are those few who have gone public against "celebrities" with accusations who are now being immediately believed.

Some proposals: Governor Andrew Cuomo fell from favor for doing far less than what many in the New York State Legislature have been doing with impunity forever. Rampant occupational and physical sexism has been brutish and punishing, often connected to deals requested by commercial lobbyists, and overall an accepted part of Albany's state legislative culture. Behaving lawmakers have not blown the whistle on their seriously misbehaving colleagues. There are simply too many consequences for their doing so, in addition to the penalties confronting the whistle-blowing victims themselves. As one long-time observer commented: "The scene was worse years ago, but it is still ugly and rancid today."

Cuomo went out with a semi-mea culpa resignation address to the people of the State of New York. He could have brought the whole legislature's tolerance of violent exploitation against women down with him. Moreover, by demanding due process in any impeachment proceedings in the state legislature, Cuomo also could have helped stem the tide of "conviction by accusation" without having due process such as cross-examination, and other rules of evidence in a judicial-type forum.

What does Governor Cuomo want to hide? What other scores do politicians want to settle with him?

The great civil rights and human rights advocate, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, long argued that giving the worst offender their due process is what confirms the rule of law. Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic were given independent counsel and formal trials even though their known mass slaughters of innocents were legion.

The captured Nazi butchers tried at Nuremberg in 1945 could have been immediately executed. Instead, their trials and convictions expanded international law, along with the principle that saying "I was just following orders," does not exonerate.

Influential American politicians rarely lose their positions of power over their most destructive decisions. Consider the more than one million plus innocent Iraqi victims of the lying, destructive, criminal war against Iraq, which George W. Bush and Dick Cheney perpetuated with complete immunity to this day.

Presently, Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, Gillibrand, and other Democrats who demanded Cuomo quit, are not demanding the resignations of the dangerous Republican governors of Florida and Texas. These men, facing a surging contagious Covid-19 pandemic, cynically cite "individual freedom" to boastfully oppose or undermine long-proven, life-protective measures. For instance, they oppose local school board mask mandates threatening to sue, defund, and otherwise keep local officials from obeying state laws that override these homicidal politicians' executive orders.

Flouting CDC standards, Governors DeSantis (Florida) and Abbott (Texas) are knowingly and ideologically increasing preventable fatalities and disease, causing hospitals to fill up and health practitioners to wring their hands over staff shortages and deceit at the top. These governors meet the standard definition of negligent manslaughter. those deadly crimes, remarkably, still do not match the accusations against Cuomo for these Democrats.

Rather, it is almost always some bigoted words, some bullying personal mistreatment, or some minor but personal misuse of funds - not the huge waste and corruption in their administration - that produce expulsion.

The Cuomo ouster was a lost opportunity to start cleaning house in a more lasting manner in the Albany sex pits while sending a message to all state capitols to stop these hothouses of sex-crazed men, away from their homes, and sometimes willing to satisfy their personal lust through craven lobbyists working deviously against the interests of the people.

(c) 2021 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).

Gentrification And The End Of Black Communities
By Margaret Kimberley

Census data show that gentrification is accelerating Black displacement.

Brooklyn, New York is the epicenter of gentrification, the displacement of Black people from cities in this country. Recently released census data shows that neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant, which was nearly all Black for decades, no longer has a Black majority. Bedford-Stuyvesant's white population rose by 30,000 from 2010 to 2020 while its Black population decreased by 22,000.

The devastation has been wrought by finance capital, which has once again upended life for Black people. Money was taken out of the cities in the 1950s and 1960s, creating what was known as "white flight" to the suburbs. Now the same forces have reversed themselves and are putting money back into the cities, and Black people are the losers. Neighborhoods that were once afterthoughts and the butt of jokes are suddenly declared "hot" if real estate speculators target them for change.

The how-to of moving Black people out of a community isn't difficult at all. The median price for a home anywhere in Brooklyn is now $900,000. A well-kept brownstone in Crown Heights or Bedford-Stuyvesant can now fetch seven figures. Home purchases which once required living wage employment and thrifty habits now require a small fortune that Black people rarely have.

What is now called gentrification is the latest salvo in a long history of making the Black population disposable and dependent upon the whims of racist reaction and capitalism. Urban renewal, known as Nego removal, destroyed entire communities. Financial institutions used red lining to determine where a mortgage could be obtained. Often these rules were used to keep any Black person out, regardless of financial circumstances.

Those circumstances are usually tenuous. Living wage jobs are no longer plentiful, as the same finance capital interests sent manufacturing jobs to other countries, leaving nothing but low wage jobs or even so-called gig work, which guarantees nothing but the precarity that the system demands.

Gentrification even impacts the criminal justice system. An increasingly white jury pool in Brooklyn means that defendants, mostly people of color, are more likely to be convicted. Civil cases are less likely to be decided in favor of plaintiffs and awards are smaller as the borough's income and education levels rise.

Generations of culture are being lost, families are dispersed, and even homesellers who can make the proverbial killing are saddened that their good fortune only accelerates the process of displacement. Everyone laments the process but they are silenced because their losses are rarely acknowledged. We are told that people have the right to live where they want. But that right exists only for those with access to lots of money. The average Black working person depends on a salary. Even those with higher incomes don't have access to cash or to a family legacy of wealth, and they are automatically out of the running.

The problem of course is capitalism itself. Black people shouldn't be blamed for not pulling themselves by imaginary bootstraps when the paths to success are closed to them by discrimination and when the rules they were told to follow are suddenly changed. Even a college education is no longer a ticket to success. Student loan debt is a burden to people who believed they were helping themselves when they took on what was once a key to success. Black college graduates now start off their lives deeply indebted while also relying on incomes that are less than those of their white counterparts. They are worse off than their parents' generation and they will be left out of home ownership and other opportunities they thought they would have.

Of course Brooklyn and Harlem are less and less Black. Washington DC, once known as Chocolate City, is now more of a cafe au lait city as its Black population is no longer in the majority. The political system offers no solutions. Real estate interests are big political donors, and they decide who will and who will not be in office. Politicians won't bite the hands that feed them and people who expected to get what they were promised if they played by the rules are left out of contention.

At the very least we can name and shame the bankers and the developers and the craven politicians. They are causing the deaths of communities and the destruction of a people. There should also be no hesitation in naming racism as the culprit of Black peoples problems. Capitalism and racism make one gigantic, two-headed monster behaving as it always has. No one should shrink from pointing out that fact.

(c) 2021 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

Beware Of "Spot," The $75,000 Wonder Dog
By Jim Hightower

Tick-tick-tick... each sweep of Big-Tech's clock enhances corporate power - but its hands also sweep away more of our civil rights.

At first, each new surge of artificial intelligence and robotic technologies can seem perfectly benign ... even playful. Take "Spot," the robotic, four-legged "doggie" that actually has no spots, no enduring puppy eyes, can't bark, has no tail to wag, and is very un-doggy. In fact, this electronic critter is rather creepily nightmarish, but it's marketed by cute videos, including one of Spot mixing margaritas (admit it, that beats training your real dog to bring your slippers to you).

But you can't just adopt a Spot at your local animal shelter. Each artificial canine - manufactured by Boston Dynamics, which is owned by Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor Company, sells for about $75,000. So, who's buying them? Mainly, such big corporate outfits as oil refineries, mining operations, and electric utilities that want an unblinking eye to monitor and record workers, visitors, protestors, and all others who approach their facilities. Just one more layer of our cycloptic surveillance society.

But the point at which Spot loses all cuteness and turns into a menacing beast of authoritarianism is when it's turned into a police dog. There's been quite a public backlash, for example, against the Honolulu police department for deploying one of the robotic canines in a tent city for homeless people. In addition to outrage at the obvious class bias in siccing Spot on the homeless, the public outcry grew hotter when it was revealed that the police had used federal pandemic relief funds to buy their Spot!

As usual, corporate and government officials assure us that this latest tech marvel won't be used to spy on innocent people, be weaponized, or otherwise bite us on the butt. Trust us, they say.


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

Hundreds took to the streets as antiwar and social justice groups organized a demonstration in New York City, on March 14, 2018.

Right-Leaning Columnist Calls Forever War a 'Myth'
By William Rivers Pitt

As this appears to be my week for taking the piss out of shabby right-wing news personalities, I bring you now Jeff Jacoby, pet conservative of the Boston Globe editorial page. Long-time readers of this space may remember the last time I made a foray into the talking points bulletin board passing for Jacoby's ideas: His near-giddy 2017 assertion that there were a number of positives to be gained thanks to runaway anthropogenic climate disruption. His headline: "There Are Benefits to Climate Change." No, you read that correctly.

"In the church of climate alarmism, there may be no heresy more dangerous than the idea that the world will benefit from warming," opined Jacoby. "Polar melting may cause dislocation for those who live in low-lying coastal areas, but it will also lead to safe commercial shipping in formerly inhospitable northern seas."

Take all the time you need with that. My favorite bit is "may cause dislocation" vs. "will lead to safe commercial shipping." Ghastly priorities revealed by the chosen use of simple verbs is pretty much Jacoby's speed. Reading that piece four years later amid all the climate chaos of the moment, I can't help but be reminded of the three crucified fellows singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" in Monty Python's Life of Brian. It is exactly, precisely that absurd.

Jacoby's latest foray into the strange and wrong came on the August 17, and was titled "The Myth That Afghanistan Was a 'Forever' War." For those unfamiliar with the term, the "Forever Wars" refer to the experience endured by the soldiers who have been getting sent to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations in the Middle East and North Africa since the onset of the first Gulf War. For the mathematically disinclined, that is 31 years of war.

"It is strange, this talking point about Afghanistan being the 'longest war' or a 'forever war,'" writes Jacoby. "Yes, the United States has been involved in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, but the last time American forces suffered any combat casualties was Feb. 8, 2020, when Sgt. Javier Gutierrez and Sgt. Antonio Rodriguez were ambushed and killed. Their sacrifice was heroic and selfless. But it makes little sense to speak of a 'forever war' in which there are no fatalities for a year and a half."

Let us grant Jacoby the recognition that, yes, the war in Afghanistan did not actually last "forever." That is a practical impossibility. If the war went on until the sun burned out and all life on Earth perished, it would still not have lasted forever, because the universe would continue on without us, marking time in its own way.

The pejorative use of "forever" in this matter stems not from a marking of time, but from a sense that nothing will change, end or improve. After 31 years of war, it was a sense that the soldiers fighting in it shared broadly. Thirty-one years may not be "forever," but for troops on their eighth or tenth deployments, it sure God feels like it.

The term lies at the beating heart of the war-making expedition undertaken by George W. Bush after 9/11: a policy of open-ended combat against terrorism for as long as terrorism exists, enshrined in two Authorizations for the Use of Military Force that remain the military's standing orders to this day. It is by definition endless, i.e. "forever," until the policy changes.

Speaking of the soldiers, we must take a moment with Jacoby's assertion that "it makes little sense to speak of a 'forever war' in which there are no fatalities for a year and a half."

None shall argue that combat, injury and death are the worst aspects of war for any soldier... but war is excruciating in many ways. Soldiers are not suffering from PTSD because the plane ride home was bumpy. A troop on multiple deployments may never see any fighting because they work in the mess hall or as an aide to senior officers far from the violence, but that person will still feel the long emptiness of "forever."

Jacoby goes on to name a number of countries - Japan, Germany - where a U.S. military presence has existed far longer than the Afghanistan War, ignoring the fact that the shooting stopped there decades ago, and the possibility of sudden large-scale combat is gone. He concludes with a lament about the U.S.'s "diminished credibility" after the Afghanistan withdrawal, to which I retort: If 20 years, trillions of dollars and thousands of casualties are not proof of commitment, you have to wonder what kind of friends we're talking about.

That's the point, really: The ending itself is the problem for Jacoby and those who think as he does. Afghanistan and Iraq were ATM machines for the warmakers for three decades plus a year. Now, one of those ATMs has been shut off - none can say for how long - and the money spigot pinched.

Simple terms like "forever wars" bring the pathos of the situation home to a citizenry that has at least partly ignored Afghanistan for two decades. It is part of the reason why a majority wanted the war over, and is why the war has - for now - ended. Attacking the term is a desperate flail at blunting the majority belief that all of this has gone on for far too long.

Obama, Trump and Biden all campaigned on ending this war, because they are politicians, and know full well what the people want to hear. Biden actually did it, although it should be noted that the manner in which he carried it out has come at enormous cost measured in wrenching human suffering.

Biden ended the war, and people like Jacoby don't like it. Wars aren't supposed to end anymore, see? It's bad for business, like a healthy ice sheet blocking a potential shipping lane. So frustrating.

Finally, and not for nothing, it is the soldiers themselves who chose to use the phrase as a shared recognition of their experience. It takes quite a bit of gall for Jacoby or anyone else to unilaterally try and take that away from them by calling it a myth. "Forever" is in the eye of the beholder. For myself, reading Jacoby's articles can feel like forever, too. It's all about perspective.

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

Bernie Sanders's Third Campaign
As chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders's big-government message has found its moment.
By John Nichols

Burlington, Vt.-Bernie Sanders does not want to be mistaken for an optimist. "I'm a glass-half-empty kind of guy," he grumbles, as he works his way through the stacks of budget documents that are strewn across the desk in his spartan office on the third floor of a 123-year-old red-brick building on the north end of downtown Burlington. That's the image he's fashioned for himself across five decades of political campaigning, and he's comfortable with it. But the thing is, for all his genuine cynicism about the political and governing mechanisms he has long decried as corrupt, Sanders keeps erring on the side of what the writer Rebecca Solnit refers to as "hope in the dark." He's willing to take chances in order to push the boundaries of the possible: to run for and secure a seat in the US Senate as an independent, to bid for the presidency as a democratic socialist, to propose a political revolution. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that-from his recently acquired position of prominence and power as chair of the Senate Budget Committee-Sanders has launched a new campaign to achieve "the most progressive moment since the New Deal." For Sanders, this is an urgent mission that is about much more than the proposals outlined in the budget plan he joined Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer in outlining on August 9. It is a necessary struggle to address the simmering frustration with politics as usual that Donald Trump and his Republican allies have exploited to advance an antidemocratic and increasingly authoritarian agenda.

"What we are trying to do is bring forth transformative legislation to deal with the structural crises that have impacted the lives of working people for a long, long time," Sanders says. "Whether it is child care, whether it's paid family and medical leave, whether it's higher education, whether it is housing, whether it's home health care-we're an aging population; people would prefer to get their care at home-whether it is expanding Medicare to take care of dental and eyeglasses and hearing aids, what we are trying to do is show people that government is prepared to respond to their needs."

That's an echo of the big-government-can-do-big-good message that Sanders has carried for the past five decades through all of his campaigns. Yet now, for the outsider who has become a somewhat uncomfortable insider, the message has found its moment. He is heading to the White House to consult with President Joe Biden about strategy. He is taking on what Politico describes as "a central role in the Democratic caucus" of a chamber where critics once dismissed him as a left-wing scold. He is appearing with Schumer to declare, not from the sidelines anymore but from the eye of the media maelstrom, that "the wealthy and large corporations are going to start paying their fair share of taxes, so that we can protect the working families of this country."

Bernie Sanders hasn't changed-amid the budget documents arrayed across his desk in the old Masonic Temple building in Burlington is a book on Eugene V. Debs, the labor organizer and Socialist Party presidential candidate whom Sanders has revered for decades. But Washington has. Suddenly, the democratic socialist with ideas that were once labeled "radical" is being taken seriously by partisans who would not nominate him for president but who are ready to embrace substantial sections of his agenda. Biden takes the counsel of his former rival, often on the phone, sometimes in private meetings in the Oval Office-one of which secured presidential support for Sanders's proposal for a sweeping build-out of the Medicare program to include full coverage of dental, vision, and hearing care.

"The most difficult thing in politics and governing is to be pushing ideas that most people in power aren't ready to accept. But when people in power recognize that those ideas are popular, and that they're necessary, everything changes," says Ben Jealous, the former NAACP president and Maryland gubernatorial candidate who now serves as president of People for the American Way. Jealous, who delivered a stirring address at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on behalf of Sanders's first presidential bid, says the senator has entered a new stage in his long political journey. "I think that what happened is that Bernie went out and talked about these ideas. He showed how appealing they are, and that had an impact," Jealous explains. "Now people in power-the president, members of the Senate-are listening."

"> A wealth of ideas: Sanders has been heading to the White House to strategize with President Biden on how to pay for a progressive budget.

When I spent time with Sanders in Burlington in July, as he was busy building support for a budget plan, the senator was making calls and receiving them at a daunting rate. From Cabinet members and progressive allies in the movements he has always aligned with. From White House aides and moderate senators who needed just a bit more cajoling. He was surrounded by spreadsheets, priority lists, and policy proposals, yet he did not seem harried. To the extent that this hyperactive 79-year-old can be calm, he was. Or, at the least, focused.

Sanders recognizes that he can define only so much of the process.

He was angling for a $6 trillion budget plan, and what he ended up with is a $3.5 trillion package. But that's still, as the senator says, "a big deal." The plan anticipates funding to expand Medicare, federal paid family and medical leave protections, and major investments in child care, including an extension of the groundbreaking child tax credit that was included in the American Rescue Plan; to reduce the cost of higher education and make community college free; to develop initiatives to reduce reliance on fossil fuels; and to return to old-school progressive taxation that really does "tax the rich." Sanders ally Ro Khanna, the Democratic representative from Silicon Valley, says that if anything akin to this budget is adopted, "it will be a historic shift in how we view the role of government."

That's what Sanders is counting on-not just for the purposes of budgeting but for the future of American democracy.

"Why it is imperative that we address these issues today is not only because of the issues themselves-because families should not have to spend a huge proportion of their income on child care or sending their kid to college-but because we have got to address the reality that a very significant and growing number of Americans no longer have faith that their government is concerned about their needs," says the senator. "This takes us to the whole threat of Trumpism and the attacks on democracy. If you are a worker who is working for lower wages today than you did 20 years ago, if you can't afford to send your kid to college, etc., and if you see the very, very richest people in this country becoming phenomenally rich, you are asking yourself, 'Who controls the government, and does the government care about my suffering and the problems of my family?'"

Sanders argues that restoring faith in government as a force for good is the most effective way to counter threats to democracy. The senator, who has opened up more and more in recent years about his own family's history as Jews who fled Europe but lost most of their relatives in the Holocaust, reads a lot these days about the rise of fascism in pre-World War II Europe, and he is highly engaged with conversations about contemporary threats to democracy. This is not just a reaction to what happened on January 6, when Trump incited an insurrection by supporters of his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. It is a concern Sanders has been speaking to with increasing urgency over the past several years.

Sanders devoted much of his speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention to the topic. "At its most basic, this election is about preserving our democracy," he said. "I and my family, and many of yours, know the insidious way authoritarianism destroys democracy, decency, and humanity. As long as I am here, I will work with progressives, with moderates, and, yes, with conservatives to preserve this nation from a threat that so many of our heroes fought and died to defeat."

Almost a year later, on a summer afternoon in Burlington, I ask Sanders about a reference he made in that speech to Trump refusing to leave office and about even blunter expressions of concern he had made in conversations we had in the fall of 2020. "If you recall, I came pretty close to predicting exactly what Trump would do in terms of his response to the election," he says. "I asked people to think about whether he was going to accept defeat and say, 'Oh, gee whiz, good campaign. Congratulations, Joe. How can I help you?' That wasn't going to happen." And, of course, it didn't.

Since January 6, Trump has doubled down on his false narratives about the election, and his allies in legislatures across the country have made an ongoing assault on democracy central to their political project. "I take this threat of authoritarianism and violence very, very seriously," Sanders says. "I don't think that January 6th is a one-time situation. We're seeing the growth of militias, and...even in rhetoric, the talking about violence from Trump on down." Sanders voted to convict Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors-twice-and has evolved into an ardent supporter of efforts to overturn the filibuster in order to pass the democracy-defending For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Those reforms are necessary, he says, to preserve democracy. But so, too, he argues, is the proposition that government can solve seemingly intractable problems and make the lives of working-class people dramatically better.

"If we do not restore faith on the part of the American people in their government, that we see their pain and we respond to that pain, that we have the courage to take on powerful special interests-if we do not do that, more and more people are going to drift toward conspiracy theories, authoritarianism, and even violence," Sanders explains. "So I think that this is a pivotal moment in American history."

Put that way, the responsibility is a daunting one. But Sanders got comfortable with daunting tasks a long time ago.

Fifty years and counting: Political partisans and pundits often overlook how effective Sanders has been as a politician and a legislator.

The Brooklyn expatriate mounted his first campaign for elected office-an audacious bid on the ballot line of a radical third party for the Senate seat he would eventually win in 2006-50 years ago next January. And he has never stopped campaigning. A willingness to take defeats as well as victories, along with a refusal to abandon his democratic socialist faith in the transformative power of a government that is harnessed in the service of humanity, has led election rivals and media commentators to portray Sanders as a gadfly. Yet the thing that political partisans and pundits often miss is the extent to which he has proven himself as a politician and a legislator.

As an independent member of the House from 1991 to 2007, and as a senator since then, Sanders earned a reputation for forging left-right coalitions and for masterfully amending pieces of legislation. He has shown a skill for leveraging committee chairmanships to achieve major goals. He did so during Barack Obama's presidency when, as chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, he led a successful bipartisan effort to strengthen the VA health care system by authorizing 27 new medical facilities and providing $5 billion to hire more doctors and nurses to care for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he has continued to do so since he took over as chair of the Senate Budget Committee in January.

When I interviewed Schumer recently, he praised Sanders for his role in passing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan using the Senate's arcane reconciliation process, which allows spending measures to advance without being blocked by a filibuster. Schumer, who relied on Sanders in the relief act fight and who will again rely on him if and when reconciliation is used to approve the budget, recognizes the Vermonter as an essential ally. "I have always believed that government is the answer, and that I share with...Bernie," he says, echoing Sanders on the vital importance of making government work in this turbulent time. "I believe that democracy is at risk, and we cannot fail."

"This democracy is at risk," Schumer adds. "But if we show people that the American dream is still alive-and the Biden plan does that in many very significant ways-we can restore and improve it."

It sounds like Schumer gets it. Does Biden?

When I ask Sanders that question in Burlington, he doesn't hesitate. "Yes! Interestingly enough, I think he does," Sanders replies. "When he talks about the competition between democracy and authoritarianism all over the world, I think he is talking about that. I do believe he understands this." The challenge, of course, is to move from understanding to action. "It's not enough to talk about it. You've got to act."

That's where Sanders comes in. He is already campaigning for the president's new budget in ways that Biden and Schumer cannot. In his bids for president, Sanders did not just build a name for himself, as most candidates do; he built a movement that pushed progressive ideas about governing to the forefront. To a far greater extent than any campaigns since Ronald Reagan's in 1976 and 1980, Sanders's campaigns transformed the way people think about government. While Reagan convinced a great many Americans that "government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem," Sanders convinced a great many Americans-especially younger ones-that Reagan was wrong. "There's been a real change in how people think about government," says the law professor and author Jennifer Taub, "and Bernie was a part of that."

Now, just as he did on the campaign trail, Sanders must get people nodding their heads and saying, "Yeah, we can do that," this time about a budget that proposes to meet human needs by taxing billionaires and multinational corporations. He won't have to work alone; he's got a growing cadre of allies in the House, and he's earned the respect of influential centrists, such as Virginia Senator Mark Warner. The reconciliation project will still be challenging, as skeptical comments about the budget plan from Democratic senators like Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema offer a reminder of how difficult it will be to maintain the unity that is required. But this is work for which Sanders remains uniquely well prepared. When he campaigned for the Democratic presidential nod in 2020, a Quinnipiac poll suggested that voters saw him as the most honest and forthright candidate. He retains a level of trust and personal popularity among people who don't put a lot of faith in politicians.

One afternoon in Burlington, we took a walk through the city. Or, to be more precise, a series of stops. Sanders is a fast walker, but he was constantly stopped by locals and by visitors from Idaho and Colorado and Texas and other states across the country. They all knew who the senator was. They all felt they could approach him. They all wanted to express their gratitude.

"Thank you for taking on the corporations."

"Thank you for talking about taxing the rich."

"Thank you for telling the truth."

"Thank you for being there for us."

Block after block, until we got to the edge of downtown, Sanders stopped and talked for a moment, smiled for the selfies, and moved on. Sometimes he would say, "I'm going to need you. We've got some big fights ahead of us." Invariably, the response was: "Tell us what we've got to do."

The fierce loyalty of his supporters, and the openness to his message from Americans who might not have supported his presidential bids but whose respect he's won, makes Sanders a powerful player in Washington. He is in a better position than anyone else in the Senate Democratic Caucus to argue the populist case for big budgets and bold governance. Democrats, including the president, know they need Sanders. That gives him leverage that he has never had before. But with that leverage comes responsibility. I covered Sanders as a presidential candidate, and I saw how hard he worked with activists across the country to build movements for economic and social and racial and climate justice. Now he's campaigning to turn that movement politics into a governing agenda. It's a different kind of pressure, a different level of stress, and for Sanders, who has always preferred grassroots campaigning to roaming the corridors of power, it's not as fun. But this glass-half-empty guy is not about to miss the chance to pursue a new New Deal moment and, in so doing, to renew the promise of American democracy. "If you're asking me was I born to be an inside-the-Beltway player, I was not. I would much prefer to speak to a rally of 25,000 people than get on the phone and talk to some of my colleagues. That's true," he says, as he leans into the next campaign. "But this is my job. This is where all my energy is at the moment. I've got to do it, and I will do it."

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

The Republican Dismantling Of America
By James Donahue

If you think Trump was a bad president, that's probably because he was boldly operating where everyone could watch. But he followed two other harmful Republican president who also were busy destroying this nation's foundations at the grass roots.

During the eight long years George W. Bush held office, his Christian-charged administration did all it could to break down the framework of the U. S. Constitution and force extreme religious values deeper into the laws of the land.

The erasure of personal liberties under the Patriot Act, the restrictions on stem cell research and outspoken opposition to abortion and gay marriage were among the best known cases in point.

The Republican controlled House even passed legislation in 2004 (247-173) that would have prevented the Supreme Court from ruling on the question of striking the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

The bill did not go before the Senate until after the November elections. In the end, the Senate took no action and the proposal died. That was the correct action for our lawmakers to have taken.

Prior to Bush, Republican President Ronald Reagan introduced "Trickle-down economics" that included extreme tax cuts on the rich and spending cuts on key social programs enjoyed by the people. He also increased spending on the military, thus creating new profits for U S business. The belief was that when big business was making money the profits would "trickle-down" to the workers. We know how well that worked.

It is difficult for me to believe that the American people have been quietly watching . . . and apparently supporting . . . the rapid dismantling of the framework of the government system they fought and shed their blood for over the past 200 years. And the worst of this story is that they appear to be doing it in the name of Jesus.

Anyone who has studied the basic design of government in high school should understand that the three branches; executive, legislative and judicial, work as a check and balance system to assure the absence of political tampering.

A few years ago I was alarmed when the courts began changing legislative law in various rulings. In effect, the judges, who were holding appointed positions and were not elected, were writing new law. Then in 2004 we had a clear case of our legislators attempting to manipulate the actions of the court.

Research has shown that this was not the first time Congress tried to block the high court from taking action on controversial events. Gun rights laws have been a major and most controversial target.

During the debate on the House floor, supporters of the "Pledge Bill" insisted that Congress always had the authority to limit federal court jurisdiction. They said the bill would protect an affirmation of religion that is part of the national heritage.

That argument, in itself, is a crock of horse manure. Congress never had the authority to limit court decisions, just as the courts should not be in the position of writing law. The courts are in place to interpret laws written by Congress and making sure these laws are not in violation of the Constitution.

While the pledge has been around for about 100 years, the phrase "under God" is relatively new. The original wording of the pledge has been altered several times since first published by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy in 1892. The words "under God" were added by an act of Congress in 1956. The motivation for the change was inspired by intense lobbying by the Knights of Columbus.

The Pledge of Allegiance, once a revered statement of support for a nation founded by men who truly sought to build a model form of government, has not only been tampered with. The concept of government it describes no longer exists.

For example, the United States technically is no longer a republic. While we still think we are electing our representatives to state and federal seats, the election system has become so flawed that the outcome is often fixed. The last president the people really elected and sent to Washington may have been John F. Kennedy.

Lobbyists with deep pockets are sent by big business interests to control the direction of legislative action. The wishes of the electorate are largely overlooked.

And if you think we have liberty and justice in this country, you are living a pipe dream.

Yet I see people stand at public meetings all across the land, blindly put their hands over their hearts, gaze at the flag, and say the words to that pledge. They have been saying this pledge all of their lives, know the words by heart, and never stop to think of what the words mean. And those who may consider the words, probably still believe them to be true.

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

War: Ever More Present and Absent
By David Swanson

In many ways, war is ever more and less visible. Of course in U.S. academia, the Pinkerist pretense that we are living through a period of great peace is accomplished by all sorts of statistical manipulation, but first and foremost by declaring civil wars to not be wars, and declaring U.S. wars to be civil wars - a tricky thing to do when the minute the U.S. leaves, Afghans, for example, decline to keep killing each other (damn them!).

But in the United States, war and militarism - or some weird shadow of them - are everywhere: endless thank yous, special parking places and airplane boarding, endless recruitment ads and weapons ads, countless movies and television shows. War is relentlessly normalized. And, oddly, the ubiquity of war celebration has made war so unquestionable that there are few objections when war is not mentioned - even on occasions when it should be.

In November, the world's nations will negotiate climate agreements while explicitly leaving out and giving blanket waivers to all militaries. This is a pro-U.S. action because the bulk of the world's military spending is by the U.S. or on U.S. weapons. But it's simultaneously just a neutral, normal, unquestionable prioritization of everybody's militaries, since militaries are more important than the earth's climate.

It's also part of a common pattern. Militaries are left out of analyses of the spreading of COVID. Despite constituting the majority of federal discretionary spending, it's hard to find a discussion of public spending, or a campaign website for a U.S. Congress Member that mentions the existence of military spending, war, peace, treaties, the State Department, or 96% of humanity. We have movies about PFAS chemicals that omit the biggest spreader of them. We have environmental groups concerned about super-fund disaster sites but not the entity responsible for the vast majority of them. We have anti-racist campaigns unconcerned about the consistent boost to racism given by wars. War veterans are very disproportionately U.S. mass shooters, but the number of news reports mentioning that fact could be counted on the fingers of someone with both arms blown off. The Green New Deal, like the infrastructure and reconciliation bills, is oblivious to either the funding available in militarism or the damage militarism does - well, not the reconciliation bill which proposes massive military spending increases for each of the next 10 years, something so normal and pro forma that opponents of increased military spending recommend not noticing it. Civil liberties groups have no objection to the freedom-eroding wars, and even support adding women to the group of people who can be forced into wars against their will. Multi-issue coalitions for progressive causes typically omit peace - and I have to imagine most weapons dealers don't mind that a bit, because when you erase peace you also help erase war.

Sometimes war can't be kept out of the news. But even then it doesn't show up as war. It's transformed - in the latest instance - into a mishandling of an evacuation, giving the impression that the worst horrors of a 20-year war are all to be found in its final days. We always seem to miss the fact that wars are one-sided slaughters of huge numbers of human beings - with equally huge numbers injured, traumatized, and made homeless and at risk.

Collecting reports on war deaths in Afghanistan from direct violence gave Brown University's Cost of War Project a total of about 240,000. Nicolas Davies has pointed out that in Iraq in 2006 you had to multiply the reported deaths by 12 to get the number arrived at by scientific surveys conducted in Iraq, and in Guatemala in 1996 you had to multiply by 20. Starting with 240,000 and multiplying by 12 gives us 2.8 million possibly dead directly from war violence in Afghanistan. Multiply by 20 and you get, instead, 4.8 million. Interest in this question is limited in the extreme. There have been no serious studies conducted in Afghanistan. The U.S. corporate media reports on the topics are as nonexistent as humanitarian wars. And according to President Biden, "American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves."

In fairness, Biden was upset at the moment by the failure of a new civil war to materialize. Nonetheless, someone could have told him that Afghan military deaths were at least 10 times those of the U.S. military. Or the entire so-called intelligence so-called community could have been replaced by a single historian or peace activist, and the likely fate of foreign occupations might have been grasped 20 years earlier.

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

Even elected officials who speak to the necessity of reining in global heating continue to promote further fossil
fuel development, ignoring alarming statistics about temperature rise and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Climate Report Shows World Pushed To The Brink By Fossil Fuels
By David Suzuki

There's little in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report that we didn't already know. It's shocking nonetheless - albeit with a glimmer of hope.

The first of the four-part Sixth Assessment, "Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis," confirms that human activity - mainly burning fossil fuels and destroying natural carbon sinks - is heating the planet at unprecedented and accelerating rates, that warming will continue at least until mid-century no matter what because of emissions already emitted, and that global warming will exceed 1.5 or 2 C this century unless we rapidly reduce emissions.

The report also details the disastrous consequences of not acting, from increasing extreme weather to impacts on water cycles and agriculture. "Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level," it states.

A leaked draft from the third working group goes further, stating that "emissions must peak in the next four years, coal and gas-fired power plants must close in the next decade and lifestyle and behavioural changes will be needed to avoid climate breakdown." (The assessment includes three parts and a synthesis report, each subject to approval by 195 member governments.

Every assessment since the first in 1990 has warned that we face an uncertain future if we don't address climate disruption. Research methodologies have improved, evidence has mounted and certainty has become absolute since then, but we knew where we were headed. This report confirms we're already there.

We can see it ourselves: unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, flooding, droughts, species extinction, water scarcity, conflict... The almost-4,000-page report's evidence - compiled by 284 expert authors from 66 countries who reviewed 14,000 studies representing the most up-to-date climate science - is incontrovertible.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it a "code red for humanity" that "must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet."

There's no denying that we need to act fast or face accelerating climate chaos. The reasons go beyond attempting to stabilize the climate: rapidly reduced pollution and related health care costs, better employment and economic opportunities, fewer impacts on land and water, and numerous co-benefits.

But I ask again (I've been banging on about this for as long as the IPCC has been releasing reports), why the hell aren't we doing more? Why, after more than 30 years of mounting evidence and certainty (almost 200 since the greenhouse effect was first observed), as well as easily observable evidence, are media outlets of record still publishing anti-science nonsense by industry shills and deniers? Why are governments failing to do what's necessary?

The IPCC report indicates we can't and needn't give up hope. But averting the worst impacts of the crisis means rapidly shifting away from fossil fuels, protecting natural carbon sinks and employing "negative emissions technologies" and nature-based solutions to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Governments that talk about climate commitments while buying pipelines and subsidizing fracking - or worse, whine that transitioning from fossil fuels is "unrealistic" and "utopian" - aren't helping. Nor are media outlets that either downplay the climate crisis (often through lack of coverage) or spread false information in service to the fossil fuel industry and its front groups.

People are willing to reduce their carbon footprints, but incremental change is no longer enough. We need transformational, systemic change that can only come from the top. Governments, business and industry, financial institutions, media and more must look out for the interests of those they're supposed to serve and start acting on the evidence.

Because so many of them aren't listening, it's up to us to speak louder - with our ballots, money, bodies and voices. Vote for politicians who are serious about climate and pollution. Support businesses, media outlets and financial institutions that recognize the crisis for what it is. Follow the lead of the youth, Indigenous people and activists and join or support protests and climate strikes. Talk to your family, friends and neighbours, but remember the words of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: "Speak the truth but not to punish."

The IPCC assessment and the research it's based on are a clear warning that our time is running out. We've identified the problem and solutions. What are we waiting for?

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

Street Violence Cannot Become Part Of Our Political Process
In Portland, the mayor and police chief announced cops would not intervene if brawls broke out at a political demonstration.
By Charles P. Pierce

While we're all watching week-old films from the airport in Kabul, and rending our garments-rightfully and self-righteously-about the plight of the people of Afghanistan, this country, as Neil Young once sang, is coming apart at every nail. First of all, there was an extraordinarily violent confrontation in Portland between some Proud Boys and some counter-protestors. Worse, the Portland police, with the mayor's blessing, seem to have determined they would assume the roles of non-combatants in the whole business. From the Williamette Week:

The Aug. 22 rally-called "Summer of Love: United We Stand Divided We Fall"-was held in the parking lot of an abandoned Kmart in Northeast Portland. The event landed about 48 hours after Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell warned that police would not intervene in weekend skirmishes that resulted from the planned gatherings. "We are asking you to choose love," Wheeler said during the Aug. 20 press conference. "People should not necessarily expect to see the police standing in the middle of the crowd trying to keep people apart."
This strategy, apparently cribbed from the collected works of Spanky and Our Gang, did not work out as planned.
The rally, for the most part, remained calm until around 4 pm when a skirmish broke out between right-wing and anti-fascist counter-protesters dressed in black bloc. The fighting spilled out onto adjacent 122nd Avenue-a major artery that runs through the Argay Terrace neighborhood. Burgerville, Round Table Pizza and Parkrose High School are all a stone's throw away.

The violence appeared to escalate when a white van that said "Metro West Ambulance" pulled into the southwest corner of the parking lot. The driver apparently crashed and fled the scene. Witnesses of the incident described a fight between the van's passengers and right-wing protesters. Soon after, Proud Boys-affiliated protesters toppled and ransacked the van, and shot at it with paintball guns and spray-painted "FAFO"-short for "fuck around and find out"-onto the van's roof.

But, as the AP reported in a very depressing survey piece, Portland isn't the only place where people are declining to use their words these days. And the casus belli is the ongoing effort to keep people from contracting a deadly respiratory disease.
A parent in Northern California barged into his daughter's elementary school and punched a teacher in the face over mask rules. At a school in Texas, a parent ripped a mask off a teacher's face during a "Meet the Teacher" event. A Missouri hospital leader was approached in a parking garage this week by a man from Alabama who handed him papers accusing him of "crimes against humanity," and it was not the only in-your-face encounter over vaccines and masks. School board members, county commissioners, doctors and local leaders are regularly confronted at meetings and in public with angry taunts that compare them to the Taliban, Nazis, Marxists and the leaders of Japanese internment camps.
You just can't do that to history. It's a crime against it.
Since Hawaii announced a mandate earlier this month that state and county workers would have to show proof of vaccination or face weekly tests, 50 to 100 unmasked vaccine opponents have gathered almost nightly outside the downtown Honolulu condominium building where Lt. Gov. Josh Green lives with his wife and two children, ages 14 and 10. Some yell into bullhorns and shine strobe lights into apartment units, Green said. Flyers with his photo and the words "Jew" and "fraud" have been plastered around the neighborhood. Green, who is Jewish, has been tearing them down and turning them over to the state attorney general's office.
If the police are laying out rather than getting in between the combatants, then we are a long way toward accepting street brawling and thuggery as parts of our political process. If we're starting to accept street brawling and thuggery as parts of the political process, we are heading down a dark road that dead-ends at a beer hall in Munich.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"The minimum wage in Denmark is about twice that of the United States, and people who are totally out of the labor market or unable to care for themselves have a basic income guarantee of about $100 per day."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Top 6 Ways Trump forced Abrupt US Departure From Afghanistan; And That Time Trump Said Taliban Would Take Over War On Terror
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) -

1. in December, 2018, Trump ordered that half of the then 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan be brought out. The decision so angered then Secretary of Defense James Mattis that he abruptly resigned his position. Then Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Joseph Dunford said he had not recommended the halving of troop strength and that he thought it was a bad idea, both because it would cause instability in South Asia and raise the risk of terrorism against the U.S.

2. Through 2019, Trump and his officials negotiate with the Taliban. In September, Trump calls off the talks after a Taliban attack on U.S. troops, but by December his informal envoy Zalmay Khalilzad announces that negotiations have resumed. Khalilzad, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, had no official position and no particular authority. He is said to have been angling to become secretary of state in a second Trump term. The US-Taliban talks were criticized for being bilateral and for excluding the official government of Afghanistan, headed by Ashraf Ghani.

3. On February 29, 2020, Trump announces peace in our time, with the signing of a peace treaty with the Taliban. The BBC wrote, "President Trump said it had been a 'long and hard journey' in Afghanistan. 'It's time after all these years to bring our people back home.'"

The BBC quoted Trump further about the US combat mission against terrorists in Afghanistan; he said, "it was 'time for someone else to do that work and it will be the Taliban and it could be surrounding countries. I really believe the Taliban wants to do something to show we're not all wasting time.'" Trump did say, "If bad things happen, we'll go back with a force like no-one's ever seen."

Please note that Trump said he believed that the Taliban would take up the slack in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, and that he really believed the Taliban wanted peace. As for his threat to go back in, he did not seem to realize that it would not be that easy once the U.S. was out.

In all the press pillorying of President Biden, which has barely mentioned Trump, I have seen no one mention that Trump once claimed that upon the US withdrawal the Taliban would take up the war on terror. Even while he was talking with them, the Taliban occasionally brought old al-Qaeda commandos to the parts of Afghanistan they controlled.

In the treaty, Trump promised to pull 8,500 troops out of the country in about 4 1/2 months. He pledged that the Afghanistan government of Ashraf Ghani would release 5,000 captured Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. Ashraf Ghani at first resisted this provision, saying he was not party to the talks and thought it a horrible idea. But under strong Trump pressure, Ghani let the fighters go by the following October.

In return for these steps and for a promise that the U.S. would withdraw completely from Afghanistan, the Taliban pledged not to attack the remaining U.S. troops in the country by May 1, 2021. When you hear advocates of staying in Afghanistan forever say that US troops had not been attacked in the past 18 months, that is why. They stopped the attacks because Trump promised to leave. If Biden had reneged and stayed, then US troops would have been in the cross-hairs again.

The February, 2020, peace treaty was clearly rushed through by Trump in hopes it would add to his popularity and help him win the November, 2020 presidential election.

4. On October 8, 2020, Trump tweeted out that all US troops would be out of Afghanistan by Christmas of that year. His Tweet took Mark Esper, the Secretary of Defense, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan by surprise, or, more likely, by shock. Julian Borger at The Guardian quoted Ashley Jackson, "the director of the ODI's Centre for the Study of Armed Groups" as saying at the time, "This is the last leverage the US had left in talks with the Taliban, and Trump is proposing to give it away for free." Not only did Trump telegraph the endgame and give up all leverage but what he said did not even make any sense. There was no way logistically to get the then 4,500 troops out of the country. Nor was it just a one-time Trump mindfart. The administration confirmed the Christmas deadline the next day.

Again, this announcement was clearly meant to appeal to the Trump base, many of them white working class who resented their tax dollars paying for a 20-year foreign misadventure.

5. While Trump was deeply drawing down the US troop presence in Afghanistan, he was doing nothing to get Afghan interpreters and allies out of harm's way. It was worse. His melanin-despising aide Stephen Miller knee-capped the SIV special visa program for such Afghans and threw a long-term wrench into its works that hobbled the Biden administration when it came in. So reports an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Olivia Troye. Business Insider quotes her as saying, "Trump had FOUR years-while putting this plan in place-to evacuate these Afghan allies who were the lifelines for many of us who spent time in Afghanistan. The process slowed to a trickle for reviews/other "priorities"-then came to a halt." She accused Miller of "racist hysteria" about Afghans and Iraqis.

6. On January 15, AP reported that Trump's Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that there were only 2,500 US troops left in Afghanistan after a deep draw-down by the outgoing Trump administration.

Miller said that the move brought the United States "closer than ever to ending nearly two decades of war." He insisted, with no visible evidence it was true, that the US could still "ensure that Afghanistan is never again used to harbor those who seek to bring harm to the United States of America."

Miller and the Trump team refused to brief the incoming Biden administration on the Afghanistan situation throughout November, December and January, so Biden and his officials came into office flying blind.

Trump and Miller had also pledged that the U.S. would be out of Afghanistan completely by May 1.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been deeply involved in the negotiations with the Taliban. In early January, 2021, VOA reported, "No U.S. servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan in almost a year, and Afghans are finally discussing peace and reconciliation among themselves. Such incredible progress," Pompeo said in a series of tweets that came one day after several social media posts boasting of American "swagger" during his diplomatic tenure."


Bonus Video:

(c) 2021 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Enough Sanctimony Over Afghanistan

By Robert Reich

I'm as sensitive as anyone to the sufferings of Afghani's now, but I've had it with the sanctimony of journalists and pundits who haven't thought about Afghanistan for 20 years - many of whom urged we get out - but who are now filling the August news hole with overwrought stories about Biden's botched exit and Taliban atrocities.

Yes, the exit could have been better planned and executed. Yes, it's all horribly sad. But can we get a grip? The sudden all-consuming focus on Afghanistan is distracting us from hugely important stuff that's coming to a head at home:

(1) Republican politicians and right-wing media worsening the surging Delta variant of COVID by fighting masks and vaccinations, as cities and school systems struggle to decide what to do;

(2) wildfires and floods consuming much of America, as House Democrats absurdly threaten to oppose Biden's $3.5 trillion budget blueprint containing important measures to slow climate change;

(3) Texas on the verge of passing the nation's most anti-democracy voting restrictions, adding to voter suppression measures in 24 other states, at the same time the "For the People Act" and the "John Lewis Voting Rights Act" - which would remedy these horrendous laws - languish in the Senate because Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema refuse to do anything about the filibuster.

Enough sanctimony over Afghanistan. Enough about Biden's falling approval ratings. We've had enough wall-to-wall coverage of the Olympics and then Andrew Cuomo and now the airport in Kabul. Can we please focus on the biggest things that need and deserve our attention right now? The window of opportunity to do anything about them will close sooner than we expect.

If we don't take action now on COVID and the critical importance of vaccinations and masks, on climate change and Biden's $3.5 trillion package, and on voter suppression and the necessity of the For the People and the John Lewis Voting Rights Acts, we may never.

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

Lesser Evil Politics Assure Greater Evil Economics
By Frank Scott

A new American president is presenting a program for renewal of human values in the marketplace unheard of since the 1930s but still projecting American military domination and environmental destruction far beyond the awareness of most Americans. Continued insistence that Russia and China are major global threats to everyone and not just American monopoly capitalists resonate not only in the cosmic void between the ears of our mentally disabled foreign policy experts but echo in the minds of innocent Americans since that's all they get from major, and all too often minor media.

The charge that China is conducting genocide on its Islamic people coming from the butchers of hundreds of thousands of Islamic people in the middle east would be a dreadful sick joke if not so incredibly evil, but poor souls condemned to network media remain stuck in a misinformation chamber amplifying our ruling power's message day in and day out. The fact that growing majorities have little or no faith in government or media is a hopeful sign but until we totally clean out the sewage system much of corporate news has become, the stench that wafts up remains a carrier of the information pandemic.

While alleged economic threats from China actually do offer market competition to the empire - and market competition is supposed to be good, according to the theology preached by the priest-rabbi-therapists of the church of capital - and China is under the control of communists who at least try, not always with success, to force it to work for the common good and not just the minority of Chinese capitalists, why and how and to whom is that a threat? Only to America where majorities exist in numbers of those in debt but never those who vote nationally. This is called "our" democracy by many wishful thinkers still unaware that the political process is owned and operated by the wealthiest minority, which spends billions to maintain political control by purchase and rental of candidates and office holders. Citizens innocently proclaiming this hustle as "our" democracy are like past slaves referring to "our" plantation. If they were the minority house negroes of the time they could afford such fantasy but the overwhelming majority who toiled in the fields and suffered the most brutal treatment had no such luxury.

And as if the treatment of these two powerful nations didn't show enough imperial idiocy, that of a nearly helpless tiny nation currently, as usual, under assault, is greater indication of lunacy bordering on stark raving insanity.

After 60 years of a murderous attempted strangulation of the Cuban political economy, that tiny nation survives with the support of the overwhelming majority of governments on earth. Recently at the United Nations 184 countries voted to end the filthy American embargo with only Murder Inc. headquartered in the USA and Israel still, as always out of step with the overwhelming majority while spouting humanitarian rhetoric and practicing murderous brutality. This still finds well meaning people waving flags and quoting bibles and constitutions as though these fabled symbols clean up the reality of degenerate social practice as hypocritical as a rapist claiming victims only to assure they do not suffer sexual frustration.

The anti-Cuban lobby, second only to that of Israel in its control of American foreign policy, was originally a creature of the Cuban upper classes who escaped to Miami from the revolution that was working to spread education, jobs, health care and other necessities of life to the greatest number of people who had long been denied by American partnership with Cuban ruling power. They loom large in the current scenario of an alleged uprising against the terror and horror of millions of people eating, going to school and getting health care despite the ugly embargo and other violent attempts to smother the island of 11 million so that capital might again profit from gambling and drugs, as it did before 1960.

Meanwhile, another bloody lie in Afghanistan has ended with the Taliban, the group we were allegedly protecting poor afghans from, has taken over the government of their own country. This after billions have been spent and hundreds of thousands murdered in pursuit of profits while good people here have been fed stories about emancipating women and educating afghans to the joys of democracy like ours, where hundreds of thousands of Americans live in the street while we spend trillions to kill people and billions to care for pets.

And far beyond wretched national policies looms the global curse of what private profit industrial and war marketing are doing to the environment shared by humanity and not just one or anther national identity group often claiming super status with a special connection to deities ranging from Santa Claus to the Easter bunny for all they are worth in the material world. Words about democracy are not balanced by deeds of mass murder, oppression and absolute support for rich minority rule that assures continued profit making from exploitation of workers whether they clean toilets, drive buses, pilot airplanes or walk dogs. Like the sex workers who use their private parts to create private profits for their entrepreneurial pimps, those who create, package and deliver the consumer goods that are the foundation of the economy are doing it for the benefit of owners and investors rather than their own which would be far better served if they owned and ran the businesses they form the foundation for while others get rich on their labor.

Facing horrible news at what the future of humanity looks like under the environmental stress called climate change, more people than ever are working to end foul methods of economics that assure disaster for humanity but trying to do so while maintaining market rules of private profit assures further destruction or worse, simply throwing people out of work they do only to survive and thus destroy hope of survival. The future must be to keep people alive by assuring the public good before any pursuit of private profit. We do not need professional economists to explain that capitalism is the only answer to social problems all the while collecting fat salaries and investment opportunities while society fails more quickly under their rule. In truth, if workers are doing dirty work that affords them salaries so they can pay their rent, mortgages and other life supports, but it costs society billions to have to clean up the mess they create, we would all best be served by paying them to not go to work. We'd be saving the billions we'd have to spend to clean up the mess they created in service to private profiteers and assure their survival by using those mammoth savings to help them learn and get better jobs for them and everyone else, that serve all of us and not simply minority investors. As the world grows more threatened and conditions become more dangerous with the USA holding several hundred military bases in foreign countries and surrounding Russia and China with troops and war ships, immediate action must be taken to both confront environmental conditions that threaten us all and war like preparations that are profitable to a criminal minority while threatening the planet and all its people.

In short, we need global democratic communism before anti-social capitalism destroys us all.

(c) 2021 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears online at the blog Legalienate.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Rob Rogers ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Rand Paul

'Rise Up, Patriots!' Rand Paul Calls To Intubated Patients Lying Unconscious In Hospital ICU
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Rallying patients lying unconscious in the intensive care unit of George Washington University Hospital, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called on those intubated due to Covid-19 to rise up from their hospital beds and choose freedom, sources confirmed Tuesday.

"To all you brave patriots who have been imprisoned in this ICU, I say join me and your fellow countrymen in rebelling against this despotic medical system!" shouted Paul, a non-board-certified ophthalmologist who represents a state in which more than 1,000 people are hospitalized with Covid, before going on to urge every patient with acute respiratory failure to join arm-in-arm and cast off the tyrannical yoke of fear and propaganda.

"Don't you see? Those ventilators aren't there to save you, they're meant to enslave you. They may look like innocent, artificial breathing devices intended to provide you with you a steady supply of oxygen, but they are the shackles of your oppressor. Rip out your breathing tube and join the resistance!"

At press time, dozens of Covid patients had reportedly died after Paul attempted to reenact the Boston Tea Party by dumping their discolored, hypoxic bodies into the Potomac.

(c) 2021 The Onion

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 34 (c) 08/27/2021

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