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In This Edition

Chris Walker returns with, "Texas School Administrator To Teachers: Teach "Opposing" Sides Of The Holocaust."

Ralph Nader gives, "Reporter's Alert: Part VI."

Margaret Kimberley returns with, "The Obama Presidential Center Will Displace Black People."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Can The Rest Of The Nation Follow Alabama?"

William Rivers Pitt says, "It's Joe Manchin Vs. The World, And Manchin Is Winning."

John Nichols reports, "Bernie Sanders Shows Democrats How To Deal With Joe Manchin."

James Donahue wonders, "So Why Can't We Love One Another?"

David Swanson considers, "War Powers Reform And The Pretense Thereof."

David Suzuki returns with, "CBD Gummy Scam Illustrates Need For Media Literacy."

Charles P. Pierce thinks, "Colin Powell Had The Chance To Be A Great Man In A Crucial Moment. He Chose To Be A Loyal Apparatchik."

Juan Cole finds, "Sordid Advantage: America Can't Avert Climate Hellhole Because Manchin, Sinema Are Corporate Hired Mercenaries."

Robert Reich wonders, "Why The Hell Are Democrats Keeping Your Drug Prices High?"

Thom Hartmann reports, "Trump & His Dead-Ender's Hateful Plan Revealed."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump To Skip 2024 Campaign And Go Straight To Claiming He Won," but first, Uncle Ernie asks, "How Long Can You Tread Water: Number Six?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Monte Wolverton, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Terry Vine, Scott Olson, Win McNamee, Elsa Olofsson, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Mario Tama, Pete Linforth, New York Daily News, 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-
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To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

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How Long Can You Tread Water: Number Six?
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"We know we're going to have sea rise. This is literally a one-way street now. The only thing we're discussing now is how fast, it's not whether anymore, and then eventually how much." ~~~ Dr. Harold Wanless ~ chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami

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

From what I can see even if humanity beats the odds and caps global warming at 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels, seas will rise for centuries to come and swamp cities currently home to half-a-billion people, researchers at Climate Central have warned.

In a world that heats up another half-degree above that benchmark, an additional 200 million of today's urban dwellers would regularly find themselves knee-deep in sea water and more vulnerable to devastating storm surges, they reported in Environmental Research Letters.

Worst hit in any scenario will be Asia, which accounts for nine of the ten mega-cities at highest risk.

Land home to more than half the populations of Bangladesh and Vietnam would fall below the long-term high tide line, even in a 2 degrees C world. Built-up areas in China, India and Indonesia would also face devastation.

Most projections for sea level rise and the threat it poses to shoreline cities run to the end of the century and range from half-a-meter to less than twice that, depending on how quickly carbon pollution is reduced.

But oceans will continue to rise for hundreds of years beyond 2100 - fed by melting ice sheets, heat trapped in the ocean, and the dynamics of warming water - no matter how aggressively greenhouse gas emissions are drawn down, the findings show it not 'if' but 'when!'

"Roughly 5 percent of the world's population today live on land below where the high tide level is expected to rise based on carbon dioxide that human activity has already added to the atmosphere," lead author Ben Strauss, CEO and chief scientist of Climate Central, said.

Today's concentration of CO2 - which lingers for hundreds of years - is 50 percent higher than in 1800, and Earth's average surface temperature has already risen 1.1 degrees C.

"That's enough to eventually push up sea levels nearly 2 meters (more than six feet), whether it takes two centuries or ten," Strauss said.

The 1.5 degrees C warming limit enshrined in the Paris Agreement that nations will try to keep in play at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next month translates into nearly 3 meters over the long haul.

Unless engineers figure out how to quickly remove massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere, that amount of sea level rise is not a matter of "if" but "when," according to the study.

These are the optimistic scenarios.

"The headline finding for me is the stark difference between a 1.5 degrees C world after sharp pollution cuts versus a world after 3 degrees C or 4 degrees C of warming," Strauss said.

"At Glasgow and for the rest of this decade, we have the chance to help or to betray a hundred generations to come."

Buying time

National carbon-cutting pledges under the 2015 Paris treaty would, if honored, still see Earth warm 2.7 degrees C by 2100. If efforts to reign in greenhouse gases falter, temperatures could rise 4 degrees C or more above mid-19th century levels.

This much warming would add 6 to 9 meters to global oceans over the long haul, and force cities currently home to nearly a billion people to either mount massive defenses against future sea level rise or rebuild on higher ground.

In China alone, land occupied today by 200 million people would fall below high tide in a 3 degrees C scenario. And the threat is not only long-term: absent massive sea walls, Chinese cityscapes home to tens of millions could become unlivable within 80 years.

"1.5 degrees C of warming will still lead to devastating sea level rise, but the hotter alternatives are far worse," said Strauss. "We're in bad shape but it is never too late to do better, and the difference we could make is enormous."

At higher levels of warming, the danger increases substantially of triggering the irreversible disintegration of ice sheets or the release of natural stores of CO2 and methane in permafrost, scientists warn.

Capping global warming as low as possible also buys us time to adapt.

"It is almost certain that seas will rise more slowly in a 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees C warmer world," Strauss said.

I might add that researchers from Princeton University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany contributed to this study. Need I say it again? If you live on the coasts, you might ask yourself this question, "How long can I tread water?"


08-29-1926 ~ 10-16-2021
Thanks for the film!!

04-05-1937 ~ 10-18-2021
Burn Baby Burn!

01-29-1931 ~ 10-18-2021
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.

Texas School Administrator To Teachers: Teach "Opposing" Sides Of The Holocaust
By Chris Walker

During a training session with teachers last week, a Texas school district administrator instructed teachers to present "opposing" perspectives about the Holocaust in their classrooms.

Gina Peddy, the Carroll Independent School District's executive director of curriculum and instruction in Southlake, Texas, was secretly recorded during the October 8 staff meeting. The audio of the exchange between Peddy and teachers attending the meeting was shared with NBC News.

The training session happened four days after a fourth-grade teacher in the district was reprimanded by the school board for having a book entitled "This Book Is Anti-Racist" in their classroom. Parents of a child in the class had complained to the district that the book went against their "morals and faith." During the meeting, Peddy emphasized that teachers in the district should abide by newly-passed state statutes. "Try to remember the concepts of [Texas House Bill] 3979," she said, referring to a Texas law passed earlier this year requiring teachers to present multiple perspectives on topics that are "widely debated and currently controversial."

"Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives," Peddy continued.

When teachers asked how there could be opposing viewpoints on the Holocaust, Peddy responded, "Believe me, that's come up."

Clay Robison, a spokesperson for Texas State Teachers Association, condemned Peddy's interpretation of the statute.

"We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history," Robison said. "That's absurd. It's worse than absurd. And this law does not require it."

Upon release of the audio, a spokesperson for the district said in a statement:

Our district recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements... Our purpose is to support our teachers in ensuring they have all of the professional development, resources and materials needed. Our district has not and will not mandate books be removed nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable.

In light of Peddy's remarks, some Republicans tried to defend the statue, with one claiming that Carroll Independent Schools "just got it wrong."

"School administrators should know the difference between factual historical events and fiction," Texas Sen. Kelly Hancock (R) said. "No legislation is suggesting the action this administrator is promoting."

However, many educators have opposed the Texas law since its first introduction in the state legislature, noting that it was too vague and that it would make it difficult for teachers to have conversations on important topics in classrooms.

The law also bans the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools. Critical race theory is most commonly taught at university level, and isn't being taught in K-12 schools anywhere in the state - but conservatives have deliberately turned it into a new boogeyman for parents across the U.S. to unduly fear.

Beyond that, the law requires teachers to "give deference to both sides" on historical topics - a mandate that many say legitimizes false historical narratives, and limits critical discussion about topics like racism and white supremacy in schools.

"If we're not allowing teachers the opportunity to have these honest and intellectually appropriate conversations with their feelings about the past, then we're basically silencing those communities," third-grade teacher Lakeisha Patterson said in the run-up to the law's passage, adding that the bill would effectively be "whitewashing history."

(c) 2021 Chris Walker is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analyzing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.

Reporter's Alert: Part VI
By Ralph Nader

Reporters at major newspapers and magazines are hard to reach by telephone. Today it is increasingly hard to converse with them about timely scoops, leads, gaps in coverage, and corrections to published articles.

We started an online webpage: Reporter's Alert. From time to time, we use Reporter's Alert to present suggestions for important reporting on topics that are either not covered or not covered thoroughly. Reporting that just nibbles on the periphery won't attract much public attention or be noticed by decision-makers. Here is the sixth installment of suggestions:

1. More states are recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day, giving rise to the need for a broad report on all the treaties tribal nations signed with the U.S. government that are still intact and that are still violated by the U.S. government. Recall for example, on Thursday July 9, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court had occasion to recognize the Muscogee (Creek) Nation's rights to the land in much of Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma as being part of their reservation. (See, There will be fascinating revelations from a report on this topic.

2. Numerous people have been asking me "What's happened to all those lawsuits against Trump?" Trump has escaped the grips of the law for years, most recently the stalled civil justice (tort law) suits by several women claiming sexual assaults, by prosecutors in New York, Washington, D.C., and Georgia. Trump has even managed to escape, so far, depositions under oath, including one that Robert Mueller should have demanded. This is so remarkable that there should be a seminar at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown Law Schools about how Trump has escaped, with all the ways his lawyers have shielded this serial outlaw from federal, state, and local laws.

To make his escapes more current, since Trump is a clear-cut violator of criminal statutes, including the Hatch Act and the Anti-Deficiency statute, obstruction of justice, again and again, brazenly and openly, one might expect the Justice Department should be readying some law enforcement. See letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland recounting the DOJ's avoidance of its duties vis-a-vis Trump's serial violations, thus demonstrating that Donald J. Trump is indeed repeatedly ABOVE THE LAW. Also remarkable is that this topic has to be suggested to the Fourth Estate as a major, comprehensive inquiry.

3. State legislatures and governors in many states are using "pandemic" pretexts to eliminate rights and democratic procedures. In California, which has one of the more liberal legislatures, lawmakers are taking bills to the floor discarding past rules providing every bill have committee staff analysis and a legislative hearing with questions from legislators, and testimony from citizens. Assembly Bill 2167 is one such example, favoring the insurance industry. Imagine what more conservative state legislatures are doing. Also, the California State Assembly voted to allow votes on bills without members being present in the chamber, despite an opinion from the state's legislative counsel that it likely violates the state Constitution.

Governors, citing the pandemic, have issued dubious executive orders that let vendors in healthcare avoid the tort laws for their negligent (or worse) injuries to innocent persons. For reporters, the quest is to find out how widespread these strictures have become and how permanent.

4. Sports injuries are more prevalent than ever before. Despite, more advanced knowledge, training, and self-care by athletes, professional teams are experiencing so many recurrent injuries that some sports announcers have started a regular "Injury Report" on sports radio. In baseball, injuries have become epidemic, when in the 1950s and 1960s they were quite rare. It is not a candidly discussed subject among the sports media and fans receive few if any explanations. The injury epidemic is so pronounced that the Yankees baseball radio announcer has started a daily Injury Report brought to you by an orthopedic practice ad in New York.

Some reasons suggested are (1) the players are bigger, and (2) the play is more strenuous. In baseball, pitchers' arms start getting strained in their teenage years, given the dreams about throwing 100 miles per hour fastballs in the major leagues. These days after every pitch announcers note what the mph was. Tommy John operations are numerous every year. With the ever-greater emphasis on home runs, players are becoming muscle-bound with added risks of straining a ligament. Certainly today, baseball professionals have better equipment - helmets, gloves, safer shoes, and they are protected by padded walls in the outfield. These advances prevent injuries, yet today's players are placed on the injury list far more than those in the past. What with the many years of covering up concussions in football etc., it seems important to look into this broad area. (See, Sports reporters take note!

5. What's happened to NASA? It has increasingly become an agency that outsources or contracts out, losing the technical and scientific capacity to better pay offers by the contractors. The brain drain is rampant: nearly 80% of NASA's budget is contracted out. The Old NASA did far more things itself and kept its intellectual property close to the vest. NASA is now a shadow of itself, a trademark on press releases; so much so that it is losing control over policy and other matters to the contractors. A reporter should get copies of these contracts and see the extent of the multiple giveaways, corporate welfare, and undue influence taking the search all the way to congressional committees.

P.S. Next week from October 22-23, 2021, corporate crime specialists from around the world will attend the symposium at Georgetown Law Center titled, Imagining a World Without Corporate Criminal Law (Register for the event here).

(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).

The Obama Presidential Center Will Displace Black People
By Margaret Kimberley

The Obama Presidential Center will inevitably displace a working class Black community in Chicago. The center is in keeping with Obama's history of doing the bidding of the powerful, including accelerating gentrification.

The soon to be constructed Barack Obama Presidential Center poses a great danger to the surrounding Black neighborhoods on the South Shore of Chicago. In fact, thanks to this $500 million, 19-acre homage to the 44th president, there may not be any Black people living there much longer.

Families are already facing rent increases and homes that were once moderately priced are now unaffordable to Black working people. These market manipulations are integral to the gentrification model of urban development. The end result is always a displaced and dispersed Black population.

This crisis is but the latest Obama slap in the face to the people who loved him the most. His 2008 presidential campaign stump speeches were replete with the worst stereotypes about Black men. Who can forget his not very funny jokes about the imagined Cousin Pookie who wouldn't get off the couch to vote. Obama avoided any mentions of Black people and their unique status with canned lines about rising tides lifting all the boats.

Of course the intent was to disappear Black people as a group and therefore make himself more palatable to white people. In his maiden speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention he declared, "There is no white America. There is no Black America." He showed his hand early on and no one should have been surprised when he disappeared the needs of the Democratic Party's most reliable voting block in order to gain political advantage.

Construction of the enormous facility will not be the first time that Black people lost homes and money because of Obama. The Peoples Policy Project reported how federal inaction during the housing bubble collapse was especially damaging to this group. The Obama administration did not take the steps necessary to end foreclosures, in fact his Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) accelerated foreclosures by aiding the banks more than homeowners. The crooks who enabled the crash got away and struggling workers got the shaft.

The tragedy is that these failures of policy did little to diminish Obama's luster with Black people. He could do no wrong, regardless of the damage that he created domestically or internationally. The code of silence did nothing to help his enablers. The foreclosure crisis pushed vulnerable people over the edge to loss of property and loss of wealth. Homeownership has traditionally been the main source of wealth for Black people and losing it has devastating consequences.

Renters will also suffer. The state of Illinois does not have laws limiting rent increases. Landlords in the area are already raising rents in anticipation of the coming changes. In typical Obama fashion, an inadequate community benefits agreement was hastily drawn up. It provides for low-income housing in one small area of the community, but leaves others untouched.

Yet there is still a reservoir of support for the man who did so little to benefit Black people and a naive belief that he has their interests in mind. As one community resident said, "This is the community that sent President Obama to Springfield. This is the community that sent him to the Senate. This is the community that sent him to the White House, and we should be the community that gets to stay for the presidential center." The points are valid but they are of no importance to Barack Obama or to the people who have funded his vanity project to the tune of $500 million. Funders include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, George Soros Open Society Foundation, and corporations like AT&T and Boeing.

None of them grew rich because they cared about the needs of working people anywhere in the country and those who risk being forced out of their neighborhood are not exceptional in their eyes.

Barack Obama is leveraging his connections to the rich people and the corporate interests who made him a United States senator and then president. He worked on their behalf and in return they help to build a modern day cathedral where he can be worshipped and dispense patronage as he sees fit. That is what former heads of state do after all. They are errand boys and girls for the international 1% and they live happy and wealthy lives thereafter.

The South Shore residents must be disabused of any notion that their needs count to Obama or his benefactors. The center is not being built for them. They are literally in the way of the developers who now have another neighborhood where they can manipulate the market and grow richer.

Everyone in this sordid drama is doing what they always do. It is the people who want to stay in their homes who must behave differently. They are under the misapprehension that they can rely on good will where there is none to be had.

(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.

Can The Rest Of The Nation Follow Alabama?

By Jim Hightower

Here are two terms you don't expect to see together: "The state of Alabama" and "progressive leader." (Ok, I'm a Texan, so I have no standing to point at the rank regressiveness of any other state government ... but still, Alabama?) And yet, the Camellia State has flowered as a model of strong progressive action in one area of critical public importance: Quality child care.

It's a cliche to say "our children are our future," but it's also true. Why, then, do we invest so little in our littlest ones, our future? America's childcare system is a national disgrace, failing to provide safe places for children of working parents, and failure to boost the education of pre-kindergarten tykes. Moreover, the abject failure of state and national officials to meet this basic social need is spreading inequality, rolling back opportunities for women, and severely restricting economic progress.

Yet, Alabama officials have recently been setting the national standard for effective pre-K programs by making a major investment in its 4 & 5-year-olds, operating a statewide child care network in about 1,300 neighborhood and rural areas. A major factor in its success is a two-generation approach, not only educating the kiddos, but also providing support materials and coaching so that parents engage as their children's "first teachers."

Producing demonstrable results year after year, the state's public network gets bipartisan support and funding from the Alabama Legislature. The program is free and available to all, with special attention devoted to enlisting often overlooked families in rural, poor, and people-of-color communities. Rather than treating teachers as low-pay babysitters, Alabama is paying (and respecting) them as the professionals they are and investing in their career development.

If one of our poorest states can rise to meet this basic human need, what's wrong with the richest country in the history of the world?

(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

Sen. Joe Manchin leaves a Democratic luncheon at the U.S. Capitol October 7, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

It's Joe Manchin Vs. The World, And Manchin Is Winning
By William Rivers Pitt

The unspoken mantra of the Trump administration was, "The cruelty is the point." It would not surprise me to learn those same words are written on the walls of the inner Capitol Hill offices of Sen. Joe Manchin and his staff. The man certainly has taken Congress, the people, the country and indeed the planet on a brutal ride through the soaring peaks of his own self-regard, and for what?

He's gotten to see his name in the paper on a daily basis (another favorite Trump pastime), sucked in huge amounts of energy industry campaign donations, and he has defended the sanctity of his own stinking coal fortune against silly notions like the impending end of the world.

Senator Manchin has done this by playing hide-and-seek with his intentions for months, and now the whole program may come crashing down. I guess he didn't enjoy chairing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee very much, because if his actions cause President Joe Biden's domestic agenda to implode, he and the Democrats, once again in the congressional minority, will be back to watching Mitch McConnell decide which pieces of legislation see daylight. McConnell is the same fellow, you'll note, who won't let any Republicans vote to avoid a government shutdown or a massive global economic calamity. Manchin will be fine, though; he has his coal mines and his coal money nailed down tight.

Since the summer, Manchin has made it all about cost, but refused to publicly disclose what he deemed an acceptable price tag would be for Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act. Last week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus - which has already retreated on price and policy a half-dozen times in the face of corporate conservative Democratic intransigence, in the name of getting a good bill done - appeared to have contrived an elegant solution: Chop the time frame of the bill in half, which chops the price in half. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared open to the idea, and there was suddenly serious movement toward a solution.

Not so fast, said Manchin. See, it was never about the money, you guys. I was just saying that. It was really about the fact that my paymasters detest the climate provisions in the BBB Act, and well, you know how that goes, right? The mere possibility that the Build Back Better Act might become real motivated the West Virginia coal baron to swing into action. What followed was the mother of all "Friday news dumps":

The most powerful part of President Biden's climate agenda - a program to rapidly replace the nation's coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy - will likely be dropped from the massive budget bill pending in Congress, according to congressional staffers and lobbyists familiar with the matter.

Senator Joe Manchin III, the Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia whose vote is crucial to passage of the bill, has told the White House that he strongly opposes the clean electricity program, according to three of those people. As a result, White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that climate provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut emissions.

The $150 billion clean electricity program was the muscle behind Mr. Biden's ambitious climate agenda. It would reward utilities that switched from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and penalize those that do not. Experts have said that the policy over the next decade would drastically reduce the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet and that it would be the strongest climate change policy ever enacted by the United States.

Memo to Manchin, West Virginia, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and every other state that puts coal ahead of breathing: It's done. It's over. It's hard, but we have to find something else for you to do. We can spend some money now and make the change easier, or we can lose a few cities to climate-driven superstorms and infernos and spend 10 times as much playing catch-up, at which point you'll likely get half of what you need because we waited too long, thanks to people like Joe Manchin.

"As a result, White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that climate provision," reads the Times report, because Biden's people want and need to get something out of this frazzled mess before the roof caves in... which is where Manchin's real cruelty, his genuinely diabolical cruelty, reared its scaled head. Just in case those industrious White House staffers were able to salvage actual climate protections from the tatters left by Manchin's Friday declaration, a second Manchin missive came down the pike on Sunday to gum up the works even further.

"Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has told the White House the child tax credit must include a firm work requirement and family income cap in the $60,000 range," reported Axios. Not only is such a demand well into the final-straw red zone for progressives who have already bent over backwards to appease "moderates" like Manchin. It would deal a serious blow to what is undeniably an incredibly effective program. A temporary version of it has been in effect by way of COVID relief funding, and has dramatically reduced child poverty in the U.S. It works, and it works well, so Manchin opposes it.

It is difficult to find the words to describe this ghoulish man and his James Cagney fashion sense, but it is not hard at all to explain his impact on the lives of every living thing on the planet. "He plans to gut Biden's climate plan, and with it the chances for swift global progress," tweeted author and activist Bill McKibben. "This is high on the list of most consequential actions ever taken by an individual Senator; you'll be able to see the impact of this vain man in the geologic record."

The worst part? There's nothing for it. Manchin is not up for reelection until 2024. He chairs the Energy Committee, and so can't be coerced with a promotion. If he quit tomorrow, West Virginia's GOP Gov. Jim Justice would certainly appoint a Republican replacement, just as "Democrat" Manchin appointed a Democratic replacement for Robert Byrd in 2010 when Manchin was governor of West Virginia. That would automatically hand the Senate to McConnell. Push Manchin too hard and he could flip party affiliation, handing the Senate to McConnell.

Word began to bubble up on Monday that Manchin might have a sit down with Bernie Sanders, who has done more than any other senator to see this process through to a just conclusion. I'd love to be a fly on the wall for this meeting if it happens, but I don't see Manchin being swayed. If Biden can't budge him, Bernie will probably have the same luck.

The only other possible alternative I see is for President Biden to (finally) lose patience with this small fraction of a leader (Manchin got 290,510 votes in 2018, Biden got more than 81 million two years later), and dare Manchin to kill a bill that would bring his own party down with it. This far, no farther.

It would be the bluff of the century, and Manchin might blink... but then again, he might not, and as the Times reported, the White House is already crabbing backward looking for "acceptable" alternatives. Pro tip: There are none. This, again, is a commonality shared by Manchin and Trump. Neither wants anything beyond the attention and the money. End of file. You can't bargain with that, because they are not here to bargain.

I'm reminded of the scene in The Dark Knight, when Batman is mercilessly pummeling the Joker, and the Joker is laughing hysterically throughout. "You have nothing," he cackles, "nothing to threaten me with, nothing to do with all your strength."

For the time being and the foreseeable future, Manchin and his corporate sponsors hold the top cards. Unless something spectacular happens, there are no good ways out of this. The Joker was right: Everything burns.

(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 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) walks with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) after meeting
on pending budget resolution legislation in Schumer's office on August 9, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Bernie Sanders Shows Democrats How To Deal With Joe Manchin
In a Sunday opinion piece, Sanders reminds West Virginians that their senator is blocking Medicare expansion and policies that lift children out of poverty.
By John Nichols

If Democrats hope to enact a "Build Back Better agenda" that expands Medicare, provides paid family leave, lifts children out of poverty, and saves the planet, they're going to have to speak bluntly not just about Republican obstruction but also about the Democrats who are standing in the way of progress.

Most members of the Senate Democratic Caucus are reticent about stating the obvious. But Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders did so on Sunday, when he explained to West Virginians that their senior senator was on the wrong side of Biden's plan, "a historic opportunity to support the working families of West Virginia."

Sanders wrote an opinion piece for the Sunday edition of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the daily newspaper in West Virginia's capital city, which by Monday morning was the top-trending piece on the paper's website. In it, he argued for the plan that is backed by President Biden and the vast majority of congressional Democrats as essential legislation that would benefit West Virginians.

"The Build Back Better plan is not only vitally important for seniors, but it is enormously important for working families and their children," wrote Sanders. "As a result of the $300 direct payments to working class parents which began in the American Rescue Plan, we have cut childhood poverty in our country by half. It would be unconscionable to see those payments end, which is exactly what will happen if we do not pass this bill."

The senator from Vermont went on to explain that while the plan is opposed "by every Republican in Congress as well as the drug companies, the insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry and the billionaire class," Republicans aren't the only obstructionists. "Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation. Yet, the political problem we face is that in a 50-50 Senate we need every Democratic senator to vote 'yes.' We now have only 48. Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va."

Sanders was just stating the facts. But Manchin couldn't handle the truth.

"This isn't the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state," griped the senator. After learning that the Sanders op-ed would appear in the Sunday edition of the widely read Gazette-Mail, he said in a statement, "Millions of jobs are open, supply chains are strained and unavoidable inflation taxes are draining workers' hard-earned wages as the price of gasoline and groceries continues to rise. Senator Sanders' answer is to throw more money on an already overheated economy while 52 other senators have grave concerns about this approach. I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs. No op-ed from a self-declared Independent socialist is going to change that."

Manchin didn't bother to mention that the "reckless expansion of government" proposed by Sanders is also favored by the man he backed for president in 2020, Joe Biden. Nor was he clear about the fact that the "52 other senators" Manchin referred to in his screed are-with the exception of himself and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema-members of a Senate Republican Caucus so bent on blocking Biden that, as minority leader Mitch McConnell put it, "One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration."

Of course, McConnell claims the plan championed by Sanders is "an effort to exploit this terrible but temporary pandemic as a Trojan Horse for permanent socialism." But when Manchin, who like Sanders is a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus, plays the "socialist" card, it's fair to assume that he's not really bothered by Sanders's ideology.

Manchin is frightened that West Virginians will, if they know what's in the bill, start asking why their senator isn't backing it. That's why, despite his initially vitriolic response, Manchin was talking with Sanders by Monday, and appearing briefly before TV cameras with the Vermonter.MO<> For all his bravado, Manchin's on shaky ground.

The Data for Progress polling group asked West Virginia voters late in the summer about "a $3.5 trillion investment plan [that] would expand Medicare, and make health care, child care and long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities more affordable. This plan would also invest in clean energy, and extend tax cuts for most families with children." The response: Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they'd back such a plan, while only 25 percent said they'd oppose it.

In other words, Manchin isn't channeling the sentiments of West Virginians who do not want to expand Medicare and care for kids. He's channeling the grumbling of billionaire campaign donors who disapprove of the reconciliation bill's proposal to make the rich pay their fair share, and of the pharmaceutical companies that object to lower drug prices. As Sanders put it, opponents of the bill "want to maintain the status quo in which the very rich get richer while ordinary Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet."

In the particular case of Manchin, there are also arguments that he is more focused on protecting his own wealth-much of which is based on investments in the fossil fuel industry-than on protecting West Virginians.

"It's estimated that President Joe Biden's clean energy goals would add 3,508 full-time jobs in West Virginia, increase total earnings for state residents by $172 million through 2040 and bring $20.9 billion of investment in new power plants," explained an editorial last week in the Gazette-Mail. "Projections also show it would make West Virginia a healthier place to live. And these findings aren't from some liberal think tank, but an analysis conducted by West Virginia University researchers and economic modeling experts."

The editorial continued, "More and more, it's looking like Manchin's real problem with the plan is that it would hurt his wallet."

There's no such speculation regarding Sanders, who is simply telling West Virginians, "I believe that now is the time, finally, for Congress to stand up for working families and have the courage to take on the big money interests and wealthy campaign contributors who have so much power over the economic and political life of our country."

Those who don't pay much attention to West Virginia politics might assume that no one in the state has any regard for what the senator from Vermont says about expanding Medicare. But when Sanders last campaigned in the state, as a progressive contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, he carried every one of West Virginia's 55 counties.

Two years later, in the 2018 election cycle that yielded good results for Democrats even in Republican-trending states such as West Virginia, Manchin's share of the vote fell below 50 percent. He was reelected by fewer than 20,000 votes, and lost more than two dozen counties. Those numbers are unlikely to improve the next time Manchin's on the ballot.

While Manchin is trying to paint Sanders as the outlier, when West Virginians rallied outside the statehouse in Charleston recently, Pam Garrison, the cochair of the West Virginia Poor People's Campaign, focused on Manchin's abandonment of the state. "To Senator Manchin, this comes from West Virginia," she said. "We are not buying your garbage. Either you stand with us, or you are against us."

(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.

So Why Can't We Love One Another?
By James Donahue

"The whole world is suffering with unhappy souls, the French hate the Germans and the Germans hate the Poles. The Poles hate the Yugoslav's, the Yugoslav's hate the Dutch. And I don't like anybody very much." - The Kingston Trio

There has always been racial, religious and political bigotry in the world, but rarely has it been as severe as it appears today. And during an age when new technologies have opened communications with people everywhere, and high- speed travel makes it possible for world leaders to have regular face-to-face dialogue, such polarization doesn't seem to make sense.

Writing from personal experience, I can say that once we get to know someone it is not easy to hate that person. The word "hate" is such an extreme emotion it should not be part of our vocabulary. Hate is the opposite of love. And love also is an extreme emotion, but one that makes all who experience it feel so good we seek to constantly remain in that state of consciousness.

Love has been the root of the teachings of all the great prophets and spiritual teachers, many of whom sparked the great religious movements. The primary message taught in Buddhist temples, Jewish synagogues, Moslem mosques, Hindu mandirs and Christian churches is that we express love for our fellow man. Perfect, unconditional love is the glue that brings peace and joy to everyone experiencing it. Yet, for some unexplained reason, humans have always had difficulty achieving this perfect state of bliss.

The peculiar result of the new communications technology is that instead of developing a growing understanding and appreciation for people of other races and cultures, and a realization that they are "just like us," we have formed, instead, a growing rift between collective blocks of people. People are using the Internet as a tool for intensifying this division through stories that breed mistrust and suspicion of wrongdoing.

Like barbaric children nations and cultures go to war against one another over religious and racial differences, land disputes, and the quest for wealth, power and control of dwindling natural resources. The rise of hate groups like the Teabaggers, the Klu-Klux-Klan, religious anti-abortion belief systems, the White Aryan Resistance Movement, skinheads and most recently, the Proud Boys and QAnon, many of them stirred by the political rhetoric of elected politicians and radio and television commentators, is a troublesome example of the extreme division that is occurring in the United States. Many of these groups carry signs of the Christian cross and claim to be inspired by God.

That radical Islamic clerics can produce men and women willing to strap bombs on their bodies and then blow themselves up in crowded buildings, killing people they do not know in the name of Allah, is yet another example of a world that appears to be going insane.

Is it insanity or is it something else? Could it be that a certain segment of humanity has been genetically altered, or even mentally controlled by an alien force that has been among us since the beginning of recorded time?

Why was it that when great prophets like Jesus, the Krishna, the Buddha, and Mohammad rose up among us, devoting their lives to showing humanity a better spiritual pathway based on love for one another, they were all murdered? After their disposal, these great prophets were falsely proclaimed to have been deities and radical religious systems grew up around the fact that they were here.

The so-called "gods" listed above were not the first of their kind. Ancient text tells of earlier god figures such as the Persian sun-god Mithra, the Egyptian god Horus and the Mesopotamian god Marduk. All were the origins of great religious systems preceding what exists today.

If we can exclude the differences in skin color, creeds, nationalities, and political leanings, we can separate humanity into one of two types. There are those who radiate the light of love in both their words and deeds, and those that seem incapable of empathy for either man or beast. Those who can hunt and kill animals merely for the thrill of killing are examples of the cruel hearts possessed by the latter.

When we see our elected representatives in Washington go to war against other nations without cause and support the massive genocide of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, this is an example of the cruel hearts that should not be among us.

Humans have always had the potential of rising to greatness. We have achieved amazing accomplishment, from composing music and poetry so magnificent it brings tears to our eyes when we hear it, to erecting monuments with such precision and skill that people come from all over the world to admire their beauty. We have produced great philosophers, teachers, and healers who have devoted their lives to giving aid and comfort to the poor and downtrodden, and inspired young men and women to rise to the height of their abilities throughout their lives.

The golden ages, however, have been few and far between. The people of light, like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King for example, worked hard to make their mark. But these bright stars that walked briefly among us seem to have had their light dimmed by all of the greed and quest for self- gratification that prevails among the masses.

If the story in the Book of Genesis is correct when it says that humans were made in the image of the Creator, why has there been this seed of imperfection from our very origins? Why was it that one of Adam's two sons, Cain, murdered the other in a jealous rage?

We suggest that the story of the serpent in the Garden was not the appearance of Satan the great tempter, but an attempt to explain something that the ancients did not and could not understand. Rather than a devil with horns, pitchfork and pointed tail, their perfect world was overturned by an invasion by a race of beings from space that overpowered us with fantastic technology and intelligence.

The one great flaw found in this race was that they did not understand and could not achieve the experience of empathy for one another. In short, they could not experience love.

Either through possession, genetic intervention or inbreeding, this gene helped turn what had been a perfect world into a hellish environment that has continued to this very day. And there was something else that was brought into our world that we did not need. It was called technology.

(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.

Bagdad "Shock & Awe!"

War Powers Reform And The Pretense Thereof
By David Swanson

I've just read through three of the most boring but potentially most important documents around. One is the War Powers Resolution of 1973 which you can print on 6 pages and is what's referred to as existing law even though it's violated as routinely as air is breathed. Another is a war powers reform bill that has been introduced in the Senate and seems very likely to go nowhere (it's 47 pages), and the third is a war powers reform bill in the House (73 pages) that seems virtually certain to go nowhere.

We have to set aside a couple of major concerns, beyond the unlikelihood of Congressional "leadership" allowing such bills to pass, before taking these things seriously.

First, we have to ignore / mindlessly violate the Hague Convention of 1907, the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 (short and clear enough to write on your palm or memorize), the United Nations Charter of 1945, the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, and as regards much of the world the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. That is, we have to pretend that deciding who should commit war is a more legal and acceptable project than deciding who should commit any other crime.

Second, we have to prioritize improving the existing law over getting somebody to actually use it. The War Powers Resolution has been available to be used since 1973. It's been used in the sense that individual House members have been able, under it, to force debates and (failed) votes on ending wars. This may have in various instances contributed to the eventual ending of wars by the entity that most members of Congress want to possess all war powers, namely the White House. The closest Congress has come to ending a war through the War Powers Resolution was when it repeatedly voted in both houses to end U.S. participation in the War on Yemen - for which it could count on a veto from then-President Donald Trump. Once Joe Biden became president, Congress dropped that effort. A Congress that won't use the existing law could only be expected to use a new law to the extent that the new law forced it to. A Congress that in recent decades has re-criminalized torture more times than I can count has, on numerous topics, made clear its strong preference for creating new laws, even redundant laws, rather than actually using existing ones.


Setting those concerns aside, the Senate and House bills to alter the War Powers Resolution have some definite upsides and downsides. The Senate bill would repeal the entirety of the existing law and replace it with a different and longer one. The House bill would edit and rearrange the existing War Powers Resolution, instead of replacing it, but replace the majority of it, and add a great deal to it. The two bills seem to have the following things in common:


They would eliminate the ability of a member or group of members of one house to force a debate and vote. None of the debates and votes that House members have compelled in the past would have been possible under this law without a Senator introducing the same resolution.


Both bills would define the trick word "hostilities" in the current law to include "force deployed remotely" so that White House lawyers would have to stop claiming that bombing countries wasn't war or hostilities so long as U.S. troops weren't on the ground there. If this were law right now, the war on Afghanistan would no longer be "ended."

Both bills would shorten the time for ending unauthorized wars from 60 to 20 days.

They would automatically (meaning this would work even with a feckless Congress of the sort we've had for over 200 years) cut off funding for unauthorized wars. Because this would happen without Congress doing anything, it could - in theory - be the most important change in these bills. But if Congress wouldn't impeach or even (its preferred approach) sue a president in court, it might not matter to declare unauthorized the funding for wars that are unauthorized.

The bills would create requirements for any future authorizations of wars, such as a clearly defined mission, the identity of the groups or countries being attacked, etc.

They would also strengthen seldom used powers to control weapons sales to brutal foreign governments and to end and limit presidential declarations of emergencies.



Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill would give presidents the unconstitutional power to commit the crime of using the U.S. military in partnership with another nation's as long as this didn't make the United States a party (a term it does not define) to the war. This would take the one war that Congress almost sort-of acted on under the War Powers Resolution (Yemen), and eliminate the ability to act on it.

ADDITIONAL UPSIDE Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill would repeal all the existing AUMFs.



Unlike the Senate bill, the House bill would further erode the idea that impeachment is the appropriate remedy for serious offenses by holders of high office by writing into the law the right of Congress to sue in court a violator of a Congressional ban on a particular war.


Unlike the Senate bill, the House bill would ban wars with a "serious risk" of violations of "the Law of Armed Conflict, international humanitarian law, or the treaty obligations of the United States," which would seem to be a standard that would have prevented every U.S. war for the past century if actually taken seriously.

While both bills contain sections on weapons dealing, the House bill is more serious than the Senate. The House bill bans the transfer of weapons and training ("defense articles and defense services") to countries that "commit genocide or violations of international humanitarian law." This item would do so much good for the world and cost certain people so much money that it practically guarantees the bill will never be voted on.

While both bills contain sections on declarations of emergency, the House bill bans permanent emergencies, and ends existing "emergencies."


I don't like the downsides in these bills at all. I think they're horrific, disgraceful, and absolutely indefensible. But I think they're outweighed by the upsides, even in the Senate bill, though the House one is better. Yet, clearly best of all would be for Congress to make use of any of these things, either one of the new bills or the law as it exists today.

(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.

Recent online memes, stories and other disinformation have David Suzuki not only selling and endorsing CBD gummies but also embroiled in a lawsuit with businessman Kevin O'Leary over them!

CBD Gummy Scam Illustrates Need For Media Literacy
By David Suzuki

Would you buy cannabis gummies from me? Apparently, hundreds of people would. Only trouble is, I don't sell them, and I'm not looking for business opportunities. But recent online memes, stories and other disinformation have me not only selling and endorsing CBD gummies but also embroiled in a lawsuit with businessman Kevin O'Leary over them!

People see the bogus information, click through to a realistic product page, submit their personal and financial information and order the products. It appears they most often find the pitches on Facebook.

I'm saddened that anyone would spend money hoping to purchase products they thought I manufactured or recommended. The scam is still tricking innocent people. They contact the David Suzuki Foundation daily.

This got me reflecting on how and where people receive and process information. I've been a science communicator for more than half a century, so I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to get through to people. How do we ensure as many as possible have access to accurate, credible information so we can make informed decisions on issues that matter?

I've been fortunate to have worked many years at the CBC. As a public broadcaster, it's been producing quality content and upholding journalistic standards since before the Second World War - and helped me earn credibility as a communicator.

Today, I compare that type of relationship - one based on accurate and fair communication of relatively diverse types of evidence and viewpoints - to what I see online, on social media, and it's shocking. False information and scams abound, along with the worst political polarization in recent memory.

Fraud and misinformation have been around as long as we have, and perpetrators have always seized on the best available technologies to reach people. But in under 30 years, the internet has become our main information source, and the ubiquity of social media has given rise to effective, inexpensive ways to spread information, from bad to good and everything in between.

Close to 60 per cent of the world's population - 4.66 billion people - are active internet users, most accessing it through mobile devices. It infiltrates and informs every aspect of our lives.

As Marshall McLuhan posited in the 1960s, our technologies have become extensions of ourselves.

As these systems evolve and become more powerful, complex and efficient, so too must our collective ability to understand and use them.

As we receive more information online - from recipes to weather forecasts, product info to politics - how can we make sure it's reliable, that we can trust it enough to make good decisions? If we're wrong, what's at stake? Many people search for or are fed information that confirms their beliefs rather than that which could help them better understand an issue. And, as recent vaccine opposition reveals, much of it promotes "personal freedom" while ignoring the responsibility that goes with it.

In today's digital society, media literacy levels must match the sophistication of mass communication methods and big tech. But this isn't the case, and we're seeing the consequences, from increasing polarization to revelations about how platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp foment division and conflict in the name of profit.

Environmentalists encounter the misinformation problem often. In 2021, a dwindling minority still reject the validity of climate science, despite an astounding amount of evidence proving the crisis is upon us and massive international scientific consensus regarding the urgent and necessary path forward.

How can we come together, have informed conversations and enjoy the benefits of evidence-based decision-making? It's clearer than ever that a democracy works best when people have access to accurate, credible information.

We must see our information systems - news media, social media, etc. - as the foundations of democracy they are, and we must insist on keeping them, and the people who use them, healthy.

We should invest more public resources in ensuring our media industry is healthy, social media is properly regulated and most people are media literate enough to consume online information safely and responsibly. And we must take responsibility and get better at synthesizing information, considering various perspectives and uniting behind solutions to the world's biggest problems.

It all begins with productive, respectful conversations based on good information. (And maybe some CBD - but not from me!)

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

Colin Powell Had The Chance To Be A Great Man In A Crucial Moment. He Chose To Be A Loyal Apparatchik.
That is the tragedy of his life.
By Charles P. Pierce

There is no doubt in my mind that the death of Colin Powell from complications of COVID-19 has a kind of political use in the present moment. For a brief period, I thought that the death of such an admired public figure might make a difference in the absurd war against the cure being waged by the mole people. Then, I learned that Powell had been vaccinated, and I realized that the mole people now had another arrow for the crazy quiver. See, this famous person was vaccinated and he died of the China Virus anyway. Eat your horse paste like a real American. Powell had reportedly been ill with multiple myeloma for some time, which certainly is a co-morbidity, not that it's going to stop the mole people at all.

So I'm going to stay away from the manner of his death, and I'm going to leave the endless encomia to the hundreds of people already writing them. I'm going to point out that once Colin Powell had a chance to be a great man, and to influence world history, and that, knowing better, he threw all that away in favor of being a loyal apparatchik and a good soldier. That is the tragedy of his life. To me, anyway.

By February of 2002, Powell, then the Secretary of State, knew that the case being concocted for an invasion of Iraq was "bullshit." That's what he said to one of his aides according to an account in Hubris, the book about the selling of the Iraq War by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. He'd spent the preceding months fighting, and gradually losing, against the combined forces of the think-tank Napoleons in the administration, and against the combined bureaucratic muscle of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who had been blights on public service dating back to the Ford administration. They wanted a war, and they were willing to say anything to get one. Unfortunately, even with the inexplicable Rummy Love that prevailed in elite circles at the time, the two of them knew that, overseas, they looked like Tweedledum and Tweedledeath. They needed a respectable face on the mendacious case they planned to present to the United Nations. They needed a solid-gold frontman for the project. Enter, alas, Colin Powell.

Powell told the story they wanted him to tell.

On February 5, 2003, knowing full well that almost every bit of research on which he was relying came from unreliable sources of one kind or another-the Cheney/Rumsfeld axis, torture victims in CIA black sites, and international conmen like "Curveball" and Ahmed Chalabi-Colin Powell went before the United Nations and an eager television audience, and he told them the scary horror story that Cheney and the rest wanted him to tell.

He discussed the famous aluminum tubes, despite the fact that his own State Department had told him these were used for firing rockets, not enriching uranium.

He told the world that Saddam Hussein at that moment had four tons of VX gas. He based this assertion on what he said was the testimony of Saddam's son-in-law, who'd defected in 1995. He did not mention that the same witness had told the UN and CNN that all of that deadly concoction had been destroyed in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. Powell and his handlers could lie about this point because Hussein Kamel al-Majid, the son-in-law, had been killed when he returned to Iraq in 1996.

(Powell subsequently said he'd been misled on this point, but he refused to say by whom. I'm inclined to believe him, but he already knew that he was being asked to front for untrustworthy officials. That would seem to make the average person skeptical of anything those people said.)

He rolled on. Nuclear research. Lagoons of chemical weapons. Vast warehouses of biological weapons. 25,000 liters of anthrax. Blessing the lies behind what even he suspected could be a bloody fiasco, and the worst foreign-policy mistake the United States had made since Vietnam, Colin Powell was the frontman. As Walter LeFeber wrote in Political Science Quarterly, Powell had "stacked the deck against himself."

The strategy concocted by Cheney and Rumsfeld-who, whatever else you may think of them, were seasoned bureaucratic knife fighters-worked perfectly. The elite political press fell into line. Senators-like Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and everyone else with designs on the White House-came away convinced that a vote for war was the smart political play.

Long after the damage had been done, Powell's aide, Lawrence Wilkerson, gave an account of a conversation he'd had with Powell prior to the speech.

[Powell] had walked into my office musing and he said words to the effect of, 'I wonder how we'll all feel if we put half a million troops in Iraq and march from one end of the country to the other and find nothing.
We marched from one end of the country. We found nothing. There was nothing to find. Whatever superweapons Iraq had, they had been destroyed after the first Gulf War, and the government had never restarted any of those programs. (Aside: didn't any of the geniuses in that administration notice that, with his country being invaded and his regime tottering, Saddam didn't use any of these alleged weapons to defend himself?) Colin Powell had sold the bill of goods he was sent out to sell, the bill of goods about which he already had profound doubts, the bill of goods that he knew was at least partly "bullshit." And he'd done it well because, as Dick Cheney, that bottomless pit of cynicism, had told him, "You can afford to lose some poll points."

One October night in 1973, an attorney general named Eliot Richardson was ordered by Richard Nixon to fire a special prosecutor. This was Richardson's chance to be a great man, and to influence history for the better, and he took it. He resigned and he told the country why. In February 2003, Colin Powell faced the same choice. I always will believe that he could have stopped the whole catastrophe, or at least tossed a ton of sand in the gears, with one press conference after he'd resigned as Secretary of State. That's if he'd used that sterling public reputation on which Cheney had counted so heavily to tell the country that there were people who wanted a war and who did not care how they got it.

They got their war. Colin Powell helped when he didn't have to do so, when he knew he didn't have to do so. Hundreds of thousands of people died. The moment needed an Eliot Richardson. It got Colin Powell, may he rest in peace, a guy who was a good soldier once too often.

(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-

"They talk about class warfare - the fact of the matter is there has been class warfare for the last thirty years. It's a handful of billionaires taking on the entire middle-class and working-class of this country. And the result is you now have in America the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on Earth and the worst inequality in America since 1928. How could anybody defend the top 400 richest people in this country owning more wealth than the bottom half of America, 150 million people?"
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Sordid Advantage: America Can't Avert Climate Hellhole Because Manchin, Sinema Are Corporate Hired Mercenaries
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - American journalists like to personalize stories and create horse races empty of real content. That is why most Americans don't know what is in the Democratic Build Back Better Bill backed by President Joe Biden - the substance has not been reported on. That bill was originally budgeted at $350 billion a year for ten years, less than half what the US spends- rather uselessly - on its war budget, a war budget that has not enabled it to win any wars for decades.

The horse race du jour is the obstruction by arch-plutocrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and wannabe plutocrat Sen. Kirsten Sinema of Arizona of Build Back Better. These two have been dubbed "moderates" by the corporate press owned by a handful of billionaires sympathetic to their obstructionism, hence the moniker "moderate" for a far right wing plot hatched by big Oil and Big Pharma to gut Biden's bill.

But Manchin and Sinema are not plucky mavericks standing on high personal principle against those spend-and-tax Democrats in their own party. They are mercenaries. The second meaning given by Merriam Webster for mercenary is, "serving merely for pay or sordid advantage: venal also: greedy." Sordid advantage just about sums it up. Nowadays when you say "mercenary," for-profit paramilitaries come to mind, where ex-soldiers are paid large sums to kill people. An example is the Russia-based Wagner group, which has been hired recently by Mali to replace French troops pulled out by President Emmanuel Macron; Wagner mercenaries were accused of war crimes in Libya. That is the kind of thing I mean when I say that Manchin and Sinema are mercenaries. They are guilty of transgenerational war crimes.

It matters because at the core of Build Back Better was a set of programs that would accelerate the greening of America's energy infrastructure, which Manchin is insisting be canceled. Since nothing at all can pass without his vote, he is likely to get his way. The bill can still have lesser and vaguer encouragements to fight global warming. While better than nothing, these will, however, be inadequate to the task of avoiding making earth into a hellhole. It is also possible that the Democratic progressives, which is to say the non-mercenaries in the party not hostage to sordid advantage, will refuse to vote for such a gutted bill. But in that case nothing at all will pass, and the Republicans will likely get back in control of the legislature in 2022, making sure that the US goes on farting out over 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year, dooming our children and grandchildren to live in an oven.

The full horror of the American political system and of the Manchins and Sinemas as mercenaries can be understood better by looking at the rest of the world, which American news almost never does. This year Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president (2007-2012), has been convicted and sentenced to jail twice, though he will probably serve house arrest with an ankle bracelet. The cases against him arose from allegations that he received illegal campaign contributions from the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi and from Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress of the L'Oreal make-up company fortune. Ironically, although these contributions set off the investigations, he was ultimately convicted on other grounds, of bribing a judge and of spending too much money on a presidential campaign (yes).

By French law, virtually all American politicians would be in jail. Corporations are not allowed to donate to presidential political campaigns. Individuals can't give more than about $8,000 a year to a political party. No more than about $23.5 million can be spent by a candidate on a presidential campaign. Sarkozy was just convicted of exceeding that limit in 2012 and of phonying up his campaign's receipts, and sentenced to a year in jail.

Bill Allison at Bloomberg gets the goods on Manchin's mercenary motivations. In just the third quarter of 2021, Mr. Manchin raised $1.6 million in campaign donations. Of that total, in excess of $400,000 came in from the oil and gas industry. That is a lot of sordid advantage.

This is not to mention that Manchin himself is personally wealthy and received $5 million in the past decade from dividends on coal investments alone (see the Young Turks clip below). Very clever of Big Carbon to hire a coal baron as their mercenary.

As for Sen. Sinema, she accepted $1.1 million in campaign contributions in the third quarter, $100,000 of it from sources linked to the pharmaceutical and financial services industries, according to Brett Wilkins at These industries object to provisions of Build Back Better. Most of the over $1 million in contributions came from outside Arizona. The donors are not stupid. They are not backing Sinema, who just a few years ago was an anti-war environmentalist with a limited income, out of the goodness of their corporate hearts. They are hiring a mercenary. She is perfectly willing to betray all of her stated principles of a decade ago and sell herself just as Manchin does.

American law permits corporations to hire our politicians, who should be representing the people, as their private mercenaries.

And that is why, friends, it is going to get very, very hot on earth and become very inconvenient for human beings and other living things. Because of some people's sordid advantage today.


Young Turks: "EXACTLY How Much Money Joe Manchin Made Off Dirty Coal INVESTMENTS"

(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.

Why The Hell Are Democrats Keeping Your Drug Prices High?
By Robert Reich

Excuse me but I have to vent.

Three House Democrats and one Democratic senator are now blocking a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Medicare is such a big purchaser of drugs that it has the bargaining leverage to cut drug prices for everyone - if allowed to do so. This would save at least $450 billion over the next 10 years and significantly lower prescription drug prices.

But four Democrats are standing in the way.

Before I get to why they're doing this, let me identify them. In the House: Scott Peters (whose district includes San Diego), Kurt Schrader (Oregon's central coast), and Kathleen Rice (central and southern Nassau County on Long Island).

And in the Senate: Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona).

Okay, so why are these four Democrats blocking this measure?

Not because this policy is unpopular with the public. To the contrary, 88 percent of voters favor allowing the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices, including 77 percent of Republicans.

In fact, at least 90 percent of these four lawmakers' own constituents support allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Get this: The idea is so popular that both Kathleen Rice and Kyrsten Sinema actively campaigned on it.

And not because the pharmaceutical industry needs extra money in order to continue to generate new drugs. Taxpayers already fund much of its basic research through the National Institutes of Health. Also bear in mind that a big portion of the costs of bringing a drug to market goes into advertising and marketing - which shouldn't even be allowed for prescription drugs (and isn't in most other rich countries, and wasn't in the US until Big Pharma lobbied for the law to change).

Oh, and pharmaceutical firms have been overflowing with so much cash they've been buying back their own shares of stock.

In other words, allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices should be a no-brainer.

So what gives? The question should be who gives. Follow the money.

From 2019 to 2020, Kyrsten Sinema received over $120,000 in Big Pharma contributions, even though she's not up for re-election until 2024. Throughout her political career, she's taken over half a million dollars from Pharma PACs and executives. Just before Sinema officially came out publicly against allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a group bankrolled by Big Pharma began running TV and digital ads and sending mailers praising her for "fighting as an independent voice."

If you think this was a coincidence, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Scott Peters, meanwhile, happens to be the House's single biggest recipient of Big Pharma campaign cash in the 2022 election cycle so far. Since being elected in 2012, Peters has socked away over $860,000 from Big Pharma. The day after his letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposing using Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices was published in May 2021, Peters began receiving thousands of donations from executives at pharmaceutical companies and the industry's powerful lobbying group.

Another coincidence? P-l-e-a-s-e.

Kurt Schrader has raked in nearly $615,000 from Big Pharma since taking office in 2008. This election cycle he's already got $24,500 from Pharma PACS, the second most of any industry donating to him. One of former his top aides left his office earlier this year and is now lobbying for Big Pharma. According to ethics disclosures, the former aide's lobbying efforts focus on ... guess what? Drug pricing.

The third House Democrat, Kathleen Rice, has received over $84,000 from Big Pharma.

The grand total of Big Pharma cash going to these four lawmakers: over $2 million. When you consider the billions that Big Pharma will rake in for keeping drug prices high, this is a small potatoes for them. You might even call it a great investment.

But it's a huge cost for the rest of us.

The measure isn't being blocked solely because these four Democrats oppose it. No Republican members of Congress are in support.

But it does seem odd that Democrats would stand in the way of this sort of reform, rebuffing their own president and party - and rejecting the overwhelming preference of voters, including their own constituents - to tank a policy that they themselves campaigned on. I mean, what's the Democratic Party for if it won't reduce drug prices for average people? Why were these four Democrats elected in the first place?

Sometimes I worry that pointing out this sort of corruption (and it is a form of corruption) will make people even more cynical than they already are about American politics, resulting in a kind of fatalism or resignation that causes many to give up - and thereby cede the entirety of our democracy to the moneyed interests. My hope is just the opposite: that when people hear about this sort of thing, they're outraged enough to become even more politically active.

In my experience spanning fifty years of American politics - from interning for Senator Bobby Kennedy in 1967 to serving as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration to advising President Obama - most of the elected lawmakers I've dealt with sincerely want to do the right thing. Some don't feel they can do the right thing if they want to be reelected, and confuse means and ends. A very few are on the take.

By which I mean to say that the situation is hardly hopeless. I refuse to give up on democracy. And I won't give up on the Democratic Party. But I'm only going to fight for candidates from the Democratic side of the Democratic Party.

What can you do? For one thing, contact your members of Congress and tell them that the first step in getting big money out of politics is to support the Freedom to Vote Act. (You might put in an extra call to Joe Manchin's office and say you expect him to deliver 10 Republican senators' votes for this bill - which he helped author - or else agree to reform the filibuster to let voting rights bills be enacted with a bare majority.)

Here's something else you can do: If you happen to be a constituent of one of these four Democrats, don't vote for them when they're up for reelection. Make sure they're primaried, and then vote in the Democratic primaries for true public servants - who care more about advancing the public good than protecting private profits.

(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

Trump & His Dead-Ender's Hateful Plan Revealed
What they've created has taken on a life of its own & is now tearing America apart - Steve Bannon, echoing Hitler, predicted, "We're putting together a coalition that's gonna govern for 100 years"
By Thom Hartmann

Trump's agenda is to destroy democracy in America, and the GOP and their billionaire donors are going along with it while much of the media are treating it like politics as usual. It's a two-part plan that involves both corrupting our election processes and fomenting a violent "rebellion" by white supremacists to shatter our society.

Part one is to end free and fair elections in America.

The latest bombshell has become the most under-reported and misunderstood story of the week, when Donald Trump threatened the Republican Party.

Wednesday afternoon I got a fundraising email (he averages around 5 fundraising pitches a day) from that included this statement:

"If we don't solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in '22 or '24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do."
But the media treated this threat of Trump's as either 1) a tantrum demanding more fealty from Republicans or 2) a sign that Trump is losing his grip and probably going to alienate the Republican Party before he's done. It was neither.

This statement from Trump was, instead, a clear and open declaration of war on democracy itself.

What he was really saying was, "If the rest of you Republicans who still hold office don't do like a few states have already done and pre-rig the 2024 election results, you are going to lose office and lose power...and I'll lose my chance to get back into the White House."

Which is true, particularly in swing states. So they're stepping up their game.

"Election Fraud" is the canard Republicans have used since the 1960s and William Rehnquist's Operation Eagle Eye to justify preventing largely Democratic voters - mostly BIPOC, urban, poor, young and elderly people - from either voting or having their votes counted if they manage to get their hands on a provisional ballot.

Now, though, it has an entirely new meaning: they're using it to destroy democracy altogether.

In addition to amplifying the usual barriers to voters in mostly Democratic neighborhoods (long lines, harsh ID requirements, short hours, limiting mail-in voting, etc.), Republicans are now putting open advocates for a Trump Oligarchy into positions to determine which votes to count and which to reject.

Trump and the Republicans going along with him (which is almost all of them now) are playing an old game. Instead of voters selecting their politicians, these Republican politicians are selecting their voters.

Boris Bazhanov was Joseph Stalin's personal secretary from 1923 to 1928, and later served as secretary of the Soviet Political Bureau. In his memoirs published in 1980, he recounts something Stalin told him about voting.

"I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how," Stalin said. "But what is extremely important is this - who will count the votes, and how."
Despite never having to worry about surviving popular elections, and not being a fan of democracy, Stalin nonetheless knew the trick to subverting a republic wasn't in getting your people to vote, but instead was in making sure the votes were counted in a way that made sure your side won.

And now Republicans are setting things up so when they flip elections, a'la Stalin, it'll just seem like a normal part of politics. They tried it last year and it failed by a whisker, so now they're setting things up to pull it off in 2024.

Trump and the GOP know that if a dozen or so Republican officials, from local election boards in Michigan to the Secretary of State in Georgia, had simply done what Trump wanted and refused to certify Biden's win in their precincts, counties, or states, the election would have been thrown to the House of Representatives.

There, each state gets one vote, and that vote is determined by the state legislatures back home, who tell their congressional delegation how to cast it. With 26 states solidly in Republican control, Trump wins.

It's the essence of John Eastman's memo, and echoes an article I wrote back on March 13th of last year, warning of exactly this ploy eight full months before the 2020 election. Now they're going to try it again, because they know their time is running out.

And they're getting financial support in it from rightwing billionaires and some of America's largest corporations, just like Franco, Mussolini and Hitler were funded by the wealthy and corporate elite of their countries and their day. (See German industrialist Fritz Thyssen's tragic book I Paid Hitler.)

After all, making money doesn't require democracy. In fact, if you have the ear of those in power, democracy or not, they can rig the rules of crony capitalism to favor you and your companies. Billionaires are regularly made in countries that aren't even remotely democratic; China is probably the most well-known example.

Thus, as Trump really just reiterated, their only hope is to declare war on democracy itself.

College students, for example, are notoriously Democratic in their voting. So the good Republicans of the Montana legislature wrote and passed SB319 and Gov. Greg Gianforte signed it into law on May 12. Section 21 of the bill explicitly outlaws campaign activities on college campuses:

"A political committee may not," the law reads, "direct, coordinate, manage, or conduct any voter identification efforts, voter registration drives, signature collection efforts, ballot collection efforts, or voter turnout efforts for a federal, state, local, or school election inside a residence hall, dining facility, or athletic facility operated by a public postsecondary institution."
Meanwhile, in Georgia, Arkansas and Kansas (and probably soon in Arizona, Texas and Florida) Republicans have passed laws that allow them to remove Black or Democratic-aligned election officials and replace them with Trumpy white Republicans who are newly empowered to decide whose vote gets counted and whose gets rejected.

As The New York Times noted:

"Across Georgia, members of at least 10 county election boards have been removed, had their position eliminated, or are likely to be kicked off through local ordinances or new laws passed by the state legislature. At least five are people of color and most are Democrats - though some are Republicans - and they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans."
Nineteen Republican-controlled states have, as the Brennan Center for Justice documents, passed over 30 laws to make it harder for Social Security-age, college-age, and BIPOC folks to vote, and in many of those states politicians who are now in charge of elections can simply refuse to certify results they don't like.

The goal of these Republicans is simple: to replace democracy in the United States with a Trumpy strongman autocratic oligarchy along the lines of Russia or Hungary.

Given the demographic changes happening all across American right now, the 2022 and 2024 elections may well be their last chance. In 2004, for example, Texas became a majority-non-white state; those babies will be able to vote for the first time in 2024 and many are unlikely to embrace an openly white supremacist party like the GOP.

Part Two: But the plan to destroy democracy and replace it with rule-by-the-rich strongman oligarchy doesn't stop with voting. Part two is to tear our society apart by creating enough chaos they can pull it all off.

Along with an avalanche of voter-suppression and election-overturning vote-subversion laws, rightwing billionaires are funding groups that are scaring the hell out of school boards across the country, as documented by Judd Legum's Popular Information.

Their goal is to shatter Americans' faith in our nation's institutions and set up an apocalyptic Armageddon-style battle between the "good" white "Christian" Republicans and the "evil" blood-drinking, CRT-promoting Democrats as their next step toward eliminating democracy in America altogether.

And they're getting more and more militant, some now declaring their willingness to kill their own neighbors.

As social media algorithms continue to amplify the most hysterical and frantic of the race-baiting Republican claims, a symbol from the Civil War is reappearing all across America. The so-called "Black Flag" - an American flag made entirely out of black fabric (and ironically made in China) - is flying from homes and at armed rallies around the country.

The "no surrender, no quarter" Black Flag, the opposite of a white flag of surrender, was used by Confederate soldiers to signal that they would never be taken alive and would murder any prisoners of war they took. It flew over several massacres of Black people during and shortly after the Civil War as well, including Olustee, Fort Pillow, Poison Spring, and the Crater.

Michelle H. Davis wrote for Living Blue in Texas an article titled: "Are Your Republican Neighbors Planning On Killing You?"

The answer, she writes, is: "Yes, they say civil war, and they say it's already started." And she brings the footage to back up her assertion.

As Gregory J.W. Urwin documents in painful detail in his 2005 book Black Flag Over Dixie: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War, "When the Union's Black defenders responded in kind, the Civil War descended to a level of inhumanity that most Americans prefer to forget." Slaughters of African Americans became the norm for Confederate soldiers, often under the banner of a Black Flag.

This movement to replace American democracy with oligarchy didn't just appear overnight and it's not just Donald Trump. It was kicked off in the 1950s in reaction to the Brown v Board SCOTUS decision back in the days when Fred Koch was funding the John Birch Society to put up "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards; it took flight in the 1970s.

Rightwing billionaires got together in response to Lewis Powell's 1971 "Memo" call-to-arms and created a network of think tanks, media outlets, takeovers of college Econ and PoliSci departments, and political action astroturf groups (like what became the Tea Party).

In the beginning they mostly just wanted to keep Black people out of American schools and business, get their taxes cut, and free their companies from the expensive burden of cleaning up their toxic emissions.

What they've created, though, has taken on a life of its own and is now tearing America apart. This week Steve Bannon, in an echo of Hitler's promise of a Reich that would last 1000 years, predicted, "We're putting together a coalition that's gonna govern for 100 years."

As Bannon and his billionaire backers will be the first to tell you, 2022 and 2024 is probably their last chance to replace American democracy with an oligarchy they can fund and benefit from. And we can't let that happen.

(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
~~~ Monte Wolverton ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Donald Trump raises his fist while speaking at a rally

Trump To Skip 2024 Campaign And Go Straight To Claiming He Won
By Andy Borowitz

PALM BEACH (The Borowitz Report)-Donald J. Trump will skip the 2024 campaign and go straight to claiming that he won, the former reality-show host has confirmed.

Speaking to reporters, Trump said that campaigning in 2024 would be "a waste of time, quite frankly, because I have already won that election." Asked how he could have won an election that is not scheduled to occur for another three years, he said, "People are saying that it already did happen. A lot of very smart people are calling me and saying that."

Trump said that, although he already won the 2024 election, "there was fraud and corruption like you wouldn't believe."

"The 2024 election was so stolen it makes the 2020 election look not stolen," he said. "The fact that I won in 2024 even though it was stolen from me is amazing, and, quite frankly, fantastic."

Trump lashed out at a reporter who asked if he planned to run yet again in 2028. "I already won in 2028," he said. "That's a stupid question and you're a disgrace."

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 42 (c) 10/22/2021

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