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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "The Pentagon's 20-Year Killing Spree Has Always Treated Civilians As Expendable."

Ralph Nader sees, "Rare Unionizing Opportunity In Big Box And Retail Chains."

Margaret Kimberley explains, "Why We Must Defend Julian Assange."

Jim Hightower says, "The Problem With Plastic... Is Plastic."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "AOC Warned About Manchin's Betrayal. Democratic Leaders Chose To Ridicule Her."

John Nichols is, "Walking With Wordsworth Across The Fresh Fields Of Winter."

James Donahue explores, "The Great Santa Claus Myth."

David Swanson reports, "The U.S. Military Is Registering 15-Year-Olds For The Draft."

David Suzuki concludes, "If Our Stories Set Us Apart, We Need To Create New Ones."

Charles P. Pierce says, "Wyoming Is The Onshore-Offshore Tax Haven Of Oligarch Dreams."

Juan Cole says, "Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Green: Biden Could Get Around Manchin With GOP Senators Supporting Wind, Solar, Battery."

Robert Reich concludes, "The Enemies Of American Democracy? Big Lie, Big Anger And Big Money."

Bill McKibben returns with, "Joe Manchin Has Wrecked The Biden Presidency-Perhaps He'll Also Liberate It."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Nation Shocked That Jim Jordan Is Capable Of Writing A Text," but first, Uncle Ernie explains, "What We Can Look Forward To In Winter Tornadoes."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Daryl Cagle, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Brian McFadden, Marcus Yam, Los Angeles Times, Frederic J. Brown, Alex Wong, Barry Adams, Henry Nicholls, Afrika Force, Matt Anderson, Mario Tama, World Beyond War.Com, Ting Shen, Xinhua, John Minchillo, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments -

The Quotable Quote -
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To End On A Happy Note -
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What We Can Look Forward To In Winter Tornadoes
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"Even though December tornadoes are rare, they pose a significant threat because of their unexpectedness and tendency to occur after sunset while people are at home sleeping, unaware of the impending danger." ~~~ Jeff Trapp ~ University of Illinois atmospheric sciences professor and department head

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

As you can imagine since last week's spread of some 51 tornadoes a lot of scientists have put forth explanations for them as it applies to global warming!

Though tornadoes can occur in any season, the United States logs the greatest number of powerful twisters in the warmer months from March to July. Devastating winter tornadoes like the one that killed at least 88 people across Kentucky and four other states beginning on December 10 are less common.

But global waarming could increase tornado intensity in cooler months by many orders of magnitude beyond what was previously expected, researchers report December 13 in a poster at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting.

Tornadoes typically form during thunderstorms when warm, humid airstreams get trapped beneath cooler, drier winds. As the fast-moving air currents move past each other, they create rotating vortices that can transform into vertical, spinning twisters. "Many tornadoes are short-lived, sometimes lasting mere minutes and with a width of only 100 yards," says Jeff Trapp, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"Over the last 20 years, tornado patterns have shifted so that these severe weather events occur later in the season and across a broader range in the United States than before," Trapp says. But scientists have struggled to pin down a direct link between the twister changes and human-caused global warming.

Unlike hurricanes and other severe storm systems, tornadoes happen at such a small scale that "most global climate simulations don't include the storms," says Kevin Reed, an atmospheric scientist at Stony Brook University in New York who was not involved in the new research.

To see how global warming may affect tornadoes, Trapp and colleagues started with atmospheric measurements of two historical tornadoes and simulated how those storm systems might play out in a warmer future.

The first historical tornado took place in the cool season on February 10, 2013, near Hattiesburg, Miss., and the second occurred in the warm season on May 20, 2013, in Moore, Okla. The researchers used a global warming simulation to predict how the twisters' wind speeds, width and intensity could change in a series of alternative climate scenarios.

Both twisters would likely become more intense in futures affected by global warming, the team found. But the simulated winter storm was more than eightfold as powerful as its historical counterpart, in part due to a predicted 15 percent increase in wind speeds. Global warming is expected to increase the availability of warm, humid air systems during cooler months, providing an important ingredient for violent tempests.

"This is exactly what we saw on Friday night," Trapp says. The unseasonably warm weather in the Midwest on the evening of December 10 and in the early morning of December 11 probably contributed to the devastation of the tornado that traveled hundreds of miles from Arkansas to Kentucky, he speculates.

Simulating how historical tornados could intensify in future climate scenarios is a "clever way" to address the knowledge gap around the effects of climate change on these severe weather systems, says Daniel Chavas, an atmospheric scientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., who was not involved in the new research.

But Chavas notes that this research is only one piece of a larger puzzle as researchers investigate how tornados might impact communities in the future.

One drawback of this type of simulation is it often requires direct measurements from a historical event, Reed says. That limits its prediction power to re-creating documented tornadoes rather than broadly forecasting shifts in large-scale weather systems.

Though the team based its predictions on only two previous tornados, Trapp says he hopes that adding more historical twisters to the analysis could provide more data for policy makers as well as residents of communities that may have to bear the force of intensifying tornadoes.

Finally, did you know that 90% of the world tornadoes happen here in the United States?


12-28-1944 ~ 12-19-2021
Burn Baby Burn!

07-20-1930 ~ 12-19-2021
Thanks for the film!

03-25-1931 ~ 12-19-2021
Thanks for the film!

12-05-1934 ~ 12-23-2021
Thanks for the read!


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 man grieves for his family members during a mass funeral for the 10 civilians that were killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.

The Pentagon's 20-Year Killing Spree Has Always Treated Civilians As Expendable
At the Pentagon, meanwhile, the bloody-thirty feast of the war profiteers continues unabated.
By Norman Solomon

Top U.S. officials want us to believe that the Pentagon carefully spares civilian lives while making war overseas. The notion is pleasant. And with high-tech killing far from home, the physical and psychological distances have made it even easier to believe recent claims that American warfare has become "humane."

Such pretenses should be grimly laughable to anyone who has read high-quality journalism from eyewitness reporters like Anand Gopal and Nick Turse. For instance, Gopal's article for The New Yorker in September, "The Other Afghan Women," is an in-depth, devastating piece that exposes the slaughter and terror systematically inflicted on rural residents of Afghanistan by the U.S. Air Force.

Turse, an incisive author and managing editor at TomDispatch, wrote this fall: "Over the last 20 years, the United States has conducted more than 93,300 air strikes -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen-that killed between 22,679 and 48,308 civilians, according to figures recently released by Airwars, a U.K.-based airstrike monitoring group. The total number of civilians who have died from direct violence in America's wars since 9/11 tops out at 364,000 to 387,000, according to Brown University's Costs of War Project."

Those deaths have been completely predictable results of U.S. government policies. And in fact, evidence of widespread civilian casualties emerged soon after the "war on terror" started two decades ago. Leaks with extensive documentation began to surface more than 10 years ago, thanks to stark revelations from courageous whistleblowers and the independent media outlet WikiLeaks.

The retribution for their truth-telling has been fierce and unrelenting. WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is in a British prison, facing imminent extradition to the United States, where the chances of a fair trial are essentially zero. Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning spent seven years in a military prison. Former U.S. Air Force analyst Daniel Hale, who revealed murderous effects of U.S. drone warfare, is currently serving a 45-month prison sentence. They had the clarity of mind and heart to share vital information with the public, disclosing not just "mistakes" but patterns of war crimes.

Such realities should be kept in mind when considering how the New York Times framed its blockbuster scoop last weekend, drawing on more than 1,300 confidential documents. Under the big headline "Hidden Pentagon Records Reveal Patterns of Failure in Deadly Airstrikes," the Times assessed U.S. bombing in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan-and reported that "since 2014, the American air war has been plagued by deeply flawed intelligence, rushed and imprecise targeting and the deaths of thousands of civilians, many of them children."

What should not get lost in all the bold-type words like "failure," "flawed intelligence" and "imprecise targeting" is that virtually none of it was unforeseeable. The killings have resulted from policies that gave very low priority to prevention of civilian deaths.

The gist of those policies continues. And so does the funding that fuels the nation's nonstop militarism, most recently in the $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act that spun through Congress this month and landed on President Biden's desk.

Dollar figures are apt to look abstract on a screen, but they indicate the extent of the mania. Biden had "only" asked for $12 billion more than President Trump's last NDAA, but that wasn't enough for the bipartisan hawkery in the House and Senate, which provided a boost of $37 billion instead.

Actually, factoring in other outlays for so-called "defense," annual U.S. military spending is in the vicinity of $1 trillion. Efforts at restraint have hit a wall. This fall, in a vote on a bill to cut 10 percent of the Pentagon budget, support came from only one-fifth of the House, and not one Republican.

In the opposite direction, House support for jacking up the military budget was overwhelming, with a vote of 363-70. Last week, when it was the Senate's turn to act on the measure, the vote was 88-11.

Overall, military spending accounts for about half of the federal government's total discretionary spending-while programs for helping instead of killing are on short rations for local, state and national government agencies. It's a destructive trend of warped priorities that serves the long-term agendas of neoliberalism, aptly defined as policies that "enhance the workings of free market capitalism and attempt to place limits on government spending, government regulation, and public ownership."

While the two parties on Capitol Hill have major differences on domestic issues, relations are lethally placid beyond the water's edge. When the NDAA cleared the Senate last week, the leaders of the Armed Services Committee were both quick to rejoice. "I am pleased that the Senate has voted in an overwhelming, bipartisan fashion to pass this year's defense bill," said the committee's chair, Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island. The ranking Republican on the panel, Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma, chimed in: "This bill sends a clear message to our allies-that the United States remains a reliable, credible partner-and to our adversaries-that the U.S. military is prepared and fully able to defend our interests around the world."

The bill also sends a clear message to Pentagon contractors as they drool over a new meal in the ongoing feast of war profiteering.

It's a long way from their glassed-in office suites to the places where the bombs fall.

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

Union leaders are joined by community group representatives, elected officials and social activists for a rally in
support of unionization efforts by Amazon workers in the state of Alabama on March 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Rare Unionizing Opportunity In Big Box And Retail Chains
Chalk it up to the pandemic's dislocations when millions of workers left their jobs, and many have not yet returned
By Ralph Nader

This is the most opportune time for millions of workers in Big Box retail stores and fast-food outlets to form unions. McDonald's, Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, and other giant chains are having trouble finding enough workers. Some of these companies are even paying signing bonuses and upping low pay.

Chalk it up to the pandemic's dislocations when millions of workers left their jobs, and many have not yet returned. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) see the opportunity of a lifetime, but are they putting enough organizing resources into this effort?

For over four decades, unions of all kinds in the corporate economy have been in decline. Only six percent of private sector workers are now in unions. However, polls are showing a high favorability level for unions, following worker heroics on behalf of Covid-19 victims.

The House of Representatives has passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act - opposed by the Republican corporatists - but Senate prospects are dim due to the same GOP corporatists. Why the Senate Democrats are not regularly holding hearings on the plights of non-union working families can only be answered by Majority Leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York.

Since Reagan took office in January 1981, organized labor has been battered by numerous forces. These include (1) the eight years of Ronald Reagan, Union-buster-in-chief, owning the White House, (2) ever greater exportation of jobs propelled by large companies abandoning the U.S. for communist and fascist dictatorships abroad with their legions of serf labor, and (3) growing automations of the workplace. Mediocre leadership of many unions has not helped either.

Younger people in these giant retail outlets have little knowledge of how unions saved the working classes in the 20th century from many of the cruelest treatments by corporate capitalism. Current union educational efforts are filling some of this gap of why, how, and where to form a union - though not with the intensity of the late union leaders Tony Mazzocchi and Harry Kelber. Mr. Kelber was the greatest writer of popular "how to" pamphlets for workers seeking unions. (See:

While the big retailers may sporadically fill worker gaps with one-time economic incentives, they are still run by the same old union busting bosses with their union busting, pricey law firms and consultants.

Their mantra - crush any tiny unionizing effort at any store, no matter its costs. A few weeks ago, Dollar General, with over 7,000 stores nationwide, crushed such an effort in a Dollar General store in Winsted, Connecticut. They sent in five "consultants" to stay in the store at a stunning $2700 each a day, according to a long page-one article in the Washington Post. These and other corporate intimidators sometimes outnumbered the six employees during the unionizing drive, until the unionists narrowly lost the vote to the other frightened employees. One employee was dismissed for being pro-union but reinstated for the vote.

There are major strikes by workers at John Deere, Kellogg, and some other large manufacturing firms. Right now, however, the big battle that should be joined is with Big Retail, where the jobs making burgers or coffee cannot be exported.

The takeaway from all this is threefold.

First, the Democratic Party should scale up its enthusiasm and backing of these valiant workers, right down to the local Democratic Party committees.

Second, same is true for the AFL-CIO which can provide stronger backup of the federation's member unions and press the Biden Administration to strongly enforce labor laws that are routinely, says the AFL-CIO website, violated by companies with impunity.

Third, consumers and their organizations should elevate their support for paid sick leave, adequate healthcare, safe working conditions, and fair wages; if not for solidarity, then for safely served food. Consumers should not want to see hard-pressed, sick workers having to serve them, to pay bills.

For labor, this is a briefly open window in history. Robotics and surplus labor will soon be closing it. Unions need to move at unaccustomed and rapid speeds now!

(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).

Julian Assange supporters outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, UK, December 10, 2021

Why We Must Defend Julian Assange
By Margaret Kimberley

Julian Assange is one of the political prisoners that the US claims not to have. The UK is again the good vassal, keeping him locked up until the Biden administration finds an opportune time to ship him off to a kangaroo court. Everyone who believes in press freedom and who opposes imperialism must be a staunch Assange defender.

December 10 is International Human Rights Day. It is always a sham holiday for the United States, which locks up its own people at rates exceeding those of every other country, and routinely makes war against the rest of the world. In 2021 the date was treated as even more of a mockery than in the past. Joe Biden convened a bizarre democracy summit, wherein he declared other nations good or bad based on whether they go along with the dictates of the U.S. empire. Although it was in London where the U.S. behaved in a particularly shameful manner, working with the United Kingdom to secure the right to extradite Julian Assange.

In 2018 Assange was indicted in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, a hanging court where acquittals are rare. His offense is one that the system will not tolerate. Over a period of years his organization, Wikileaks, revealed U.S. crimes committed around the world.

Assange ran afoul of four different U.S. presidents, republicans and democrats alike. Wikileaks revealed war crimes committed during the George W. Bush administration in their Iraq War Logs and Afghanistan War Logs. Private Chelsea Manning leaked the Collateral Murder video, which shows the deaths of civilians, including two Reuters reporters, as they were gunned down by a U.S. army helicopter crew in 2007.

Collateral Murder was released in 2010 when Barack Obama was president. All of the purported differences between democrats and republicans disappear when U.S. hegemony is in need of protection. Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder, confirmed that Assange was under investigation. While the Justice Department ultimately chose not to indict, they laid the groundwork for Donald Trump to make Assange a political prisoner. Obama's unprecedented use of the Espionage Act sent other whistleblowers to jail and gave Trump license to get his hands on Assange. As always, Joe Biden follows Trump policy and he continues the Assange persecution.

The Trump administration built on the work of the Obama DOJ and secured a 17-count indictment in 2018, with charges that could result in a 175-year sentence. Of course they didn't stop with criminal charges, which were useless as long as the Ecuadorian government gave Assange sanctuary in its London embassy. The Trump administration secured a $4 billion IMF loan for Ecuador, just one month before Assange's protections were lifted. The timing of the transaction and the arrest were clearly not coincidental.

It isn't surprising that presidents wage war against the truth tellers of the world. What is especially disheartening is the way that journalists have abandoned Assange and turned into U.S. government spokespeople if they discuss his case at all.

Media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and The Guardian worked with Assange for years, printing Wikileaks revelations on a regular basis. Yet they have said little in his defense ever since he was arrested on April 11, 2019. Neither have the liberal elites, who parrot the falsehood that Assange is responsible for Hillary Clinton's 2016 defeat. According to democratic propagandists, Russian operatives hacked the Democratic National Committee computers and gave a trove of embarrassing emails to Wikileaks. Hillary Clinton even refers to the organization as "Russian Wikileaks" just in case anyone forgot to blame others for her political debacle.

Of course, Wikileaks received the DNC documents the same way they received all others. A whistleblower leaked the material and the rest is history. Except history didn't turn out as most people predicted. Hillary Clinton lost, in large part because of the corrupt behaviors that Assange revealed.

The DNC revelations were as big a threat as the war logs. Assange exposed how the Clinton campaign amplified Trump, in a mistaken belief that he would be the easiest republican to defeat. They also proved that the primary process was rigged against Bernie Sanders, who would have been the better candidate. The revelations had to be squelched and the need to turn Assange into a scapegoat only intensified over time. Russiagate was the means of vilification and made him persona non grata with people who might have been his defenders.

The Collateral Murder video shows the killing of two Iraqis who were employed by Reuters in Baghdad. One would think that some professional courtesy would be extended to their memories, if only for appearance sake. But that isn't how corporate media operate. They work on behalf of the state and they conveniently forget their past relationship with Wikileaks and the killings of their colleagues so that they might stay in the good graces of the people prosecuting Assange.

Ultimately the U.S. and U.K. couldn't be bad actors at all if powerful media organizations behaved like independent entities and not as an arm of the state. Assange has no influential friends and sits in Belmarsh prison, having suffered a stroke on October 27, 2021. His physical and mental health deteriorate while unscrupulous people in London and Washington decide his fate.

The corrupt process must be exposed and all Assange supporters must speak up. The United States should not be allowed to use the Espionage Act or any other mechanism to snatch up anyone, anywhere and charge with a crime of dubious legality. If they are allowed to do so in this case they will certainly do it again. Anyone who wants to expose high crimes will find themselves in Assange's position. People who oppose the empire and its machinations are all at risk if Assange is extradited and stands trial in the Eastern District court. He is a political prisoner and others will be too if the prosecution proceeds. It is no exaggeration to say that we are all Julian Assange.

(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 Problem With Plastic... Is Plastic

By Jim Hightower

In a world that's clogged and choking with a massive overdose of plastic trash, you'll be heartened to learn that governments and industries are teaming up to respond forcefully to this planetary crisis.

Unfortunately, their response has been to engage in a global race to make more plastic stuff and to force poor countries to become dumping grounds for plastic garbage. Leading this Kafkaesque greedfest are such infamous plunderers and polluters as Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, and other petrochemical profiteers. With fossil fuel profits crashing, the giants are rushing to convert more of their over-supply of oil into plastic. But where to send the monstrous volumes of waste that will result?

The industry's chief lobbyist outfit, the American Chemistry Council, looked around last year and suddenly shouted: "Eureka, there's Africa!" In particular, they're targeting Kenya to become "a plastics hub" for global trade in waste. However, Kenyans have an influential community of environmental activists who've enacted some of the world's toughest bans on plastic pollution. To bypass this inconvenient local opposition, the dumpers are resorting to an old corporate power play: "Free Trade." Their lobbyists are pushing an autocratic trade agreement that would ban Kenyan officials from passing their own laws or rules that interfere with trade in plastic waste.

Trying to hide their ugliness, the plastic profiteers created a PR front group called "Alliance to End Public Waste." But - hello - it's not "public" waste. Exxon and other funders of the alliance make, promote, and profit from the mountains of destructive trash they now demand we clean up.

The real problem is not waste, but plastic itself. From production to disposal, it's destructive to people and the planet. Rather than subsidizing petrochemical behemoths to make more of the stuff, policymakers should seek out and encourage people who are developing real solutions and alternatives.

(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

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on December 8, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

AOC Warned About Manchin's Betrayal. Democratic Leaders Chose To Ridicule Her
By William Rivers Pitt

It seems like almost forever since Cassandra of Troy - blessed with the power to predict the future, cursed by the fact that no one would believe her - has been in the news, but she's back this week with a thunderclap and yet another, "I told you so."

Her name this time is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - and Representatives Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley, and everyone else who knew and foretold that Sen. Joe Manchin would ultimately stab President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party, his own state and the world in the back to keep his precious coal safe from the environmental protections contained within the Build Back Better (BBB) Act.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden assured the Congressional Progressive Caucus that they could bring Senator Manchin along on the BBB Act if the caucus relented and allowed a separate vote on the infrastructure bill. The caucus refused, correctly believing that splitting the two would doom the BBB, and the stalemate stood until Manchin started making noises about bolting from the party. After that, it became about "acting responsibly," and the Progressive Caucus took party leadership at their word. On Sunday, both the leadership and the caucus were betrayed by Manchin in a move the latest reincarnation of Cassandra saw from way up high on the walls of Troy.

"When a handful of us in the House warned this would happen if Dem leaders gave Manchin everything he wanted 1st by moving [the infrastructure bill] before BBB instead of passing together, many ridiculed our position," Representative Ocasio-Cortez gritted on Twitter. "Maybe they'll believe us next time. Or maybe people will just keep calling us naive."

Representative Pressley also chimed in. "He has continued to move the goal post," she told CNN. "He has never negotiated in good faith and he is obstructing the president's agenda." Bush, too, foresaw what was coming. "We have been saying this, for weeks, that this would happen," she told MSNBC, "having [BBB and infrastructure bills] coupled together was the only leverage we had. And what did the caucus do? We tossed it."

To hear Manchin tell it, he came to his decision because the BBB Act was an actual threat to the country, instead of a small dose of the medicine it desperately needs. He pointed to COVID-19 and inflation as reasons for his decision, but Representative Omar was having none of it.

"We all knew that Senator Manchin couldn't be trusted," Omar told MSNBC. "The excuses that he just made, I think, are complete bullshit. It is really disheartening to hear him say that he has been trying to get there for the people of West Virginia because that's a complete lie. The people of West Virginia would greatly benefit from their families having access to long-term elderly care and care for folks with disabilities. They would benefit from the expansion of the child tax credits."

Pause a moment with that. "West Virginia is the second-poorest U.S. state, with a $48,850 median household income and a poverty rate of 17.54 percent," according to World Population Review.

Contained within the BBB Act was an expansion of the child tax credit that has, over the last year, lifted millions of children out of poverty all across the country. In West Virginia, the lapse of the credit - a foregone conclusion with Manchin's decision - could plunge 50,000 children back into poverty. "One in five West Virginia children is estimated to live in poverty," reports the Associated Press, "and 93 percent of children in the state are eligible for the [tax credit] payments, tied for the highest rates in the country."

"So that's where the United States of America is now," reports The New Republic, "behind Mongolia and all those other countries, all because of one man - and the power that is given to him by the structure of our national legislature. West Virginia will keep falling behind. And Joe Manchin can watch it all unfold through the windows of his Maserati."

There is apparently direct evidence to the effect of Representative Omar's conclusion that the excuses Manchin made "are complete bullshit." According to several Senate colleagues, Manchin "essentially doesn't trust low-income people to spend government money wisely," reports HuffPost. "In recent months, Manchin has told several of his fellow Democrats that he thought parents would waste monthly child tax credit payments on drugs instead of providing for their children, according to two sources familiar with the senator's comments. Manchin's private comments shocked several senators, who saw it as an unfair assault on his own constituents and those struggling to raise children in poverty."

And the penny drops. The great inflation fighter, the cost cutter, the responsible one in a sea of leftist binge-spending, is revealed to be just another 1 percenter who hates the people who elected him but loves the power they give him. Maybe this dramatic break with his party means he'll bail on the Democrats, become an Independent, and run for president, right? There's chatter about it.

At the bottom of it all, however, is the same old hatred of poor and working-class people, the same utter indifference to the stones they carry on their backs every bleeding day of the year. That, and the coal, of course. Always the coal.

(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.

In this Jan. 20, 2019, photo, the sun rises over a frozen Lake Mendota.

Walking With Wordsworth Across The Fresh Fields Of Winter
By John Nichols

The Winter Solstice has come and the Christmastide is upon us.

Even though snow has been slow coming, and lakes remain unfrozen, we are moving into that time of year that makes Wisconsin most alluring for those of us who are inclined toward walking in winter.

Wisconsinites know that walking in winter is different from walking in the other three seasons of our year. The snow, the ice, the cold give form and purpose to the endeavor.

If our clothing is insufficient, we move more quickly in hopes of finding shelter from the storm. But if we are ready for the weather, well then, we are ready for adventure.

Last winter, I got into the habit of walking across Lake Mendota from the east side of Madison to the University of Wisconsin campus. There were, of course, buses and cars and - this being Madison - bikes that could have been employed for the purpose. But I've come to prefer the direct route across the frozen lake.

It is where we can, like William Wordsworth before us, feel, our feet "dispersing the powdery snow that rises up like smoke."

No one got winter walking better than the poet and his sister Dorothy.

It has been more than 200 years since William and Dorothy embarked on a snowy, four-day hike that would become the subject of one of the great philosophical ruminations on walking.

My friend Rebecca Solnit begins the second section of her brilliant 2001 book "Wanderlust: A History of Walking" with a description of the journey on foot across northern England that William and Dorothy Wordsworth made on the eve of the 19th century.

"Two weeks before the end of the century, a brother and sister went walking across the snow," recalled Solnit. "The first day of their journey, Dec. 17, they had gone 22 miles on horseback before they parted with their friend, the horses' owner, and walked another 12 miles to their lodgings, 'having walked the last three miles in the dark and two of them over hardfrozen road to the great annoyance of their feet and ankles. Next morning the earth was thinly covered with snow, enough to make the road soft and prevent it being slippery.' As they had the day before, the travelers turned aside to see a waterfall amid this mountainous landscape. 'Twas a keen frosty morning,' the brother went on in his Christmas Eve letter, 'showers of snow threatening us but the sun bright and active; we had a task of 21 miles to perform in a short winter's day. ... On a nearer approach the water seemed to fall down a tall arch or rather nitch which had shaped itself by insensible moulderings in the wall of an old castle. We left this spot with reluctance but highly exhilarated.'

"In the afternoon they came upon another waterfall, whose water seemed to turn to snow as it fell amid the ice. He continued, 'The stream shot from the rows of icicles in irregular fits of strength and with a body of water that momently varied. Sometimes it threw itself into the basin in one continued curve, sometimes it was interrupted almost midway in its fall and, being blown toward us, fell at no great distance from our feet like the heaviest thunder shower. In such a situation you have at every moment a feeling of the presence of the sky. Above the highest point of the waterfall large fleecy clouds drove over our heads and the sky appeared of a blue more than usually brilliant.' After the detour to the waterfall, they walked the next 10 miles in two and a quarter hours 'thanks to the wind that drove behind us and the good road,' and he seemed to relish their prowess in walking almost as much as the scenery. Seven more miles took them to their next resting spot, and in the morning they walked into Kendal, the gateway to the Lake District, where they had come to live."

Solnit remarked: "What they did on those four days across the Pennine Mountains of northern England, what they had done and would do as walkers, was extraordinary. What makes it so is hard to pin down. People had traveled by foot much farther and in far worse conditions before. People had begun, by the time of the poet's and his sister's birth nearly 30 years before, to admire some of the wildest features of the British countryside - mountains, cliffs, moors, storms, and the sea, as well as waterfalls. ... (Yet) Wordsworth and his companions are said to have made walking into something else, something new, and thereby to have founded the whole lineage of those who walk for its own sake and for the pleasure of being in the landscape, from which so much has sprung."

"On the cusp of the next century, the Wordsworths were having a splendid time walking not only roads but fells and byways," Solnit observed, "as they admired the view and enjoyed their own powers of walking in weather that would keep most people huddled indoors."

One of the more appealing notions in these often overwhelming times is that, for all of our technological advances, it is still possible to have a splendid time following roads and byways, to admire the view and to enjoy our own powers of walking in weather that would keep most people huddled indoors.

It is walking that allows us to most fully embrace the great gift that is winter. It is our destiny as Wisconsinites, and our great opportunity, to walk in this season. Like the poet and his sister coming down from the Pennines toward Kendal, we still have the capacity to travel at our own speed toward inspired destinations.

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

The Great Santa Claus Myth
By James Donahue

The image of Santa Claus is strongly associated with the bane that a rebellious branch of society and some fundamental Christians have dubbed the "commercialization of Christmas." But the figure as we know it stems from ancient and spooky mythology that has its origins before the birth of Jesus.

Among the oldest stories of a night visitor during the month of December seems to be that of the Krampus, an evil incubus or demon that comes to punish bad children. The very name of this demon is from Old High German and it means "claw."

This cruel and frighteningly appearing creature is a German myth that stems from pagan belief systems in the regions of Germany and Austria. After the Santa Claus legend developed, the story changed so that Krampus traveled with Santa. This myth is likely the origin of the story that Santa leaves a lump of coal, or no toys at all for bad children.

The description of Krampus as an incubus is disconcerting. An incubus, by legend, is a demonic creature that rapes women in their sleep. The name means to lie on top. Yet the myth of Krampus omits any suggestion of a sexual assault. His purpose is to punish the children who have misbehaved during the year.

Another early visitor to children's homes at Yule time was Odin, a legend handed down from Iceland. This story depicts Odin as an old man with a long white beard that leads a great hunting party through the sky. He rides an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir that could leap great distances.

When it was time for Odin to visit, children would place their boots filled with carrots, straw or sugar near the chimney for the flying horse to eat. Odin would reward the children for their kindness by leaving gifts and candy.

So now we have a kinder nighttime caller with a long flowing white beard, flying through the sky, and leaving gifts for the children.

The Third Century Christian named Nicholas, provided both the spirit of Christmas gift giving and the root name for the contemporary Santa Claus. Nicholas was a Greek who lived in the village of Patara at what is now at the southern coast of Turkey. His parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died when Nicholas was young. In obedience to the command of Christ to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," he used his entire inheritance to help the needy, the sick and the suffering.

Because of the way he lived, and his devotion to the church, Nicholas was declared a saint. Thus emerged the name Saint Nicholas, which we all know is just short of the name Santa Claus. But there is more to be told in the evolution of this legend. It seems that the story of the great deeds of Saint Nicholas spread throughout Europe and it got embellished in the telling as time passed. Thus in the Netherlands, Belgium, Aruba, and other parts of Europe, there evolved a traditional winter celebration of Saint Nicholas eve on December 5 and the morning of December 6, said to have been the birthday of the patron saint of children.

This holiday became and continues to be the chief occasion for gift giving. And there is a magical figure involved who bears the name Sinterklaas, yet another preliminary version of the contemporary name Santa Claus.

Among the traditions of the Netherland holiday was a feast. Also the children put their shoe in front of the fireplace before going to bed, then find gifts around the shows the following morning.

The legends of both Saint Nicholas and Sinterklaas were carried via Christian churches into England where the British character Father Christmas emerged. It was Father Christmas that was portrayed in the well known Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol." Father Christmas was described as a great genial man in a long green coat lined with fur who expresses the spirit of good cheer at Christmas.

All of these stories followed the European settlers as they migrated to North America and settled there. Because of the influence of the Christian Church, it did not take long for all of the holidays to merge into one, celebrated at Christmas.

Then all it took was the creative writings of such people as Clement Clarke Moore, who penned the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" as published in the Troy, New York Sentinel in 1823, to turn Sinterklaas into a jolly old fat elf who rode in a flying sleigh, the flying horse into flying reindeer, and establish the story of how the gifts were brought into the house through the chimney.

After that, song writers, artists and others helped Santa evolve from an elf into a larger than life fat man, added Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to the pack of magical flying team pulling Santa's sleigh, and gave us that massive catalog of Christmas songs that drive most of us witless by the time the pre-Christmas shopping season comes to an end.

While some hard-line fundamentalists worry that encouraging children to believe in Santa Claus might affect their ability to believe in Jesus Christ, it seems there is little that they can do about this. Santa Claus is the most popular of all world myths and the jolly old man in his red coat, white trim and black boots seems to be enjoyed by children all over the world.

(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. Military Is Registering 15-Year-Olds For The Draft
By David Swanson

The U.S. Military Is Registering 15-Year-Olds For The Draft Most U.S. states still have excuses when asked to make voter registration automatic, but in various states - including here in Virginia - draft registration is automatic even for 15-year-olds who want a learner's permit to drive a car. (This is still only for males, as Congress did not, in the end, extend draft registration to females, at least until next year - once in a while Democrats' obeisance to Republicans works out well.) The application for the learner's permit in Virginia, for which you must be 15-and-a-half-years-old, says:

"Generally males under age 26 must register with the Selective Service. If you are required by federal law to register with the Selective Service, you must authorize DMV to forward your personal information to the Selective Service unless you have already registered. If you are under age 18, your parent or guardian must sign your application authorizing the Selective Service to register you when you turn age 18. Law prohibits DMV from issuing any type of driver's license or ID card to an applicant who is required by federal law to register with the Selective Service but who refuses to authorize DMV to send his information to the Selective Service. If you have questions about Selective Service registration, visit the Selective Service website at or call 847-688-6888 (TTY: 847-688-2567)."
So, you're registered to be registered, because you are required by federal law to be registered, except that you are not so required, because you are not 18 years old, so you're not really registered, you're just, you know, registered. At 15 YEARS OLD. To kill people. For the profits of weapons companies and whatever else you believe it's for - killing people.

So, what can a 15-year-old do who wants to drive a car but not sign up for the unselective nonservice?

Some advise this approach: Don't register online! Instead, go to the DMV or post office and properly complete two Selective Service registration forms. Write, "I am conscientiously opposed to war" clearly on the front of both forms. Address envelopes to the Selective Service System and to yourself. Both will be postmarked on the same date. The Selective Service won't pay attention to what you've written and you'll be registered. When you receive the envelope through the mail, don't open it. Instead keep it with your important things. If there's a draft that you are unable to ignore or avoid, you will need to claim an opportunity to plead your case in front of your local draft board. Bring the sealed envelope; photograph it and then open it in front of them. Explain that your opposition to war didn't suddenly materialize when the draft was reinstituted.

What can the rest of us do? Tell the U.S. Congress to repeal the so-called Selective Service.

(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.

Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.

If Our Stories Set Us Apart, We Need To Create New Ones
By David Suzuki

According to philosopher-historian Yuval Noah Harari, "Homo sapiens conquered this planet thanks above all to the unique human ability to create and spread fictions. We are the only mammals that can cooperate with numerous strangers because only we can invent fictional stories, spread them around, and convince millions of others to believe in them. As long as everybody believes in the same fictions, we all obey the same laws, and can thereby cooperate effectively."

In his book, Sapiens, Harari explains that 1,000 humans can peacefully occupy a large room if it's for a common purpose - to attend a lecture, say, or church. But if you put 1,000 non-human animals into a room, chaos would likely ensue. (Of course, human gatherings can also end in chaos.

This is the most convincing theory to date of a distinction between humans and non-human animals - a distinction we're so heavily invested in that we've told ourselves numerous stories to uphold the concept. Most of these stories have been debunked.

In the 1960s, Jane Goodall rocked the scientific world by reporting that David Greybeard, a chimp she was observing, used grass stalks to collect termites from a termite mound. Until then, tool use was thought to be a defining quality of humanity. In subsequent observations, she noticed chimps shaping tools to increase their efficiency. In response, her sponsor Louis Leakey exclaimed, "Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans."

Instead, we shifted the goalposts, and asserted that while other animals might make and use tools, only humans had a sense of self. This theory was discounted by the "mirror test," first conducted in 1970, in which Gordon Gallup Jr. anesthetized apes, painted a red spot on their foreheads, and placed a mirror in their cage. When they came to, the apes responded by touching the spot and inspecting their fingers, much as humans would do.

While American linguist and social activist Noam Chomsky and his supporters assert that language differentiates humans from other animals, and while humans have never successfully taught other animals to communicate in complete sentences, there's little question that animals communicate. Honeybees dance out directions to nearby nectar. Vervet monkeys use different alarm calls to alert fellow monkeys to the presence of leopards, eagles and snakes.

Researcher W. Tecumseh Fich says animals communicate complicated ideas within their communities, but this "cognitive sophistication" isn't detectable in their vocal communication systems.

The assertion that only humans can think abstractedly has also been debunked, as has the notion that only humans have culture and shared learning.

There's no question that non-human animals are different from humans in many ways. But although we can't teach a chimpanzee how to communicate with us in sign language as a human could, nor can we learn how to communicate within non-human animal societies. While we might glean the meaning of some of their signals and cries, many concepts they comprehend are collectively understood in ways we'll likely never know.

As our stories evolve or are replaced as we learn from the world around us, we must find narratives that better equip us to meet the challenges of our times. Our current preferred plot lines potentially hinder our ability to fully come to terms with risks such as those posed by climate change and the steps needed to address them. Harari writes, "It's important to have human enemies in order to have a catchy story. With climate change, you don't. Our minds didn't evolve for this kind of story."

As dictators have shown throughout history, collective narratives are often successful when they have a bad guy, someone or something that is "other." That's why seeing nature as a "resource" rather than "kin" or something we are a part of has made ecosystems easy to exploit.

Ultimately, humans have the ability to shift our narratives, create wider circles of caring and revel in the wonders of non-human animals' abilities instead of comparing them to ourselves and finding them lacking.

It's not too late to set ourselves up to be the story's heroes who finally take responsibility for our ailing planet. In the most pressing story facing our planet today, the ending has yet to be written.

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

Bison on the prairie below the Grand Teton range

Wyoming Is The Onshore-Offshore Tax Haven Of Oligarch Dreams
Remember when the go-to reference when you were making a joke about financial finagling was the Caymans?
By Charles P. Pierce

Remember when the go-to reference when you were making a joke about financial finagling was Brazil? Then it became the Caymans. The point is that all the places you stashed your money were lovely, wind-kissed tropical locales where it would be undeniably pleasant to go and visit it from time to time. Now, as our good friends who are combing through the Pandora Papers inform us via the good offices of the Washington Post, if you want to drop in on your cash, you might want to pack your skis and a good pair of boots. You won't need a passport, though.

It's called the "Cowboy Cocktail," and in recent years the coveted financial arrangement has attracted a new set of outsiders to the least populated state in America. The cocktail and variations of it - consisting of a Wyoming trust and layers of private companies with concealed ownership - allow the world's wealthy to move and spend money in extraordinary secrecy, protected by some of the strongest privacy laws in the country and, in some cases, without even the cursory oversight performed by regulators in other states.
Mmmmm, tasty secrecy! And who are these people sending their profits to the Land of Cheneys, where so few people live that they all figured, I guess, that nobody would notice that Wyoming had converted itself into a safe-deposit box with mountains?
One was Moscow billionaire Igor Makarov, named under a 2017 law requiring the U.S. Treasury Department to list oligarchs and political figures close to the Russian government. Makarov's company faced questions in the past about controversial transactions with Russia's state-owned gas giant and about possible influence peddling involving the daughter of a U.S. congressman.

The matriarch of Argentina's Baggio family, whose beverage company was accused by local officials of dumping industrial waste and whose son is embroiled in an investigation into money laundering, also moved the management of its wealth to Wyoming. So did the late Kalil Hache Malkun of the Dominican Republic. The polo player and army officer managed the private estates of reviled Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, who ordered the deaths of political enemies and thousands of Haitians.

These various ill-gotten rubles and pesos technically are not being laundered in Wyoming. They're simply being stashed there beyond the reach of the native populations from whom they were wrested, stolen, or otherwise spirited away. Imagine being some poor Argentinian whose water supply was poisoned and finding out that the company that did so has parked the profits in Casper or Riverton.
Customers can also establish a second company inside their trusts to hold the assets, such as property and bank accounts, concealing wealth behind yet another corporate layer. Using this approach - the Cowboy Cocktail - wealthy people can move money into the United States and invest and spend it with a level of anonymity found in few other tax havens.

"Wyoming is advertising itself as the new onshore offshore [financial center] - it's going to get the clientele," said University of Richmond law professor Allison Tait, a trust and estate expert who has studied the state's layered financial instruments, including the cocktail. "It's like a wrapped gift inside a wrapped gift," she said. "The more wrapping you put on, the harder it is to figure out if there has been tax avoidance or evasion or even financial crime. Very few people know what you're doing, basically."

It's hard to imagine any place more offshore than Wyoming. Of course, it's offshore in reverse. The shore is way over there to the west, and there's no place for flip-flops when it's 15-below.
In a competitive global market, Wyoming's financial incentives have stood out. One trust company 8,700 miles away in Singapore recommended Wyoming on its website as a go-to tax haven that would "completely shield" clients' names and assets. "Offshore Wyoming, USA," noted another firm, this one in Ukraine's bustling capital, Kyiv. Trust companies in Wyoming now manage at least $31.5 billion in assets, according to the state. Time and again, Wyoming lawmakers suggested the industry would bring jobs and other economic benefits to a state that has long depended on special taxes imposed on coal, oil and other natural resources.

"It's friendly for business is the bottom line," said former Republican House member Bunky Loucks, who spent 10 years in the state legislature. "We were hopeful ...just to be on the cutting edge." Hoped-for tax revenue, however, did not materialize.

Of course, it didn't.
The Republican-controlled legislature rebuffed sporadic calls for even a small tax on the profits of companies that create trusts.

(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 -

"Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Green: Biden Could Get Around Manchin With GOP Senators Supporting Wind, Solar, Battery
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Senator Joe Manchin has attempted completely to shoot down the Build Back Better bill, underlining the thin legislative margin with which President Biden has to work. With a 50/50 Senate, Biden's legislative agenda going forward will need to be bipartisan. The successes this approach can garner are apparent in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Act passed in November. I argued that the Act has lots of good news for green energy and the environment even if it also has some provisions favoring fossil fuels. Politics is about compromise.

The need for bipartisanship is bad news for some parts of the Democratic agenda, which is deeply regrettable. But pragmatically speaking, what Democrats need to do now is separate out some of the goals toward which the now-defunct Build Back Better bill strove and to go forward with a set of smaller bills that target those goals and which could attract some Republican support. Remember, 19 Republican senators supported the Infrastructure Act.

It is entertaining to curse Joe Manchin, but if Democrats want revenge on him, the best way is to enlist some Green-tilting Republicans in an end run around him and by support for green energy subsidies to hasten the demise of his beloved dirty coal industry.

Promoting green energy is the number one priority that outweighs every other consideration. The poor will be made poorer by runaway global heating. Women will be hurt by it. Workers will suffer. Cities, the Democratic strongholds, are in dire danger from it. There is a sense in which much of the good that Democrats hope to do will be undone if they don't radically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing them at home will give the United States more credibility in pressing other industrial societies to do so. Even more importantly, government investment in renewables and batteries will accelerate their already steep cost decrease and competitiveness with fossil fuels.

While punitive measures against fossil fuels could get the GOP legislators' back up, subsidies, tax breaks and research and development for wind and solar power are increasingly uncontroversial and are attracting bipartisan support at the state level in places like North Carolina.

Michael J. Coren at Quartz argues that subsidies for renewables in some places are ending, and way too soon. Fossil fuels receive billions in subsidies. One way forward for President Biden is to out-subsidize the hydrocarbons by plowing many more billions into wind, solar and battery.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley could probably be recruited for a big stand-along Wind Energy for America Act. He is a well known champion of the industry, which provides 40% of Iowa's power and accounts for 9,000 jobs in the state and $63 million in lease payments to its farmers.

Moreover, if Biden gives the Senate a Wind Energy for America bill with massive subsidies for the industry and Grassley opposes it, that would be an advantage for his Democratic opponent in the 2022 midterms.

Grassley's own web site trumpets that "As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in 2003, Grassley spearheaded the effort to include an environmentally responsible energy package including nearly $15.5 billion in federal tax incentives to grow America's renewable energy sector."

Well, it is going to be 2022 and the Build Back Better bill had $555 billion in climate-related programs. Most of these could be extracted and passed on a stand-alone basis with the support of Republican senators like Grassley.

Build Back Better, for instance, "includes tax credits that can cut the cost of installing rooftop solar panels by about 30 percent" according to NDRC. Likewise, "The bill includes, for instance, incentives to help strengthen the domestic supply chain for wind and solar power in disadvantaged communities."

Renewable Energy World adds that the version passed by the House included "the production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) to their full values, and taxpayers are eligible for direct pay instead of tax equity offsets. The bill will further incentive production that takes place in the U.S." They note that there was also " a new ITC for standalone energy storage." In other words, we could put solar panels on every house and enable owners to afford a Tesla Powerwall or other storage capablity.

Some forms of solar power, especially community solar, have picked up substantial Republican support in states like Michigan and Wisconsin. Great, let's do it nationally.

Some of the same Republican senators who supported the Infrastructure Bill could be gotten on board with many of these pro-wind and pro-solar measures. Maybe you'd even have to do a solar bill for states with a lot of solar energy and a wind bill for Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, etc.

If 2022, leading up to the midterms, is a year in which President Biden can only get some big things done by trading horses with Republicans the way he did in the Infrastructure Act, then we are fortunate in having him at the helm, since he is an old hand at senatorial bill-passing. Progressives won't get everything we want. But on green energy, the big wins could be there for the asking.

(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.

Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021

The Enemies Of American Democracy? Big Lie, Big Anger And Big Money
Saving American democracy will require stopping these three powerful forces already on the way to destroying it.
By Robert Reich

With the Senate adjourned for the holidays and Joe Biden's Build Back Better social and climate package stalled, the president's remaining agenda is at the mercy of the 2022 midterm election year. So the practical question is: what should be his, and the Democrats', first priority when Congress returns in January? Biden obviously wants to get his spending package passed. But swift action on voting rights is essential. Republican state legislatures will soon begin drawing partisan congressional maps that federal legislation would outlaw. Several states have already changed election laws in ways making it harder for people in minority communities to vote and giving Republican legislatures greater power over election outcomes.

To be sure, any new national voting rights legislation depends on altering the Senate filibuster so the 50 Democratic senators (plus the vice-president) can pass it. (Senate Republicans won't go along.) Hence the urgency of Senate Democrats agreeing to carve out voting rights from the filibuster.

It's important to put this into a larger context. Saving American democracy requires stopping three powerful forces already on the way to destroying it.

The first is Trump's big lie that the 2020 election was stolen. That baseless claim is now believed by some 60% of registered Republicans. The lie fits with the Republican party's understanding that demographic trends will work against it in future elections unless it shrinks the electorate.

The second is big anger spread by the media, especially Fox News and Facebook. Big anger is boosting their ratings and revenues by inciting divisiveness, racism, panic and The third is big money, from large corporations and wealthy individuals. It's inundating political campaigns, supporting one-sided issue ads and bribing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support measures that will further enrich corporations and the wealthy and block measures that will cost them.

The big lie, big anger and big money reinforce each other because they all depend on Americans believing that democracy is rigged against them. And, to a shameful extent, it is. Urgent steps must be taken against all three.

The first step is to set national voting-rights standards in light of Trump's big lie. Senate Democrats must enact the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act in January, when they still have a chance to prevent much Republican state voter suppression and electoral manipulation. If they fail to do this they will be complicit with the Republican party in using Trump's big lie to shrink the electorate.

Trump and his Republican co-conspirators must also be held accountable for their attempted coup in the months after the 2020 election, leading up to the 6 January attack on the Capitol. Hopefully, the House committee now investigating it (with the crucial and courageous participation of Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger) will report its findings early in the new year. Timing is essential. Republicans must not be allowed to delay the committee's work. If they take control of the House next year they are certain to shut the panel down.

Once the committee reports its findings, the justice department must take legal action against Trump and all lawmakers implicated in the attempted coup.

The second step is to constrain big anger emanating from social media, Fox News, and other outlets. There are two ways to do this without undermining freedom of speech.

Revoke Section 230 of the Communications Act, which now protects digital media providers from liability for content posted by their users even if that content is harmful, hateful or misleading. There is no continuing justification for this legal protection, particularly at a time when the largest of these providers have become vast monopolies.

Create a new "fairness doctrine" requiring that all broadcasters, including cable, cover issues of public importance in ways that present opposing perspectives. This will be difficult to enforce, to be sure, but it would at least affirm the nation's commitment to holding broadcasters to a higher standard than merely making money.

The third step is to get big money out of politics. The supreme court is unlikely to reverse its shameful decision in Citizens United v FEC and related cases, given the current makeup of the court. A constitutional amendment allowing the government to limit money spent on campaigns is extremely unlikely. But campaign finance reform is possible by matching small donations with public dollars. This was in the original For the People Act and should be added to the Freedom to Vote Act.

These are the minimal essentials for containing the big lie, big anger and big money.

Biden, Democrats and any remaining principled Republicans - along with the leaders of nonprofits, universities, labor unions, grassroots organizations, racial justice and environmental advocates and business - must wage war to save American democracy. And this war must start as soon as possible.

Nothing else we do for America is as important. Nothing else that needs doing in America is possible unless we do this.

(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

Manchin didn't just derail Joe Biden's legislative agenda; he also kept the President from using another suite of powers that belong to the executive alone.

Build Back Better Or Build More Bombs? The Choice Is Clear!
The need to appease the West Virginia senator is gone now, and not just on the climate.
By Bill McKibben

"I've tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there," Joe Manchin said. "This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do." And with that pathetic brushoff-he sounded like a feckless TV bachelor explaining why he couldn't hand his rose to a hopeful contestant-the West Virginia senator put the kibosh on the Build Back Better bill, and with it pretty much all the legislative priorities of the White House.

There will be endless analyses of this breakup because it's so devastating: what Manchin really did was kill momentum for a different kind of country, which began to build with Bernie Sanders's 2016 run for the Presidency. That campaign and its 2020 successors (including Elizabeth Warren's Presidential bid) uncovered a deep progressive streak in what was supposed to be a center-right country; Biden got the Presidency but Bernie got the bill, a serious return to the days of L.B.J. and the idea that big government can solve problems.

The polling data make clear that most of the measures in the bill have the support of most of the people in the country-but we're past the point where anyone takes actual majorities of Americans seriously. The more critical data points: Manchin received more money from the fossil-fuel industry during the past election cycle than did anyone else in the Senate, and the Koch network came out hard against the bill, as did the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. All those Fortune 500 companies that are forever insisting how much they care about diversity and sustainability banded together to pressure Manchin, because they care far more about the corporate tax rate.

Against this backdrop, Biden's hard-earned mastery of legislative bargaining was to be the equalizer. But what was he supposed to do other than what he did: give in to Manchin over and over, in the hope that he would soften? Manchin stripped the bill of the climate plan that was at its heart, leaving behind only a series of tax credits for renewable energy. When he demanded that the President pass and sign the industry-friendly infrastructure bill before the B.B.B., Biden persuaded House progressives to go along, although it was clear the President had received no guarantees. It's been a dismal, degrading process, and you had to be a pie-in-the-sky optimist (which may describe Biden) not to fear that this would be the eventual outcome.

But Manchin didn't just derail the President's legislative agenda; he also kept Biden from from using another suite of powers that belong to the executive alone. Think about climate change: the Biden Administration, which ran on a promise to stop new leases for oil and gas on public lands, just last month approved the largest offshore lease deal in history. The Administration claimed publicly that a court decision had forced its hand, but an earlier memo indicates that officials didn't really believe that. More likely, they feared upsetting Manchin. Similarly, the Administration has refused to review the Line 3 tar-sands pipeline across Minnesota, even though it's the same size and carries the same crude as the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama-Biden Administration blocked, way back in 2015, on the ground that it would damage the climate. The climate crisis has not, to put it mildly, improved since 2015; the only logical explanation for not blocking Line 3 is a need to appease Joe Manchin, who has taken to calling for a revival of Keystone.

That need to appease is gone now, and not just on the climate. If you're the President, there's no need to prove to Manchin that you're going to be "tough on spending," so why not call off your plan to start collecting student debts again? Why not use every power still at your disposal to do what you can for the country while you've got some power? Acting boldly carries risks. With the Senate split fifty-fifty, if you give Manchin reason to switch parties you lose your ability to appoint more judges, for instance; the power that comes with even a tenuous majority is very real. But using executive authority-and boldly-may be the only way that Biden will get anything done, as long as Manchin (and, perhaps, Kyrsten Sinema) block effective legislative action, alongside a solid phalanx of fifty Republicans. Points to Biden for trying, but, at some point, even in Washington, no really does mean no, and you need to move on as best you can.

(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
~~~ Daryl Cagle ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

Nation Shocked That Jim Jordan Is Capable Of Writing A Text
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-As it emerged that Representative Jim Jordan sent a text to Mark Meadows outlining a plan to overturn the 2020 election, millions of Americans were stunned to learn that Jordan is capable of writing a text.

"If this is true, then Jim Jordan has command of the English language and the capacity to assemble letters to form words," Carol Foyler, a resident of St. Louis, said. "I have to admit I'm having trouble processing this."

"Color me skeptical," Harland Dorrinson, who lives in Akron, Ohio, said, "but, unless I see a video of Jim Jordan actually typing a text with his own thumbs, this so-called news story doesn't pass the smell test."

Reports that Jordan is capable of writing a text also provoked amazement in a member of the scientific community, Dr. Anthony Fauci. "Much like COVID-19, there's still so much about Jim Jordan we don't know," he said.

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz


Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 49 (c) 12/24/2021

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