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In This Edition

Chris Walker reports, "Right-Wingers Demand 'Right' to Choose - But Only for Vaccines, Not Abortion."

Ralph Nader cries the, "Lament Of A Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio Yankee Fan."

Margaret Kimberley examines, "Elections And The Illusion Of Black Political Power."

Jim Hightower says, "The Republican Supremes Are Defrocking Themselves."

William Rivers Pitt explores why, "Corporate News Conveniently Piles Blame For Virginia On Progressives."

John Nichols concludes, "If Biden Doesn't Govern Like FDR, Democrats Are Doomed."

James Donahue remembers, "Duncan And Christy."

Michael Winship returns with, "No Time For Complacency-January 6 Was A Dress Rehearsal."

David Suzuki reports, "Despite 'Code Red,' Governments Continue To Support Fossil Fuels."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "Ted Cruz Picked A Fight With Big Bird And Lost."

Juan Cole says, "American Legacy Of Instability In Iraq Continues As Caretaker Prime Minister Narrowly Avoids Assassination By Drone."

Robert Reich asks then answers, "What's Really Driving Inflation? Corporate Power."

Bill McKibben reports, "Trust Is Hard To Find At The U.N. Climate Summit In Glasgow."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump Claims He Is Now Governor Of Virginia," but first, Uncle Ernie exclaims, "The UN Says We Need To Cut Emissions by 45%, Not 12%, By 2030!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Joep Bertrams, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Brian McFadden, Toby Scott, Olivier Douliery, Doug Mills, SOPA, Win McNamee, Brandon Bell, Anna Moneymaker, Andrew Milligan, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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The UN Says We Need To Cut Emissions by 45%, Not 12%, By 2030!
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"When the well is dry, we know the worth of water." ~~~ Benjamin Franklin

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

I see where a UN report finds that richer countries have agreed to reduce emissions by 12% in 2030, but they need to make a cut of 45% or global warming will rise to 2.7 C.

According to research by the UN, existing agreements on carbon emissions will still mean a rise of 2.7 C.

The IPCC Report, which documents all available climate science, says that there is a 50% chance of humanity going past 1.5 C warming in the next 20 years. Now, the UN report confirms that the number could be as high as 2.7 C.

The world has eight years to hit their targets, but don't hold your breath!

With the latest analysis, it seems that there is a 66% chance of the Earth warming by 2.7 C by the end of the century. If warming reaches this height, it will become extremely difficult for the poorest communities in the world to survive.

To be able to meet the Paris Agreement and keep global warming under 1.5°, countries need to halve annual greenhouse gas emissions in the next eight years.

This is a huge feat, as many countries have delayed the beginning of their climate strategies to 2030. Others cling to the concept of Carbon Capture and Storage - an experimental method for removing carbon as fossil fuel is extracted. However, the CCS method has issues - in that it can't create nearly as effective a change as renewable energy sources can.

However, some countries are yet to double-down on fossil fuel policy. For instance, while the UK is hosting COP26, the country has some policy holes in how it endorses the use of fossil fuel abroad.

The UN Report predicting 2.7 C is a grim statistic, but puts a fresh set of timelines on them.

113 countries responsible for 49% of global emissions

Currently, around 113 countries are responsible for 49% of global emissions. Among them, the European Union and the United States. These countries, as their climate promises currently stand, expect to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions by 12% for 2030.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), are national climate action plans. The new report is a review of NDCs submitted by the 191 countries which have signed the Paris Agreement.

Out of those 113 countries, 70 said they would aim for carbon neutrality by 2050. If this happens, then emissions will be reduced by 26% by 2030.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said: "We need a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century. It is clear that everyone must assume their responsibilities."

Trouble is, the UN presupposes those 191 countries will make their goals, I think we all know that they won't, ergo I'm guessing that the real temps will be closer to 3 0r 4 degrees Celsius than 2.7 C.


08-24-1929 ~ 11-06-2021
Thanks for the film!

06-24-1957 ~ 11-06-2021
Thanks for the music!

03-05-1936 ~ 11-07-2021
Thanks for the film!

10-13-1991 ~ 11-11-2021
Thanks for the film!

03-30-1941 ~ 11-11-2021
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.

A crowd of protesters against COVID-19 vaccine mandates stands outside the headquarters of City Light, Seattle's public utility, on October 18, 2021.

Right-Wingers Demand "Right" to Choose - But Only for Vaccines, Not Abortion
By Chris Walker

It's been less than 24 hours since the Biden administration announced the deadline for companies to require their workers to be vaccinated against coronavirus or present weekly negative tests, but lawsuits have already been filed against the measure, with more likely to follow.

These lawsuits claim to be defending bodily autonomy - but they're being filed by the same Republican-controlled states where this defense has been ignored in the fight for abortion rights.

The Biden rule, which will be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requires employers at companies with more than 100 employees on their payrolls to have their workers provide proof of vaccination. If a worker does not wish to be vaccinated, they must provide evidence of a negative COVID test each week at their own expense. Companies and workers have until January 4 to comply with the new rule.

Several states under Republican control have already filed lawsuits against the White House, including a joint suit by Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio - and at least 20 other states are planning to sue the Biden administration over the vaccine rule.

Some companies have also filed lawsuits. Tankcraft Corp. and Plasticraft Corp., a company based out of southeastern Wisconsin, has filed a challenge to the rule directly to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, alleging that it violates the company's and their workers' autonomies.

"OSHA does not know how to run our companies. We do," the company's secretary and treasurer, Steve Fettig, said in a statement.

"We respect our employees' fundamental right to make their own private, difficult medical choices," Fettig said.

Those arguments are hypocritical, particularly when juxtaposed with the current debate on abortion rights in the United States. Despite Fettig's supposed commitment to the "fundamental right" to make "private, difficult medical choices," Fettig is chair of the board of directors of the MacIver Institute in Wisconsin, a right-wing organization that has advocated for anti-abortion legislation in the state.

In Texas, a state that is also challenging the Biden administration over the OSHA vaccine rule, abortion access been severely curtailed by a restrictive law banning the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy - so early on in the pregnancy that many people don't even realize they're pregnant.

When announcing the lawsuit against the Biden administration on Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed that the "new vaccine mandate on private businesses is a breathtaking abuse of federal power."

Of course, when it comes to the Texas abortion ban, Paxton has no qualms about the government intruding in people's lives. Although the courts have long maintained the constitutional right to abortion, Paxton dismissed that idea in filings to the Supreme Court last month.

"The idea that the Constitution requires States to permit a woman to abort her unborn child is unsupported by any constitutional text, history or tradition," Paxton claimed, disregarding five decades of precedent and case law.

The Texas abortion bill was signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Greg Abbott (R); last month, the governor signed an executive order forbidding any public or private sector entity from abiding with a vaccine mandate. Although federal rules and laws supersede this order, many have criticized Abbott for his inconsistency - especially because abortion affects only the individual who is undergoing the procedure, whereas actions related to the pandemic, like choosing to get vaccinated or wear a mask, can have an enormous impact on the health and wellbeing of others.

"They say it infringes upon their freedom if the government mandates that they wear their masks or if the government mandates they get a vaccine," noted state Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas). "I don't know what country they come from because the one that I grew up in, I couldn't go to school until I got what I call my shots. We had to have vaccinations to go to school when I was a little girl. So it's always been that way."

"We got hypocrites [in Texas]," Crockett continued.

Cindy Banyai, a Florida candidate for Congress in the 2022 midterm elections, expressed a similar sentiment on Twitter on Thursday afternoon.

"If you think a vaccine mandate from OSHA is unconstitutional, you should see what states are trying to do with abortion and voting," she said.

In a number of interviews on Thursday, Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh defended the Biden administration's new vaccine rule, calling it "unfortunate" that so many states were planning lawsuits just hours after the deadline was announced.

OSHA has "a 50-year history of making these rules work," Walsh said on PBS's "NewsHour", adding that both employers and the Biden administration are in "uncharted territory" when it comes to dealing with the pandemic.

Walsh also noted that the new rule is not a mandate because it still gives workers the choice to do what they want with their bodies.

"It was a well-written rule and put together. A lot of thought went into it," Walsh said, adding that the administration is "confident" that the rule will stand up to judicial scrutiny.

(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.

Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio

Lament Of A Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio Yankee Fan
By Ralph Nader

Another World Series - the twelfth in a row - without the New York Yankees, the richest franchise in the Major Leagues. The reason for this fall of the once formidable Yankee baseball dynasty is not difficult to discern. It is inept, smug management starting with the 23-year reign of General Manager Brian Cashman, to the amiable but overwhelmed manager, Aaron Boone. Against other baseball managers, Mr. Boone is out of his league. Competitors with far less money - think Tampa Bay - have teams that have run circles around the Yankees with better, faster, younger talent and greater drive to win.

Until recently, the Yankees' management strategy has been self-defeating. For years they traded their minor league talent for over-the-hill, injury-prone MLB stars. Some trades worked out, but most loaded the Yankees' treasury with huge financial obligations for very little return on the field. The result is that they strip-mined their farm teams and rejected the historic winning formula of growing their own talent that brought them 27 World Series championships until 2009. Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter, and scores of others made their way to the fabled stadium directly from Yankee Triple A teams.

Although recently, the Yankees are respecting the importance of their farm team players - Aaron Judge is an example - their trading acumen is almost non-existent. Just this year, two players on the Boston Red Sox's - Eovaldi and Whitlock - gave the Yankees fits. These former Yankees were traded to Boston for no talent in return.

Moreover, the Yankees have been hobbled with so many injuries that their radio broadcasters, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman started a regular Injury Report. True, it included players from other teams, but the Yankees seem to win that dubious race with missing games totals. Our has vainly tried to seek an explanation of this unprecedented injury epidemic but to no avail. Our letters have gone unanswered. (See: "When It Comes to Injuries MLB Teams Remain Clueless" A League of Fans Special Report).

The Yankees have set another record. No baseball team announcers on radio have to narrate so many advertisements, not even close. Not only are these torrents of commercial pitches between innings and within innings of play, but I've heard ads by one announcer stashed inside the description of an ongoing play. Each significant move it seems - homers, calls to the bullpen, double plays, stolen bases are "brought to you" by some corporation. Kia brings you homers; Geico brings you change of pitchers. It is so irritating to listeners that one wonders why the advertisers pay top dollar to irritate the listeners and ruin their potential customers' enjoyment of play on the field. No comment from the Yankees' head office when such an inquiry was made.

See our list of some leading irritating advertisers:

Geico Insurance
Barnes Law Firm
Kia Auto Dealers
"Drive-by Jeep" Mutual of America Financial Group
Spectrum Mobile
Nissan auto mfg.
Centric Brakes
Chock Full o'Nuts coffee
Indian Point Nuke

The sports media seems to fall all over the Yankees. The post-game meeting between Aaron Boone and the reporters exhibits an all-time low in patsy questions. Here's one: "How did you feel watching Stanton's home run?" Never any criticism, challenge or revelation by these reporters clutching their pads and wondering why there is reduced coverage in the media of their submissions. (At the least, asking why Boone took out Domingo German, pitching a no-hitter with one out in the 8th inning after giving up a double with a lead of 4-0. German's successor proceeded to give up five runs in a 5-4 loss. Afterwards, German told a reporter he was feeling stronger in the 8th than earlier in the game).

The New York Times sports editors, infatuated with European soccer and its managerial jostlings off the field, cut back Major League Baseball coverage, with few exceptions, to a column of tiny print conveying scores and upcoming games. Forget the box-scores or the reporting on yesterday's games. No time for the nation's pastime for still millions of fans.

What should fans do? Demand a changing of the guard by the Steinbrenner brothers whose father would not have tolerated such unsuitable management, quite apart from his public outbursts. The Yankees are not keeping up with the rising youthful talent on other teams, many of them spectacular Hispanic "super-stars" in their early twenties. Historically, Yankees also have been very tardy recruiting Black players and the team has lost out from that indifference.

The biggest surprise in this saga of a fallen baseball empire has been the reticence and the passivity of the Yankee fans who made the Bronx cheer a mark of their displeasure from the stands. They have been given losing teams shaped by failing management that also overcharges their fans. From their homes, bars and vehicles, they are treated as advertisement bait with the play-by-play of the game as a secondary consideration by the Yankee profiteers.

Gone are the days of Mel Allen when the ads were only between innings, when players suffered very few injuries despite inferior safety equipment and field conditions (as with no helmets, gloves or padding on the walls) and fans were more respected. Sure, there is now free agency for the players, but how about some relief and smart leadership from new management for the Fans, especially those bypassed lower-income aficionados.

Fans of the Yankees, arouse, you have nothing to lose but your team's losses as far as you can see.

(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).

Eric Adams, New York City Mayor Elect

Elections And The Illusion Of Black Political Power
By Margaret Kimberley

Black politicians may be openly conservative or pretend leftists but their constituents rarely get what they need. Politics absent a mass movement is a recipe for inaction or even outright betrayal.

Election day is treated with great fanfare in this country. Citizens are propagandized into voting for the sake of voting and are shamed if they don't. Black people who question the value of the process are under particular pressure. "People died so that you could vote," and other exhortations cheapen the memory of the liberation movement which sought to guarantee human rights for Black people. While casting a ballot is seen as a quasi-religious duty, the development of mass movements that are the foundation of all important political change is actively discouraged. The result are electoral victories for politicians that often spell defeat for the voters who are propagandized to put them in office.

The mayor elect of New York City is Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. He will be the city's second Black mayor in large part because he raised millions of dollars. Adams speaks favorably of the business community, hence the campaign haul, and real estate developers and other wealthy New Yorkers made clear he was their choice. Fundraising prowess is always an indication that the people's needs will not be met.

Adams is a former police officer and also speaks favorably about the police, even as movements for abolition and community control are popular among many Black New Yorkers. But Adams has said he will bring back some iteration of the awful stop and frisk policies of the Bloomberg administration years. His victory is certainly no victory for people who are driven out by gentrification, targeted for police abuse, and dependent upon low wage work when they can find it.

The Adams campaign was openly conservative but others provide a pretense of left politics with virtue signaling and sloganeering but absent any much needed change. This class of politicians may call themselves progressives, democratic socialists, the Squad, and other iterations.

There are Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members such as Jamaal Bowman and Cory Bush who defeated incumbents in primaries. Like other "progressives" in congress they "talk the talk" in social media posts declaring their support for medicare for all or relief from student loan debt but they never buck the system. As the Build Back Better scam winds down to providing the tiny gains it was always meant to deliver, the so-called progressives have gone along for the ride.

Democrats would not have chosen multimillionaire Nancy Pelosi to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives if they had any intention of doing the things that the majority of voters want. She and the rest of the leadership such as CBC member James Clyburn routinely and publicly dismiss progressives with Clyburn famously saying he didn't know any socialists. His point was clear. Anyone with leftish inclinations had better stay quiet and not rock the boat.

The same process plays out in local races as well. In Buffalo, New York the four-term incumbent Black mayor lost his primary race to India Walton, who calls herself a socialist. The misuse of that term plays a big part in confusing people. A socialist wants to nationalize the banks and provide free health care and cut the military budget significantly. A socialist wants to expand all safety net programs and regulate major industries. A socialist would get rid of charter schools and cut the prison population. Socialists want the public to control utilities and higher education and provide things previously unheard of such as free public transportation.

Despite the fact that the odds of her actually following through with socialist programs were slim, Walton's victory sent democrats into a panic. As soon as she won the democratic primary, the city council announced an intention to reduce the power of the mayoralty. Her defeated opponent, Byron Brown, didn't step aside when he lost his party's nomination. Instead he launched a write-in campaign and with the help of republicans successfully held on to his mayoralty.

The ham fisted efforts to ensure Walton's defeat were intense. The chair of the New York State Democratic Party declared that endorsing primary winners was not a necessity. He created controversy when he compared Walton's victory to that of KKK leader David Duke running as a democratic in New York and winning. Of course he had to back track on the Duke analogy but he steadfastly maintained that every winner need not get the party's endorsement.

Not to be outdone with a questionable statement, former governor David Paterson said, "As an African American, socialists and communists have been working on the African American community going back to the '30s, '40s and '50s. They almost wrecked the civil rights campaign of Dr. Martin Luther King. He finally had to throw some people who had communist affiliations out of his movement. ... I've been somewhat surprised that they have made inroads in communities [of color] that certainly need what they're talking about, but there's no record that they've ever delivered it. Not in this country or anywhere else."

Paterson's remarks showed the true colors of the Black political class and their determination to stamp out left politics. Paterson and others know quite well that the liberation movement was most successful when the people made demands and didn't care what politicians wanted them to do or to say. They know that socialists are responsible for the little bit of relief from capitalist predation that exists in this country. Left politics would win if allowed to flourish, and no one knows that better than the people who like the system just the way it is.

Sadly, the hard work of politics has been subordinated to elections. Black politics are diminished in a system that creates a white people's party and a black people's party. Keeping republicans, the white party, out of power is seen as the end all and be all of political action. When the democrats are represented by Black office holders the deception is magnified.

The demonization of even a little bit of progressive talk is a sign that the system lives in fear that someone may come along who will actually fight for change. A mass movement is an existential threat. That is why each newcomer is taken down as soon as they emerge. The possibility that someone may actually be serious about doing the peoples' business instead of representing corporate interests and petty tyrant political oligarchs cannot be allowed.

There are elected officials worth keeping in office and issues worth voting for but showing up at the polls is not an end unto itself. It should always be seen as the first step in political action, and not the last.

(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.

The Republican Supremes Are Defrocking Themselves

By Jim Hightower

What is so supreme about the Supreme Court?

I mean besides being housed in an imposing marble building, being the final stop on America's judicial train, and having its nine members look photogenically authoritarian in those full-body black robes. And, yes, its existence is written into the Constitution - but so is Congress, and no one thinks of it as anything supreme.

We 330 million Americans are told we must obey "the law," as defined by a half dozen unelected lawyers on this court. Why should we democratic citizens do that? After all, these legalistic elites have no actual power to force their personal beliefs on us - there's no Supreme Court army. In fact, their sole source of power is one that is intangible, extremely fragile, and easily frittered away: Public trust.

We should go along with their rulings only if they appear to be fair and honest, not based on personal whim or partisan ideology, and not meant to extend plutocratic power over the people. As Justice Elena Kagan rightly put it, "The only way we can get people to do what we think they should do is because people respect us."

That's where the present majority of far-right-wing appointees have failed so abjectly. Rather than meeting a lofty standard of judiciousness, all six have pulled the court down into the mire of crass Republican politics. They've corrupted the system and jiggered the law to decree that corporate campaign cash is "free speech," that the state can take over women's bodies, that the Republican Party can unilaterally shut millions of voters out of America's voting booths... and so awful much more that enthrones the few over the many.

Respect? Trust? The Republican court is already down to 40 percent public approval rating, having surrendered its legitimacy to be a governing authority over us.

(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

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, takes the stage during a campaign event at Caboose Commons on November 1, 2021 in Fairfax, Virginia.

Corporate News Conveniently Piles Blame For Virginia On Progressives
By William Rivers Pitt

In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's elections, media commentators from virtually all points on the political compass have coalesced around a summary condemnation of progressive Democrats.

This can perhaps be explained by a cynical yet accurate observation that has been espoused by introspective journalists now and again - political reporters are herd animals, a flock of birds who turn and wheel together in search of The Narrative. After Terry McAuliffe's narrow defeat in Virginia and a close call in New Jersey, The Narrative came together with seamless ease: Pundits started agreeing that Democrats are reeling from these sudden electoral reversals, and that progressive intransigence in Congress is largely to blame.

Indeed, the word "reeling" seemed to be everywhere on Wednesday morning. For a time, The Washington Post had permutations of "Democrats reel" in dueling headlines at the top of their homepage. CNN, The New York Times, even the august Virginia Mercury all followed suit in one "reeling" form or another. A Google search for "Democrats Reeling Virginia" yielded more than 2 million results by Thursday. The Narrative had been established beyond any ambiguity.

But it is worth digging deeper to understand both the election results and the media attack on progressives that followed them. First of all, there are dozens of reasons why an exhausted electorate chose to lurch away from a party whose president pulled down 84 million votes a year ago, and who won Virginia by 10 points. The pandemic continues, and millions of parents and workers still feel the bruises raised over a frightening and frustrating 18 months of grinding uncertainty, and reasonably or otherwise, visited their wrath on the party currently in charge.

Running against Trump a year after his defeat was not nearly as effective as Democrats had hoped it would be. Beyond that, brazenly racist campaign tactics cloaked in a discussion on "education" turned the conversation in Virginia inside out... and if we're talking raw politics, we can't leave out a McAuliffe gaffe that made Gerald Ford look like Marcus Aurelius. One may agree with McAuliffe's statement, but it was kerosene on the GOP's fire, they ran wild with it, and McAuliffe proved himself insufficient to the task of dealing with the aftermath. All in all, it was an ugly race, and Republicans do ugly campaigns far more effectively than Democrats.

So there's all that, but I have a strong sense that the sudden, thunderous consensus that progressives dragged down the Democrats on Tuesday stems from more than mere herd behavior by political reporters. With much of the "news" now owned by a few massive corporations, there is little affinity for progressive views and values in your average newsroom. "Socialism" is a conjuring word for the hedge fund class, as much as it is with the poorest members of Trump's base. Often, this media bias is revealed in a passive way: Instead of attacking progressives, the press simply pretends they don't exist.

Wednesday's crass chorale was far more immediate, vivid even. Much of the moneyed elite despises President Biden's Build Back Better Act because of all the social and climate reforms it contains, and despises progressives for fighting so effectively in favor of it. The corporations that own the news have spent hundreds of millions on lobbyists trying to tear the Act down, and they have not come away empty-handed. Thanks to the ceaseless efforts from pro-corporate senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, along with a clutch of corporate Democrats in the House, the bill is a shadow of what it was. Political reporters are herd animals, a flock of birds who turn and wheel together in search of The Narrative.

The fact that the bill still exists with a few teeth left, combined with the amount of time it has required for corporate Democrats to smash it up in the face of stalwart progressive opposition, has been galling for powerful people who are all too used to getting their own way. In the aftermath of Virginia, congressional progressives were offered as a scapegoat. Indeed, mutterings that "A loss would be the progressives' fault" had been rumbling for days before the vote, from Washington, D.C. to the very lips of Terry McAuliffe, himself a Clinton ally and no friend of the left.

The truth is that conservative Democrats made a hash of the legislative process in this instance, and have not yet stopped. Manchin continues to play the part of The Riddler, while Sinema has gone as dark and quiet as a deep-diving nuclear submarine. The pressure to pass something, anything to set the table for next year's midterm elections was extreme before Virginia. After the barrage of headlines and condemnations, that pressure has only increased.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told Democrats that she intends to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill on Thursday, and the Build Back Better Act on Friday. This would de-couple the bill, an action progressives have fiercely resisted since the summer. Pelosi appears to be betting that the weight of blame for Tuesday will compel the Congressional Progressive Caucus to run up the white flag and join her in the suck tide of milquetoast history.

It would not surprise me in the least if Speaker Pelosi is secretly pleased with Tuesday's election results. She has been seeking the proper club to wield against the Congressional Progressive Caucus ever since it became clear that Manchin would only settle for a hollowed-out shell of a bill. The torrid reporting on Virginia, if you believe what you read in the papers, gives her that club. The next 48 hours will show us how she chooses to swing it. One thing seems certain: Someone will be "reeling" before the deal goes down, if it goes down at all.

(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.

President Joe Biden sits underneath a portrait of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Oval Office.

If Biden Doesn't Govern Like FDR, Democrats Are Doomed
U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger says Biden wasn't elected to be FDR; she's wrong. If Democrats listen to her, they'll doom the party to suffer midterm losses.
By John Nichols

Democratic U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia centrist who swept into office on an anti-Donald Trump wave in 2018 and who now fears she might sweep out on an anti-Joe Biden wave in 2022, says Democrats are in trouble because President Biden has been too ambitious.

"Nobody elected him to be FDR, they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos," said Spanberger in a much-quoted interview following the 2021 off-year elections that saw her party go down to defeat in Virginia and suffer serious setbacks elsewhere.

Spanberger's view caught traction with the pundit class that sees itself as duty bound to police the Democratic Party, with an eye toward avoiding even the mildest turn to the left. Quoting from the Virginian's argument that Americans didn't choose Biden to usher in a new New Deal, CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday asked Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), "So are you misreading what Americans wanted out of this president, out of the Democratic Congress that is now in control?"

Warner, who has supported the president's now passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the still up for grabs $1.8 trillion social welfare plan, pushed back gently. With a suggestion that once the key components of the Biden's agenda are approved, he said, "I think you'll see the president's numbers dramatically improve."

That was a credible response. Here's a better one: Spanberger is wrong.

So wrong that, if Biden and congressional Democrats follow her counsel, they will doom the party to suffer losses every bit as devastating as the midterm defeats that disempowered Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010.

What Spanberger and centrists like her refuse to recognize is that the voters decided in 2020 that they a needed an FDR, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, to address the coronavirus pandemic and the economic instability that extended from it. The election results that gave Biden the presidency and Democrats control of the Congress were not just a cry of pain. They were a call to action that was rooted in an understanding that systemic changes were needed to respond to an immediate crisis and to the underlying economic, social, and racial injustices that made that crisis worse than it needed to be. "Build Back Better" wasn't just a slogan; it was a vision for getting at the root of problems with policies that mirrored the transformational energy of the original New Deal.

Biden made his embrace of that vision central to his appeal to voters in 2020. Spanberger seems to have forgotten that just days before the election the Democratic challenger to President Trump traveled to Warm Springs, Georgia, where Roosevelt died in 1945, to deliver a speech that explicitly linked his candidacy with that of the 32nd president.

Biden told the crowd on October 27, 2020:

The story is told that when Franklin Delano Roosevelt's procession went by, a man collapsed in grief. The neighbor asked him, 'Did you know the president?' The response was 'No.' The man said, 'but he knew me.' He knew me. Few words better describe the kind of president our nation needs right now. A President who is not in it for himself, but for others. A President who doesn't divide us, but unites us. A President who appeals not to the worst in us, but to the best. A President who cares less about his TV ratings and more about the American people. A President who looks not to settle scores, but to find solutions. A President guided not by wishful thinking, but by science, reason, and fact. That's the kind of President I hope to be.
Then Biden spelled things out in specific terms, offering a vision of an activist presidency that would build upon and extend from Roosevelt's New Deal:
There's nothing, nothing the American people can't do and been unable to do if we put our minds to it. When news of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death went out on the wires, an editor in Chicago turned to his colleague and said, "Clear the decks for action." So I say to you today, if you're giving me the honor of serving as your President, clear the decks for action. For we will act, we will act on the first day of my presidency to get COVID under control. We'll act to pass my economic plan that will finally reward work, not wealth in this country. We'll act to pass my healthcare plan to provide affordable, accessible health care for every American, and drug prices that are dramatically lowered. We'll act to pass the Biden climate plan, meeting the challenges of a climate crisis while creating millions of good paying, high paying, labor jobs. We'll act to address systemic racism in our country, and we'll act to give working people a fair shot again in this country. And we'll act to restore our faith in democracy and our faith in one another.
That was a boldly progressive message, not a centrist appeal for concession and compromise. It helped Biden win the election by 7 million votes. He acknowledged the debt to FDR when he assumed the presidency on January 20, taking his place in an Oval Office where the pictures on the wall had been arranged to highlight a huge portrait of FDR.

And in his inaugural address, Biden committed his presidency to transformational change. He fought for the American Rescue Plan, outlined a comprehensive physical infrastructure plan, and then worked with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and progressives to formulate a $3.5 trillion plan to extend Medicare and Medicaid, and to make long-overdue investments in caregiving, education, anti-poverty initiatives, and clean-energy mandates.

Unfortunately, Democrats such as West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema-and sometimes Spanberger-have resisted robust and meaningful action. That's made it harder for Biden to deliver on the promises he was elected to keep.

That resistance is the problem Democrats face at this point-and it's a serious one. It is standing in the way of Biden delivering on the campaign promises that got him elected, and it is preventing Democrats from giving the people what they want.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll released in early November found that wide majorities of voters support "expanding Medicare coverage to cover hearing services" (78 percent); "funding for affordable housing" (66 percent); "funding for child care and universal pre-kindergarten" (61 percent); "extending the child tax credit for one year" (53 percent); and "a 15% corporate minimum tax rate for large corporations" (59 percent). And an Invest in America/Data for Progress poll released at the same time found that, "With a +29-point margin, likely voters support the Build Back Better plan."

Americans elected Biden and the Democrats to govern boldly, in the New Deal spirit Biden embraced during the 2020 campaign. They still want that to happen. Indeed, if there is frustration with the president and his party, and if that frustration is expressed at election time via depressed turnout and disappointing results, it is not because Biden is trying to be FDR. It is because he has not, as yet, been sufficiently successful in delivering on that promise.

(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.

Steamboat Asia

Duncan And Christy
By James Donahue

The wreck of the steamer Asia in Lake Huron's Georgian Bay on September 14, 1882, had all the elements of a Hollywood production: terror, drama at sea, a captain who displayed wanton disregard for human life, and even romance. There were just two survivors from among the one hundred twenty-five souls aboard the Asia. And they were seventeen-year-old Duncan A. Tinkis and eighteen-year-old Christy Ann Morrison. They stumbled ashore together in a remote Ontario wilderness after spending a terrible night in an open boat surrounded by dead bodies. A member of one of the native tribes found them and brought them by canoe to Parry Sound two days later. A ballad was written about the wreck of the Asia and sung by the natives around Owen Sound for many years.

The foundering of the Asia is still counted among the worst single disasters in Great Lakes history. Some said the wreck was caused by the carelessness of the Asia's master, Capt. John Savage. Had Savage lived, Canadian authorities might have found him guilty of taking the steamer out of port after the vessel was denied a license because it lacked an adequate number of life jackets and lifeboats to deal with a maximum crew, not considering passengers. He also overloaded the Asia with ninety-seven passengers when the ship was designed to carry no more than forty. There were other problems. The Asia was a flat-bottomed vessel, originally designed for river duty and veteran sailors said she should not have been steaming into a storm on the open waters of Georgian Bay.

The Asia was not only laden with passengers when she steamed out of Owen Sound at about midnight on September 13, she also was loaded to the gunwales with heavy machinery, horses and supplies bound for a logging camp at French River. No one could explain why Savage steamed out of port while a gale was already pounding the lake into a frenzy. Authorities later censured Savage "for want of judgment in leaving the port in the face of a storm."

Tinkis and Morrison told about the trip. They said it was a terrible night for the passengers, all of them crammed in whatever shelter they could find. Some were trying to sleep on chairs, while others were sprawled on the pitching deck. As top-heavy as she was, the Asia pitched and rolled like a wild animal as the storm intensified. Many of the passengers became violently seasick. "Dishes and chairs were flying in every direction," said Tinkis, who was traveling with his uncle, J. H. Tinkis.

By morning, Savage knew his boat was in serious trouble. Waves were smashing their way across the decks and the ship was taking on water. Morrison said she heard the men pitching cargo and even horses over the railings just outside her stateroom at about 11:00 AM. She said she saw her cousin, first mate John McDonald, and asked him what was going on. McDonald had a look of despair on his face as he told her they were "doing all we can do." Not long after that the Asia foundered. Morrison said she put on a life jacket and waited in her room until the vessel tilted over and water began coming in under the door. Then she climbed out on the deck and held on a railing. "The boat seemed to be settling down. I saw a lifeboat nearby and lowered myself into the water. The captain caught me and held me from sinking until the mate (McDonald) came and helped me into the boat."

Tinkis said when he and his uncle decided to leave their cabin "the boat was rolling so badly we had difficulty getting up on the deck. I got a life preserver and put it on. The boat went into a trough of the sea and would not obey her helm. She rolled heavily for about twenty minutes and then was struck by a heavy sea. She went down with her engines running at about half past eleven." He said he thought three lifeboats got away. "I was in the first boat. About eight others were with me at first, but more got in until the boat was overloaded and turned over twice." Tinkis said the water was filled with struggling people who were grabbing at anything, even one another in a wild effort to stay afloat. After being tossed from the lifeboat, he said he found himself in great danger as people began grabbing him and his life preserver. To get away from them he said he peeled off the life preserver and swam away. "People were hanging on the spars and other parts of the wreckage. I swam to the captain's boat, which was nearby, and asked Mr. John McDonall, the purser, to help me in. He said it was of little use, but gave me his hand."

(Obviously we have a conflict in stories by Tinkis and Morrison as to the identity of John McDonald. Since Morrison identified him as her cousin, we suspect her identification as first mate of the boat, and the spelling of his last name was correct)

There were eighteen people in the boat when Tinkis first got in. Shortly after this the vessel flipped over in the high seas. When it righted again Tinkis said several people were missing. Tinkis and Morrison told how the boat flipped over three times that afternoon, each time giving more lives to the cruel seas. By evening only seven survivors remained, including Captain Savage and Mate McDonald. Morrison said she discovered that by wrapping her arms around the lifeline attached to the gunwales of the lifeboat she could stay with the craft each time it rolled over. She said she just held on "so when she righted I was in again."

Everyone was wet, cold and suffering from exposure. "Our boat was full of water and the sea was constantly rolling over us," Tinkis said. "One of the first to die was the cabin boy. A wave washed him overboard. The next to go was a deckhand. He was near the gunwale and jumped out. I could see him paddling around in the water." Morrison said nobody talked all the time they were together in the boat. After the sun went down they noticed the light from the Bying Inlet lighthouse and that seemed to cheer everybody up, knowing that land was close. "We sang a couple of sacred songs," she said.

McDonald died around midnight, and Savage died about ten minutes later. Tinkis said Savage was the last to die. He said he was holding the captain in his arms when it happened. By morning all of the men in the boat were dead. Only Morrison and Tinkis remained alive. The boat drifted ashore near Pointe au Barrie about daylight. The area was barren, with no sign of civilization except for an oil derrick spotted a few miles down the coast. "I put the bodies on the beach and pried the boat off with an oar, but I could not bale it out," Tinkis said. "Miss Morrison and I went down the beach in the boat to the derrick." There they huddled together, cold, wet and frightened for still another day and night. The native tribesman found then there the next day and brought them out of the wilderness.

In case you wonder, this story does not have a Hollywood ending. Morrison and Tinkis did not fall in love and get married. They went their separate ways after reaching civilization.

(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.

The U.S. Capitol is seen behind security fencing on July 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.

No Time For Complacency-January 6 Was A Dress Rehearsal
The Trump conspirators haven't given up on overthrowing the US government-and they may yet succeed.
By Michael Winship

Location, location, location. For good or evil, history often is made in the confines of a hotel room or suite: whether the first meeting of the post-revolution Soviet government at Moscow's Hotel National in 1918, or the drafting in 1922 of Ireland's constitution at the lovely Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

So to anyone who has even a little knowledge of Washington, DC, history, it should come as no surprise that the grand Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a couple of blocks from the White House, was a hotbed of conspiracy in the post-election days leading up to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

According to The Washington Post:

The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world's attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirming Joe Biden's victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term.
The so-called "legal scholar" was John Eastman, author of batty and illogical memos and plots that a former federal appellate judge labeled as "wrong at every turn." They were meant to convince Vice President Mike Pence-in his role as president of the US Senate-to reject the result of the Electoral College vote that made Joe Biden president. Donald Trump was dancing in delight at this prospect, egged on by advisers Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, former White House special assistant Boris Epshteyn and ex-New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who did prison time for tax fraud, criminal lies and ethics violations. He was, of course, pardoned by Trump early last year.

From their "command center" or so-called "war room" at the Willard, their dangerous shenanigans included "finding and publicizing alleged evidence of fraud, urging members of state legislatures to challenge Biden's victory and calling on the Trump-supporting public to press Republican officials in key states." All of this was backed by nothing other than bluster and lies. Yet how powerful those lies remain.

The Willard has long been a nexus of power and influence in Washington and as demonstrated by the presence of Trump's hooligans, not all of it on the up-and-up. In the 19th century, British journalist William Howard Russell wrote, "The great pile of the Willard's hotel probably maintains inside more scheming, plotting heads, more aching and joyful hearts than any other building of the same size in the world." Treaties were negotiated there, and deals dirty and dingy continue to go down, as lobbyists wheedle, and politicians' palms are greased and pockets lined in the luxury of the joint's social rooms and corridors.

Abraham Lincoln and his family stayed there the week before his inauguration. And it was at The Willard on the day of Lincoln's assassination that his killer John Wilkes Booth stood across a dining room glaring at General Ulysses S. Grant's wife Julia as she enjoyed her lunch. Lucky for them, the Grants declined Lincoln's offer to accompany him to Ford's Theater that night.

Unlike the wacky theories that continue to feed Trump's election fantasies (and pocketbook), the death of Lincoln really was a conspiracy, with Booth bringing into his plot others who were assigned to murder Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. They failed, although for Seward it was a close call. And while Trump's cries of myriad conspiracies against him are false, he is-as usual-projecting. The real conspiracy being perpetrated is the plotting by him and his misguided authoritarian coterie as they continue trying to undo the 2020 elections, plan ahead to future votes and connive to restore Trump to his presidential potty seat.

Whether the boys in their Willard Hotel suite also will be found to have been involved in planning the violence that took place January 6 isn't yet known for sure but the news on Thursday that the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol already has interviewed more than 150 witnesses and continues to issue subpoenas is heartening. "It is a range of engagements-some formal interviews, some depositions," ranking committee member Liz Cheney said. "... There really is a huge amount of work underway that is leading to real progress for us."

On Monday, the committee subpoenaed Eastman and Kerik as well as Michael Flynn, Trump campaign mouthpiece Jason Miller, campaign manager William Stepien and campaign executive assistant Angela McCallum. And on Tuesday, another ten were added to the subpoena roundup, including Trump adviser Stephen Miller and former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

Is there a connection between the ugly violence of January 6 and the men at the Willard plotting a coup d'etat? Certainly by implication, but we're still waiting for direct proof and live in hope that the House committee and the Department of Justice can find it. Meanwhile, Rolling Stone's Hunter Walker recently reported that three of the rally planners have "detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump's efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.

... While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump's team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.
In addition to Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

... Gosar, who has been one of the most prominent defenders of the Jan. 6 rioters, allegedly took things a step further. Both sources say he dangled the possibility of a "blanket pardon" in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests.

"Our impression was that it was a done deal," [one] organizer says, "that he'd spoken to the president about it in the Oval ... in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support."

Yet another good reason to throw Gosar out of the House, who on Sunday night retweeted a post depicting him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and brandishing swords at President Biden.

Meanwhile, last week, The Post published its massive, comprehensive account of the events leading up to, during and after the January 6 rebellion. Even though, "Intelligence officials certainly never envisioned a mass attack against the government incited by the sitting president... Trump was the driving force at every turn as he orchestrated what would become an attempted political coup in the months leading up to Jan. 6, calling his supporters to Washington, encouraging the mob to march on the Capitol and freezing in place key federal agencies whose job it was to investigate and stop threats to national security...

His words triggered rapid action by angry supporters who made plans to go to the nation's capital, fusing together in a dangerous call-and-response.
Time is of the essence for the House investigators, the DoJ and American freedom: if Republicans retake control of the House next November, all the committee's hard work may be lost. What's more, draconian state election law revisions and the placement of Trump advocates in elected or appointed positions where they could overturn state election results, mean the 2024 presidential election could see the second Trump presidency and an accompanying abandonment of hope, decency, truth, and a free and open society.

As the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center set in motion the events of 9/11 more than eight years later, what has happened these past months before, during and after January 6 must be taken as a serious prologue to catastrophe. This is no time for complacency. If we drop our guard, next time they may not miss. To quote the former guy, "will be wild." And a death blow to democracy.

(c) 2021 Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship

Despite "Code Red," Governments Continue To Support Fossil Fuels
By David Suzuki

What's the best way to respond to a "code red"? Recent research is testing us on that. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's "Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis" - the first part of its sixth assessment - confirms we'll continue accelerating on a terrible trajectory if we don't rein in greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural areas that absorb and store carbon.

An earlier International Energy Agency report said keeping the world from catastrophic heating and meeting global net-zero emissions goals by 2050 requires ending new oil and gas exploration and development and not building coal-fired power plants.

A "code red for humanity," as the IPCC report has been called, should be met with a united, effective, ambitious response - as with COVID-19. With so much evidence that humanity faces a collective existential threat, one would expect governments, industry and civil society to come together to resolve the crisis, especially given the many available and emerging solutions. To be fair, we've seen some effort at global climate summits and such, but still more talk than urgently needed action - "blah blah blah," as Greta Thunberg aptly put it.

As many experts point out, we're "adding fuel to the fire" of the climate crisis when we should be doing everything possible to extinguish it. According to the International Monetary Fund, world governments are subsidizing coal, oil and gas to the tune of US$11 million every minute! That amounted to almost $6 trillion in 2020. Canada was especially generous, giving the industry close to $64 billion.

The IMF breaks down subsidies into those that cut fuel prices (eight per cent), tax breaks (six per cent), failing to make polluters pay for deaths and poor health caused by air pollution (42 per cent) and for heat waves and other impacts of global heating (29 per cent).

In other words, although subsidies through royalty concessions, tax breaks, infrastructure purchases and such are significant, many are derived from the fact that industries like coal, oil and gas don't account for the costly damage they cause to society. Their price does not reflect their full societal costs.

Using calculations that didn't include externalities such as damage to health, infrastructure and the environment, an Environmental Defence report estimated Canada's subsidies at about $18 billion, with $3.28 billion in direct spending and $13.6 billion in public financing for oil and gas companies. The report notes the total "is an underestimation, as we're missing a lot of public transparency from the government and oil companies around this financial support, especially tax breaks."

Some subsidies were for pipelines. "In 2020, Export Development Canada provided up to $5.25 billion in financing renewals for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a publicly owned project that will cost at least $12.6 billion and comes with a hefty carbon footprint," a Narwhal article says.

ED notes that the federal government has committed just $15 billion - over 10 years! - for climate initiatives.

G7 countries, including Canada, have been promising to phase out fossil fuel subsidies since 1990, and in 2016 set a deadline of 2025! They've made little progress. According to ED, "Canada ranks second worst of the G20 countries for public finance to oil and gas" (behind China) and is the worst per capita.

The IPCC report confirms that burning fossil fuels and destroying natural carbon sinks are heating the planet at unprecedented and accelerating rates, that warming will continue at least until mid-century no matter what because of the gases we've already emitted and that global warming will exceed 1.5 or 2 C this century unless we rapidly reduce emissions.

We understand the problem, and we have solutions. But we can't shake the myths of constant growth and fossil-fuelled economic engines. And so, the world continues to prop up a wasteful, archaic, destructive industry simply because it has fuelled our consumer society and its economy for decades.

Giving trillions of dollars to a dying industry that all evidence says must be stopped is not the proper response to a code red. With the world's nations meeting in Glasgow for the UN climate conference until November 12, they must recognize that the time for incrementalism has long passed.

As Greta Thunberg says, we've had enough "blah blah blah." It's time for real, transformative change.

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

Ted Cruz Picked A Fight With Big Bird And Lost
The United States Senator from Texas has a second gig as a Twitter troll. He is miserably bad at it.
By Charles P. Pierce

Because I am a man of Christian charity whose heart is forever bursting with concern for my fellow man, I would like to begin the week by saying that I have grown concerned about Tailgunner Ted Cruz, the Republican senator from the great state of Texas. Frankly, on its way off the rails, I think his trolley has gone around the bend.

He had quite a weekend. First, he picked a fight with Big Bird... and lost. Le grand oiseau proclaimed that he had received his COVID vaccination. From the Guardian:

"My wing is feeling a little sore, but it'll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy. [CNN reporter] Erica Hill even said I've been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!"
Over the past year or so, the Tailgunner has taken on a second career as a Twitter troll, and he is the worst Twitter troll I have ever read. This is not a matter of ideology. This is a matter of The Funny, and the Tailgunner could not find The Funny with a flashlight, two guard-dogs, and the ghost of George Carlin to show him the way. That said, this United States Senator decided that a public-health message from a large yellow puppet was something up with which he would not put.
Cruz responded: "Government propaganda ... for your 5 year old!"
I feel stupid even mentioning this, but the Sesame Street gang has been dishing out comforting medical knowledge like this for decades. (There even was a West Wing bit about how the Muppets came to the White House so Mrs. Dr. Bartlett could give Elmo a shot.) But, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Cruz found allies among the flying-monkey escadrille.
Other rightwingers piled in. Lisa Boothe, a Fox News contributor, said "brainwashing children who are not at risk from Covid was twisted."

Children are at risk from Covid, if less so than adults. In October, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 66 children aged between five and 11 had died from Covid-19 in the US. Children can infect others and infections in the five to 11 age group are rising, the CDC said, accounting for 10.6% of new Covid cases. Undeterred, Steve Cortes, a host on the conservative Newsmax network, said of Big Bird's tweet: "This kind of propaganda is actually evil. Your children are not statistically at risk, and should not be pressured into a brand new treatment. Do Not Comply!"

These are people who allegedly are sympatico with Cruz, but hey, over the past five years, it's become plain to me that there's nobody who could wrench the wheel away from him on his turn toward Crazytown. He ended up a staunch supporter of a guy who'd insulted his wife's looks and alleged his father was involved with Lee Harvey Oswald. When Texas was hit with a once-in-a-century winter storm, he beat feet for Cancun and used his children as human shields against the public opprobrium he so richly deserved. And through it all, he's been tweeting away, risking relegation to a lower division of Twitter hell.

Last month, before he lost a decision on all cards to Big Bird, Cruz spoke to an audience at Texas A&M University, which is a pretty good place to lose your mind, all things considered. Cruz-who, we remind you, is a United States Senator-let his freak flag fly. From HuffPost:

"I'm not there yet," Cruz told an audience last month at Texas A&M University about Texas seceding from the United States - popularly known as "Texit." For one thing, Cruz insisted, Texas has a "responsibility" to the nation because "right now it's an amazing force keeping America from going off the cliff, keeping America grounded in the values that built this country." But he's prepared to change his mind. "Look, if the Democrats end the filibuster ... if they pack the Supreme Court, if they make D.C. a state, if they federalize elections and massively expand voter fraud," which doesn't exist, "it may become hopeless," Cruz said. "We're not there yet." But if it does become "hopeless," that's when the state should grab NASA, the military and the oil, he added.
The last Texas senator to talk openly this way was Louis Trevezant Wigfall, a secessionist fire-eater who left the Senate in 1860 after depositing this oratorical pile of dung into the congressional record:
"You shall not publish newspapers and pamphlets to excite the non-slaveholders against the slaveholders, or the slaveholders against the non-slaveholders. We will have peace; and if you do not offer it to us, we will quietly, and as we have the right under the constitutional compact to do, withdraw from the Union and establish a government for ourselves; and if you then persist in your aggressions, we will leave it to the ultimo ratio regum (a resort to arms), and the sovereign States will settle that question. And when you laugh at these impotent threats, as you regard them, I tell you that cotton is king."
Nice precedent to follow, Tailgunner. Better to heed the warning of old Sam Houston, issued at the same time Louis Wigfall was running amok in Washington.

"I would lay down my life to defend any one of the States from aggression, which endangered peace or threatened its institutions. I could do more for the union, but I wish to do more; for the destruction of the union would be the destruction of all the States."
And you don't get NASA, pal, or "the military." They're both big-government programs, so they belong to us.

(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-

"Is protecting working families and cutting childhood poverty an 'entitlement?'"
~~~ Bernie Sanders

American Legacy Of Instability In Iraq Continues As Caretaker Prime Minister Narrowly Avoids Assassination By Drone
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Al-Jazeera reports that Iraqi authorities on Sunday announced that Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi escaped being assassinated by three drones loaded with explosives that targeted his residence in the Green Zone in the center of Baghdad around dawn. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which damaged the prime minister's mansion.

Sources told Al Jazeera that al-Kashimi was in the PM's residence when the drones hit it, and that the building suffered substantial damage. The Iraqi military spokesman, Gen Yahya Rasul, said that al-Kadhimi was unharmed. An Interior Ministry spokesman said that five drones were fired and that two had been shot down before they could hit the house.

Reuters is reporting that 6 of the prime minister's personal bodyguards were wounded. Diplomats in the Green Zone said that they heard the blasts and the sound of machine gun fire.

Al-Kadhimi came on television and made a brief statement that he and the people he works with are good health and denounced the attack as "cowardly." He said that drones cannot build the Iraqi nation or its future. The October 10 parliamentary elections brought new forces to the fore, who are trying to form a government, and it is not clear that al-Kadhimi would be selected by the victorious coalition as prime minister again. He remains caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed, a process that can sometimes take several months.

Both the US and Iran leapt to condemn the attack. The head of the Iranian national security council, Ali Shamkhani, called it "terrorism" and "a new round of strife that foreign centers of thought are behind."

Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the political block in parliament that won the most seats in parliament in the recent elections, said in a statement shared on social media that this was an act of terrorism that targeted the security and stability of the Iraqi people and which aimed at returning it to "a state of chaos so that the forces of anarchy can dominate it." Al Jazeera was told that al-Sadr reached out to the prime minister to be assured of his safety.

Walid Ibrahim, the Al Jazeera bureau chief in Baghdad, said that "forces of anarchy" as typically used by al-Sadr refers to armed groups who refuse to be joined with official security forces and who style themselves "resistance brigades."

Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the "State-Nation Forces" coalition, worried that the attack presaged graver events to come and that they endanger the achievements that have been won.

Al Jazeera said that Abu Ali al-Askari, the leader of the Brigades of the Party of God, a Shiite popular militia backed by Iran, downplayed the importance of the attack, saying in a Tweet that no one would waste drone strikes on the residence of an outgoing prime minister, and there would be easier ways to dispose of him if that were the goal.

The attack came after weeks of high tension in the country over the outcome of the October election, in which the parties linked to the Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces or militias who are close to Iran did very poorly. These parties, including Fateh, have called the election fraudulent.

Does this sound like anyone you know?

On Friday, violent clashes took place between demonstrators supporting the Shiite militias, who rejected the results of the election, and Iraqi security forces, who turned back their attempt to storm the Green Zone.

Al-Zaman [The Times of Baghdad] reports that the top Iraqi judicial authorities have launched a probe into whether the drone strikes were related to Friday's protests.

Al-Kadhimi is a former Interior Minister who worked closely with the US military to defeat the ISIL terrorist organization and who has difficult relations with the Iran-backed Shiite militias. Despite a parliamentary decree in winter, 2020, demanding that all US troops leave the country, al-Kadhimi worked this summer with the Biden administration to keep about 2,000 US troops in Iraq, though in a non-combat role, as trainers and advisers to the Iraqi military in its efforts to mop up the remnants of ISIL.

The US insistence on remaining militarily in Iraq, with al-Kadhimi's help, in defiance of the parliamentary decree, elevated tensions between the prime minister and those Shiite nationalists who want the US gone. The US embassy in the Green Zone has also taken mortar fire on numerous occasions.

Parliament demanded that the US get out after Trump used a missile strike to assassinate Iraqi Gen. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of the Brigades of the Party of God, and Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the special operations brigades of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, on January 3, 2020.

Some Arab columnists were quick to accuse the Shiite militias of being behind the assassination attempt, and to call for their forcible dissolution.

Sky News Arabic wonders whether the drone strike was an attempt at a coup by the Popular Mobilization Forces.

There will be hopes in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US that the Shiite militias get blamed for the attack, leading to a sharp diminution of Iranian influence in Iraq.

The Shiite militias grew up earlier but mobilized on a large scale to fight ISIL at a time when the Iraqi army had collapsed, and staged the first major battle against the formidable terrorist group at Tikrit, where there were only 4,000 Iraqi troops but thousands of PMF troops. Iran gave strategic and logistical help at the battle of Tikrit, and the US reluctantly provided air support to the Shiite militias in the end, rather than see them lose to ISIL.

The results of last month's election suggest that the Shiite militias have plummeted in popularity. For the past two years Iraqi youth and activists have been demonstrating against the corruption of the Iraqi government and its failure to provide essential services. At some points the Shiite militias intervened against the protesters and even killed some of them, which may have contributed to the bad odor in which they are now widely held.

Muqtada al-Sadr, once a militia leader himself, has called for the PMF troops to join the regular Iraqi army.

The Shiite militias are part of a general model that Iran has used to gain influence in Arab countries. You have Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen, as well. The militias provide security and social services, becoming a state within a state. This model, however, has generally been destabilizing for the countries where it has been deployed.


Bonus Video:

Al Jazeera English: "Iraq PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi survives 'assassination attempt'"

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

What's Really Driving Inflation? Corporate Power
By Robert Reich

The biggest culprit for rising prices that's not being talked about is the increasing economic concentration of the American economy in the hands of a relative few giant big corporations with the power to raise prices.

If markets were competitive, companies would seek to keep their prices down in order to maintain customer loyalty and demand. When the prices of their supplies rose, they'd cut their profits before they raised prices to their customers, for fear that otherwise a competitor would grab those customers away.

But strange enough, this isn't happening. In fact, even in the face of supply constraints, corporations are raking in record profits. More than 80 percent of big (S&P 500) companies that have reported results this season have topped analysts' earnings forecasts, according to Refinitiv.

Obviously, supply constraints have not eroded these profits. Corporations are simply passing the added costs on to their customers. Many are raising their prices even further, and pocketing even more.

How can this be? For a simple and obvious reason: Most don't have to worry about competitors grabbing their customers away. They have so much market power they can relax and continue to rake in big money.

The underlying structural problem isn't that government is over-stimulating the economy. It's that big corporations are under competitive.

Corporations are using the excuse of inflation to raise prices and make fatter profits. The result is a transfer of wealth from consumers to corporate executives and major investors.

This has nothing to do with inflation, folks. It has everything to do with the concentration of market power in a relatively few hands.

It's called "oligopoly," meaning that two or three companies roughly coordinate their prices and output.

One example of an oligopoly in household staples: Procter & Gamble and Kimberly Clark. In April, Procter & Gamble announced it would start charging more for everything from diapers to toilet paper, citing "rising costs for raw materials, such as resin and pulp, and higher expenses to transport goods."

Baloney. P&G is raking in huge profits. In the quarter ending September 30, after some of its price increases went into effect, it reported a whopping 24.7% profit margin. Oh, and it spent $3 billion in the quarter buying its own stock.

How can this be? Because P&G faces very little competition. According to a report released this month from the Roosevelt Institute, "The lion's share of the market for diapers," for example, "is controlled by just two companies (P&G and Kimberly-Clark), limiting competition for cheaper options."

So it wasn't exactly a coincidence that Kimberly-Clark announced similar price increases at the same time as P&G. Both corporations are doing wonderfully well. But American consumers are paying more.

Or consider another major consumer product oligopoly: PepsiCo (the parent company of Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Quaker, Tropicana, and other brands), and Coca Cola. In April, PepsiCo announced it was increasing prices, blaming "higher costs for some ingredients, freight and labor."

Rubbish. The company recorded $3 billion in operating profits and increased its projections for the rest of the year, and expects to send $5.8 billion in dividends to shareholders in 2021.

If PepsiCo faced tough competition it could never have gotten away with this. But it doesn't. In fact, it appears to have colluded with its chief competitor, Coca-Cola – which, oddly, announced price increases at about the same time as PepsiCo, and has increased its profit margins to 28.9%.

And on it goes around the entire consumer sector of the American economy.

You can see a similar pattern in energy prices. Once it became clear that demand was growing, energy producers could have quickly ramped up production to create more supply. But they didn't.

Why not? Industry experts say oil and gas companies (and their CEOs and major investors) saw bigger money in letting prices run higher before producing more supply.

They can get away with this because big oil and gas producers don't face much competition. They're powerful oligopolies.

Again, inflation isn't driving most of these price increases. Corporate power is driving them.

(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

Protesters gathered in Glasgow on November 6th to demand bolder action against climate change

Trust Is Hard To Find At The U.N. Climate Summit In Glasgow
Young activists are right to doubt the pledges of governments, financial firms, and the fossil-fuel industry.
By Bill McKibben

As the second week of the COP26 United Nations global climate talks began in Glasgow on Monday, the Washington Post published a truly remarkable piece of reporting that will surely demoralize the hardworking people gathered in the convention hall trying to hammer out an agreement. A team led by the Post's veteran climate analyst Chris Mooney went through the emissions data proffered by countries at the summit, and found that they were in many cases wildly wrong. Malaysia, for instance, claimed that its forests are sucking up so much carbon that its net emissions are smaller than tiny Belgium's-even though most researchers are convinced that clearing peatlands for palm-oil plantations, as Malaysia has been doing, is the very definition of a carbon bomb. The Central African Republic reported that its land absorbs 1.8 billion tons of carbon a year; the Post termed it "an immense and improbable amount that would effectively offset the annual emissions of Russia." The worst-case scenario: the emissions data could be off by twenty-three per cent over all, or roughly the equivalent of China's emissions.

That's the kind of thing that can undercut whatever confidence the U.N. negotiators are trying to build. Barack Obama spoke at the conference on Monday, telling young people (many of whom are complaining that they can't get inside the hall) that "you've grown up watching many of the adults who are in positions to do something about it either act like the problem doesn't exist or refuse to make the hard decisions necessary to address it." But, just three years ago, Obama was in Houston, telling a very different crowd, at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy, "I know we're in oil country and we need American energy." He then said that oil and gas production "went up every year I was President," adding, "Suddenly, America's like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas-that was me, people." Indeed, although the United States cut carbon emissions during Obama's years in office, it happened mainly because of his aggressive backing of natural-gas fracking-and the increased methane emissions that came with the switch may have left the nation warming the planet just as much as before. (Methane features prominently in the Post's analysis.) Meanwhile, in a press release issued last week, the government of the United Kingdom, which is hosting the summit, initially claimed that a hundred and ninety nations and organizations represented there had joined in a breakthrough pledge to phase out coal and stop investing in new coal-power projects. But, as Agence France-Presse's Patrick Galey pointed out, by the time the list of nations was published, only twenty-three had announced new plans to abstain from coal, and ten of them don't even burn coal. Together, he found, the twenty-three nations account for just thirteen per cent of the world's coal use. China, Russia, the United States, and Australia aren't on the list. As the headline to an article by Galey politely put it, a "chasm" has opened between "COP26 words and climate action."

And, if you think that climate watchers don't trust governments, you can imagine how they feel about the big financial institutions that are also playing a starring role at the conference. Last week, the C.E.O. of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, was airily assuring the Wall Street Journal that the transition to renewable energy won't be too hard. "If there's a revenue stream, then the funding is infinite," he said. But, according to a report on Monday from the London Times, a consortium of financial institutions, including Bank of America, has been doing its best behind the scenes to slow down implementation plans for the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, which was launched earlier this year and has already come under fire, because its members are free to keep lending to fossil-fuel companies. The mistrust is so deep that each new initiative gets written off by activists as soon as it's announced. As the Stanford energy expert Jeffrey Ball wrote in an Op-Ed for the Times on Tuesday, "The deep-pocketed players must be pressed to put their money where their mouths are-and, crucially, to disclose enough information about their spending that outsiders can assess the legitimacy and effectiveness of their efforts." (By now, of course, almost no one trusts the fossil-fuel industry, as companies have been deceiving the public about climate change since the nineteen-eighties, but that doesn't mean its power is broken: according to Global Witness, the hydrocarbon players are represented by five hundred lobbyists at the conference-a larger delegation than any country brought.)

Any rapid progress on climate change depends on countries having confidence in one another, because the risk that some will try to "free ride"-letting others do the work while they stay the course and still reap the benefit of a cooler world-has been there from the start. Purity is obviously impossible in politics. (Even now, Senator Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, is reportedly close to getting yet more subsidies for coal-power plants into the Build Back Better bill-and, according to Mother Jones, trying to decide on the best moment to present his first book proposal.) But the level of impurity is currently so high that the negotiating process is on the edge of breaking down-even as the falling cost of solar and wind energy means that the job of rewiring the planet is actually far easier than it appeared six years ago, at the Paris climate summit. Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, claimed that new pledges at Glasgow put the world on a path toward a temperature rise of 1.8 degrees Celsius-which would be great progress, but, as he put it, that progress will be possible only if all the pledges are "fully achieved."

It's not clear who exactly is supposed to level this mountain of bad faith. Greta Thunberg, the eighteen-year-old Swedish climate campaigner, may be the most honest broker left, and, though she wasn't formally invited to speak in the hall, her voice has been loud on the streets of Glasgow. "That is not leadership-this is leadership," she said last week, gesturing to her fellow youth activists. The rise of illiberal leaders around the world means that too many governments are beyond their reach: India's equivalent of Thunberg, Disha Ravi, an activist in her early twenties, was arrested earlier this year, and, in China, Ou Hongyi, who is also just eighteen, has been called in for questioning by the police. But the big pools of capital-the great banks of New York and London, the giant pension funds of the West-are within the reach of young activists, so retail branches and brokerage houses may make for more promising targets than governments. It seems likely that, as the Glasgow summit concludes, that's where they will turn their attention in a last-ditch effort to hold someone actually accountable for wrecking the planet.

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

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

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Donald Trump raises a finger while speaking

Trump Claims He Is Now Governor Of Virginia
By Andy Borowitz

RICHMOND (The Borowitz Report)-Offering a unique interpretation of Tuesday's election results, Donald J. Trump announced that he is now the Governor of Virginia.

"The people of Virginia have chosen me as their Governor," Trump said. "Frankly, we did win this election."

He had nothing but contempt for media outlets that have declared Glenn Youngkin the winner of Tuesday's contest.

"I'm sure Glenn Youngkin is a nice person, but, if he thinks he's Governor and I'm not, that's just sad and very pathetic, O.K.?" he said. "Go away, Glenn. You're a disgrace and a baby." Trump, who said that he was eager to take the reins as Governor, announced that his first priority would be to build a wall with West Virginia.

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 45 (c) 11/12/2021

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