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In This Edition

Chris Walker reports, "Citing Attempt to Overturn 2020 Election, Org Calls US a 'Backsliding Democracy.'"

Ralph Nader explores, "The Corporate Demolition Of Our Pillars Of Freedom."

Margaret Kimberley examines, "Climate Action Pretense At COP26."

Jim Hightower exclaims, "Repair Your Own Products? Corporations Say No!"

William Rivers Pitt says, "GOP May Be Feeling Smug About 2022, But Trump Remains An Unpredictable Wild Card."

John Nichols concludes, "The GOP Is Now Gosar's Own Party."

James Donahue considers, "The Velikovsky Theories Of Colliding Planets."

David Swanson wonders, "What Would Have Worked Better Than Building Back Anything?"

David Suzuki returns with, "It Will Take More Than Electric Cars To Drive Down Emissions."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "It Was Another Violent Weekend During Our National Nervous Breakdown."

Juan Cole finds, "In First For Major Industrial State, South Australia Generates More Electricity From Solar On Sunday Than It Can Use."

Robert Reich explains, "Why Are Americans So Unhappy With Joe Biden?"

Thom Hartmann returns with a must read, "The Corporate Plan To Murder Medicare Runs Through Medicare Advantage."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News asks, "World Wondering Why All The Crazy Bastards Have Control Of The Fossil Fuels," but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "It's Just Politics."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Arend van Dam, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, James Devaney, Scott Olson, WireImage, Bill O'Leary, The Washington Post, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Gemunu Amarasinghe, 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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It's Just Politics
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"I apologize for the way this process has unfolded. I am deeply sorry." Alok Sharma ~ president COP26

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

It's been 58 years this week since the CIA and Secret Service murdered Jack Kennedy in Dallas. You may recall that two CIA hit teams led my George Herbert Walker Bush with the help of the Secret Service who stood down and let that happen. This was covered up by Gerald Ford amongst others, who along with George HW Bush got the presidency for their efforts. I came to this conclusion after watching the Zapruder film and a few decades of research and study. We know this to be true after several death bed confessions by the CIA "hobos" that were stationed under the bridge. I could go on with another 100 or so facts but life is short.

This week Kyle Rittenhouse got away with two murders and like Ford and Bush got rewarded by the Republicans offering him a job working for them in Washington DC. So you can see that nothing has changed in 58 years, it's just politics, speaking of which COP 26 is over with less than nothing accomplished.

Unlike the above three murders global warming, which will continue to grow, thereby murdering millions so that a privileged few can fatten their wallets. as Margaret Kimberley said,

"The international climate conferences are a perennial disappointment to anyone who understands the depth of the world wide catastrophe. Every year the rich capitalist nations find a way to undermine the process and consign millions of people to misery and devastation. Activists from all over the world gather in an effort to have an impact on the process, but they are literally outnumbered by fossil fuel lobbyists who always get what they want."

Or as Adam Tooze put it, "Cop26 delivered no big climate deal. Nor, in truth, was there any reason to expect one. The drastic measures that might - at a stroke - open a path to climate stability are not viable in political or diplomatic terms. Like climate breakdown itself, this is a fact to be reckoned with, a fact not just about "politicians," but about the polities of which we are all, like it or not, a part. The step from the scientific recognition of a climate emergency to societal agreement on radical action is still too great. All that the negotiators at Cop26 could manage was makeshift."

Even the ever hopeful John Kerry has changed his tune from last months, "...the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow is the last best hope for the world to get its act together" to "Glasgow was never going to be, you know, the definitive one meeting." The fossil fuel companies knew from back in the 1950s this was coming unless they changed their ways, in fact, we've know about global warming since the 1830s. Today we can see it with our own eyes that global warming is here and getting worse every year and yet when our leaders come together they can't get anything, meaningful, done. We are soooo screwed!


11-19-1956 ~ 11-20-2021
Thanks for the film!

05-11-1954 ~ 11-21-2021
Thanks for the music my friend!

08-09-1940 ~ 11-22-2021
Thanks for the film!


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.

Former President Donald Trump raises his fist at the end of a campaign rally at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020.

Citing Attempt to Overturn 2020 Election, Org Calls US a 'Backsliding Democracy'
By Chris Walker

A recent report has listed the United States as a "backsliding" democracy, noting a "visible deterioration to democratic ideals that began back in 2019." The assessment was made by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). This is the first time the U.S. has been labeled a "backsliding" democracy since the organization's founding in 1995.

Although a number of factors led to IDEA placing the U.S. in that classification, the report notes that a "historic turning point came in 2020-21" after former President Donald Trump refused to accept his election loss to now-President Joe Biden.

"The visible deterioration of democracy in the United States, as seen in the increasing tendency to contest credible election results, the efforts to suppress participation (in elections), and the runaway polarisation ... is one of the most concerning developments," the report added.

The report also referenced government crackdowns on uprisings in response to the police killing of George Floyd, citing a "decline in the quality of freedom of association and assembly during the summer of protests in 2020."

The United States is not a member state of the Stockholm-based organization.

Overall, IDEA identified just 98 democracies around the world, the lowest number the group has counted in several years. Forty-seven governments were authoritarian regimes, while 20 governments were hybrids of the two categories.

The organization said that the pandemic played a role in eroding democracy around the world.

"Many democratic governments are increasingly adopting authoritarian tactics, accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, while autocratic regimes are consolidating their power," the group said.

"The number of backsliding democracies has doubled in the past decade, now accounting for a quarter of the world's population," IDEA added. "This includes established democracies such as the United States, but also EU Member States such as Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. More than two-thirds of the world's population now live in backsliding democracies or autocratic regimes."

The organization also noted that the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction in 2020 outnumbered those going in a democratic direction.

Some Biden administration officials have also recognized that democracy around the world has taken backward steps in recent years. Just last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested that there has been a "democratic recession," candidly admitting to a group of human rights activists in Nairobi, Kenya, that the U.S. "is hardly immune from this challenge."

"We've seen how fragile our own democracy can be," Blinken said, referencing attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

(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 analysing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.

The Corporate Demolition Of Our Pillars Of Freedom
By Ralph Nader

The disposition of the Boeing maslaughtering of 346 trusting passengers and crew in the 737 MAX crashes (Indonesia - 2018 and Ethiopia - 2019) further weakens the system of tort law and individual pursuits of justice after wrongful deaths.

Federal District Court Judge in Chicago, Jorge L. Alonso, couldn't even wait for the scheduled hearing by Boeing's law firms and the cooperating plaintiffs' lawyers. He approved the stipulation a day earlier, without comment, that, among other surrenders, took away the right to argue punitive damages for Boeing's admitted criminal conduct, stopped the discovery and depositions of the most culpable top executives, and set the stage for mediation to reduce the number of trials for compensatory damage to a very few of the 156 wronged families. These mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers lost their loved ones when a stealth software, unknown to the pilots, seized control of the 737 MAX planes and drove them down at 550 mph into smithereens.

"Consolidated cases" like those of the 737 MAX disasters are not class actions. They are individual lawsuits from around the country brought together in one court for convenience and alleged efficiencies. Before plaintiffs are informed fully, they find themselves swept into one global deal after closed-door negotiations that unite both the corporate defendants and lawyers for the plaintiffs into one settlement framework.

As these cases of corporate violence increase (think the opiates of the Perdue Pharmaceutical Company/Sackler Family and the transvaginal mesh cases), the company executives escape fines, admissions and often are promoted or let go with huge multi-million-dollar severance payments. Meanwhile, the company pays insurable and deductible monetary damages. The great majority of such cases are not tried in court before a jury. All are under a secrecy order covering up all discovered materials, testimonies, ad infinitum. Deterrence and public disclosure - two important purposes of tort law - are lost. While the compensation, according to leading plaintiff lawyer, Shanin Specter, is far less in a global deal than what could be achieved by the pursuit of individual lawsuits. (See article: Plaintiffs lawyer rips colleagues over multidistrict litigation fees, pressure tactics by Daniel Fisher, December 11, 2020).

Year after year, these deteriorating practices, choreographed by law firms such as Perkins Coie and Winston & Strawn, get more dictatorial and more secret. Corporate perpetrators are exonerated and their interests preserved. The plaintiffs' interests in punishment and public disclosures of the crimes for all the world to see are undermined or destroyed.

Until the nineteen seventies, according to trial lawyer James C. Sturdevant, depositions were publicly filed on completion, and plaintiff attorneys did not enter into overreaching "protective orders" shrouded in extreme secrecy, that often exclude review by the wrongfully injured or next of kin plaintiffs themselves.

This is only one example of the inside shredding of the tort law system that evolved over the centuries from medieval England to serve the just interests of the aggrieved. Our U.S. Constitution's seventh amendment guarantees a right to trial by jury. In recent decades, notwithstanding millions of wrongfully injured people, there has been a very sharp decline in civil jury trials, leading to articles titled "the vanishing jury trial." This is just what the scheming corporate attorneys have been promoting with the tempted plaintiff attorneys growing accustomed to "sue and settle," in the pejorative phrase of the remaining courageous trial lawyers.

The direct assaults on the Tort system since about 1980 have come from state legislators - indentured to corporate campaign cash - passing bills severely restricting plaintiffs' rights. These include caps on damages for the most severe wrongful injuries (e.g., California's notorious MICRA [Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act] Law limiting damages for serious medical malpractice to $250,000 for a lifetime of pain and suffering). (See more on MICRA at

Other destructions of access to justice are limiting tort liabilities for corporations such as those operating atomic power plants and outright immunities for companies favored by Congress (such as the manufacturers of vaccines). The list of obstructions to a wronged plaintiff's right to his or her day in court is long and cruel. (Visit the Center for Justice and Democracy for more details).

Another assault on the right of people to use tort law affects everybody who signs those fine print contracts that sometimes extend into dozens of pages. Airbnb ties up homeowners with a fine print contract peonage totaling over 160 pages.

This contract servitude keeps getting more brazen by these dictatorial corporations - almost none of whose contract terms and conditions competitively differ from one to another. People are forced to give up charging defendants with liability for wrongdoing and to accept prohibitions on the right to a jury trial. These and other handcuffs herd citizens into private compulsory arbitration, favoring the company, in cases of any dispute.

In short, these "mice print" unilateral contracts (as Senator Elizabeth Warren calls them) are destroying tort law.

Because we don't study at all in high school and college these two great pillars of freedom - the citizen laws of torts and contracts, most Americans have little idea of what they are being stripped of by autocratic companies and their law firms. Ideally, you should have the right to freely negotiate contracts you enter into with vendors. Ideally, should you be wrongfully injured, you should be free to retain a contingent fee attorney (paying only if there is a recovery) and have your full day in court without all kinds of corporate-bred rules to bend the contest in their favor.

Alas, year after year, these freedoms are taken away piece by piece with little media coverage and no marches or demonstrations. The autocratic corporatization of the law would have shocked our founding fathers and the patriots who defied King George III in 1776.

Can we not rise to the challenge of protecting and advancing these two pillars of tort and contract freedoms being subjected to systematic destruction by corporate predators and their toady politicians? Last heard, "We the People" are constitutionally sovereign, and we far outnumber these insatiable, profit-maximizing corporatists.

(c) 2021 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super -Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Climate Action Pretense At COP26
By Margaret Kimberley

Joe Biden's presence at COP26 was a photo opportunity giving the impression that he is fighting the climate crisis. But the U.S. and other governments continue carbon production while pretending to take action and ignore the needs of the Global South who suffer at the hands of the rich nations

The 26th Conference of the Parties, COP26, climate summit ended with its president fighting back tears. Alok Sharma came to Glasgow, Scotland hoping for an agreement to end the extraction of coal. Instead he said this, "I apologize for the way this process has unfolded. I am deeply sorry."

The international climate conferences are a perennial disappointment to anyone who understands the depth of the world wide catastrophe. Every year the rich capitalist nations find a way to undermine the process and consign millions of people to misery and devastation. Activists from all over the world gather in an effort to have an impact on the process, but they are literally outnumbered by fossil fuel lobbyists who always get what they want.

This conference ended with an agreement to "phase down" the use of coal instead of phasing it out altogether. Phasing down is deliberately ambiguous and makes a mockery of the 2015 Paris meeting which ended with an agreement to allow a temperature increase of no more than 1.5˚C. The fact that climate agreements allow world temperatures to rise is but one indication that the process falls far short from what the world needs.

Yet the seemingly small 1.5 degrees C will have devastating consequences, with droughts and storms bringing catastrophe to millions of people. The can is always kicked down the road and the final agreement is a sham.

The political duopoly in the United States behaves as it always does with phony heroes and phony villains as in professional wrestling. Republicans refuse to participate in climate agreements, democrats show up for the cameras, but only to fool the rubes into thinking that something important is being accomplished.

It doesn't matter if democrats show up at COP26 if they refuse to respond to elephants in the room. The United States military is the world's biggest polluter but its carbon production, and that of other nations' forces, are exempt from climate goals. When a journalist asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders about military spending and its role in climate change, it was clear they had never considered the issue at all. They were shocked to be asked a question which showed a direct relationship between their actions and global warming and then responded with nonsense. They said the military, which contributes to climate change, needs money to respond to the climate change it causes by its very existence. Why does it matter that George W. Bush and Donald Trump withdrew from previous climate agreements if democrats follow in their footsteps and ignore even the flimsy goals it asked the U.S. to meet?

Joe Biden appeared in Glasgow but no one should be impressed. Like his predecessors he has opened public lands to oil drilling. Keeping temperature rise to 1.5˚C requires that carbon emissions be cut in half. If the United States were serious there would be no fossil fuel extraction on public lands. It would have to end altogether.

The U.S. is not the only nation keeping the status quo as the world heads toward a cliff. Brazil and Indonesia continue massive deforestation for logging and cash crop production but claim they will adhere to the agreement requiring the practice to end by 2030. Apparently they plan to destroy all of their forests before that time and then pat themselves on the back because they are no longer killing trees. India insisted on watering the coal extraction language, but if other nations had been serious they would have spoken up and demanded an end to the world wide coal industry. India agreed to be the bad cop in this story. The G20 nations have subsidized fossil fuel production to the tune of $3 trillion just since 2015. Clearly the U.S. is not alone in its subterfuge.

Meanwhile the need to compensate the Global South for environmental damage is placed on the back burner of priorities. In 2009 rich nations promised to pay $100 billion per year for five years beginning in 2020. There is no mechanism to do this and the final COP26 agreement only includes a promise to continue discussing a problem which is already clearly understood.

The movement needed to fight for climate justice must be massive and international in scope. The first order of business is to understand the manipulations and duplicity that COP26 and prior agreements have engendered. Kyoto, Paris and now Glasgow are not the saviors they pretended to be. They are in fact the obstacles.

(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.

Repair Your Own Products? Corporations Say No!

By Jim Hightower

America's economic and political inequality has led workaday Americans to exclaim: "The system is broken. Let's fix it!"

But there's another version of this protest that I'm hearing more frequently these days: "The system is fixed. Let's break it!" That certainly applies to such rigged systems as money in politics and voter suppression, but it's also relevant to seemingly mundane matters that restrain our personal freedoms.

One of the insidious "fixes" we need to break is the claim by brand-name corporations that we consumers must be banned by law from repairing the products they sell to us! The weak battery in your cell phone, the fuel sensor in a farmer's tractor, some gizmo in the toaster you bought, a fuse in your business' delivery truck - you could fix all of these yourself or, with little hassle, take the problem to a local repair shop.

But, no, such manufacturing powerhouses as Apple, John Deere, and Panasonic assert that only their corporate technicians are authorized to open the product - which you own! - to make it work again. So, you are expected to deliver it to their distant facility, wait however-many days or weeks they tell you, and pay an inflated price. They've literally fixed the "fix" for consumer products. They impose their control by making the products as needlessly complicated as possible, then claiming that the complexity is their patented proprietary product. Thus, they say they don't have to provide repair manuals or sell repair tools to consumers or independent shops. Gotcha.

To give their closed profiteering system the force of law, the giants have deployed armies of lobbyists and lawyers to legislatures and courts, arguing that self-repair people really are scoundrels trying to circumvent safety and environmental rules.

This is Jim Hightower saying... For information and action, go to the US Public Interest Research Group:

(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

Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 9, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa.

GOP May Be Feeling Smug About 2022, But Trump Remains An Unpredictable Wild Card
By William Rivers Pitt

One year ago today, Donald Trump was three weeks into his ongoing I'm Not Crying You're Crying post-defeat revenge tour, and the Republican herd was nervous. They knew this predator all too well. Trump feasted on the flesh of friend and foe with equal delight, he hardly seemed to sleep, and with dreaded irrelevance staring him dead in the face (along with the possibility of poverty and prison), he was more motivated than ever before.

"Trump's attacks on Govs. Brian Kemp of Georgia and Mike DeWine Ohio - both of whom are up for reelection in 2022 - has led to broader concerns within the party that he will use his post-presidency to exact revenge on perceived enemies and insert himself into races in ways that are not helpful," reported Politico on November 22, 2020. "Trump's intrusions into Georgia and Ohio provide an early test case for how he might use his stranglehold on the conservative base to control the party long after he leaves the White House. Never mind that Trump will no longer be in power: Cross him, and you will pay."

A year later, the GOP appears for all intents and purposes to be riding high. The rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant staggered the country's economic and social recovery from the pandemic, and the populace seems to be taking their exhaustion and frustration out on the party in power. A messy withdrawal from Afghanistan and a revolt by conservative Democrats against President Biden's domestic agenda opened the floodgates for the "news" media's favorite trope: Dems in Disarray.

A broad spectrum of polling data has Republicans leading the Democrats in the upcoming 2022 midterms, and recent victories in Virginia's statewide elections - where Biden won by 10 points a year ago - further suggest the GOP is enjoying significant political momentum as we head into the holiday season. Republicans should be wreathed in smiles; every time a party has been so positioned a year before the midterms, that party has gained seats come voting time. Why then are furrowed brows clouding their festive spirit?

"As the country's Republican governors met this week, there was an unmistakable air of celebration in the conference rooms and cocktail parties marking their annual postelection conference," reports The New York Times. "Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin of Virginia was swarmed with well-wishers and favor seekers who believed his victory in a liberal-leaning state offered the party a road map for next year's midterm elections. Out of earshot of the reporters and donors congregating amid the palm trees and cactuses of the Arizona Biltmore resort, however, a more sober, less triumphant and all-too-familiar conversation was taking place among the governors: What could be done about Donald J. Trump?"

A year after Republicans fretted over Trump's attacks on Kemp and DeWine, the former president has upped his efforts by an order of magnitude. Trump-inspired laws intended to thwart voters of color have been passed in more than a dozen states, and Trump loyalists are being installed in state offices all over the country, obtaining positions that could allow them to determine the outcome of the 2024 election regardless of what the voters say.

His attacks against fellow Republicans - those who voted to impeach him, those who voted in favor of Biden's infrastructure bill, and those who have not kissed his ring with sufficiently slobbering velocity - find themselves in primary fights with Trump-approved QAnon candidates who have as much business in government as a hammerhead shark has in a public pool.

Trump does not even require an election-sized grudge to release the hounds of personal vengeance. He is currently trying to oust Alabama's Republican Gov. Kay Ivey because he inaccurately blames her for a cancelled rally this summer. "Ivey, a longtime statewide official, has served as governor since 2017 and has been a reliable Trump supporter," reports Insider. "In May 2018, the governor signed a letter advocating for the then-president to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomatic efforts with North and South Korea." NOT GOOD ENOUGH, off with her head.

Trump's scattershot shredding of his own party's incumbents, along with his tendency to endorse candidates who (putting it mildly) don't stand up to scrutiny, is not sitting well with the old guard. "It's outrageous, unacceptable and bad for the party," raged Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who went on to unambiguously denounce what he refers to as "Trump cancel culture."

Chris Sununu, the Republican governor of New Hampshire, said on Sunday that the actions of Trump and his congressional allies were "ruining America." Chris Christie, former Republican governor of New Jersey, recently told his GOP allies that they needed to "renounce the conspiracy theories and truth deniers" who have been the headwinds filling Trump's sails. Small revolutions such as these, according to The Atlantic's Peter Nicholas, may seem to indicate Trump's stranglehold on the Republican Party is beginning to slip.

Don't hold your breath. Donald Trump feeds off the spotlight like plants feed off sunlight, and if he feels he is even one lumen short of his due, he will grind whatever grist is necessary to take it back. At present, more and more of that spotlight is being redirected to Florida's Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, and Trump is growing more furious by the day. DeSantis, a seeming frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination if Trump chooses not to run in 2024, was championed by the former president only a year ago. Now, Trump is demanding that DeSantis swear off any thoughts of a presidential bid.

"Trump's gripes are so frequent because he is planting them in hopes that they'll get back to DeSantis," reports Politico. "Trump has told his advisers that DeSantis privately assured him that he won't run if Trump does, but that's not enough for the former president - he wants DeSantis to say it in public." Why? If you listen to Trump, it's because DeSantis has not been properly loyal to him, the former president who (according to that former president) made DeSantis what he is.

The Democrats have reeled from crisis to crisis this summer and fall, suffering more than a few self-inflicted wounds along the way, and the media echo chamber has done them no favors. Republicans appear set to make tall gains next year at both the state and federal levels, thanks in no small part to a gerrymandering effort that would make Huey Long barf into his hat.

Yet they have The Fear, and its name is Donald. The once and wannabe-future president has an enormous campaign hoard, and millions of people follow his every word as if his proclamations and denunciations were being carved onto stone tablets. Trump has the power to upend elections, and a number of the people he hates are current Republican incumbents.

The Democrats may be in disarray, but the GOP is facing nothing less than an existential crisis over the next two election seasons. Any long-term plans with Trump involved promise to be a clinic on chaos.

(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.

Representative Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), right, stands to object to the certification of his state's election results in Washington, D.C., on January 6

The GOP Is Now Gosar's Own Party
This is about more than Paul Gosar's online murder fantasy. This is about a political party's embrace of impunity.
By John Nichols

United States Representative Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) posted an anime-style video earlier this month that depicted him stabbing a fellow House member to death. The target of the congressman's online murder fantasy, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), called out her "creepy" colleague for his inexcusable action. Gosar's response? He claimed that he amplified this snuff film in order to "reach out to the newer generation that likes these anime, these cartoons fabricated in Japanese likeness to actually tell them what is harmful in this bill [Biden's Build Back Better plan] that they're missing."

The notion that a 62-year-old dentist turned politician thought he could make a connection with young voters by portraying a knife attack on a 32-year-old colleague tells us everything we need to know about Gosar's fragile state of mind.

But the worst part of the controversy that gripped the Congress this week was the reaction from the vast majority of Republicans in the House. Given a chance to hold Gosar to account, 99 percent of them rejected the move to censure the Arizonan for posting "a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joseph Biden."

In total, 207 Republicans voted against the censure resolution, which was approved mostly along party lines. Just two Republicans-the most ostracized and politically marginalized members of their party's House caucus-voted with House Democrats to hold Gosar to account: Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, who has been excommunicated by her home-state party for supporting former President Donald Trump's impeachment, and Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, another Trump impeacher who has seen the writing on the wall and decided not to seek another term.

The vote marks the latest instance of the Republican Party's degenerating into a crude cabal that threatens not only order in the House but even the basic underpinnings of US democracy. Rebuking Gosar should not have been difficult. As Ocasio-Cortez asked when she addressed her colleagues Wednesday, "What is so hard? What is so hard about saying that this is wrong? This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept."

An answer came before the vote, when Liz Cheney recognized that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whom she had once worked closely with as a member of the leadership team, would defend rather than admonish Gosar. "It's a real symbol of his lack of strength, the lack of leadership in our conference right now," she said, "and the extent to which he and other leaders seem to have lost their moral compass."

Cheney was right, except they haven't "lost" their compass. It's been deliberately and permanently broken.

Republicans in Congress have determined that the GOP is the party of impunity. They will reject any form of accountability for themselves and their associates.

That was first made clear not on Wednesday but months earlier, on the evening of January 6, after Donald Trump incited his insurrectionist followers to storm the Capitol of the United States in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election that he lost by 7 million votes. On that night, after the deadly violence and chaos had been brought under control, the majority of House Republicans joined Gosar in endorsing the goal of the insurrectionists. The group that voted to block certification of results from states won by Democrat Joe Biden included McCarthy.

In June, the Republican leader joined Gosar and every House Republican, except Cheney and Kinzinger, in opposing the vote to create a select committee to investigate the January 6 attack. That came after Senate Republicans blocked a move to create a National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex.

At every turn, the Republicans of the 117th Congress have embraced the impunity of Paul Gosar.

On January 13, only 10 House Republicans voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the insurrection, while Gosar and 196 opposed holding the former president to account. On February 13, only seven Senate Republicans voted to convict Trump, while 43 opposed accountability. On February 4, only 11 House Republicans voted to strip Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments for "trafficking in racism, anti-Semitism and baseless conspiracy theories, along with her support for online comments encouraging violence against Democratic officials prior to taking office." Opposing accountability were Paul Gosar and 198 other Republicans, including McCarthy.

This week, Greene revealed that McCarthy had promised that her committee assignments would be restored if Republicans win control of the chamber in the 2022 midterm elections. The same day, Time magazine speculated that an "unmasked, unvaccinated and uncivil" and "wholly unaccountable" Greene might be the future of the Republican Party.

In fact, the future is here. On Wednesday, Republicans made it clear that the GOP is no longer the Grand Old Party of Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or Dwight Eisenhower-or even the dismal party of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. It is Gosar's Own Party. Or, after the pair stood together Wednesday and laughed off the censure vote, perhaps Gosar and Greene's Own Party.

The Republican Party absolutely and unequivocally rejects accountability for Trump, for Greene, and now for Gosar. Their smashing of the moral compass does not stop in the House. The impunity displayed in Washington is being reflected in statehouses across the country. And, as a bogus assault on "critical race theory" gains traction as a political issue, in the meeting rooms where school boards gather.

"This nihilism runs deep," Ocasio-Cortez told the House on Wednesday.

The representative from New York continued with a chilling reminder of why censuring Gosar was necessary, even if Republicans failed to take his actions-or their duty-seriously.

"As leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues that trickles down into violence in this country, and that is where we must draw the line independent of party, identity, or belief. It is about a core recognition of human dignity and value and worth. So when we talk about, as mentioned in the resolution, that these depictions are part of a larger trend of misogyny, racial misogyny, racist misogyny, in this has results in dampening the participation," said the brave and clear-eyed congresswoman.

"So this vote is not as complex as perhaps the Republican leader would like to make folks believe. It's pretty cut and dry," she added. "Does anyone in this chamber find this behavior acceptable? Would you allow depictions of violence against women, against colleagues, would you allow that in your home? Do you think this should happen on a school board? In a city council? In a church? And if it's not acceptable there, why should it be accepted here?"

(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.

Immanuel Velikovsky

The Velikovsky Theories Of Colliding Planets
By James Donahue

The late Immanuel Velikovsky set the scientific world aflame when he published his bestselling and controversial book Worlds in Collision in the 1950s. Based on cross-cultural mythology, including stories in the Old Testament about almost supernatural events going on in the heavens, Velokovsky concluded that the planet Venus was once ejected violently from the gas-giant Jupiter. It roamed for a while as a wild body, displaying a spectacular tail like a giant comet. During a close and catastrophic fly-by Earth in about 1500 BCE, Jupiter became the backdrop to the Exodus stories of plagues, fire, the water of the Nile turning red, hailstones raining upon the land, earthquakes, and a pillar of fire and smoke rising in the sky.

In his research, Velikovsky found what he termed a remarkable parallel in the Papyrus Ipuwer, ancient Egyptian records kept at the University of Leyden Museum. This document includes lamentations of an Egyptian sage following a great catastrophe that came over the land. Indeed, the rivers ran red, fire blazed in the sky and pestilence ravaged the land. Similar stories were found in Babylonian and Assyrian clay tablets, Vedic poems, Chinese epics and stories told by Maya, Aztec, Peruvian and North American Indians. From the stories, Velikovsky concluded that a large body, bigger than a normal comet, passed close enough to Earth to shift its axis and create global earthquakes, severe winds and pelt the landscape with falling stones.

Velikovsky also believed that centuries after the Venus event, Mars wiggled into an unstable orbit and buzzed by Earth, causing some more wild shaking and disastrous happenings in the seventh and eighth centuries BCE. The ancient stories depicting Mars as a war god may stem from the memory of this event, which was unexplainable to the people observing it at the time it happened. World mythology gives credence to Velikovsky's Venus theory. The name Lucifer is an ancient name for Morning Star, which is another name for Venus. Venus appears in both the morning and evening sky like a bright beacon just before and after sunrise. Lucifer is said to have been cast, or fell from Heaven to Earth after rebelling against God.

Ancient world astronomers in both the Old World and the Americas seemed to regard Venus with much awe and terror. They carefully observed and recorded its position in the sky and told stories about how this planet would be the cause of a world-ending catastrophe. Velikovsky thought these stories had their roots in some dark human memory. His research uncovered another peculiar naming of Venus by the ancients. The Babylonians called it the "torch-star," the Mexicans saw Venus as the "smoking star," the Peruvians called it the "long-haired star" and the Egyptians called it a Great Star that "scattered its flame in fire."

Velikovsky's research was thorough. Yet the scientific community not only rejected his theories, he was blackballed from public speaking engagements, papers to scientific journals were rejected, and even though his book turned out to be a best-seller, Macmillan, his publisher, turned rights of the book over to another publishing house. When he died in 1979, Velikovsky was still embroiled in the midst of scientific discord. Yet to this day, no data has been produced through astronomy or NASA space flights, to prove Velikovsky's theories wrong. If anything, new research only supports his story.

(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.

What Would Have Worked Better Than Building Back Anything?
By David Swanson

The most well-known problem with lesser-evil, two-party, winner-take-all elections, at least in a system of legalized bribery and corporate-state media, is the absence of virtually any really good candidates. Naturally this results in (or is at least one major cause of) the tendency of many to not vote at all - with the United States claiming a lower voter turnout than many other countries it loves to look down on.

But the most serious problem is the tendency of those voters who do vote to nonetheless identify themselves with one of the lousy candidates and parties and its statements and actions year-in-and-year-out so that a larger phenomenon than lesser-evil voting is total lesser-evil existing. The extremely rare individual actually votes with his or her nose appropriately pinched, containing the voting to a single moment while rejecting the hype and keeping a free mind every other day.

This problem is compounded by, and its prevalence exaggerated by, the tendency of commentators to invent explanations for votes based only on who was voted for and not on who was voted against - and certainly not on what would have been voted for had it been anywhere to be found.

The top vote-getter in virtually all U.S. elections is nobody at all. The most popular political party in U.S. polling is neither. Yet, we rarely hear about votes having been cast for this schmuck or that schmuck for lack of anybody better to vote for.

Pre-Trump, we didn't hear much about people voting for candidates only because there wasn't someone more racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and buffoonish. But once Trump gained the White House, we heard all about the inevitable, intrinsic, systemic racism latent in every Trump voter who had previously voted for Democrats - apparently even those who'd backed Bernie Sanders and even those who'd voted for Obama.

Did many people, in fact, support Trump's racism? Of course. Did many of them have a latent history of racism and live in a country with a deep history of racism? Of course. But could something completely different from Trump have appealed to them more than Trump did? I think so.

Nobody claimed that any Trump voters were voting that way for lack of any candidates with less clarity, more dementia, and a long-standing commitment to corporate corruption, wars, credit card companies, and quasi-liberal muddling. The need for Joe Biden only needed explaining after Biden had been elected, not before.

Biden and Democratic votes are sometimes recognized as anti-Trump votes, and sometimes as deep devotion to whatever mashup of LBJ and Reagan the Democrats seem to be peddling, but rarely as nose-squeezing, quasi-nauseous votes for the lesser evil of two repulsive crapsandwich choices.

When Mark Warner lost his campaign for governor of Virginia after campaigning almost entirely on his opponent being like Trump, it wasn't necessary to look closely at his weak platform or his devotion to gas companies.

Nor has there ever been much examination of the cheating that was required to deny Bernie Sanders a presidential nomination. In fact, a ridiculous propaganda gimmick invented to distract from that story itself exploded into a top news story for years, with the debunking of it still occupying prominent space - it was called Russiagate.

What does any of this have to do with Build Back Better? Well, the BBB bill, as originally conceived, was a minimal sort of social needs proposal, pathetically far behind the norm on the planet, originally costing about a third of U.S. military spending (across all departments and agencies of military spending, and treating both BBB and military spending in terms of annual cost, rather than multiplying only the former by 10 as is the custom). BBB has now been cut to (depending on how you count it) a sixth of military spending and with - wait for it - no, it's really worth the wait - wait for it - tax cuts for the mega-wealthy thrown in during the process of paring the bill down because of - you guessed it - costs.

The U.S. public supported the original Build Back Better bill and even more so the more progressive elements in it, and yet more so a simpler and fuller provision of those elements that was never proposed. There's not a single human right treated in the BBB bill as a simple universal human right to be provided to everyone without question, means testing, form filling, or resentment building. Rather than providing everyone with pre-school and college, and improving schools from pre-school through college, the bill provides a number of ways to pay less than you do now for preschool depending on your income, etc. This is trumpeted as "Universal Pre-K," but misses the entire point of universality, which is to make people better off, not to piss people off. The bill tweaks the existing hopeless, and hopelessly complex health coverage system, rather than turning healthcare into the human right it is for humans in other countries. There's no free college, no living wage, no debt cancellation, no major green new deal for us all. There's little to inspire and less to bring us together.

I think better than building back any of the twisted, convoluted, half-assed programs in existence, would have been the creation of new, simple, bureaucracy-free, rights to a better life. I think universality, despite its success in other parts of the world, is radically underappreciated in a divided and conquered United States.

Why should rich people get pandemic survival checks? Why shouldn't descendants of enslaved people get reparations payments? Why should someone who doesn't go to college pay taxes to make college free? Why should smokers get health coverage? Why should someone get out of their student debt when I didn't? These are the popular demands.

I don't claim to have a universal answer to all such questions. There are some questions that I would certainly answer differently if they stood alone. If the rotten U.S. political system were condemned to remain unchanged except in one single regard, then, sure, I'd vote for slavery reparations. By the same token, I'd vote for term limits just to get different corrupt faces into the news, rather than working to make it possible to unelect incumbents.

But I think that there is a consideration being missed by all of these questions, and that it is an extremely important one that usually ought to tip the balance. It is the value of universality. It's not a theoretical value. It's what makes Scandinavia a desirable place to live. It's what makes Social Security and public high schools so popular. It's why people campaign for Medicare for All, not Medicare for the Worthy. It's why we're outraged at the idea of a fire crew asking to see paperwork and check qualifications before putting out a fire.

Universality does a number of things that means-tested programs for certain people do not.

It creates no stigma for those receiving something. That something is not a hand-out but a human right.

It creates no resentment for those not receiving something, because there is no such group. Every service is made available to everyone it might possibly serve should they desire it.

It avoids the costly and massive bureaucratic inefficiency of determining who qualifies and who doesn't.

It builds solidarity, and encourages a politics in which larger groups can unite to make further changes.

It discourages, not just resentment of actual beneficiaries, but also irrational prejudice against particular groups benefitting or imagined to be benefitting disproportionately.

It strengthens support for maintaining a program into the future, rather than opening up the means to chip away at it until it's gone.

Universality works against the ideology that justifies inequality, opening up the possibility of taxing corporate and personal wealth. There's no way to resent giving relatively tiny benefits to billionaires if you've taxed away their billions and there are no longer any billionaires. (And did you really think giving a billionaire $600 was going to have a noticeable impact on things?)

If the U.S. government were to give everyone who wants them, across the board, any or all of these things: top quality education from pre-school through college or trade school, top-quality health care, low working hours, long vacations, family and parental leave, retirement, public transportation, childcare, adult education, greater environmental sustainability, and - if Scandinavia is any guide - as a result, a wider range of opportunity, greater class mobility, more entrepreneurs per capita, more patents, and more creativity, who would complain? Whom would I possibly resent? What group of people could some fascist buffoon get me to take out my rage on? For that matter, what foreign leader could an opposing political party redirect my anger toward? What anger? What would there be to be angry about?

As Robert McChesney notes, universality "is the reason the two most popular and successful federal government programs in the United States-Social Security and Medicare-have been impossible for the right to defeat, even though they have been trying to do so since the moment those programs were created in the 1930s and 1960s respectively." McChesney also has a theory as to why there aren't more such popular programs:

"It is standard procedure for most Democratic candidates to support Bernie style social programs in theory-or at least some of them-but then to insert the caveat that 'of course, rich people or even people above the poverty line should not get them for free because they can afford to pay for them out of their own pockets.' It sounds very fair and progressive, a blow against crony capitalism and directing government money to the undeserving rich. It is a staple line regarding the student debt plan of Elizabeth Warren, for example, and is roundly approved by the punditocracy. It is the mark of a 'serious' candidate. It is called 'means testing.' But means testing is a phony progressivism and a crucial tactic promoted by the right to eliminate social welfare programs that could benefit the population. . . . [A]s soon as means-testing is accepted on principle and introduced for a program, it begs the logical question of why not extend it to other similar social programs? So if means testing free public college tuition is such a great idea, then why not have well-to-do parents pay tuition for their children in public high schools and middle schools and elementary schools? Why not bill only the rich when they drive on any public roads or use public libraries or parks or restrooms? Why not charge them for using the police or fire departments? Where exactly do you draw the line? That is a slippery slope toward privatization and elimination of government functions."
As noted above, there is an alternative to eliminating government functions, namely eliminating the rich through taxation and the abandonment of government bailouts and benefits that discriminate against everyone except the rich. Taxation should not be universal, should not be "flat," and should not be regressive as it mostly is now in the United States. It should be progressive. But it should be used to create universal programs - which would be easier without the majority of tax revenue going, as it does now, to wars and war preparations.

Wars aren't the only thing it's damn hard to end once started. Universal programs are like that too. Making college part of public education, or making Medicare serve us all would be an accomplishment that would likely last as long as the U.S. government. If Joe Biden wants to be FDR or LBJ (minus the wars please!) he should create something universal and lasting. It would be lasting because it could not be attacked as supposedly only benefitting a certain hated group. Nor could it be attacked as inefficient and in need of privatization. It's the means-testing bureaucracy that's inefficient. It's the privatization solution that's even more inefficient. There's nothing more efficient than nonprofit universality.

So, why should rich people get pandemic survival checks? Because there are more downsides to means-testing than upsides, because the answer to excessive inequality is to replace regressive taxation with progressive taxes, because who counts as a rich person is going to be defined by the rich people, and because we can't all be in this together or have the huge advantages of all being in this together unless we're all in this together.

Why shouldn't descendants of enslaved people get reparations payments? Because they could get vastly more, and so could everyone else in a non-zero-sum calculation, by transforming U.S. society into a fair and egalitarian place (aiding all in need and taking from all who can spare) rather than courting nasty fascist blowback, building corrupt bureaucracy, and dividing us into a divided people who can be conquered easily.

Why should someone who doesn't go to college pay taxes to make college free for others? Because those others pay taxes to make trade school free. Because they teach your kids or at least the young people who will care for you when you are old. Because we are stronger together than apart.

Why should smokers get health coverage? Because human rights are for humans, the human without a flaw does not exist, and a government agency to identify all smokers is not something I want to pay for or live with.

Why should someone get out of their student debt when I didn't? Because I'm not sadistic. I do not wish for others to suffer if I've suffered, but rather, just the reverse.

What would prevent someone turning to Trumpism? Something better to turn to.

Is what's left of BBB such a thing? Was the original BBB such a thing? I very much doubt it. But the press releases you'll read if they enact BBB into law will suggest that its creators know damn well what it should have been.

(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.

Finding better fuels is important, but cutting back on flying -which would mostly affect the affluent - is
just as critical. But, of course, that doesn't fit with the current growth-and-profit economic paradigm.

It Will Take More Than Electric Cars To Drive Down Emissions
By David Suzuki

Resolving the climate crisis isn't just about shifting from one technology to another; it's about shifting our ways of thinking and being. It's a point that often gets missed in conversations about major greenhouse gas emission sources.

That was illustrated at the recent 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) climate summit, in Glasgow, where governments, automakers and airlines worked on deals to cut global transport emissions. Because transportation is responsible for one-fifth to one-quarter of global emissions, that seems like a good step.

But there are problems.

With aviation and shipping, the main idea is to switch from polluting fossil fuels to "biofuels." But with expected increases in both sectors, that could mean destroying more natural areas or displacing food-growing lands with crops for fuel production.

And as George Monbiot points out, "Flying accounts for most of the greenhouse gas emissions of the super-rich, which is why the wealthiest 1% generate roughly half the world's aviation emissions. If everyone lived as they do, aviation would be the biggest of all the causes of climate breakdown." Finding better fuels is important, but cutting back on flying - which would mostly affect the affluent - is just as critical. But, of course, that doesn't fit with the current growth-and-profit economic paradigm.

As for shipping, Reuters notes around 90 per cent of traded goods travel by sea, and shipping accounts for about three per cent of global emissions. Our current global economic system encourages corporations to go where resources and labour are cheap and standards are often low to maximize profits. Shifting away from consumerism and supporting local businesses and production would go as far or farther in reducing shipping emissions, although cleaner ways to fuel ships are needed.

With the automobile industry, it's all about electric vehicles. And the focus is on direct emissions rather than the many other environmental impacts, from production to massive infrastructure requirements. Few people even question car culture - why we've decided so many people should each have large machines to transport them in isolation. And why they should be provided with the massive infrastructure to make it possible, from roads and parking to malls and drive-throughs.

This idea of constant economic growth -with the excessive consumption and waste required to fuel it - has become so ingrained that we resort to incremental measures in the midst of a crisis. We just can't imagine different ways of seeing, and so we try to shoehorn solutions into an outdated system that wasn't designed to be sustainable.

Again, electric vehicles are important. They pollute far less than internal combustion engine vehicles and can last longer. But what we should really focus on is reducing private automobile use, through good public transit, active transport like cycling and walking, increasingly popular modes like e-bikes and scooters, better urban planning and design, and new technologies like self-driving vehicles that can facilitate car sharing and efficient ride-hailing services. All this would dramatically reduce congestion and pollution, and would even make it possible to convert massive amounts of road and parking to green space.

And while electric vehicle sales are increasing rapidly, they're still far outnumbered by gasoline and diesel car sales. As for the COP26 automakers' pledge - which would require all cars and vans sold to be zero-emission by 2040 - as inadequate as it is, not everyone is on board. Even though Volkswagen and Toyota are major electric and hybrid vehicle manufacturers, they didn't back the commitment. The U.S., China and Germany also refused to support the pledge.

According to Reuters, "The wider lesson is that private players can't be relied on to stick their necks out if public action is absent." This shows how essential it is for society to get involved. It's mainly up to governments, business, industry and international agencies to resolve the climate crisis, but without massive public pressure, they'll continue down the status quo road until it's too late to keep the planet from heating to catastrophic levels.

Climate conferences such as COP are important, and perhaps they're more than just "blah, blah, blah," but until we replace the outdated human-invented systems that got us into this mess, we'll only be downshifting rather than putting on the brakes. That's not good enough.

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

It Was Another Violent Weekend During Our National Nervous Breakdown
Killings in Wisconsin and a firearm discharge at the airport are more signs of a country that's come unglued.
By Charles P. Pierce

Well, it was a helluva weekend in the greatest country there absolutely ever was. Leaving aside that Kyle Rittenhouse, a killer if not a murderer, now seems to have recovered nicely from his extended trauma, and is well on his way to a correspondent's gig with the Fox News network, there was the guy at Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta who tried to get his firearm onto an airplane, lunged for it when it was discovered, only to have it discharge, at which point he took off. This led me, anyway, to learn that almost 4,500 firearms have been confiscated by airport security this year, and 391 of them in Atlanta alone. This strikes me as evidence that we are a nation gone insane.

People, you can't take your deadly precious onto a passenger plane. The nice people handling the baggage will take good care of the precious in the belly of the aeroplane. Try to manage for a couple hours, OK?


Then, on Sunday, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, an hour or so from Kenosha, a guy guns his SUV into a Christmas parade, for god's sake, killing five people and injuring somewhere north of 40. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Corey Montiho, a School District of Waukesha board member, was by Mainstream Bar & Grill when he heard that his daughter's youth dance team was hit. "There were pom-poms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere," he said. "I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter. My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everybody. Please pray. My family is safe but many are not. I held one little girl's head in my hand, she was seizing and she was bleeding out of her ears. I held her mother as she collapsed. Please pray."
I love Wisconsin. I did so much of my growing up there. I love the north. I love Hayward and the lumberjack championships and the Birkebeiner and the Moccasin Inn. I love Madison and Milwaukee and the Dells, and Wisconsin Avenue between 12th and 21st Streets. I don't believe it is the source of anything, but I do think it has become the focal point for an a country that's become unglued on a number of levels. For the past decade, Wisconsin Republicans have turned the state into a lab rat for bad political ideas. Now, it's in the middle of a national nervous breakdown manifesting itself in violent ways, some of which have now been hallowed in law by a jury verdict that has bestowed upon a killer a long career as a conservative media hero. Nice work if you can get it.Christ.

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

The Quotable Quote -

"The American people want to know that when they borrow a book from the library or buy a book, the government won't be looking over their shoulder. Everybody wants to fight terrorism, but we have to do it in away that protects American freedom."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

In First For Major Industrial State, South Australia Generates More Electricity From Solar On Sunday Than It Can Use
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Giles Parkinson at Renew Economy reports that for several hours on Sunday, November 21, the huge state of South Australia (which is has an area bigger than Texas) generated more electricity than it needed, mostly from rooftop solar. This is the first time we've seen a gigawatt-scale grid go upside down from rooftop solar that way.

Parkinson writes,

"South Australia on Sunday became the first gigawatt scale grid in the world to reach zero operational demand when the combined output of rooftop solar and other small non-scheduled generators exceeded all the local customer load requirements."
Rooftop solar alone generated 95.6% of the demand for a few hours, with the rest made up by some small solar farms and perhaps a bit of biomass. Electricity generated by wind farms and other sources was sent over to Victoria.

The Project: South Australia Are World Leaders In Renewable Energy | The Project

Over all, wind and solar accounted for 62% of South Australia's electricity production this past year, and the state has set a goal of making it 100% by 2030, a goal it is likely to meet early. By 2050 the state intends to get 500% of its electricity from wind and solar and to export everything above 100% to the rest of Australia or abroad via green hydrogen.

Sunday was the first time that primarily rooftop solar generation pushed the grid into negative territory, and it is the first time that has happened in any large industrial grid. 300,000 homes and businesses have solar panels on their roofs in South Australia, which means that over a third of SA's homes have solar panels. The state's population is 1.76 million million, much of which lives in the coastal city of Adelaide. It is similar in population to Idaho or West Virginia.

This October, solar plus wind generated 72% of South Australia's electricity demand, more than the annual average. It is spring and sunny in Australia, and the weather is mild, so power demand is lower than usual. Plus, Australians are putting up solar panels on their roofs en masse. With subsidies, rooftop solar provides electricity at about 3.6 cents US a kilowatt hour. Coal is typically figured at 5 cents a kilowatt hour (not counting its cost in pollution nd global heating), and natural gas is expensive in Australia, so solar is the cheapest electricity in that market.

It is notable that US states such as Georgia, Alabama and Arizona have similar solar potential to South Australia's, but that the way in which the Republican Party leadership is entwined with Big Carbon has discouraged American states from doing what South Australia is doing.

Because wind does not blow all the time and the sun does not shine at night, some observers had voiced concerns about the stability of an electric grid dominated by renewables. There was a blackout caused by a glitch with wind turbines, but that has been fixed. Now, South Australia's grid has, however, been stable. Connecting to the Victoria grid and installation of a huge 100-megawatt Tesla battery have helped with stability. Renewable electricity is inexpensive, at 4.5 Australian cents a kilowatt hour (about 3.3 US cents/ KWh).

South Australia expects to become a major exporter of rooftop solar-generated electricity to the rest of the country, and expects that rooftop solar alone can consistently generated half of all the state's electricity needs within ten years.

Australia more generally is dominated by coal plants and the country is a big exporter of coal, giving Australians one of the world's biggest carbon footprints per capita. South Austrialia's energy transition is therefore all the more remarkable. And, it is driven by a Liberal [i.e. conservative] government, whereas the national Liberal Party is more wedded to coal than US Sen. Joe Manchin.

I noted elsewhere that "Adelaide was originally populated by the aboriginal Kaurna people, who called it Tarndanyangga. It is now about as populous as San Diego. It was settled by free British immigrants, unlike the rest of Australia, which was a penal colony. In the nineteenth century, 'Afghans' were brought in as camel drivers. It has the oldest continuously functioning mosque in Australia, constructed in 1889, and the state is known for its dedication to religious freedom."

South Australia. By TUBS - Own work This W3C-unspecified vector image was created with Adobe Illustrator. This file was uploaded with Commonist. This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this file: Australia location map.svg (by NordNordWest)., CC BY-SA 3.0,

(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.

President Joe Biden returns a salute as he boards Air Force One for a trip to Michigan, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

Why Are Americans So Unhappy With Joe Biden?
One answer might be that expectations were so high that hopes were bound to be dashed
By Robert Reich

America is overflowing with good news. Unemployment is down, wages are up, consumer confidence is rebounding, and consumers are spending more (retail sales jumped 1.7% in October, the third monthly increase). Covid seems to be in retreat, at least among those who have been vaccinated. And two big parts of Biden's legislative agenda - last spring's $1.9tn American Rescue Plan, and his recent $1.2tn infrastructure plan - have been enacted.

So what's not to be happy about? Apparently, plenty. Biden's job approval rating is 12 points lower than when he took office - now just 41% (around where Trump's was for most of his presidency). Most registered voters say that if the midterm elections were today, they'd support the Republican candidate. Even Trump beats Biden in hypothetical matchups. More than 60% of Americans say the Democrats are out of touch with the concerns of most Americans. And Republican congressional candidates now hold their largest lead in midterm election vote preferences dating back 40 years.

How can the economic and pandemic news be so good, and so much of Biden's agenda already enacted - yet the public be so sour on Biden and the Democrats?

Some blame Biden's and the Democrat's poor messaging. Yes, it's awful. Even now most Americans have no idea what the "Build Back Better" package is. It sounds like infrastructure, but that bill has been enacted. "Human infrastructure" makes no sense to most people.

Yet this can't be the major reason for the paradox because the Democrats' failure at messaging goes back at least a half century. I remember in 1968 after Nixon beat Humphrey hearing that the Democrats' problem is they talk policy while Americans want to hear values - the same criticism we're hearing today.

Some blame the media - not just despicable Fox News but also the corporate mainstream. But here, too, the problem predates the current paradox. Before Fox News, Rush Limbaugh was poisoning countless minds. And for at least four decades, the mainstream media has focused on conflict, controversy and scandal. Good news doesn't attract eyeballs.

Some suggest Democrats represent the college-educated suburban middle class that doesn't really want major social change anyway. Yet this isn't new, either. Clinton and Obama abandoned the working class by embracing trade, rejecting unions, subsidizing Wall Street and big business and embracing deregulation and privatization.

So what explains the wide gap now between how well the country is doing and how badly Biden and the Democrats are doing politically?

In two words: dashed hopes. After four years of Trump and a year and a half of deathly pandemic, most of the country was eager to put all the horror behind - to start over, wipe the slate clean, heal the wounds, reboot America. Biden in his own calm way seemed just the person to do it. And when Democrats retook the Senate, expectations of Democrats and independents soared.

But those expectations couldn't possibly be met when all the underlying structural problems were still with us - a nation deeply split, Trumpers still threatening democracy, racism rampant, corporate money still dominating much of politics, inequality still widening, inflation undermining wage gains, and the Delta variant of Covid still claiming lives.

Dashed hopes make people angry. Mass disappointment is politically poisonous. Social psychologists have long understood that losing something of value generates more anguish than obtaining it generated happiness in the first place.

Biden and Democrats can take solace from this. Hopefully, a year from now the fruits of Biden's initiatives will be felt, Covid will be behind us, bottlenecks behind the current inflation will be overcome, and the horrors of the Trump years will become more visible through Congress's investigations and the midterm campaigns of Trumpers.

Most importantly, America's irrational expectations for quick deliverance from all our structural problems will have settled into a more sober understanding that resolving them will require a huge amount of work, from all of us.

Then, I suspect, the nation will be better able to appreciate how far we've come in just two years from where we were.

(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

George W. Bush visits New Britain, Connecticut on June 12, 2003 to Pitch a Plan to Strengthen Medicare at New Britain General Hospital.

The Corporate Plan To Murder Medicare Runs Through Medicare Advantage
If they can move more than half of Americans off traditional Medicare and onto these corporate plans, it'll provide the political cover to kill off Medicare altogether-and they're nearly there now.
By Thom Hartmann

In 2003, George W Bush set up the destruction and privatization of Medicare. The end of "real Medicare" is getting closer every day, and Congress and Medicare's administrators are doing nothing.

Last Friday the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) announced a 14.5% increase in Medicare Part B premiums, raising the monthly payments by the lowest-income Medicare recipients from $148.50 a month to $170.10 a month next year.

Congress must stop these for-profit parasites who are steadily draining "real" Medicare of funds and resources while producing billions in profits and often outright stolen funds for the insurance industry.

If you're trying to live on the bottom rung of Social Security (about $365/month), that's consequential. People with Medigap policies are also seeing their policy price rises announced this month.

Two months ago I wrote about the Medicare Advantage Scam and how it can screw consumers. This price hike, though, raises the larger issue of what's happening to Medicare itself and whether the entire system may be out of business in a few years, in part because our government is being robbed blind by all these so-called "Advantage" plans.

It all began with George W. Bush, who'd spent most of his life openly and proudly campaigning to privatize Medicare and Social Security.

In 2003 Congress and the Bush administration rolled out a privatization option, allowing private for-profit insurance companies to sell policies branded as "Medicare Advantage" to gullible seniors who think they're buying the actual Medicare Parts A and B. As a result, today companies eager to rip off seniors are flooding the market, particularly with TV advertising.

As I note in considerable detail in The Hidden History of American Healthcare: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich, Medicare Advantage is hurting traditional Medicare, because that system is paying the insurance companies, in most cases, far more than it would be paying to simply cover the costs of its regular Medicare recipients.

Medicare Advantage is also one of the most effective ways that insurance companies can kill a real "Medicare for All" system, since so many people who think they're on Medicare are actually on these privatized plans instead.

Nearly from its beginning, Medicare allowed private companies to offer plans that essentially compete with it, but they were an obscure corner of the market and didn't really take off until the Bush administration and Congress rolled out the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.

This was the GOP's (and a few corporate-owned Democrats') big chance to finally privatize Medicare, albeit one customer at a time.

That law legalized a brand known as "Medicare Advantage" under the Medicare Part C provision and a year later it phased in what are known as risk-adjusted large-batch payments to insurance companies offering Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage plans are not government-provided Medicare. They're private health insurance most often offered by the big for-profit insurance companies (although some nonprofits participate, particularly the larger HMOs), and the rules they must live by are considerably looser than those for Medicare.

Even more consequential, they don't get reimbursed directly on a person-by-person, procedure-by-procedure basis. Instead, every year, Advantage providers submit a bill to the federal government based on the aggregate risk score of all their customers and, practically speaking, are paid in a massive lump sum for all of their customers.

The higher their risk score, the larger the payment. Profit-seeking insurance companies, being the predators that they are, have found a number of ways to raise their risk scores without raising their expenses.

For example, many Medicare Advantage plans promote an "annual home visit" by a nurse or physician's assistant as a "benefit" of the plan. What the companies are doing, though, is trying to upcode (raise their payments from Medicare) customers to make them seem sicker than they are.

"Heart failure," for example, can be a severe and expensive condition to treat . . . or a barely perceptible tic on an EKG that represents little or no threat to a person for years or even decades. Depression is similarly variable; if it lasts less than two weeks, there's no reimbursement; if it lasts longer than two weeks, it's called a "major depressive episode" and rapidly jacks up a risk score - and thus the payments to the insurance company, even if it provides no services.

The home health visits are so profitable that an entire industry has sprung up of companies that send nurses out on behalf of the smaller insurance companies.

In summer 2014, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) published an in-depth investigative report titled Why Medicare Advantage Costs Taxpayers Billions More Than It Should.

They found, among other things, that one of the most common scams companies were running involved that very scoring of their customers as being sicker than they actually were, so that their reimbursements were way above the cost of caring for those people.

Here are a few quotes and summaries (in my words) from the report:

"Risk scores of Medicare Advantage patients rose sharply in plans in at least 1,000 counties nationwide between 2007 and 2011, boosting taxpayer costs by more than $36 billion over estimated costs for caring for patients in standard Medicare."

"In more than 200 of these counties, the cost of some Medicare Advantage plans was at least 25 percent higher than the cost of providing standard Medicare coverage."

The report documents how risk scores rose twice as fast for people who joined a Medicare Advantage health plan as for those who didn't.

Patients, the report lays out, never know how their health is rated because neither the health plan nor Medicare shares risk scores with them - and the process itself is so arcane and secretive that it remains unfathomable to many health professionals.

"By 2009, government officials were estimating that just over 15 percent of total Medicare Advantage payments were inaccurate, about $12 billion that year."

Based on its own sampling of data from health plans, the report shows how CMS has estimated that "faulty" risk scores triggered nearly $70 billion in what officials deemed "improper" payments to Medicare Advantage plans from 2008 through 2013.

CMS decided, according to the report, not to chase after overcharges from 2008 through 2010 even though the agency estimated through sampling that it made more than $32 billion in "improper" payments to insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage plans over those three years. CMS did not explain its reasoning.

The report documents how Medicare expects to pay the health plans more than $150 billion in 2014, the year the study was published.

Companies are almost never nailed for these overcharges, and when they are, they usually pay back pennies on the dollar.

For example, when the Office of Inspector General, Health and Human Services (which oversees Medicare), audited six out of the hundreds of plans on the market in 2007, they found that just those six companies "had been overpaid by an estimated $650 million" for that one year. As the Center for Public Integrity states, "CMS settled five of the six audits for a total repayment of just over $1.3 million."

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also, in 2012, decided to audit only 30 plans a year going forward. As CPI noted, "At that rate, it would take CMS more than 15 years to review the hundreds of Medicare Advantage contracts now in force." And that's 15 years to audit just one year's activity!

Things haven't improved since that 2014 investigative report from CPI. In September 2019, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and five Democratic colleagues sent a letter to President Donald Trump's CMS Administrator, Seema Verma.

"The recent HHS Payment Accuracy Report exposes that taxpayers have overpaid Medicare Advantage plans more than $30 billion dollars over the last three years," Brown wrote, wanting to know if the government was going to try to recover any of that essentially stolen money.

Meanwhile, during the four years of the Trump administration, CMS went out of their way to illegally promote Medicare Advantage plans.

A February 2020 report in the New York Times stated, "Under President Trump, some critics contend, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers Medicare, has become a cheerleader for Advantage plans at the expense of original Medicare."

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) compared Medicare Advantage with traditional Medicare and found the Advantage programs to be mind-bogglingly profitable: "MA insurer revenues are 30 percent higher than their healthcare spending. Healthcare spending for enrollees in MA is 25 percent lower than for enrollees in [traditional Medicare] in the same county and [with the same] risk score."

In other words, they are paid more and deliver less, keeping the balance as their profit. And it is hundreds of billions of dollars.

At the same time, Medicare Advantage often screws its customers. According to the NBER study, people with Medicare Advantage got 15 percent fewer colon cancer screening tests, 24 percent fewer diagnostic tests, and 38 percent fewer flu shots.

Today the industry is so entrenched and massively profitable it can buy off members of Congress with the loose change it finds in the couch.

Meanwhile, changes CMS made to the Medicare website during the Trump administration now direct people who want to sign up for Medicare, instead, to a page to sign up for private Medicare Advantage plans.

If they can move more than half of Americans off traditional Medicare and onto these corporate plans, it'll provide the political cover to kill off Medicare altogether-and they're nearly there right now.

While much of the media focus on Medicare's price increase has been around a single Alzheimer's drug, the simple reality is that without the Medicare Advantage scam the Medicare system would be in great shape right now.

Congress must stop these for-profit parasites who are steadily draining "real" Medicare of funds and resources while producing billions in profits and often outright stolen funds for the insurance industry.

(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
~~~ Arend van Dam ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

World Wondering Why All The Crazy Bastards Have Control Of The Fossil Fuels?
By The Waterford Whispers News

THREATS by Belarusian hothead authoritarian Alexander Lukashenko to halt the supply of natural gas to Europe if fresh sanctions are placed on his country due to the unfolding humanitarian crisis on the border with Poland have lead the world to once again question why natural fuel supplies are always in the hands of 'mad bucks altogether.'

Lukashenko made the thinly veiled threats about the Russia-Europe pipeline as thousands of migrants waited in freezing conditions at the Belarusian border with Poland, with leaders trying to manage the situation remarking that this kind of thing never happens with countries whose primary exports aren't coal, oil or gas.

"It's a real chicken and egg situation. Are fossil fuels found in countries with nutcase leaders, or are there nutcase leaders in countries with fossil fuels? Either way, we're coming up against this problem again and again" sighed one EU analyst, who would 'fucking love' to sanction the shit out of Belarus for 'acting the bollocks.'

"Can't look after people in the Middle East because their leaders own all the oil. Can't tell the US to stop being pricks. Can't say a word about Putin even when he dangles his balls in our faces, because he owns all the gas and oil and so on. And now we have a chance to save thousands of people from misery, but we're worried that the price of gas will go up. It's almost like knowing humanity's dependency on these fuels turns leaders into monsters because they know there's no alternative, except solar or wind energy which nobody likes for some reason."

Meanwhile Ireland continues to flout rules and regulations, and forcing countries to bend to its will thanks to its status as one of the biggest turf suppliers in the world.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News


Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 47 (c) 11/26/2021

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