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In This Edition

Norman Solomon says, "Abortion Bounty Hunters In Texas Are Not 'Whistleblowers' -- They're Cruel Vigilantes."

Ralph Nader concludes, "Congress - Collectively Less Than An Inkblot."

Jesse Jackson asks, "There Is Little Doubt the Climate Crisis Is Here-Now What Do We Do About It?"

Jim Hightower wonders, "What's The "Quits Rate?" And Why Is It Skyrocketing?"

William Rivers Pitt with a must read, "20 Years After 9/11, Republicans Are The Greatest Threat To The United States."

John Nichols reports, "Cutting the $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan Would Be Political Malpractice."

James Donahue concludes, "Our Founding Fathers Never Wanted A Democracy."

David Swanson finds, "Guantanamo Past The Point Of All Shame."

Bill McKibben examines, "Joe Biden's Solar Plan And The Prescience Of Jimmy Carter."

Charles P. Pierce says, "Amy Coney Barrett Is The Product Of A Corrupt And Politicized Supreme Court Nomination Process."

Juan Cole explains, "Top 7 Ways al-Qaeda's Terrorism Violated The Precepts Of The Holy Qur'an."

Robert Reich explores, "What We Do With Tragic Anniversaries."

Thom Hartmann declares, "The Texas Abortion Hypocrites Don't Care About Post-Birth Children."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Birds Demand Natural History Museum Return Dinosaur Skeletons Plundered From Ancestral Resting Place," but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "Computer Models Of Civilization Offer Routes To Ending Global Warming."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Andy Singer, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Harvey Georges, Stephen Melkisethian, Aurora Samperio, Lysog Salt, NASA, Angela Weiss, Kent Nishimura, Erin Schaff, Suzuki Foundation, CQ-Roll Call, EPA, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

The Quotable Quote-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

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Computer Models Of Civilization Offer Routes To Ending Global Warming
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"The IPCC was formed in 1988 when the issue of climate change was just emerging as a possible challenge. It is unique in that it is a scientific assessment body that is intergovernmental in nature. It is sponsored by two organizations in the United Nations (UN) system: the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Program. So the way it functions is like nothing else." ~~~ Ko Barrett ~ vice chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

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, "It is still possible to forestall most of the dire impacts, but it really requires unprecedented, transformational change," said Ko Barrett, vice chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "The idea that there still is a pathway forward, I think, is a point that should give us some hope."

That hopeful pathway, in which dangerous changes to the world's climate eventually stop, is the product of giant computer simulations of the world economy. They're called integrated assessment models. There are half a dozen major versions of them: four developed in Europe, one in Japan, and one in the U.S., at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

"What we mostly are doing, is trying to explore what is needed to meet the Paris goals." says Detlef van Vuuren, at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which developed one of the models.

How to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero in 40 years

World leaders agreed in Paris to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The planet has already warmed about 1 degree Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Meeting that goal will mean cutting net greenhouse gas emissions to zero within about 40 years. It would require profound changes; so profound, it's not immediately clear that it's even possible.

That's why van Vuuren and his colleagues turned to their computer models for help. "How is it possible to go to zero emissions?" he says. "That's for transport, that's for housing, that's for electricity."

Each of these models starts with data about current sources of greenhouse emissions. They include cars and buses, auto rickshaws, airplanes, power plants, home furnaces and rice paddies. The models also include assumptions about international trade, prices, and the costs of new technologies.

Then the scientists force their virtual worlds to change course, by introducing limits on greenhouse emissions. The models then try to satisfy that requirement in the most cost-effective way, as long as it's technologically feasible and doesn't run up against limits like the supply of land or other natural resources.

The good news is that the models found a way to meet that target, at least in scenarios where world governments were inclined to cooperate in meeting their Paris commitments. In fact, according to Keywan Riahi, at the International Institute for Applied Systems, in Austria, they found multiple paths to zero carbon.

"The models tell us that there are, first of all, alternative pathways possible; that there are choices available to the decision-maker," he says.

Different models, using different assumptions, arrive at contrasting visions of the future world. But they're all dramatically different from the situation today.

Some models show people responding to higher energy prices or government regulations by changing their lifestyle. They move to more energy-saving houses, and give up their cars in favor of a new and better kind of public transit. In addition to traditional bus lines, autonomous vehicles respond like Uber - taking people where they need to go.

Riahi likes this version best. "I'm convinced that a fundamental demand-side restructuring would also lead to a better quality of life," he says.

Other scenarios show people still using plenty of energy, which in turn requires a huge boost in production of clean electricity. It would mean 10 or 20 times more land covered with solar and wind farms, compared to now, plus more power plants burning wood or other biofuels, outfitted with equipment to capture and store the carbon dioxide that's released.

Politics and individuals' preferences could foil the models

Riahi is quick to point out that what happens in the models may not be feasible in real life. They don't account for political obstruction, for instance, or human preferences. People may just want to drive an expensive car, rather than take public transit, even when the models says that choice isn't economically rational.

But the models also can be far too pessimistic, in particular about technological innovation. Ten years ago, van Vuuren says, they never anticipated the rise of cheap solar power. "We have been in the extremely fortunate situation that the cost of renewables has declined rapidly in the past decade." This has made the task of reducing carbon emissions much easier.

For all their shortcomings, though, these models remain the primary way that scientists and policymakers figure out options for the future. They quantify tradeoffs and consequences that may not be clearly apparent. If countries want to turn trees or crops into fuel, for instance, it means less land for growing food or for natural forests. Also, the models make it clear that international cooperation is essential, with rich countries helping poorer countries to cut their emissions.

The results of the computer modeling are like fuzzy maps, pointing out routes that could help the world avoid disaster. Of course, in this country most politicians are taking bribes from their corporate masters to see this doesn't happen, and as long as you let them get away with it, we're screwed!


11-24-1941 ~ 09-10-2021
Thanks for the music!

08-14-1937 ~ 09-12-2021
Thanks for the film!

10-17-1928 ~ 09-13-2021
Thanks for the film!

10-17-1959 ~ 09-14-2021
Thanks for the laughs!


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.

Abortion Bounty Hunters In Texas Are Not 'Whistleblowers' -- They're Cruel Vigilantes
By Norman Solomon

One of the many preposterous claims coming from supporters of the vicious new Texas law against abortion is that bounty hunters -- standing to gain a $10,000 reward from the state -- will somehow be "whistleblowers." The largest anti-abortion group in Texas is trying to attach the virtuous "whistleblower" label to predators who'll file lawsuits against abortion providers and anyone who "aids or abets" a woman getting an abortion.

As a journalist and activist, I've worked with a range of genuine whistleblowers during the last several decades. Coming from diverse backgrounds, they ended up tangling with institutions ranging from the Pentagon and CIA to the National Security Agency and the Veterans Administration. Their personalities and outlooks varied greatly, but none of them were bullies. None of them wanted to threaten or harm powerless people in distress. On the contrary, the point of the whistleblowing was to hold powerful institutions accountable for violations of human rights.

What the Texas vigilantes will be seeking to do is quite the opposite. The targets will be women who want abortions as well as their allies -- people under duress -- with pursuers seeing a bullseye on their backs.

The whistleblowers I've known have all taken huge risks. Most lost their jobs. Many endured all-out prosecutions on bogus charges, like violating the Espionage Act for the "crime" of informing the public with vital information. Some went to prison. Almost all suffered large -- often massive -- losses that wrecked their personal finances.

In sharp contrast, the Texans trying to cash in on the new law will risk nothing. While collaborating with the state to spy on the lives of others, they will be striving to enrich themselves.

"The state law created a so-called 'private right of action' to enforce the restriction," in the words of a CNN report. "Essentially, the legislature deputized private citizens to bring civil litigation -- with the threat of $10,000 or more in damages -- against providers or even anyone who helped a woman access an abortion after six weeks."

Calling those who exploit this law "whistleblowers" is a way to turn the true meaning of whistleblowing on its head. We might as well have history books referring to enforcers of the Fugitive Slave Act as "good Samaritans," or monitors of Jim Crow compliance as "civic activists."

It's fitting -- and revealing -- that the professed "whistleblowing" website thrown up by the big Texas Right to Life organization was welcomed by an internet provider that specializes in hosting services for extreme far-right groups. Thanks to a provider called Epik, the Daily Beast reported, the site "found a new home alongside neo-Nazis and white supremacists." The digital relocation came after the site was booted by GoDaddy on Friday. But before the end of the weekend, even Epik backed away.

One of the enormous dangers of the Texas abortion law is that a Stasi-like culture of betrayal and fear will evolve in the Lone Star State and copy-cat states, with long-lasting destructive effects. If a friend, neighbor or co-worker can turn someone in and gain a reward for doing so, the ripple effects are going to be corrosive, intensifying over time.

Aided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the state of Texas has now codified misogyny. The results will surely include ongoing deaths, making the coat hanger the state's unofficial symbol. Real whistleblowing will expose those who profit from victimizing women under cover of this horrible new law.

(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."

Congress - Collectively Less Than An Inkblot
By Ralph Nader

Bruce Fein, constitutional law specialist who has testified before Congress approximately 200 times, calls Congress "an inkblot." Let's see if he is exaggerating.

1. Congress has abdicated its duties and constitutional authorities to the president regardless of party affiliation. Presidents start wars, spend unauthorized money recklessly, defy congressional subpoenas, snoop unlawfully on their citizens, and lazily enforce the laws against corporate outlaws flouting the status of an indifferent Congress.

2. Since 1992, Congress has let the Pentagon violate a federal law requiring all federal departments to provide auditable data for its annual budget. By far the DOD has the largest operational budget in Washington and it is ridden with waste and is unauditable, thanks to a weak-willed Congress.

3. To evade its responsibility under the Constitution's Declare War Clause, Congress resorts to Overseas Contingency Operations, a slush fund for the Pentagon to fight undeclared wars with tens of billions of dollars in discretionary funds. This is abdication big time!

4. Congress doesn't conduct hearings or broadly investigate "forever" White House wars to determine changes in policies or to stop such wars as it finally did with the Vietnam War. Then, Congress simply cut off the money.

5. Congress is less accessible to citizens' calls, letters, and emails on policy matters than ever. Yet many members of Congress and Hill staffers become closer to corporate lobbyists who write drafts of legislation before taking members for a wine and dine with campaign cash flowing before and after.

6. Congress starves the IRS budget leaving one trillion dollars a year in uncollected taxes according to IRS chief Charles Rettig. If collected, this money could be used to rebuild our infrastructure needs. The super-rich and giant corporate CEOs laugh all the way to the bank. Tax escapees are feeding at the trough like never before, as Congress aids and abets tax evasion.

7. Members of Congress have allowed, subsidized, and personally benefited from ravaging energy, healthcare, and financial industries. Trillions are wasted annually, with large preventable losses of life and property.

8. Congress has frozen the federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, allowed corporations to loot worker pensions, and perpetuated the most anti-labor laws in the western world (e.g., the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947).

9. Congress, repeatedly informed and warned for decades, allows the climate crisis and disruptions to get worse yearly. They've long known the future has to be an energy efficient and solarized society. Yet Capitol Hill remains stubbornly fossilized.

10. Perhaps the worst abdication is Congress actively enabling the vast expansion of corporate power over the constitutional sovereignty of the people. Unprecedented immunities and unaccountable harms pose the gravest peril to our posterity. No public hearings, no update of the feeble federal corporate crime laws, and restraining the few federal cops on the corporate crime beat means Congress is overwhelmingly soft on corporate crime.

11. Smug and operating in mostly safe-district silos, members of Congress will not reform our First Branch of government. The debilitating Newt Gingrich changes in 1995 cut committee staff, abolished the critical Office of Technology Assessment, and concentrated power in the hands of the four House and Senate leaders with paralytic effects that were maintained when the Democrats took over and remain in effect to this day.

We used to count on open-minded House and Senate committee chairs to conduct hearings and lay the basis for the enactment of environmental, labor, and consumer laws as well as Freedom of Information and whistleblower rights. No more, committee chairs now have to get permission from the top congressional leaders. The invisible costs to the public need exposure by a large Congressional press corps too occupied with official source journalism.

12. No political institution has gamed public trust into public apathy more skillfully. There are 535 senators and representatives whose names are known. They embody the most powerful legislature in the world and can remedy, diminish, or prevent scores of injustices by lawmaking and oversight of the executive and judicial branches. Yet Congress has so lowered the public's expectations, by fueling cynicism and always blaming others, that people do not realize how easy it can be to turn Congress around and improve our society. Less than one percent of voters, backed by public opinion can organize such decisive power for change. (See, Breaking Through Power: It's Easier Than We Think).

People can start with protecting voting rights by organizing small Congress Watchdog groups (call it a hobby) and demand Congress work more than three days a week between long recesses and midweek fundraising.

Of course, I'm referring to Congress collectively. There are some good legislators who are honest and knowledgeable, but they are nowhere near as assertive and networked as they need to be, given the super-serious urgencies of our country and the tormented world around it.

Without adding to this list, it is permissible to charge Attorney Bruce Fein with exaggeration. Congress is less than an inkblot. It's a streaming vacuum of usurpation that ignores our nation's basic necessities and jeopardizes our future generations.

(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).

Climate Change activists gathered to participate in a Fire Drill Fridays climate change protest in Washington, D.C.

There Is Little Doubt the Climate Crisis Is Here-Now What Do We Do About It?
We can't undo what we have done, but we can alter how bad the future becomes.
By Jesse Jackson

Record fires in Oregon and California. Floods in Houston and New York. Deadly winter storms in Texas. Droughts across much of the west.

Flash floods in England and Germany. Blinding dust storms in China. One hundred year cyclones devastate Fiji and Indonesia. Deadly droughts across sub-Saharan Africa. Wildfires in Greece and Italy.

The year is not over yet, but in the United States and across the world, the toll in lives and destruction is growing in storms of biblical proportion.

The poorest peoples and the poorest nations are most at risk, but no one is insulated against the impact. The wealthy on Lake Tahoe are evacuated in the face of unprecedented wildfires.

Texan oilmen struggle when record winter storms shut down the electric system. Wall Street bankers are hit with floods sweeping through subways and streets. As the storms increase, food supplies and prices will be hit. Millions will be displaced.

There is no longer any doubt about the reality of global warming, the dangers of it, or the causes of it. Republicans who for years scorned the reality of global warming-Donald Trump dubbed it a "Chinese hoax"-now accept that it is real. Corrupted scientists paid by oil companies that argued the crisis wasn't manmade, now quietly reverse their opinions.

Now the only question is: what will we do in the face of what the United Nations warns is literally an existential threat?

We can't undo what we have done, but we can alter how bad the future becomes. We can move to sustainable and efficient energy systems, make production and housing and transport more energy efficient, replant forests, invent new ways to generate or save energy, or more.

In its last authoritative report, the UN issued what it called a "code red for humanity." The change must take place over the next decade or we will seed calamities too horrible to imagine. Already this year, the town Lytton, British Columbia, in Canada was erased by a hit so extreme-temperatures reached 121 degrees-that it literally went up in smoke and was reduced to ashes.

And yet, we keep putting more and more carbon in the atmosphere. Like addicts on drugs, we know we are killing ourselves but can't resist the high. Feeding deadly drug addictions-from heroin to crack to fentanyl-are multi-trillion-dollar enterprises, some corporate, some gangs, all criminal. They have the power not only to slake the thirst of the addicted, but to corrupt the guardians-the police on the street, the politicians in the suites, the CEOs in the boardrooms.

Can we summon up the awareness, the moral courage, and the popular demand to meet this clear, present and growing threat to our lives? Over the next few weeks, Congress will face yet one more skirmish in this struggle between the blind and the aware, the corrupt and the alarmed, the powers that be and the powers that must be.

Democrats in the House and Senate are now working to draft and to pass the core elements of Joe Biden's Build Back Better Plan. Central to that are the first major investments in addressing climate change-mass transit, electric cars, rebuilding housing, solar and wind energy, an end to fossil fuel subsidies, modernizing the electric grid, creating a civilian climate corps that can enlist the energy of the young to retrofit houses and plant trees and much more.

Republicans no longer deny the existence of the threat and admit that it is manmade in origin. Now they argue that it is too costly to do anything about it. They raise alarms that developing new energy and electric cars and retrofitting homes will somehow hurt jobs and the economy, when in fact, the transition to sustainable energy will be a source of new demand, new invention and new jobs and growth.

Moreover, the U.S. would surely benefit if it became the leader in the new green technologies that surely will drive growth markets across the world. Plus, with their leaders convinced they will benefit politically if Biden fails, Republicans have lined up unanimously to oppose the Biden plan.

So, making progress on climate demands completely on Democrats. With the Senate split 50-50 between the two parties, and Republicans unanimously opposed, Democrats must vote unanimously so Vice President Harris can break the tie to pass a budget bill that would contain the first major investments in dealing with climate change.

That won't be easy. Despite popular support for reforms, big interests are mobilized against change led by Big Oil, the coal barons, and companies hooked on fossil fuels, the deadly crack of our time. An army of lobbyists has descended on Washington. Deep-pocket donors are calling in their chips. When a politician like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) says he needs "greater clarity," and won't support the Biden plan, particularly its measures designed to accelerate the transition to renewable energy by utility companies, he isn't confused; he is compromised.

The legislative process-the ugly sausage-making of the Congress-is confusing, secret and arcane. It seldom generates headlines or attention. But right now-in the next few weeks-this Congress will decide if we take the first steps to address a threat already taking a rising toll in lives and destruction. The interests invested in stopping change are mobilized. The only hope is that we the people rise up to demand the change that is desperately needed.

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

What's The "Quits Rate?" And Why Is It Skyrocketing?

By Jim Hightower

Corporate bosses across America have been sputtering in outrage at you working stiffs this summer, spewing expletives about the fact that while the US economy has been coming back... you haven't!

"Labor shortage," they squeal, lazily accusing the workforce of mass laziness. They charge insultingly that millions of workers got used to laying around during the pandemic. Noting that there is now an abundance of jobs open for everything from restaurant workers to nurses, the bosses and their political dogs bark that you people need to get back in the old harness and start pulling again.

Adding a nasty bite to their bark, several GOP governors cut off unemployment benefits to people, hoping to force them to work. Other businesses have proffered signing bonuses, free dinner coupons, and other lures, while such notoriously mingy outfits as McDonald's and Walmart have even upped their wage scale in an effort to draw workers.

Yet... no go. In fact, to the astonishment of the economic elite, the employment flow this year is going the other way! Record numbers of current workers in all sorts of jobs in every section of the country are voluntarily walking away. There's even an official economic measurement of this phenomenon called the "Quits Rate," and it is surging beyond anything our economy has experienced in modern memory - in April, 4 million workers quit; in May, another 3.6 million left, in June, 3.9 million said adios! The "Quits" are so unexpected and so widespread that pundits have started dubbing this year "The Great Resignation."

What's wrong with people, why are such staggering numbers of Americans failing to do their jobs? But, wait - maybe that's the wrong question. Maybe the corporate system's "jobs" are failing the people. Consider this: The most common comment by those who're walking out is, "I hate my job."

(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

The early morning skyline is viewed on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan in New York, on September 11, 2021.

20 Years After 9/11, Republicans Are The Greatest Threat To The United States
By William Rivers Pitt

Snapshot of the moment: On the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, days after the president announced vaccination mandates intended to stop the 9/11-every-two-days death toll caused by the COVID pandemic, a Washington, D.C., rally planned for next Saturday celebrating people who invaded the Capitol Building and tried to overturn a free and fair election may become the flashpoint for further political violence because an astounding number of Republicans have been brought to believe Democrats are running a cannibal pedophile ring with Hollywood "elites" as part of a larger plot to take over the world.

Twenty years ago this morning, as I stood before a bank of televisions and watched the Twin Towers swaying in their death throes, I had a vision of what was to come. It was ridiculously incomplete, to be sure - Nostradamus himself couldn't have pulled "President Trump" out of his hat - but those events in combination with the people in power at that moment assured me we were headed for some very dark places.

Twenty years later, and all I can say is, "I had no idea it would be like this." By "this," I mean members of the very same Republican Party that pounced on 9/11 to wrap itself in the flag while attacking the Taliban and then Iraq has transmogrified into a pack of neo-Confederate would-be warriors, some of whom see the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan as a model for future endeavors. The GOP was bad enough back then - remember John Ashcroft shrouding the stone breasts of a statue so as not to be tempted, or something? - but this new breed is thoroughly around the bend.

You can't blame it all on an economy that left them behind. A whole lot of these Republicans drive cars that cost more than your average three-bedroom house - see: the gun-toting McMansion couple who got famous on the right-wing circuit for menacing peaceful protesters with an AR-15. What most of these people share in common is a frenzied terror that being white in America might be becoming less of a power ticket than it used to be, and hating Muslims 20 years ago has metastasized into hating everyone and everything that might threaten their centuries-old supremacy. Even you. Especially you.

If that includes disrupting and destroying elections, so be it. David Frum, the George W. Bush speechwriter who helped that Republican president sell fear to a traumatized nation, made an observation once. "If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically," he predicted, "they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy."

It turns out Frum was only half right. They are rejecting democracy wholesale (see: Trump's "Big Lie"), but in their tumbledown rush to please a failed real estate mogul, they are also abandoning the flaccid "strictures" of basic conservatism. Look no further than Texas and Florida, where right-wing governors are dropping the hammer on local governments and small business over COVID mask mandates.

I'm so old, I remember when local government and small business were the reasons conservatives claimed they existed in the first place. Now, they exist to please Trump, and have gone so far out into the ether that people like John McCain, Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, John Boehner and God-help-us even George W. Bush are considered to be too squishy-lefty to be tolerated in proper Republican circles.

All that, and they have foot-soldiers now, shock troops dressed in their finest tac gear and armed to the last tooth. These brigands are insinuating themselves into the ranks of anti-mask and anti-vax fanaticism, to the point that any school board meeting on these topics is likely to descend into a parking lot brawl, with fathers screaming at school board members, "We will find you."


Flipping through the TV channels on Thursday night, I came across the first game of the NFL season. Someone was performing the national anthem, and I caught "...gave proof through the night that our flag was still there." The thought came of itself, immediate and unbidden - "Not in Afghanistan, not anymore" - and I fell down the stairwell of 20 years, again.

That's been happening quite a bit lately, as this grim anniversary has lurked on the far side of news reports - try to contain your shock - about how our disastrous, useless, calamity war in that country came to a disastrous end. I mashed the buttons on the remote until some show about growing carrots came on, and I watched for a while in search of elusive calm; the very last thing I wanted to see was the God damned war machine flyover that has become a stinking staple of sporting events ever since the whole country went sideways into war, fear and failure.

Please clap, right? Twenty years, 20 miles of bad road, millions dead, damaged or displaced, trillions of dollars deftly handed to the fortunate few who sell the bullets and the bombs, criminal profiteers and their political enablers walking unencumbered in the daylight, hauling down small fortunes in speakers fees, and more again in fees for commentator gigs with the murderously complicit corporate "news" media....

All of it aftermath, the consequences of getting everything wrong since that day, and it has all only just begun, because a segment of the population spent 20 years bathing in far-right Republican Kool-aid - the best stuff for fundraising, don'tcha know - and came out of the tub orange with rage, oblivious to the absurdities and the brazen picking of their pockets. Every time I see a vehicle with a Trump sticker next to an American flag sticker next to a Confederate flag sticker, a tiny part of my prefrontal lobe turns into pus and leaks out of my ear.

When did it start? Trump? The Tea Party? Newt Gingrich? Ronald Reagan? Richard Nixon? Barry Goldwater? Ayn Rand? Henry Ford? Appomattox? Wounded Knee? Jamestown? Cristobal Colon? From what bleak corner came the original sin that set us pinwheeling into this vortex of racism, greed, ignorance and violence?

Answer: "Yes."

Upon this anniversary, I offer a dollop of purest truth to that cohort: Osama bin Laden and his friends got more than everything they came for 20 years ago, and you are the proof.

To the rest, I humbly proffer a bit of wisdom from Helen Keller: "Rights are things which we get when we are strong enough to make our claim to them good."

To properly consecrate this day, endeavor to be stronger than those who seek to shred your rights out of a misguided fear that they are losing theirs. Quite an enormous amount depends on it.

(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.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in an elevator near the Senate Subway on Capitol Hill on Thursday, August 5, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Cutting the $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan Would Be Political Malpractice
Joe Manchin's lobbyist-influenced advice threatens to ruin Democratic chances in 2022.
By John Nichols

The United States should be allocating a lot more than $3.5 trillion to address fundamental economic, social, and environmental challenges that existed before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and that have only become more consequential over the course of the harrowing last year.

"That $3.5 trillion [figure] is already the result of a major, major compromise, and at the very least this bill should contain $3.5 trillion," Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, says of the reconciliation measure he is trying to secure with 50 Democratic votes and a tie-breaking boost from Vice President Kamala Harris.

Unfortunately, not every Democrat agrees with Sanders, or the many Senate Democrats who the Vermont senator says share his view that a $6 trillion commitment would have been better policy and better politics.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, the Democrat who makes it his mission to throw wrenches into the Democratic machine, says he can't accept the $3.5 trillion figure. Echoing the line of business lobbyists who object in particular to the taxes on multinational corporations and billionaires that would fund the plan, Manchin is suggesting that he wants to see a dramatic cut in the figure that was agreed upon over the summer by Sanders, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and President Joe Biden.

Manchin talks about taking the number down to $1.5 trillion, perhaps even as low as $1 trillion.

Such a shift would ease the burden on the corporate interests that have so generously supported Manchin's political career-over the past five years alone he's taken in more than $1 million from donors aligned with the securities and investment industry, according to Open Secrets. At the same time, it would severely undermine the ambitious agenda of the budget plan, which includes proposals to expand Medicare to cover vision, hearing, and dental needs, guarantee family and medical leave, extend the child tax credit, make community-college education free, extend the child tax credit, and fund initiatives to create jobs and fight climate change.

All of those proposals are necessary, says Natalia Salgado, the director of federal affairs for the Working Families Party. "We can't afford to lose a single cent in this $3.5 trillion," she says. "Every single penny will count."

The Rev. William Barber II is blunter. "Stop being a political coward!" he thundered after Manchin suggested Democrats should pause in the quest to "go big" on social safety net issues. "If you're scared of the donors, say it, but don't say we have done enough and made the playing field more level."

The cochair of the Poor Peoples Campaign has labeled Manchin's attempt to downsize Democratic ambitions "sinful, immoral, and a form of political malpractice."

That's a message that President Biden, the man who ultimately will have to sort out Democratic differences over the budget plan, needs to recognize and make his own.

The core components of the budget plan poll exceptionally well. A solid majority of all Americans, and over 90 percent of all Democrats, expressed support for the $3.5 trillion proposal, according to a late August USA Today/Suffolk University survey. That should matter to even the most cautious Democrats, as their party must maintain voter enthusiasm going into the difficult 2022 election cycle.

"Failure to pass a bill, with so many popular items, would be shooting ourselves in the foot for the 2022 elections," says Progressive Change Campaign Committee cofounder Adam Green, who has been arguing against any trimming of the $3.5 trillion plan. "It's just malpractice to not pass this bill." Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) warns, "If we don't deliver, then I think all of the people who came out and voted for Democrats to take control of the House, the Senate, and the White House [in 2020] are going [to say in 2022], 'that's it.'"

This is one of those moments where doing what is morally necessary is also politically necessary. To get that logic across, however, activists are going to need to upend the media narrative that imagines this as nothing more than a political rumble between Manchin and Sanders-or, worse yet, a debate about how low Democrats can go. As Sanders explains, "If the discussion is about personalities and negotiations, people get frustrated with Washington. But if the discussion is about what's in the plan, about how it meets the needs of working families, people get excited."

That excitement could yet tip the balance in favor of the $3.5 trillion plan. But for that to happen, this can't just be an inside-the-Beltway debate. Members of the Senate need to hear from the grass roots. To that end, 94 labor, environmental, faith, justice, and community-focused organizations-including the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, People's Action, the Sunrise Movement, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Institute for Policy Studies-have issued a call to action urging Congress "to stand up to pressure from lobby groups representing the wealthy and big corporations and pass President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan."

Explaining, "This down payment on the needs of our communities begins to meet the full scale of our country's climate, poverty, and inequality emergencies and reform a tax system rigged in favor of the wealthy and large corporations," the groups say:

The passage of this plan would be an important move toward addressing the interlocking crises of poverty, inequality, climate change, and racism. Ultimately, our nation needs a 3rd Reconstruction to provide living wages, strengthen our democracy, curb violence and militarism in our communities, and prioritize the millions of poor and low-income people in the country and their needs. To advance toward that goal, Congress must step up and do the right thing and live up to its Constitutional and moral commitments to establish justice and the general welfare. Now is not the time to let deep-pocketed corporate lobbyists stand in the way of vital public investments in an economy that works for all of us.
While Manchin and his "centrist" compatriots parrot Republican fretting about debt and deficits, the groups push back, arguing, "Lawmakers' desire to fully pay for these investments should not affect the size or scope of the package. Congress can easily raise more than $3.5 trillion in revenue from corporations and the wealthy who have seen their profits and net worth skyrocket for decades. The wealth of the country's 708 billionaires alone rose by $1.8 trillion, or 62 percent, during the pandemic-enough to pay for half of the ten-year cost of the $3.5 trillion package."

That's a powerful message. If Joe Biden is sincere about wanting be as bold as former Democratic presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, he should embrace it, amplify it, and take it on the road-to West Virginia and every other state where a Democratic senator is deferring to lobbyists rather than delivering for the American people.

(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.

Our Founding Fathers Never Wanted A Democracy
By James Donahue

Early in my career as a journalist I had the privilege to work for a most remarkable managing editor that had a lot to do with preparing me for all of the pitfalls that journalism has faced in these, the declining years of the free American system.

Bert Lindenfeld, a former World War II submarine commander, ran his newspaper office in Benton Harbor, Michigan, with the iron fist that one might expect from such a man. There was no democracy there. Lindenfeld was a wise man however; he knew how to bring out the best in his writers. He devoted his time training us to be as good as he expected us to be.

He was a hard taskmaster. You either loved and worked with Lindenfeld or you fled that office. I stuck it out and because of his direction established a standard in reporting and writing that stuck with me all of my life. He was, in my recollection, the finest editor any newcomer to the field of journalism could have. What was remarkable about Bert was that he shared a concept expressed by the founding fathers of our nation. He did not trust democracies.

I distinctly recall having lunch one winter afternoon with some of the writers and Lindenfeld joined us. The conversation that day involved politics, and for some reason it swung over to the way our government was swinging from its original formation as a republic, into a democracy. Bert said he thought this was a very bad sign.

As a young college graduate and struggling writer, with very green grass still growing around my ears, I was shocked to hear someone as highly regarded as this editor make such a rash statement. But then Lindenfeld clarified what he meant. He said that if all Americans who were receiving government support of any kind would also agree to give up their right to vote, he thought the democratic system might still work.

What Lindenfelt was saying was what French observer Alexis Tocqueville argued . . . that the conflict between the impulse for private gain and the impulse for community and the common good would eventually tear America apart.

Indeed, what is occurring in the United States today is the very worst scenario of the disaster perceived by Lindenfeld and Tocqueville. The conflict that Tocqueville warned about is happening before our eyes. And with corruption now implanted so deeply within all three branches of our government, finding a cure without a second revolution might be next to impossible.

An essay by Rose Wilder Lane noted that the very men involved in designing our form of government, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, James Madison and James Monroe, all feared democracy. They were wise and educated men who knew their history and understood the flaws within a democratic system that would bring about its downfall.

Our founding fathers went to great lengths to create a republic . . . a system of government in which the people elected representatives to go to two separate houses of Congress and the Senate, and executive and judicial branches for checks and balances. Alas, we have slowly allowed this magnificent system to erode and turn itself into a twisted form of a democracy. In fact, we no longer consider the United States a republic anymore. We openly flaunt ourselves as a democracy and are attempting to convince other nations of the world to become democracies too.

For those who need a brief government lesson, a democracy basically means mob rule. The court order that called for a one-man, one-vote mandate, and divided voting districts into even numbers for balance, rushed the country into the democratic concept. We have been on a down-hill slide ever since.

The shift was subtle. It probably really had its start with the Civil War when America struggled over the issue of state vs. central government control. The Union won that war and state governments have been eroding ever since. Smaller versions of this great system included county governments, within each state, and city and township governments within each county. There was once a bill working its way through the legislative branch of government that would have stripped townships of their rights to collect taxes, hold elections or do any more than merely exist as a non-functional form of local government. The bill was defeated, but we thought at the time that the mere fact that someone in Washington was thinking along these lines was troublesome.

When in office, Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder and his Republican legislators pushed through an Emergency Management bill that gave the state the power to appoint emergency managers to take control of towns and school districts that are in financial trouble. These corporate managers and their boards have the near-dictatorial power to disband elected boards, dissolve contracts and sell off assets. In current bad economic times, most communities and schools in Michigan are fighting deficit budgets.

Just as Tocqueville warned, our government has eroded from within. It began with lobbyists representing special interest groups, minorities, and big business that began buying votes on issues that did not necessarily represent the best interest of constituents. Soon there was graft and corruption as more and more special interest groups wormed their way into the affairs of our nation.

Today big business buys the power in America. It controls elections, pays for the slick television advertising designed to convince the masses to elect the chosen people to office. And if there is any doubt, it also has found ways to manipulate elections. Its infiltration into the U.S. Supreme Court, and the fateful 2010 decision that corporations must be considered individuals and therefore qualify for making secret money contributions to candidates of their choice, was the final blow.

Only the very wealthy can now win presidential office. Either the candidate must possess great personal wealth or be well financed by special interests willing to buy the office. We will never have another Abe Lincoln rise from common stock to hold that high office unless he sells out to the highest bidder.

Americans stood up on Independence Day and proclaimed their patriotism and freedom in the United States, and in a sense, they still enjoy many of the freedoms they treasure. But when you think about it, a lot of the things Americans have cherished, and still like to think they have, are gone. We no longer have the privacy we once enjoyed. Our e-mails are watched, our visits on the Internet are tagged, everything we buy with our credit card is electronically recorded, and video cameras are mounted everywhere, carefully documenting our every movement.

We no longer enjoy the opportunities to gain promotion and good paying jobs on the corporate ladder because most of the big corporations have moved overseas in search of cheap labor. Consequently the best a college grad today might do is become the manager of a fast food restaurant, or the head janitor of a wholesale cleaning business.

Those health care benefits our parents and grandparents enjoyed while working at Ford Motor Company, Chrysler or General Motors are all but gone now. Now we are lucky to have a job that offers any health care insurance at all. More than half of the American people today are living without health insurance, and because of the high cost of medical care, they also are avoiding visits to the doctor until it is sometimes too late.

The Union forces won the civil war. They said that war was against slavery but that was never the truth. What happened was that the blacks were freed from ownership by plantation operators, but over the years Americans of all color and creed have become slaves of big corporations. We all work long hours for stipends, barely enough to cover the rent, food, and the clothes we need to go back to the job.

This is life in a democracy, folks. It was not what our founding fathers had in mind when they put this government together, but it is what we have ended up with.

Now we need to worry about remaining intact as a nation before it all falls to ruin, as Tocqueville warned.

Madison also issued a severe warning when he wrote the following:

"A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

(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.

Guantanamo Past The Point Of All Shame
By David Swanson

U.S. high schools should teach courses on Guantanamo: what not to do in the world, how not to make it even worse, and how not to compound that catastrophe beyond all shame and recovery.

As we tear down Confederate statues and continue brutalizing victims in Guantanamo, I wonder if in 2181, had Hollywood still been around, it would have made movies from the perspective of Guantanamo's prisoners while the U.S. government commited new and different atrocities to be bravely confronted in 2341.

That is to say, when will people learn that the problem is cruetly, not the particular flavor of cruelty?

The purpose of the Guantanamo prisons was and is cruelty and sadism. Names like Geoffrey Miller and Michael Bumgarner should become permanent synonyms for the twisted dehumanizing of victims in cages. The war is supposedly over, making it difficult for aging men who were innocent boys to "return" to the "battlefield" if freed from the Hell on Earth stolen from Cuba, but nothing ever made sense. We're on President #3 since promises were first made to shut Guantanamo down, yet it moans and rattles on, brutalizing its victims and their captors.

"Don't Forget Us Here" is the title of Mansoor Adayfi's book about his life from age 19 to age 33, which he spent in Guantanamo. He could not be seen as the youngster he was when first kidnapped and tortured, and was seen instead - or at least the pretense was made - that he was an important top anti-U.S. terrorist. That didn't require seeing him as a human being, quite the opposite. Nor did it have to make any sense. There was never any evidence that Adayfi was the person he was accused of being. Some of his imprisoners told him they knew it was false. He was never charged with any crime. But at some point the U.S. government decided to pretend he was a different top terrorism commander, despite the lack of any evidence for that one either, or any explanation of how they could have captured such a person accidentally while imagining that he was someone else.

Adayfi's account begins like so many others. He was abused by the CIA in Afghanistan first: hung from a ceiling in the dark, naked, beaten, electrocuted. Then he was stuck into a cage in Guantanamo, having no idea what part of the Earth he was in or why. He only knew the guards behaved like lunatics, freaking out and screaming in a language he couldn't speak. The other prisoners spoke a variety of languages and had no reason to trust each other. The better guards were awful, and the Red Cross was worse. There seemed to be no rights, except for the iguanas.

At any opportunity, guards stormed in and beat prisoners, or dragged them off for torture/interrogation or solitary confinement. They deprived them of food, water, healthcare, or shelter from the sun. They stripped them and "cavity-searched" them. They mocked them and their religion.

But Adayfi's account develops into one of fighting back, of organizing and rallying the prisoners into all variety of resistance, violent and otherwise. Some hint of this appears early on in his atypical reaction to the usual threat to bring his mother there and rape her. Adayfi laughed at that threat, confident that his mother could whip the guards into shape.

One of the main tools available and used was the hunger strike. Adayfi was force-fed for years. Other tactics included refusing to come out of a cage, refusing to answer endless ridiculous questions, destroying everything in a cage, inventing outrageous confessions of terrorist activity for days of interrogations and then pointing out that it was all made-up nonsense, making noise, and splashing guards with water, urine, or feces.

The people running the place chose to treat the prisoners as subhuman beasts, and did a pretty good job of making the prisoners play the part. The guards and interrogators would believe almost anything: that the prisoners had secret weapons or a radio network or had each been a top ally of Osama bin Laden - anything other than that they were innocent. The relentless interrogation - the slaps, the kicks, the broken ribs and teeth, the freezing, the stress positions, the noise machines, the lights - would go on until you admitted being whoever they said you were, but then you'd be in for it bad if you didn't know lots of details about this unknown person.

We know that some of the guards really thought all the prisoners were crazed murderers, because sometimes they'd play a trick on a new guard who fell asleep and put a prisoner near him when he awoke. The result was sheer panic. But we also know it was a choice to view a 19-year-old as a top general. It was a choice to suppose that after years and years of "Where is Bin Laden?" any answer that actually existed would still be relevant. It was a choice to use violence. We know it was a choice to use violence because of an extensive multi-year experiment in three acts.

In Act I, the prison treated its victims as monsters, torturing, strip-searching, routinely beating, depriving of food, etc., even while trying to bribe prisoners to spy on each other. And the result was often-violent resistance. One means that sometimes worked for Adayfi to lessen some injury was to beg for it like Brer Rabbit. Only by professing his deep desire to be kept near screaming loud vacuum cleaners put there, not to clean, but to make so much noise around the clock that one couldn't talk or think, did he get a break away from them.

The prisoners organized and plotted. They raised hell until interrogators stopped torturing one of their number. They jointly lured General Miller into position before hitting him in the face with shit and urine. They smashed their cages, ripped out the toilets, and showed how they could escape throught the hole in the floor. They went on mass hunger srike. They gave the U.S. military vastly more work - but then, is that something the military didn't want?

Adayfi went six years without communication with his family. He became such an enemy of his torturers that he wrote a statement praising the crimes of 9/11 and promising to fight the U.S. if he got out.

In Act 2, after Barack Obama became president promising to close Guantanamo but didn't close it, Adayfi was permitted a lawyer. The lawyer treated him as a human being - but only after being horrified to meet him and not believing he was meeting the right person; Adayfi did not match his description as the very worst of the worst.

And the prison changed. It became basically a standard prison, which was such a step up that prisoners cried for joy. They were allowed into common spaces to sit and talk to each other. They were allowed books and televisions and carboard scraps for art projects. They were allowed to study, and to go outside into a recreational area with the sky visible. And the result was that they didn't have to fight and resist and get beaten all the time. The sadists among the guards had very little left to do. Adayfi learned English and business and art. Prisoners and guards struck up friendships.

In Act 3, in response to nothing, apparently due to a change in command, old rules and brutality were reintroduced, and the prisoners responded as before, back on hunger strike, and when intentionally provoked by damaging Qur'ans, back to violence. The guards destroyed all the art projects the prisoners had made. And the U.S. government offered to let Adayfi go if he would dishonestly testify in court against another prisoner. He refused.

When Mansoor Adayfi was finally freed, it was with no apology, except unofficially from a Colonel who admitted to knowing his innocence, and he was freed by forcing him to a place he did not know, Serbia, gagged, blindfolded, hooded, earmuffed, and shackled. Nothing had been learned, as the purpose of the whole enterprise had included from the start the avoidance of learning anything.

(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.

Jimmy Carter speaks in front of solar panels he installed at the White House In 1979, President Jimmy Carter
put forward a goal for producing twenty per cent of the country's energy from renewable resources by the year 2000.

Joe Biden's Solar Plan And The Prescience Of Jimmy Carter
The best time to plant a solar panel was forty years ago-but Biden is trying hard to make up for lost time.
By Bill McKibben

The Biden Administration's announcement on Wednesday of a plan that could set the country on a course to generate forty-five per cent of its electricity from solar panels by mid-century might-might-someday be remembered as one of those moments that mattered. That's because it sets a physical target whose progress will be relatively easy to measure-it's the energy equivalent of announcing that "before this decade is out" we will achieve the goal of "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth." This plan is much more ambitious, though: the Apollo project focussed all the nation's technological might on moving one person; this is more akin to landing all of us somewhere very new. But physical targets are easier to track and understand than, say, the squishy and amorphous chatter about "net zero" emissions and so forth. Observers will be able to track with ease our progress and see if future Administrations are keeping up the pace.

By itself, of course, converting one country's electricity system to run nearly half on solar is not going to curtail global warming. But an effort at this scale will move us fast along the learning curve: the cost of solar has regularly fallen about thirty per cent with each doubling of capacity-so increasing its scale from less than four per cent, which it is at present, to forty-five per cent should make what is already the cheapest energy on Earth far cheaper still.

There are plenty of pitfalls. For one, a target is only as good as the money behind it; Congress needs to step up and start appropriating, and the $3.5-trillion budget plan could be the first down payment on that task. (A task made much more difficult by news that much of corporate America is throwing down hard to stop parts of it.) And the political problems only start there: siting solar farms often kicks up local opposition from people who don't want to look at them. Even in green Vermont, where I live, this is a budding problem.

And there are deep questions about whether we've even got the metals and other materials left to make it happen-in a recent paper, Megan K. Seibert and William E. Rees argue that proponents have failed to address questions such as how "gigatons of already severely depleted metals and minerals essential to building so-called RE technologies will be available in perpetuity." The London-based Carbon Tracker Initiative, however, has recently made a case that material constraints will steadily become less of an issue; for the moment, the regularly falling cost of solar seems to make their case. And, as Saul Griffith, the author of the forthcoming book "Electrify," says, using renewables requires far less in the way of materials than a fossil-fuel-based energy system.

The toughest question may simply be time: 2050 is not that far away, and yet a lot of damage can be done by then. As the destruction from global warming accelerates, it seems that it will get more difficult to make national and global efforts on the scale required, even as their necessity becomes more obvious. Which is why I thought, with some chagrin, of an earlier, very similar goal put forward by an American President. Jimmy Carter, midway through his Administration, and faced with the second OPEC oil shock, put forward a goal for producing twenty per cent of the country's energy from renewable resources by the year 2000. In fact, as he unveiled solar panels on the White House roof, in 1979, he said these words:

In the year 2000, this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy. . . . A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.
Carter was prophetic, and sadly so. I first saw one of those solar panels, which the Reagan Administration removed from the White House roof, in a Chinese museum. Had Carter been reelected, and had we pursued steadily his vision through the nineteen-eighties and nineties, we may have gone down the learning curve decades earlier. We might not have solved climate change by now, but we'd probably be in an infinitely better place. That we didn't is an unspeakable tragedy.

Now, I think, we are no longer engaged in "one of the greatest and most exciting adventures" we've ever undertaken. Amid the rubble of Hurricane Ida and in the smoky shadow of the vast Western fires, we're embarked on a desperate gamble.

(c) 2021 Bill McKibben is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign and a contributing writer to The New Yorker. He writes The Climate Crisis, The New Yorker's newsletter on the environment.

Amy Coney Barrett Is The Product Of A Corrupt And Politicized Supreme Court Nomination Process
The justice is a little bit tardy in her concerns around the Court's credibility.
By Charles P. Pierce

Well, now we have a good idea of how the division of labor on the Supreme Court works: the newest justice has the job of locking the barn. From the AP (via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune):

Justices must be "hyper vigilant to make sure they're not letting personal biases creep into their decisions, since judges are people, too," Barrett said at a lecture hosted by the University of Louisville's McConnell Center. Introduced by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who founded the center and played a key role in pushing through her confirmation in the last days of the Trump administration, Barrett spoke at length about her desire for others to see the Supreme Court as nonpartisan. Barrett said the media's reporting of opinions doesn't capture the deliberative process in reaching those decisions. And she insisted that "judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties."

"To say the court's reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner," said Barrett, whose confirmation to the seat left open by the death of the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cemented conservative control of the court. "I think we need to evaluate what the court is doing on its own terms."

Considering that she owes her present (lifetime) position to a process that McConnell personally corrupted, that she is the product of an utterly politicized vetting process, and that she was appointed by the most singularly corrupt president in the history of the republic, I'd say that Barrett is a little bit tardy in her obviously sincere concern for the Court's credibility. After all, she is merely the most recent, high-profile product of a federal judicial system that McConnell and the conservative intellectual chop-shops have turned into something approximately as non-partisan as McConnell's own frontal lobes. She's ascended to her current eminence under a dark and lucky star. She should be grateful for that and stop talking obvious nonsense of which she is a walking refutation.

(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-

"Americans' right to free speech should not be proportionate to their bank accounts."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Top 7 Ways al-Qaeda's Terrorism Violated The Precepts Of The Holy Qur'an
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - One of the great tragedies of the early twenty-first century is that the great civilization of Islam, over 1400 years old and with tremendous achievements should have had its escutcheon besmirched with the terrorism of a small fringe of extremists such as Usama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. It is and the faith of nearly a quarter of humanity (and heading toward being that of a third).

Bully-boys and sociopaths like Bin Laden and his associates cherry-pick the Qur'an and quote half a verse to justify themselves. They completely ignore the peace verses in the Qur'an, which address a situation in which there is no state and no head of state and in which, therefore the early Muslim community was instructed to avoid conflict.

Since many in my audience are interested in Islam but may not have much experience with its holy book, the Qur'an, preached by the Prophet Muhammad 610-632 CE, it is worth discussing how starkly mass terrorism differs from its values.

1. The Criterion 25:63 says, "The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk humbly upon the earth - and when the unruly address them, they reply, 'Peace!'" The Qur'an urges believers to emulate God, the compassionate and merciful, serving the All-Merciful. When ruffians (al-jahilun) taunt and harass them, they are to reply by wishing peace on their enemies. They are praised for walking humbly upon the earth.

Sufis such as Qushayri and Sulami saw this verse as an encouragement to cultivate the divine characteristics of mercy and compassion on all human beings, and though only spiritual adepts could reach the state where they could sincerely wish peace, security and prosperity on people who were persecuting them.

Bin Laden for all his pretensions was just a rich psychopath (an increasingly worrisome phenomenon about which those old James Bond movies were prescient). He was not a recognized leader or head of state. He was just a civilian.

According to the rules of the Qur'an, his situation was like that of the early community in Mecca, which had no authority and therefore was instructed to let God handle such disputes.

2. In fact, ordinary Muslims are ordered to do good to their enemies to win them over.

Distinguished 41:33-35 observes, "Whose discourse is more beautiful than one who calls others to God and performs good works and proclaims, 'I am among those who have acquiesced in the monotheist tradition? The good deed and the evil deed are not equal. Repel the latter with what is better and behold, it will be as though the one, with whom you have a mutual enmity, is a devoted patron. Yet to none is this granted save the patient, and to none is it granted save the supremely fortunate."

This instruction to do good to your enemies perhaps goes even beyond what Jesus recommends in the New Testament. It is dialogical, urging believers to reach out to those who would do them harm, and attempt to transform them into supportive patrons.

While these verses are from the period of the Prophet's preaching in the West Arabian shrine city of Mecca, 610-622, and while Muslims were later permitted to defend themselves from war-like assaults, they have analogues in the later chapters delivered after the Prophet moved to the city of Medina and formed a commonwealth, as well.

3. When civilians not at the head of a state kill, they simply are committing murder: Murder is strictly forbidden in the Qur'an. 5:53 says, "... whoso kills a soul, unless it be [a sanctioned execution] for murder or for committing brigandage in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind," This is a paraphrase, as the Qur'an admits, of the Jerusalem Talmud.

If killing one soul is equivalent to xenocide, to the killing of a whole species, then what is slaughtering 3,000 innocents?

4. The Cow 2:190 instructs Muhammad's believers: "Fight in the path of God those who enter into combat against you, but do not commit aggression. God does not love aggressors." This was one of the first verses to permit self-defense, once the early Muslim community had relocated to Medina. The arrogant pagan Meccans came after them there, and if they had not taken up arms at that point, they and their families would have been massacred by the attackers.

Nevertheless, the Qur'an, unlike the Bible, only authorizes defensive military actions.

Not even one of those killed on September 11 had entered into combat against Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

5. Many commentators point out that the implication of this verse is that warriors of one state may fight attacking warriors of another state, but non-combatants must be spared.

All of the people killed on 9/11 were non-combatants.

6. The Spoils 8:61 says: "If they incline toward peace, you must incline toward it. Trust in God-he is all-hearing and omniscient." Since al-Qaeda staged a sneak attack on thousands of innocents, it had no way of knowing whether they inclined toward peace. There is no reason to think they weren't peaceful people. This verse shows that the Qur'an disapproves of aggressive warfare and only authorizes defensive actions. After all, wouldn't any enemy that was being attacked by Muslims declare for peace and so trigger an end to the war?

7. The Qur'an recognizes that Jews and Christians are, like Muslims, monotheists and it guarantees them liberty of life and property. The Qur'an assures Christians and Jews of paradise if they believe and do good works, and commends Christians as the best friends of Muslims. I wrote elsewhere, "Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians."

" Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): "Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness--their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow."

In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. Fred Donner has argued that Muhammad created a rainbow coalition of monotheists, of Jews Christians and Muslims. Muslims are permitted to share food with the other communities and even to intermarry.

Bin Laden's characterization of all Christians as "crusaders" was a slap in the face to this Qur'anic ecumenism.

Modern Muslim jurists have often incorporated international law into contemporary states, so medieval Muslims texts are not always relevant to today's society. But Bin Laden and his like pick and choose in medieval texts to justify themselves.

Still, according to the medieval Muslim law of war, a Muslim army may not commit a sneak attack. The Prophet Muhammad at one point gave 4 months notice (Q. 9:5).

9/11 was the ultimate in sneak attacks.

Noncombatants must be spared.

All those killed were noncombatants.

Only a head of state may declare war.

Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were just civilian riffraff playing guerrilla. They had no state and were elected by no one. They appointed themselves mass murderers.

According to Muslim law, what al-Qaeda did was brigandage (al-hiraba), which is strictly forbidden and indeed is potentially a capital crime in the Qur'an.

(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.

What We Do With Tragic Anniversaries
By Robert Reich

Those of us who were alive and sentient 20 years ago remember exactly where we were when we saw the twin towers collapse and heard that other planes went down.

Some of us are old enough to remember exactly where we were when we heard, many years before, that JFK had been shot and killed.

I expect that most young people today, who have no direct memory of either, will continue to remember 1/6/21, when a president of the United States instigated a deadly attack on the Capitol.

Dark days like these become etched in our memories. But more important is how these days altered history and changed our lives permanently, and what lessons we as a nation drew from them.

11/22/63 made Lyndon Johnson president, which led to the tragic escalation of the Vietnam War.

9/11/01 motivated Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to launch a 20-year war on terrorism.

1/6/21 marked the culmination of Trump's attempted coup, and perhaps the start of something far worse.

All of these days now provoke the standard sentiments from politicians that "our hearts go out" to the families of those who perished. Yes, of course.

But I wish these grim anniversaries also invited more consideration of what America has become as a result - war-prone, fearful, and deeply divided.

(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

The Texas Abortion Hypocrites Don't Care About Post-Birth Children
So Texas kids continue to sleep on office floors, get handcuffed to desks, and trafficked out of state while Abbott & his GOP buddies bask in the votes of "concerned" white evangelical voters
By Thom Hartmann

Governor Abbott and Republicans in Texas will tell you that they're very, very, very concerned about children. Particularly before they're born. Even when they're the size of a grain of rice and have a tail, indistinguishable from a tadpole, at around 6 weeks of gestation.

But when children are "post-birth" and old enough that the State of Texas might have to use tax dollars to pay to care for them when their own birth parents can't or won't? Suddenly Texas Republicans have amnesia about their much-vaunted concern for kids.

Yesterday, US District Judge Janis Jack cut short, after only 3 hours, a hearing that was scheduled to run for two days about the Abbott administration's utter failure to care for the often-unwanted and most vulnerable children who end up in the state's foster care system.

"I don't know if anything would be served by continuing the hearing," Judge Jack said, given how the state has been giving lawyers for children in foster care the runaround for years.

Abbott is more than willing to fund another study of the problem - to put off doing anything for another few years - but it looks like that's no longer an acceptable excuse for letting these kids suffer more harms.

Already, while the state has "studied" the situation for a decade, children are sleeping on office floors, crashing in fleabag motels, failing to get therapy or medications they need, and being sexually and physically abused. In this hearing evidence was presented of a 7-year-old who was handcuffed by a security guard and numerous other kids who tried to commit suicide by slashing their wrists, hanging themselves and drinking cleaning fluids.

The past year alone saw over 630 allegations of such abuse, neglect or exploitation that were substantiated, and 14,227 violations by the state of minimum standards of care.

Over the past six years, Judge Jack has repeatedly ruled that Texas is violating its most vulnerable children's "constitutional right to be free from unreasonable risk of harm," and the state - essentially refusing to do anything that might cost money and thus raise taxes on its richest citizens - has been found in contempt of court twice.

"Governors in the past, as well as this governor and legislators in the past, have done study after study after study and had come up with the same issues, the same exact issues," Judge Jack said, adding, "I just want these children to be safe."

Texas's unwillingness to spend tax money to properly care for its abused, exploited, and abandoned children is particularly troubling given the explosion of such kids coming in the next decade as Texas' Pregnancy Vigilante law will force the birth of thousands of unwanted children every year.

While wealthy white women have no problem traveling out of state to get an abortion, poor women in Texas are now forced to carry accidental or rape-caused pregnancies to term.

Lacking resources to house, feed or educate their kids, and often not even old enough or emotionally mature enough to care for their children, this is the hell in which child abuse, trafficking and neglect explode.

Instead of raising taxes on their morbidly rich donors to care for the state's own children, Texas Republicans are subjecting them to state-sanctioned abuse and neglect, sometimes just throwing up their hands and shipping them out of state: Texas kids have been recently transferred to Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas and Florida.

Abbott and other Texas Republicans know they can't win elections in the state without the white evangelical vote and the #1 thing on the minds of evangelical voters since the Jerry Falwell era has been abortion. It's not so important to them that they're organizing programs to take in or care for unwanted children in any measurable way, but it's definitely at the top of their sermons and moralizing.

So kids continue to sleep on office floors, get handcuffed to desks, and trafficked out of state while Abbott and his GOP buddies bask in the votes of "concerned" white evangelical voters. Who, given all their religiosity, you'd think would be upset about Abbott and the Texas government's failure to care for its children.

After all, as the Gospel of Mark tells the story: Then [Jesus] put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me."

But Abbott and the Texas GOP don't give a rat's ass about Jesus or His Father who sent Him. They just want very earthly white evangelical votes to keep them in power so the money and post-officeholding sweetheart gigs will continue to roll in from their wealthy donors.

(c) 2021 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Andy Singer ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Birds Demand Natural History Museum Return Dinosaur Skeletons Plundered From Ancestral Resting Place
By The Onion

NEW YORK-In an effort to protect their cultural heritage, a group of activist birds held a press conference Wednesday demanding that the American Museum Of Natural History return the dinosaur skeletons that had been plundered from ancestral resting places.

"It's a disgrace that our forebears were dug up from their burial sites only to be put on display and gawked at by tourists," said Bebe, a white-bellied caique who was reportedly able to trace her lineage back to the Cretaceous, confirming that the only way for the museum to rectify the wrong was by returning the fossilized remains of the Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and Triceratops to their rightful descendants.

"Instead of serving as a means of profit for the very people who stole them, these relics should be given to the bird community to do with as it sees fit." Bebe added that in addition to their deceased ancestors, the museum should immediately return thousands of avian treasures such as leaves, twigs, and berries currently lining their exhibits.

(c) 2021 The Onion

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 37 (c) 09/17/2021

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