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In This Edition

Norman Solomon warns, "Here It Comes: Get Ready For A Stop-Bernie Onslaught Like You've Never Seen."

Ralph Nader quotes Lying Donald, "Then, I Have An Article II, Where I Have the Right To Do Whatever I Want As President." - "King" Donald Trump."

Michael Winship returns with, "In Trump World, Fiction Is Just As Strange As Truth."

Jim Hightower gives, "Special Gifts For Special People."

Medea Benjamin returns with, "10 Good Things About 2019."

John Nichols explains, "William Greider Knew What Ailed The Democratic Party."

James Donahue remembers, "When I Was A Republican."

Greg Palast returns with, "Hunting Season On Voters Opens With Georgia & Wisconsin Purges."

Randall Amster says, "For 2020 And Beyond: 'Keep Hoping Machine Running.'"

Charles P. Pierce says, "Make No Mistake. Edward Gallagher Will Be A Star Of The Republican Presidential Campaign."

Juan Cole covers, "All the Political Revolts America Ignored In 2019."

Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen (R) wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich reviews, "The Biggest Business Con Of 2019: Fleecing Workers While Bosses Get Rich."

Jane Stillwater sees, "Christmas Day In America."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Diane de Anda joins us with, "Trump's Version Of Sinatra's 'My Way,'" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Doodyville Comes To Washington."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Adam Zyglis, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Brian Mcfadden, Tom Tomorrow, Sandy Huffaker, Justin Sullivan, Pete Marovich, DeAnna Mauldin, Ted Rall, Khalid Mohammed, Creative Commons, DonkeyHotey, Jane Stillwater, Jim Hightower, AFP, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

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Doodyville Comes To Washington
By Ernest Stewart

"Now North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself." ~~~ Donald J. Trump

"I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is." ~~~ Greta Thunberg ~ World Economic Forum, Davos, January 24 2019

"While Allen is free to promote his personal religious beliefs on his own time, it is inappropriate to do so when he is afforded a special platform due to his elected position. Using state resources to promote one particular religion, and suggesting that people should convert or even consider converting to that religion, is unconstitutional." ~~~ Freedom From Religion Foundation

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

The Baby Boomers may remember the Howdy Doody Show that ran on NBC tv for 13 years. If that's you, you may remember along with the characters Buffalo Bob Smith, Howdy Doody, Princess SummerFallWinterSpring, there also was Phineas T. Bluster who was the know-it-all, and I mean know everything, Mayor of Doodyville. Along with Phineas his nephew Petey Bluster were his brothers Don Jose Bluster, and Hector Hamhock Bluster who helped Phineas run Doodyville. Anything ringing a bell, are you having a deja vu yet?

I mean, who's middle name should be Bluster instead of John by his oft time actions? Who really loves to bluster and is a politician? Sure, you might say all politicians love to bluster, and you'll get no argument from me! Of course, I'm talking about Lying Donald!

Since we've gone back to bombing and murdering Iraqi citizens and when they dare gather to protest our current war crimes Blustering Donald said on Tuesday night, that Iran would pay a "big price" for the embassy storming even though that happened in Iraq. You may recall after Yemen bombed Saudi Arabia last September Lying Donald put the blame on Iran saying he was "locked and loaded" and ready to attack Iran. Or, when Iran shot down one of our drones for invading Iran's air space Lying Donald said, "Iran made a very big mistake!" I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get my point!

You may recall he's already blustered about wiping out North Korea. Fortunately for us, and the world, Lying Donald loves to bluster to make himself look big instead of the lying coward that he is, most bullies are cowards and Lying Donald certainly fits that bill, does he not, America? I take Lying Donalds blustering as a grain of salt, and you should too!

In Other News

I see where the Washington Post's examination of accelerated warming in the waters off Tasmania marks this year's final installment of its global series "2C: Beyond the Limit," which identified hot spots around the world. The investigation has shown that disastrous impacts from global warming aren't a problem lurking in the distant future: They are here now.

About a tenth of the planet has already warmed 2 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, and the abrupt rise in temperature related to human activity has transformed parts of the Earth in radical ways. For example, in the United States, New Jersey is among the fastest-warming states, and its average winter has grown so warm that lakes no longer freeze as they once did. Canadian islands are crumbling into the sea because a blanket of sea ice no longer protects them from crashing waves. Fisheries from Japan to Angola to Uruguay are collapsing as their waters warm. Arctic tundra is melting away in Siberia and Alaska, exposing the remains of woolly mammoths buried for thousands of years and flooding the gravesites of indigenous people who have lived in an icy world for centuries.

Meanwhile, away down under Australia currently is a poster child for global warming. Wildfires are currently raging on the outskirts of its most iconic city and drought is choking a significant portion of the country.

Nearly 100 fires are burning in New South Wales alone, nearly half of them out of control. Residents of the state, where Sydney sits, wear breathing masks to tolerate the heavy smoke, which has drifted more than 500 miles south to the outskirts of Melbourne.

This is happening even though average atmospheric temperatures in Australia have yet to increase by 2 degrees Celsius. However, the ocean is another story.

A stretch of the Tasman Sea right along Tasmania's eastern coast has already warmed by just a fraction below 2 degrees Celsius, according to ocean temperature data from the Hadley Center, the U.K. government research agency on climate change.

It's becoming so bad in Australia that Kola bears may become extinct and all their kelp beds are all dying away which so many species need in order to survie, and without the kelp, they too will die out. And guess who else will soon die out too, if nothing continues to be done about global warming, America, all of us, that's who!!!

And Finally

Wisconsin state representative Scott Allen (R) speaks of Christian love while telling non-Christians they will be destroyed in an obnoxious and condescending YouTube video posted on the official "Wisconsin Assembly Republicans" YouTube channel earlier this month.

For a government official to use his official position to proselytize and threaten non-Christian Americans with "destruction" is abhorrent, and signals a profound disrespect for the U.S. Constitution and the secular values upon which this nation was founded.

Allen's message is inappropriate not to mention unconstitutional, and a direct insult to all non-Christians. More than this, by releasing such a message Allen is engaged in and promoting bigotry against atheists, agnostics and other freethinkers who reject his religious superstition. Ergo, you know what he wins, do you not?

That's right, Scott Allen wins this week's Vidkun Quisiling Award.

Keepin' On

If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep telling you the truth!


07-10-1946 ~ 12-26-2019
Thanks for the film!

07-10-1931 ~ 12-26-2019
Thanks for the plays!

07-23-1940 ~ 12-27-2019
Burn Baby Burn!

12-09-1944 ~ 12-29-2019
Thanks for the film!!

07-18-33 ~ 12-30-2019
Thanks for the visions!

05-06-1921 ~ 12-30-2019
Thanks for the film!

09-02-1946 ~ 01-01-2020
Thanks for the music!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can-?


So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2020 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, 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.

Democratic presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders Speaks to supporters at an
Immigration Town Hall in San Ysidro, California on December 20, 2019 at San Ysidro High School.

Here It Comes: Get Ready For A Stop-Bernie Onslaught Like You've Never Seen
Beware. Because disparaging and minimizing Bernie in 2019 didn't work, the next step in 2020 will be to trash him with a vast array of full-bore attacks. By Norman Solomon

A central premise of conventional media wisdom has collapsed. On Thursday, both the New York Times and Politico published major articles reporting that Bernie Sanders really could win the Democratic presidential nomination. Such acknowledgments will add to the momentum of the Bernie 2020 campaign as the new year begins-but they foreshadow a massive escalation of anti-Sanders misinformation and invective.

Throughout 2019, corporate media routinely asserted that the Sanders campaign had little chance of winning the nomination. As is so often the case, journalists were echoing each other more than paying attention to grassroots realities. But now, polling numbers and other indicators on the ground are finally sparking very different headlines from the media establishment.

"When the Bernie campaign wasn't being ignored by corporate media during 2019, innuendos and mud often flew in his direction. But we ain't seen nothing yet." From the Times: "Why Bernie Sanders Is Tough to Beat." From Politico: "Democratic Insiders: Bernie Could Win the Nomination."

Those stories, and others likely to follow in copycat news outlets, will heighten the energies of Sanders supporters and draw in many wavering voters. But the shift in media narratives about the Bernie campaign's chances will surely boost the decibels of alarm bells in elite circles where dousing the fires of progressive populism is a top priority.

For corporate Democrats and their profuse media allies, the approach of disparaging and minimizing Bernie Sanders in 2019 didn't work. In 2020, the next step will be to trash him with a vast array of full-bore attacks.

Along the way, the corporate media will occasionally give voice to some Sanders defenders and supporters. A few establishment Democrats will decide to make nice with him early in the year. But the overwhelming bulk of Sanders media coverage-synced up with the likes of such prominent corporate flunkies as Rahm Emanuel and Neera Tanden as well as Wall Street Democrats accustomed to ruling the roost in the party-will range from condescending to savage.

When the Bernie campaign wasn't being ignored by corporate media during 2019, innuendos and mud often flew in his direction. But we ain't seen nothing yet.

With so much at stake-including the presidency and the top leadership of the Democratic Party-no holds will be barred. For the forces of corporate greed and the military-industrial complex, it'll be all-out propaganda war on the Bernie campaign.

While reasons for pessimism are abundant, so are ample reasons to understand that a Sanders presidency is a real possibility. The last places we should look for political realism are corporate media outlets that distort options and encourage passivity.

Bernie is fond of quoting a statement from Nelson Mandela: "It always seems impossible until it is done."

From the grassroots, as 2020 gets underway, the solution should be clear: All left hands on deck.

(c) 2020 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."

"Then, I Have An Article II, Where I Have the Right To Do Whatever I Want As President." - "King" Donald Trump
What a grotesque way to spend taxpayer money!
By Ralph Nader

Against Donald J. Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted narrow impeachment charges, despite key House Committee Chairs' arguments for broadening the impeachment charges. These veteran lawmakers, led by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, urged Speaker Pelosi to include the ten obstructions of justice documented in the Mueller Report. These House Committee Chairs also wanted to add a count of bribery regarding Ukraine - a stance Pelosi took herself in a November 14, 2019 press conference. She then overruled her chairs and rejected the bribery count.

Speaker Pelosi told reporters on November 14:

"The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry, and that the president abused his power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival - a clear attempt by the president to give himself an advantage in the 2020 election."
"Bribery" is explicitly listed as an impeachable offense in the Constitution in Article II, Section 4 and resonates with the public. No matter, Pelosi dropped this crucial charge.

Since the two articles of impeachment - abuse of power and obstruction of justice (limited to the Ukraine matter) - passed the House on December 18, 2019, the Republicans may have given Pelosi reason to accept some of her colleagues' pleas to broaden the impeachment charges.

First, Senator Mitch McConnell indicated that he was going to follow Trump's White House in establishing the rules of the trial. What about the oath to "do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God?" The Senatorial jurors are going to let the defendant, Donald Trump, have a say on the rules in his own impeachment? That bad faith action prompted Pelosi to hold back sending the two approved impeachment articles to the Senate. Currently the stage is being set for the Senate to be a kangaroo court.

Second, more incriminating e-mails have emerged, linking Trump and his cronies to the Ukraine extortion/bribe. On January 3, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is set to review two cases that will weigh heavily on Trump's legal team. In one case, the district judge ruled that the White House had to obey a Congressional subpoena for the testimony of Trump's lawyer, Donald McGahn, as the "most important" witness regarding Trump's obstruction of justice in Robert S. Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The second case involves the House Judiciary Committee's access to grand jury testimony in the Mueller investigation to determine if Trump lied. The lower court judge said the White House must turn them over.

To add to these developments, Trump mocked Pelosi, asserting that the various impeachment charges she did not allow her colleagues to include in the impeachment articles means the other impeachment offenses were, according to Trump, all "lies" and "fake." This should bother Pelosi because Trump is trying to legitimize these numerous impeachable offenses due to Pelosi's inaction. Trump has defiantly refused to "faithfully execute" the laws for health, safety, and economic protections - enriching himself and displaying contempt for Congress by installing cabinet and other high officials without Senate confirmation. Trump also obstructs Congress by blocking Congressional Committee access to testimonies and documents. Getting away with very serious impeachable offenses sets a terrible precedent for future presidential lawlessness. See a listing of twelve such counts by me, constitutional law experts Bruce Fein, and Louis Fisher in the Congressional Record (December 18, 2019, page H 12197).

Nothing in the Constitution or federal statutes bars second or third rounds of impeachments. Indeed, attorneys for the House Judiciary Committee told the Circuit Court that it "is continuing to conduct its inquiry into whether the President committed other impeachable offenses. The Committee's investigations did not cease with the House's recent impeachment vote."

Moreover, Nancy Pelosi has encouraged five House Committees to continue their probe into the outlaw president, whom Pelosi has called "a crook, a thief, a liar" and said she wants to see "in prison." The question is whether she wants only "oversight investigations" or she also wants "impeachment investigations." The difference is critical to Trump's tenure, to the rule of law, and to making the Senate conduct a fair trial with witnesses (the latter backed by 71 percent of the people).

Prosecuting Trump's other grave constitutional violations would demonstrate the important personal stakes for Americans who have borne the brunt of the President's monarchical, illegal defiance that takes away life-preserving safeguards for the American people, which protects them from rampant corporate ravages.

With the coming of the New Year, Speaker Pelosi has a historic choice regarding constitutional order and compliance with the law by Donald J. Trump. Either she sends a boomerang to the White House or she delivers a solid, broad-based eviction notice that the Senate Republicans can try to defend in a public trial viewed by tens of millions of Americans.

(c) 2020 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).

We must resist and cannot afford to yield.

In Trump World, Fiction Is Just As Strange As Truth
There's no escape from the vortex of lies and transgressions.
By Michael Winship

As the New Year begins, on the advice of various and sundry, to avoid the constant din of Donald Trump and his wrecking crew, I've been trying to read a novel from time to time-just to take a break from the maddening reality of life in these not-so-United States.

Alas, I have to report that even fiction has betrayed me. It probably was wrong to pick up John LeCarre's latest espionage thriller, Agent Running in the Field, and expect any kind of escape from reality. As noted earlier, the book has a decided anti-Brexit tilt, but I hadn't fully anticipated that LeCarre, now 88, would let it rip so thoroughly against Trump and for good measure, Vladimir Putin. Jolly good.

One of the characters describes Trump as "a gang boss, born and bred. Brought up to screw civil society all ways up, not be part of it." Another asks, "Do you or do you not regard Trump, which I do, as a threat and incitement to the entire civilized world, plus he is presiding over the systematic no-holds-barred Nazification of the United States?"

As for Putin, according to LeCarre, he "had always been a fifth-rate spy. Now he was a spy turned autocrat who interpreted all life in terms of konspiratsia. Thanks to Putin and his gang of unredeemed Stalinists, Russia was not going forward to a bright future, but backwards into her dark, delusional past."

There's more, especially about the relationship between Putin and Trump, which a former Russian double agent describes as Trump doing "everything for little Vladi that Vladi can't do for himself: pisses on European unity, pisses on human rights, pisses on NATO," but I don't want to spoil the rest of the book's righteous indignation for you.

So scratch that novel for escapism. Then, figuring that something a bit less current might work better when it came to soothing my contemporary agita, I picked up the copy of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities I bought in London a couple of months ago.

I had never read it before. But of course, it, too, resonates with these awful times in which we live, as Dickens' tale of aristocratic rot and the rage of the dispossessed before and during the French Revolution parallels in broad strokes the vast economic inequality and populist anger of today.

Much of the book was inspired by Thomas Carlyle's history of the revolution. In turn, Dickens exposes the brutal cruelty of the French elite-one of them tells another, "Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend... will keep the dogs obedient to the whip." And yet, Dickens warns, "Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind."

And so the people lash out with fury-"Every living creature there held life as of no account, and was demented with a passionate readiness to sacrifice it." A righteous revolution becomes the Reign of Terror that indiscriminately massacres thousands.

Obviously, we are nowhere such countrywide horror today, yet every time we hear of another gun-fueled mass killing, or another hate attack on those of different creeds or colors, or of children in cages, or immigrants denied, or ugly graffiti and tweets, or irrational anger and lustily shouted jingoism at parades and rallies, we're hearing the whisper of the blade that suddenly could be sharpened and aimed not toward some other guy but toward ourselves as well.

I was struck, too, by this passage, so reminiscent of the current state of America, the mental disarray and spiritual exhaustion as transgressions, violations and lies pile one upon the next. Dickens describes the state of mind of his protagonist Charles Darnay in London, hearing news of the turmoil in his French homeland: "... the swift changes and troubles of the times which had fallen on one another so fast," he writes, "that the events of this week annihilated the immature plans of last week, and the events of the week following made all new again; he knew very well, that to the force of these circumstances he had yielded -- not without disquiet, but still without continuous and unyielding resistance."

We must resist and cannot afford to yield. On top of all else, the chaos and confusion wrought by this president and a cabal of allies who value power and Mammon above any shred of propriety and lawful order cannot stand.

Look at just the last couple of days-left hands having no idea that right hands even exist-as The Washington Post reports Trump's court fool Rudy Giuliani trying to make a deal "backed in part by private interests, aimed at engineering a negotiated exit to ease President Nicolas Maduro from power and reopen resource-rich Venezuela to business." A deal running contradictory to stated US foreign policy, "alarming administration officials confused about whose interests [Giuliani] was representing." In fact, a deal the White House claims is complete news to anybody there. Bedlam.

Then look to The New York Times account of "84 days of conflict and confusion" surrounding the freeze of aid to Ukraine in an attempt to extort investigations that would undermine the American 2020 elections-a campaign, "spearheaded by Rudolph W. Giuliani" that has led to Trump's impeachment.

The Times writes, "In many ways, the havoc Mr. Giuliani and other Trump loyalists set off in the State Department by pursuing the investigations was matched by conflicts and confusion in the White House and Pentagon stemming from Mr. Trump's order to withhold the aid...

"Mr. Trump used the bureaucracy to advance his agenda in the face of questions about its propriety and even legality from officials in the White House budget office and the Pentagon, many of whom say they were kept in the dark about the president's motivations and had grown used to convention-flouting requests from the West Wing. One veteran budget official who raised questions about the legal justification was pushed aside."

There they all are again-conflicts, confusion-and Rudy.

And so we face 2020 with a curious mixture of dread and optimism that an end is in sight, simultaneously fearing and hoping that it could be, as Dickens said, both the best of times and the worst of times; "the epoch of belief... the epoch of incredulity... the season of Light... the season of Darkness... the spring of hope... the winter of despair." He adds, "We had everything before us, we had nothing before us."

Would that it were all just a novel. Trust me-it's not. Happy New Year. Hold on tight.

(c) 2020 Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship

Special Gifts For Special People
By Jim Hightower

Ho-Ho-Ho, wait till you hear about the gifts I gave to some of America's power elites for Christmas.

To each of our Congress critters, I sent my fondest wish that from now on they receive the exact same income, health care, and pensions that we average citizens get. If they receive only the American average, it might make them a bit more humble - and less cavalier about ignoring the needs of regular folks.

To the stockings of GOP leaders who've so eagerly debased themselves to serve the madness of Donald Trump, I added individual spritzer bottles of fragrances like "Essence of Integrity" and "Eau de Self-respect" to help cover up their stench. And in the stockings of Democratic congressional leaders, I put "Spice of Viagra" and "Bouquet du Grassroots" to stiffen their spines and remind them of who they represent.

For America's CEO's, my gift is a beautifully boxed, brand new set of corporate ethics. It's called the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Going to pollute someone's neighborhood? Then you have to live there, too. Going to slash wages and benefits? Then slash yours as well. Going to move your manufacturing to sweatshops in China? Then put your office right inside the worst sweatshop. Executive life won't be as luxurious, but CEO's would glow with a new purity of spirit.

To the Wall Street hedge-fund hucksters who've conglomerated, plundered, and degraded hundreds of America's newspapers, I've sent copies of "Journalism for Dummies" and offered jobs for each of them in their stripped-down, Dickensian newsrooms. Good luck.

And what better gift to the Trump family - Donald, Ivanka and Jared, Eric, Donnie Jr., and the whole nest of them - than to wish that they live with each other constantly and permanently. No, really, each of you deserve it.

(c) 2020 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

In the coming year, those of us in the US will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes.

10 Good Things About 2019
Remembering some of the gains in the difficult year of 2019 can help inspire us for the critical struggles ahead.
By Medea Benjamin

Impeachment, Trump, impeachment, Trump. It's hard to think of this year without obsessing about the occupant of the White House. But yes, there were lots of other events going on in the world this year. Some of them were tragic, like the coup in Bolivia, but some are hopeful and move us in a positive direction. Here are ten. Please add more.

1. In January, the most diverse class of lawmakers in U.S. history was sworn into Congress, including a record number of women in the House: 102. Four of the freshman known affectionately as "the squad"-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley-have shown what a few brave women can do to shake up the DC establishment. They denounced the inhumane treatment of migrants on our southern border; pushed for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All; confronted big pharma; started paying congressional interns; refused to take the "mandatory" AIPAC trip to Israel. They changed the Congressional ecosystem and thanks to them, a lot more young progressives are now running for Congress.

2. The Democratic primaries have forced the country to talk about progressive policies like never before. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have pushed Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and policies to address this nation's horrific inequalities. Tulsi Gabbard has focused on the need to end the endless wars. And compared with 2016, all of the candidates have been more open to directly confronting the military-industrial complex, with vague but critical calls for reducing the overblown Pentagon budget. The debates and campaign rallies have been opportunities to air discussions on real solutions to our nation's ills, solutions that are not popular with big-dollar donors but are wildly popular with the public.

3. 2019 was a year of awe-inspiring environmental youth activism. The sensational 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden captured world attention at the UN climate summit with her call for young people to hold adults accountable for the disaster they've created. Greta's school strike (she sat in front of the Swedish Parliament instead of going to school) inspired students walkouts throughout the world. She also inspired some famous elders: Thanks to Greta, Jane Fonda brought the Fire Drill Fridays to Washington D.C., doing civil disobedience at Congress every Friday and bringing more national attention to the climate crisis.

4. While the environmental gains this year are not nearly on the level needed, there are countries taking serious actions. The New Zealand parliament passed landmark legislation to achieve zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The legislation establishes New Zealand as one of the few countries in the world with a legislated commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In contrast to Australia, where climate and energy policy has provoked toxic debate and scare campaigns from the far right, the New Zealand bill passed with bipartisan support. The government also established a $100 million Green Investment Fund, which will invest public funds in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; plant one billion new trees by 2028; and stop exploration for new oil and gas reserves.

5. In more environmental news, the European Union banned single-use plastic, including plastic cups, plates, forks, and straws. The ban will take effect by 2021. The change could help avoid nearly $25 billion-worth of environmental pollution by 2030. While the U.S. lags behind at the federal level, jurisdictions across the United States have instituted bans and fees on various types of plastics, like bags, carryout containers, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws. Eight states, including California and New York, have passed statewide bans on single-use plastic bags, while Maine has a ban on single-use polystyrene containers.

6. While Donald Trump crows about how great the domestic economy is, more and more workers are demanding a fairer share of the pie. Tens of thousands of workers across the country, from General Motors employees to teachers in Chicago, went on strike to win better wages and benefits. G.M. agreed to a path for temps to become permanent workers, and to alterits tiered wage scale. Airline mechanics, including at Southwest Airlines, won raises. The move toward a $15 minimum wage is gaining steam, with 21 states raising minimum wages in 2019 and more increases on the way in 2020.

7. For Latin America, 2019 was a year of people's power. There were advances and setbacks, but it's clear that there is a return of the Pink Tide (the name given to the wave of progressive governments in the late 1990s and 2000s). In this past year, social movements and organized people rose up against neoliberalism in Chile and Ecuador, they defeated a coup in Venezuela, they're resisting a coup in Bolivia, they rose up against a narco-dictator in Honduras, they rose up against state violence and austerity in Colombia, they took back power in Argentina, they're transforming Mexico, and, last but not least, in Brazil they organized a successful and massive international campaign to free former president Lula da Silva.

8. In the Middle East, people also rose up in a massive repudiation of neoliberal policies and corrupt governments that benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations at the expense of working people. In what has been dubbed the Autumn of Discontent, there were uprisings from Iraq to Lebanon, from Iran to Egypt. The repression against activists has been savage, with hundreds killed. In Lebanon, the protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri but their goals are broader: They are demanding an end to corruption and mismanagement that results in blackouts and piles of garbage in the streets, as well as the crony sectarianism that enables it.

9. In Sudan, where the nation suffered for years under the murderous dictatorship of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, people poured into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. After months of courageous protests in which scores of Sudanese were shot, Abdalla Hamdok took office as prime minister in a power-sharing deal between the armed forces and the pro-democracy movement. the movement won a commitment for a three-year transition leading to elections, and Bashir was sent to prison for corruption. People are still in the streets demanding justice for the people killed in protests. "The victims have the right to truth, justice and reparations under international law," say the protesters.

10. While Trump didn't fulfill his promise to end our endless wars, and he actually sent 14,000 MORE troops to the Middle East, at least he didn't start any new wars! Why? The American people have had enough. That hasn't always been the case. After the 9/11 attacks, for example, most Americans supported both the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and in Iraq. But no longer. They want to get out of the wars we are in and don't want to engage in new ones. When the U.S. accused Iran of a spectacular attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities, the hawks in the Trump administration wanted to respond with a military attack. But polls showed a miniscule 13 percent in favor. This has been a restraining factor for Trump and his warhawks. And let's remember, this year also marked the downfall of the biggest warhawk of all, Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

In the coming year, those of us in the US will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. Four more years of Donald Trump will be devastating for our nation and our world. No matter what happens with the impeachment process in the Senate, we must mobilize to defeat Trump and build a more effective progressive movement. Remembering some of the gains in the difficult year of 2019 can help inspire us for the critical struggles ahead.

(c) 2020 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

William Greider appears on Democracy Now! in January 2009 to talk with
Amy Goodman following the House's passage of the stimulus package.

William Greider Knew What Ailed The Democratic Party
...and how to fix it. We will miss him.
By John Nichols

Born in the year of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's greatest electoral triumph, William Greider was in so many senses the last New Dealer. His death on Christmas Day, at age 83, represents a stark loss for American journalism. His honest diagnosis of our political crisis distinguished him from his contemporaries as he covered politics across six long decades. Now, it forms a legacy that is essential to understanding a 2020 election campaign that could finally see the emergence of the more humane and progressive electoral project that he identified as necessary-and possible.

I knew Bill as a quick-witted comrade in the press corps of too many campaigns to count, a generous mentor, an ideological compatriot, and an occasional co-conspirator. He taught me to see politics not as the game that TV pundits discuss but as a high-stakes struggle for power in which the Democrats foolishly, and then dangerously, yielded far too much ground to increasingly right-wing Republicans.

This son of the Depression era bemoaned the failure of the Democratic Party to make a New Deal-style response to the financial meltdown of 2008, explaining after the devastating Republican victories of 2010, "When the party of activist government, faced with an epic crisis, will not use government's extensive powers to reverse the economic disorders and heal deepening social deterioration, then it must be the end of the line for the governing ideology inherited from Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson."

And, anticipating the rise of Donald Trump, he counseled that the void left by Democrats who pulled their punches would be filled by Republicans who would not hesitate to practice the crudest divide-and-conquer politics.

Bill's frustration with what he referred to as "the rightward-drifting Democrats" ran deep. While his books often explored economic themes-with particular brilliance in One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (1997) and Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country (1987)-he was at his finest when he wrote about the awful intersection of money and politics, in books such as Who Will Tell the People? The Betrayal of American Democracy (1992).

Bill believed Wall Street money was corrupting American politics in general, and the Democratic Party in particular. Decades ago, during the Reagan interregnum, he warned that if the Democrats did not renew the robust commitment to economic justice that characterized FDR's tenure at its best, then surely right-wing populists would seize the opening. As always, whether he was writing for The Washington Post, Rolling Stone or The Nation (where he served as the ablest of all national affairs correspondents), Bill was right.

More than 30 years ago, he recognized that "the two-party rivalry is not nearly as significant as it's made to appear" and counseled that:

The power arrangement resembles a shared monopoly, in which two companies have tacitly ceded territories to each other to avoid costly competition.

Furthermore, the permanent hierarchy of both parties is dominated at the top by a network of pricey Washington lawyers and lobbyists who represent business interests and collaborate with one another on lobbying the government-while pretending to be opponents. These inside players channel their corporate clients' money to the elected politicians. In effect, everyone is on the same side.

The parties have begun to delineate themselves a bit more in recent years. But not sufficiently, as Bill explained in scorchingly honest articles for The Nation. He spoke inconvenient truths about the roots of our current politics, especially when he explained that "the Democratic Party's crude betrayal of the working class was carried out by Bill Clinton and Al Gore when those 'New Democrats' won power in 1992. The Clinton-Gore administration swiftly enacted NAFTA, with Republican votes, sealing the deal with Republican policy-makers and selling out the remnants of organized labor." Bill recognized the necessity of understanding this history in order to explain the rise of Trump and Trumpism.

Above all, Bill argued that for Democrats to seize the high ground, morally and electorally, they had to stop being a "managerial party" and reacquaint themselves with the message FDR delivered during an epically successful 1936 reelection run. That was the year when Roosevelt declared that:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace-business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred.

I don't know if Bill had that FDR speech memorized. But he carried its spirit in his heart and soul. And he taught the rest of us to do the same. He appreciated the history, as all great journalists do. But there was a point to its recollection. He wanted people to think about how a genuine two-party system might work in the 21st century.

The better part of two decades ago, Bill pointed to the way out when he wrote, for The Nation, on Republican scheming to roll back the economic and social advances initiated by progressives during the 20th century. It was sound advice then. It is sounder advice now, as a great wrestling for the soul of the Democratic Party plays out in the fight for the 2020 nomination to take on Trump.

"Most elected Democrats, I think, now see their role as managerial rather than big reform, and fear that even talking about ideology will stick them with the right's demon label: 'liberal,'" he suggested. But, he continued,

If a new understanding of progressive purpose does get formed, one that connects to social reality and describes a more promising future, the vision will not originate in Washington but among those who see realities up close and are struggling now to change things on the ground. We are a very wealthy (and brutally powerful) nation, so why do people experience so much stress and confinement in their lives, a sense of loss and failure? The answers, I suggest, will lead to a new formulation of what progressives want.

The first place to inquire is not the failures of government but the malformed power relationships of American capitalism-the terms of employment that reduce many workers to powerless digits, the closely held decisions of finance capital that shape our society, the waste and destruction embedded in our system of mass consumption and production. The goal is, like the right's, to create greater self-fulfillment but as broadly as possible. Self-reliance and individualism can be made meaningful for all only by first reviving the power of collective action.

My own conviction is that a lot of Americans are ready to take up these questions and many others. Some are actually old questions-issues of power that were not resolved in the great reform eras of the past. They await a new generation bold enough to ask if our prosperous society is really as free and satisfied as it claims to be. When conscientious people find ideas and remedies that resonate with the real experiences of Americans, then they will have their vision, and perhaps the true answer to the right wing.

This was how Bill Greider told the people of the politics that must be. He wrote truthfully, boldly, consistently, without fear or favor, and without the empty partisanships of these awkward times. He was our North Star.

(c) 2020 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.

When I Was A Republican
By James Donahue

My father was a strict Republican. When he went into the poll booth I am sure he was one of those guys that just put an X on the party box at the top of the ballot. I never knew how my mother stood politically because in our house, if you didn't agree with Dad it was best to keep silent about such matters. Grandfather Andrews on my mother's side was a factory worker, a union member and consequently was a strict Democrat. When Grandpa and Dad got together the house timbers sometimes rattled when they yelled politics.

I grew up and worked in a strong Republican area in Michigan. I always considered myself an independent voter because I never liked some of the people the Republicans and Democrats put up as presidential candidates. For example, I loved Kennedy, liked Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford and didn't like Lyndon Johnson. I strongly disliked Nixon, was not happy with Reagan or Clinton and really disliked George W. Bush. One year I was so angry at the party candidates I voted for George Wallace.

Sanilac County, where I worked as a bureau reporter, was so strongly Republican that nobody dared to run for office as a Democrat and expect to win. At least until I was reporting the news. We had a woman that ran as a Democratic Party candidate for County Commissioner who was extremely bright and was so superior in the way she conducted her campaign, and maybe because I gave her fair and even coverage in our newspaper, she actually won the office. She turned out to be such a good and hard working commissioner I believe she won a second term.

By-and-large, the Republicans dominated the political scene in Sanilac County. They held county conventions that were heavily attended and politically charged. The Democrats held caucuses that drew perhaps 50 or 60 people. I covered them both, but rarely got much of a story from the Democratic meetings.

One very hot political year while present at the Republican county convention, there was a call for people to volunteer as delegates to the looming State Party convention in Cobo Hall, Detroit. Those were the days before delegates were elected for these jobs. The people showing up at the county conventions just picked the ones they wanted to attend from those present at the gathering. By that time I was so well known among all of the county elected people, Republicans all, and because I was present at the county convention, they seemed to forget that I was there as a reporter and picked me as an alternate delegate for the state convention.

My first inclination was to refuse the appointment. But I was tempted to go just to find out what went on behind closed doors at state conventions. I called my editor the next day to talk it over. He was open-minded about the whole thing. We joked about the opportunity and in the end he gave me his permission to go, but cautioned me about getting too involved in the politics. As an alternative, if I was lucky enough, I would get to be no more than a fly on the wall watching things that few news reporters ever get to see. When it was time, we car-pooled our way to Detroit and shared rooms in some of the high-priced downtown hotels.

The convention was a grand experience. I saw state and national political figures giving rousing speeches, met with delegates from all over Michigan, listening to them hammer out resolutions declaring issues to be put before the entire body before the end of the week. Some of the issues involved small, local matters, while others involved such matters as dealing with housing, unemployment, and all of the other things that political figures use for platforms when seeking public office.

While I do not remember now what they were, the Sanilac County delegates had certain issues that they strongly wanted put on the table. But to get this done, they had to make back-room deals with delegates from other Michigan counties. We agreed to support their issue if they voted for ours. Sometimes compromise agreements were established in some of those cloak-room meetings. In the end, nobody got all that they wanted out of the convention, but everybody walked away with something they could take home with them Watching the inner workings of that convention gave me a very clear picture of all of the shenanigans that are constantly going on in state capitals and the U. S. Capital. The larger the level of government gets, the more complex the kind of deal making that goes on, I suspect. One thing we did not have to deal with at Cobo Hall was lobbyists trying to buy our votes.

On the final day of the convention, everybody gathered in one large meeting hall where we put the issues up for votes and drafted the party campaign platform for the next state and federal election. Then we voted to approve the final document. Finally we listened to a speech by the party's state chairman and then the governor. I believe that year it was James Blanchard. How soon we forget stuff like that.

I returned to my bureau office, wrote a broad personalized story of my experiences in Detroit, and that was that. For a while after that I actually thought of myself as a Republican. I did until the Republicans did something really lame. As I said I liked Gerald Ford, a Republican who replaced Nixon, and Jimmy Carter, a Democrat that followed Ford. I think it was Reagan who began converting me back to being an independent.

After Bush I swung to the extreme left and became a Democrat. Now with Trump in office, and after watching the chaotic goings on among the Democrats I am totally undecided as to where I will cast my vote in 2020.

(c) 2020 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.

Hunting Season On Voters Opens With Georgia & Wisconsin Purges
Mass Registration Cancellations ordered by Courts
By Greg Palast

Two new court decisions have blessed mass purges of voters in two swing states, Georgia and Wisconsin. This could be the launch of a new system for purging masses of voters of color and young voters that is expected to spread to 20 or more states before the Presidential election.

In Atlanta on Friday, Federal Judge Steve Jones ruled against Stacey Abrams' organization Fair Fight in its suit to immediately restore nearly 100,000 Georgians to the voter rolls. It turns out that Abrams' attorneys were not in a fair fight against this federal judge who refused to even consider if the purge would cause "irreparable harm."

Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Ratffensperger, was using a method of vote suppression, "Purge by Postcard," created by the Trump's "vote fraud" advisor, Kris Kobach of Kansas. Under the guise of "voter list maintenance," Georgia sent out postcards, designed by Kobach, that look like cheap junk mail. When a voter fails to return the card, they lose their vote.

Yes, the cancelled voter can re-register. But, as we have uncovered in our film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, most people won't know they were pulled from the list until it's too late.

Judge Jones made the decision not to restore the Georgians to the voter rolls, calling on Fair Fight to bring its case in state court where GOP appointed judges predominate. Judge Jones did, however, express concern that the state take "additional diligent and reasonable efforts (through notices on the Secretary of State's website and press releases) to inform the general public."

It's ludicrous for the judge to say the problem is solved by sticking this attack on voting rights on a website; as if every Georgian daily checks the website of the Secretary of State.

The Court also ruled that Fair Fight did not do enough to prove that the postcard purge was unconstitutional and unfair. However, Judge Stevens did not give Fair Fight a chance to present testimony from Palast Fund experts that the purge list was almost entirely erroneous and biased against low-income and younger voters.

The Palast Investigative Fund has given Abrams' Fair Fight the files from our six-year investigation of racist voter purges in Georgia including a list of 340,134 Georgians whom the prior Secretary of State, now-Governor Brian Kemp, wrongly removed from the voter rolls. Abrams' non-partisan voting rights group has retained the Palast team experts to update the list-and have discovered tens of thousands more wrongly purged. But the judge refused to take the evidence.

In an ominous note, Judge Jones cited Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion in Crawford v. Marion Cty. Election Bd., in which the Court allowed Indiana to force voters to obtain photo voter ID if they did not have a current drivers' license.

The now-deceased Justice ruled that "Ordinary and widespread burdens, such as those requiring nominal effort of everyone, are not severe." Lawyers representing the low-income plaintiffs complained that the average county office where the ID could be obtained was 17 miles from the typical resident, a major burden for the poor. But Scalia ruled that, "Seventeen miles is seventeen miles for the rich and the poor."

Maybe 17 miles was no burden for Scalia. The Judge, we discovered, drove a BMW in which he (or his chauffeur) could cover 17 miles in a few air-conditioned minutes. However, the plaintiffs noted that those seeking the voter ID did not have drivers licenses, which is why they needed non-driver ID. For non-drivers-Black, poor, students-the average trip required three busses in each direction and a full day off from work or school.

Fair Fight CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo said. "We are exploring additional legal options to compel the Secretary of State to follow House Bill 316," passed this year after the scandal of mass, wrongful purges of half a million Georgians before the November 2018 gubernatorial election.

The Court also noted that "in light of the immediacy of the situation," it is within the authority of the Secretary of State to return any cancelled voters. The likelihood of the Republican Secretary of State returning these voters to the rolls is nonexistent.

The Palast Fund experts will testify in another federal suit brought by Fair Fight seeking to overturn the Georgia law that authorized the purge-by-postcard operation.

Wisconsin ordered to Purge

The Georgia ruling comes on the heels of a devastating ruling by a Wisconsin court which, for the first time ever, orders a state to purge voters when the state itself has declared the purge list faulty.

On December 13, Wisconsin Ozaukee County judge Paul Malloy ordered the state elections board to removed 234,000 from the rolls on the petition of a right-wing group, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, despite the board determining that the purge would remove legal voters.

The legal precedent is astonishing, this is the first time a state has been ordered to remove citizens' voting rights en masse. In June 2018, the US Supreme Court allowed states to remove voters on evidence they've moved residence. But no state has been forced to remove voters, especially in light of evidence that the purge lists are faulty.

And Wisconsin lists are more than faulty: our expert review of the method used by Wisconsin, same as Georgia's "purge by postcard," is no less than than 70% wrong-and especially biased against voters who move within a county, i.e. disproportionately young, poor, Black and Hispanic voters.

Palast Fund spoke with Bob Brandon, founder of the Fair Elections Center in Washington DC who is working with the League of Women Voters to overturn the ruling. Brandon was hopeful a federal court would intervene as the state had already sent out postcards to tell voters their rights were safe, they need not re-register if they had not moved - or provide proof of their change of address on the day of voting. By the state court ruling, voters told they need not re-register will, in fact, have been purged from the rolls.

"We think we can win on the issue of notice," Brandon said, hoping this thin thread will prevent the loss of a quarter million registrations. Donald Trump won Wisconsin by just 29,000 votes in 2016.

While the state estimates the list is substantially wrong, The Palast Fund is preparing to review the Wisconsin purge list name by name to prove what we have seen in other states-that the lists are almost entirely false, wrongly eliminating voters for moving from the state who are in fact still in their Wisconsin homes.

We spoke with the nation's most-respected voting rights attorney, Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition, Washington, who said, "This is a national problem, but it seems no one is getting it...the purges are reaching into the millions."

(c) 2020 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

Mural at 510 West Broadway, Hwy. 56, downtown Okemah, Oklahoma, depicting Woody Guthrie and Okfuskee County history.

For 2020 And Beyond: 'Keep Hoping Machine Running'
All things considered, we could do worse than embracing Woody Guthrie's resolutions for the new year.
By Randall Amster

It was a racially charged era, fascism was in a resurgence, and people were fighting for political and economic justice at the grassroots. That was 1943, and on January 1st of that year a great American troubadour, Woody Guthrie, handwrote (and doodled) a list of "New Years Rulin's" that serve as a pretty good reminder of what's important in life and how to engage the world for positive change.

You probably know a bit about Guthrie's life and work. He grew up in the Dust Bowl, was involved with a multitude of progressive and radical political scenes, wrote "This Land Is Your Land" in 1940 (as a response to more popularized songs such as "God Bless America"), and inspired a generation of folk singers in the process. He was famously anti-fascist (often appearing with the sticker "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his guitar), stood up against racism and the "color line," and even did battle over these types of issues with "Old Man Trump" (the President's father, specifically) in struggles and in his songs.

So all things considered, we could do worse than embracing Woody's resolutions for the new year. In particular, a few of them stand out as being spot-on for the tenor of our times. Here's a brief overview:

1-12: Take Care of Ourselves

A reminder that whatever else we do in the world, taking care of ourselves and staying healthy is paramount. Woody gets very specific here, so consider these as they might apply to your own life, but some are generally resonant: "eat good" and "look good" sum up a common personal growth trajectory.

13-14: Listen and Read

This was before the video era took off, but the lessons still hold: "read good books" and "listen to the radio" are ways to stay informed, keep one's mind engaged, and maintain long-form mental capacities. This is more critical than ever in a wired world that truncates attention spans and outsources thinking.

15-20: Stay Positive

Here Woody starts to get into the inner realm, with reminders to "stay glad" and "dream good." His call to "KEEP HOPING MACHINE RUNNING" could serve as a 2020's slogan in light of today's existential challenges around climate change and environmental degradation, and the evident struggles up ahead.

21-24: Follow the Money

This area may not have been Woody's strong suit, but he understood the importance of covering the bills and keeping the lights on, so to speak. The calls to "save dough" and "don't waste time" connect two spheres that are always under pressure in a digital economy where time and money are solicited.

25-27: "This Machine..."

Woody's gift was prolific songwriting that discerned the human experience in a way that was accessible, and his life's work connected song and dance with revolutionary politics. He took seriously the notion that it was essential to "beat fascism" and likewise understood that celebrating the good is part of this.

28-31: All You Need Is Love

A timely reminder of the power of love, which can be challenging to maintain both close in and far away. Woody connects the two realms, asking us to love not only selected individuals but to "love everybody" without qualifiers; this doesn't mean we forgo contestation, just that we do it with compassion at heart.

32-33: Wake Up!

This isn't a time for fence-sitting and being wracked with doubt about appearances and popularity. Woody is asking us to "make up your mind" on issues that matter, and to manifest this energy with the plaintive call to "WAKE UP AND FIGHT." It's hard to imagine a more apt moment to take this seriously.

Whatever the year and decade ahead has in store, it's likely to be a combination of devastation and inspiration with many points on the spectrum in between. But the poles of profound crisis and compelling opportunity are almost certain to continue manifesting with greater clarity, as the social and political fabric further rends and as the planet's ecological processes are thrown into deeper chaos. As we enter this decade-which may be our best remaining window of time to take action-it's worth looking back for some encouragement to continue the struggle and keep hope with us. May it be so.

(c) 2020 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., is Director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University. Among his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009) and the co-edited volume Exploring the Power of Nonviolence: Peace, Politics, and Practice (Syracuse University Press, 2013).

Military Trial Of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher Enters Jury Phase

Make No Mistake. Edward Gallagher Will Be A Star Of The Republican Presidential Campaign
The president* is going to use him as a representative of The Troops.
By Charles P. Pierce

In 1999, I went to Minnesota to cover the inauguration of Governor Jesse Ventura and the first few weeks of his administration. The inauguration itself was enlivened by the members of Ventura's old SEAL unit under the direction of a guy named Terry (Mother) Moy, the master chief under whom they'd all trained. These were large, incredibly tough-looking humans, but they also were fully invested in the joy and hilarity of the improbable event they'd come to witness, and their feeling of fellowship was more than a little infectious and I liked them very much.

Which all came back to mind when I read this New York Times account in which other SEALs who served with the now-pardoned Edward Gallagher express their horror at what Gallagher did to deserve the punishment from which El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago has delivered him. It's not so much Gallagher's crimes in uniform that's so shocking today; those events have been well-known for a while. Rather, what is flatly terrifying in its implications is the reaction of the other SEALS to Gallagher's pardon.

They offer the first opportunity outside the courtroom to hear directly from the men of Alpha platoon, SEAL Team 7, whose blistering testimony about their platoon chief was dismissed by President Trump when he upended the military code of justice to protect Chief Gallagher from the punishment. "The guy is freaking evil," Special Operator Miller told investigators. "The guy was toxic," Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, said in a separate interview. "You could tell he was perfectly O.K. with killing anybody that was moving," Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, told the investigators.

Video from a SEAL's helmet camera, included in the trove of materials, shows the barely conscious captive - a teenage Islamic State fighter so thin that his watch slid easily up and down his arm - being brought in to the platoon one day in May 2017. Then the helmet camera is shut off. In the video interviews with investigators, three SEALs said they saw Chief Gallagher go on to stab the sedated captive for no reason, and then hold an impromptu re-enlistment ceremony over the body, as if it were a trophy. "I was listening to it, and I was just thinking, like, this is the most disgraceful thing I've ever seen in my life," Special Operator Miller, who has since been promoted to chief, told investigators.

These are the people who served with the guy who said this about him. These are the guys from The Unit. They went through the same grueling training. They were sharpened to the same fine point, tuned to the same fighting pitch. And despite every instinct for solidarity and brotherhood that had been drummed into them, they went to the authorities because Gallagher's crimes were too black to ignore and because they were too good a group of soldiers, and too decent a group of people, to ignore them anyway. You just don't see this out in the open that often. It's akin to Ron Ridenhour's talking to the Army, and then to Seymour Hersh, about the events at My Lai, or Hugh Thompson, landing his helicopter between the Vietnamese civilians and William Calley's murderous platoon to put a halt to those events in real time.

Make no mistake. Edward Gallagher is going to be a star of the upcoming Republican presidential campaign. The president* is going to use him as a representative of The Troops, and as an antidote to his own contempt for military personnel who are as revolted by him as any decent human being would be. Gallagher is going to be the anti-Khizr Khan. He is going to appear at presidential* events. I make him even money to speak at the 2020 Republican National Convention. Edward Gallagher is going to be the symbol of the U.S. military and there's nobody in the GOP who can stop this from happening.

Nice job, gang.

From where I lounge these days, the Iowa Democratic caucuses look like a complete mess. In 2012, you recall, the year in which there was a Republican free-for-all, it took them two weeks to figure out that Rick Santorum had been a narrow winner, and Santorum was a no-hoper from jump. We should all take as a given that all caucus systems are basically flawed to the point of worthlessness. That being said, you at the moment can throw a blanket over the top four candidates in the polls. If the numbers stay remotely close to what they are, and depending on the weather over the next month, and whether or not the folks in Precinct 12 in Marshalltown are fond of the hotdish that night, they may have declared a winner in New Hampshire by the time Iowa gets its act together.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In Last Debate Of 2019

Consequently, any judgments on the effect of Iowa on individual campaigns are worthless now, and very likely, they're going to be worthless after the caucuses are over. This is system is a disaster and, Lord, does it need changing. Right now, it's little more than a six-month venue for cute photo-op's and, it must be said, an excuse for candidates to trim their positions to suit certain, ahem, demographics that are mostly irrelevant to the Democratic Party anyway, and have been for years. With this many candidates, and with the naked hunger of the elite political press for the kind of horse-race that railbirds usually call "a cavalry charge," another tangled debacle is almost inevitable, god help us.

Is it a good day for dinosaur news, Business Insider? It's always a good day for dinosaur news!

Now, new research reveals another toxic chemical was also at play. By examining the shells of ancient fossilized bivalves - underwater mollusks like oysters and mussels - from around the world, scientists identified a global increase in mercury and carbon dioxide, and oceanic warming, about 250,000 years before the asteroid hit. This uptick resulted from a series of million-year-long volcanic eruptions called the Deccan Traps in modern-day India. "For the first time, we can provide insights into the distinct climatic and environmental impacts of Deccan Traps volcanism by analyzing a single material," lead author of the new study, Kyle Meyer, said in a press release. If it wasn't one damn thing, it was another. They lived hard lives then to make us happy now.
You're all Top Commenters from where I lounge. Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes. Here's to 2020. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snake-line because God alone knows what await us all.

(c) 2020 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-

"No school can supply an anti-liberal education, or a fascist education, as these terms are contradictory. Liberalism and education are one."
~~~ George Seldes

A protester has her face painted in Tahrir Square in Baghdad during anti-government demonstrations this week.

All the Political Revolts America Ignored In 2019
By Juan Cole

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - In 2019, the Middle East was shaken by a new round of street revolts. As the year began, Abdelaziz Bouteflika had announced a fifth run for the presidency of Algeria. Then the peaceful "revolution of Smiles" broke out and by April he had resigned. A small elite has for decades monopolized Algeria's oil resources and has rewarded its supporters while marginalizing everyone else. On December 12, Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected president, amid continued massive demonstrations in major cities and a protester boycott of the election itself. The crowds are clearly unconvinced that switching out one president for another, when both are lackeys of the small Oil elite, will actually change things.

As 2019 began, Omar al-Bashir was president of the Sudan, as he had been for 30 years. A brutal dictator implicated in genocide in Darfur he was widely considered a war criminal after an International Criminal Court ruling. By April 11, continued urban unrest and strategic rallies led by the leftist Sudanese Professionals Association and, behind the scenes, by mystical Sufi orders, had pressured the officer corps into making a coup against al-Bashir. Not satisfied with replacing one general with another, the crowds continued to pressure the military to step down in favor of a civilian government. Saudi Arabia and the UAE appear to have backed the military junta against the people, but could not forestall a compromise. In the end a form of cohabitation developed, with a new civilian government but continued military oversight and a promise of transition to pure civilian rule. Sudan lost the revenue for South Sudan's oil in 2013 when that region became an independent country, and its elite floundered in finding a new business model. Inflation was running at 75%, hurting people on fixed incomes or who depended on imports.

In ordinary times, the fall of al-Bashir should have been a huge story in the US, where at least lip service has been paid to caring about his Darfur genocide.

As 2019 began, Adel Abdulmahdi was prime minister of Iraq. Although voters had indicated in the 2018 election that they were fed up with the handful of parties that has dominated Iraq since the Bush era, Abdulmahdi was nevertheless chosen as PM. He came out of the pro-Iranian Islamic Supreme Council. Massive protests broke out at the beginning of October in Shiite cities like Nasiriya and in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. The Iraqi security forces and Shiite paramilitaries replied with deadly force, killing over 500 in October, November and December. Abdulmahdi was forced to resign. The crowds had demanded an end to corruption and to the party spoils system whereby the bigger parties in parliament were rewarded with government jobs for their supporters. They also wanted electoral reforms to block the dominance of the parties that keep winning the elections. Just last week, the Iraqi parliament moved away from the list system, in which you vote for a party list, and toward a system were voters can vote for individual politicians. Although Iraq is pumping 3.5 million barrels a day of petroleum, the billions in receipts that go to the government have not been invested in Iraqi jobs or infrastructure. Corruption runs so rife that the Iraqi treasury is said to be dry. All the $500 billion earned from oil sales since the Bush era seems to have just disappeared into the pockets of politicians. Crowds wanted more services and a share in the national oil wealth. Yesterday, Assad al-Eidani was nominated as prime minister. A member of the 2005- elite from the pro-Iran Islamic Supreme Council and the governor of Basra, his nomination holds out little hope of improvement of the sort the crowds demand.

As 2019 began, Saad Hariri was prime minister of Lebanon. On 17 October small street protests broke out against corruption, gridlock, lack of services, failure to collect garbage, lack of electricity, sectarianism and new taxes on the Whatsapp messaging program. By 18 December, Hariri had bowed out of consideration for another term as prime minister. The crowds are not mollified by simply switching out the prime minister for someone equally bad, and clearly intend to keep the government's feet to the fire. Trump all this fall withheld military aid from Lebanon.

All four of these popular revolts caused a sitting prime minister or president to step down. All four demanded an end to corruption and an end to government inaction on providing jobs and infrastructure. Many wanted more and better jobs. All were nationalistic rather than fundamentalist in character. Sudan's Association of Sudanese Journalists is a leftist organization.

Algeria, Sudan, and Iraq are all oil states where the distribution of oil proceeds was closely held by the state.

All the air in American politics seems to have been sucked up by Trump and his Power Tweets, so that cable television seemed to have little energy to spare for the big developments in the world that had the potential to affect the United States.

In 2011 the American public was mesmerized by the youth street revolts that overturned governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and which plunged Bahrain into a further authoritarian miasma and kicked off an 8-year civil war in Syria. Yet they showed little interest in the similar movements this year.

(c) 2020 Juan R.I. Cole 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.

The Dead Letter Office-

Heil Trump,

Dear Wisconsin Unterfuhrer Allen,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your threatening non Christians with "destruction" unless they join your religion, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 01-25-2020. We salute you Herr Allen, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is another member of the Business Roundtable. Just weeks after he made
the commitment to all his stakeholders, Whole Foods, an Amazon subsidiary, announced it
would be cutting medical benefits for its entire part-time workforce. (Fight for 15)

The Biggest Business Con Of 2019: Fleecing Workers While Bosses Get Rich
From Boeing to Whole Foods, companies are touting social responsibility as profits soar. Don't believe a word of it.
By Robert Reich

Corporate social responsibility is the second-biggest con of 2019 (Donald Trump remains in first place).

Consider Boeing, whose board just fired its CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, in order "to restore confidence in the company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders".

Restore confidence? Muilenburg's successor will be David Calhoun, who, as a longstanding member of Boeing's board of directors, allowed Muilenburg to remain CEO for more than a year after the first 737 Max crash and after internal studies found that the jetliner posed an unacceptable risk of accident. It caused the deaths of 346 people.

Muilenburg raked in $30m in 2018. He could walk away from Boeing with another $60m.

Boeing isn't the only large corporation with a confidence problem.

Until his ouster, Muilenburg was a director of the Business Roundtable, an association of 192 CEOs of America's largest corporations. With great fanfare last August, it announced a "fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders" (emphasis in the original) and not just their shareholders.

The Roundtable's commitment came in response to growing public distrust of big corporations, and proposals from several Democratic candidates to rein them in.

Another Business Roundtable director is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Just weeks after making the commitment, and despite GM's hefty profits and large tax breaks, Barra rejected workers' demands that GM raise their wages and stop outsourcing their jobs. Earlier in the year GM shut its giant assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

About 50,000 GM workers then staged the longest auto strike in 50 years. They won a few wage gains but didn't save any jobs. Meanwhile, GM's stock has performed so well that Barra earned $22m last year.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is another member of the Business Roundtable. Just weeks after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, Whole Foods, an Amazon subsidiary, announced it would be cutting medical benefits for its entire part-time workforce.

The annual saving to Amazon from this cost-cutting move is roughly what Bezos - whose net worth is $110bn - makes in two hours. (Bezos's nearly completed DC mansion will have 2 elevators, 25 bathrooms, 11 bedrooms, and a movie theater.)

GE's CEO Larry Culp is also a member of the Business Roundtable. Two months after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, General Electric froze the pensions of 20,000 workers in order to cut costs. Culp raked in $15m last year.

Last week the Business Roundtable issued a widely advertised Christmas message. It asserted that the success of the American economy "depends on businesses investing in the economic security of their employees and the communities in which they operate."

Sure. Just in time for the holidays, US Steel announced 1,545 layoffs at two plants in Michigan. Last year, five US Steel executives received an average compensation package of $4.8m, a 53% increase over 2017.

Instead of a holiday bonus this year, Walmart offered its employees a 15% store discount. Oh, and did I say? Walmart saved $2.2bn this year from the Trump tax cut.

The tax cut itself was a product of the Roundtable's extensive lobbying, lubricated by its generous campaign donations. Several of its member corporations, including Amazon and General Motors, wound up paying no federal income taxes at all last year.

Not incidentally, the tax cut will result in less federal money for services on which Americans and their communities rely.

The truth is, American corporations are sacrificing workers and communities as never before, in order to further boost record profits and unprecedented CEO pay.

Americans know this. In the most recent Pew survey, a record 73% of US adults (including 62% of Republicans, and 71% of Republicans earning less than $30,000 a year) said they believed major corporations had too much power. And 65% believed they made too much profit.

The only way to make corporations socially responsible is through laws requiring them to be - for example, giving workers a bigger voice in corporate decision-making, making corporations pay severance to communities they abandon, raising corporate taxes, busting up monopolies, and preventing dangerous products (including faulty airplanes) from ever seeing the light of day.

If the Business Roundtable and other corporations were truly socially responsible, they'd support such laws. Don't hold your breath.

The only way to get such laws enacted is by reducing corporate power and getting big money out of politics.

The first step is to see corporate social responsibility for the con it is.

(c) 2020 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

Christmas Day In America
To be old, hungry and Black...
By Jane Stillwater

Christmas Day was a truly grim eye-opener for me this year. "How many starving, homeless and desperate people existed in Jerusalem back when Jesus was alive?" I asked myself. "And were there as many lonely desperate outcasts to be found in Bethlehem 2019 years ago such as the ones I had just seen standing in line and patiently waiting for food in front of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco on this current December 25th?"

It's two millennia later. Here in America. The land of the free and the home of the brave. 2019 years after Herod. After 2000 years of so-called hope and progress? And yet there they all were on Christmas Day 2019, hundreds of them, stretching far down the block and around the corner, cold and hungry and homeless and desperate. And most of them were old and Black, having been systematically ground down to the nub by America's racism -- from the day they were born in their mangers.

I was so very shocked to my core to see so many hungry desperate people all in one place. On Christmas Day. In a land claiming to be "Christian".

All I could do was go home to my cozy little apartment and try to block out these dreadful images with eggnog. Eggnog didn't work. I had just seen the ghost of America's Christmas future and it had terrified me -- a future where, if Americans don't finally start acting more Christ-like, we too, sooner or later, will all end up like the desperate people I saw yesterday -- and there will be no "Joy to the World" for any of us ever again.

Let us hope that this horror never happens -- and then let's all go out and make sure that it doesn't. It's time that we take Christmas back from the corporate billionaires, the war-mongers and the haters.

(c) 2020 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Cartoon Corner-

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

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Trump's Version Of Sinatra's 'My Way'
President rewrites Sinatra's "My Way," says it's the "best version ever!"
By Diane de Anda

They think the end is near
And that I face the final curtain.
My base, I'll say it clear
He'll save my case, of Barr I'm certain.

I've lived a lie that's full.
I've cheated hundreds of their fair pay.
Money, I've squandered this
And did it my way.

Regrets, not even few,
Groped more women than I could mention
I did what I wanted to
The Christian Right gave me redemption.

I planned each charted course
Each hidden step along crime's byway.
To cheat and then divorce
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times that no one knew
I borrowed money that I blew.
But through it all I had no doubt I'd bite the law and spit it out.
With Jeff as pals, and younger gals
We did it my way.

Not moved when children cried,
I felt a thrill at others losing
And now I say with pride
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that
And may I say - not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way

For what then am I, what have I got
If not myself, and all I've bought
As all my tweets and voice reveals
It's just the words a racist feels.
The record shows, I took the blows
And did it my way.

Yes, it was my way.

(c) 2020 Diane de Anda is a third generation Latina and retired UCLA professor. Tired of cranking out technical articles in a "publish or perish" atmosphere, she now spends most of her time writing adult fiction, children's books, parody, and satire. Her weapon of choice is the limerick, aimed with humor and a touch of malice at society's icons, celebrities, politicians, and other irritating folk.

The Gross National Debt

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 01 (c) 01/03/2020

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